Fantasy Football

2021 Fantasy Football NFL Schedule Analysis


For the first time in history, the NFL has released a 17 game regular season schedule. This is going to have a huge impact on the 2021 Fantasy Football season. Our 2021 Fantasy Football NFL Schedule Analysis is here to help you understand what’s changing this season.

Despite the added game to the schedule, each team will still only have one bye week. Below we highlight which teams have the earliest and the latest bye weeks.

The AFC will host every “extra” game in 2021 and will face the team from the opposing conference that finished in the same place within their division the previous season.

The AFC East will host the NFC East and the division leaders will play each other: Buffalo Bills vs Washington Football Team.

The AFC North will host the NFC West, the AFC South will host the NFC South and the AFC West will host the NFC North. We break down each matchup below.

American Football in London lives on and we break down the two games being played at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium below. In Week 5, on October 10th, the Atlanta Falcons will “host” the New York Jets and the following week, Week 6, the Jacksonville Jaguars “host” the Miami Dolphins. Both games will start at 9:30 AM EST.

The NFL will kick off the 2021 seasons on Thursday, September 9th when Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Dallas Cowboys and the return of Dak Prescott.

The regular season ends Sunday, January 9th, 2022.

Super Bowl LVI will be played in Los Angeles at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, February 13, 2022.


  • The AFC East will play the AFC South and NFC South
  • The AFC North will play the AFC West and NFC North
  • The AFC South will play the AFC East and NFC West
  • The AFC West will play the AFC North and  NFC East
  • The NFC East will play the NFC South and AFC West
  • The NFC North will play the NFC West and AFC North
  • The NFC South will play the NFC East and AFC East
  • The NFC West will play the NFC North and AFC South

2021 Fantasy Football NFL Schedule Analysis

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Mark Your Calendars

Week 1: Sam Darnold vs New York Jets
Week 4: Tom Brady returns to Foxborough
Week 4: Trevor Lawrence vs Joe Burrow – Thursday Night Football
Week 7: Matthew Stafford‘s Rams vs Jared Goff‘s Lions
Week 9: Cam Newton at Carolina Panthers
Week 12: Thanksgiving Games:

  • Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions
  • Las Vegas Raiders @ Dallas Cowboys
  • Buffalo Bills @ New Orleans Saints

Week 16: Christmas Day Games:

Added Games

One thing I just assumed was going to happen was that Week 18, the 17th and final game of the regular season, would just be the extra game. That is not the case. The final week of the regular season will still feature divisional matchups that most Fantasy Championship will be able to avoid to crown a Champion.

Home ConfHomeAwayAway ConfWeek
AFC EastBillsWashingtonNFC East3
AFC SouthTexansPanthersNFC South3
AFC WestRaidersBearsNFC North5
AFC EastPatriotsCowboysNFC East6
AFC NorthSteelersSeahawksNFC West6
AFC NorthBrownsCardinalsNFC West6
AFC WestChiefsPackersNFC North9
AFC SouthTitansSaintsNFC South10
AFC WestChargersVikingsNFC North10
AFC SouthColtsBucsNFC South12
AFC SouthJaguarsFalconsNFC South12
AFC EastDolphinsGiantsNFC East13
AFC EastJetsEaglesNFC East13
AFC NorthBengals49ersNFC West14
AFC WestBroncosLionsNFC North14
AFC NorthRavensRamsNFC West17

The Baltimore Ravens host the Los Angeles Rams in Week 17! Lamar Jackson vs Aaron Donald!

The last time Jackson played the Rams defense he only threw for 169 passing yards and rushed for 95 more. He was sacked twice but he did manage to throw five touchdown passes! This took place back in the 2019 season in Week 12 on Monday Night Football.

Bye Weeks via Cale Clinton (@CaleClinton)

While the excitement around the schedule, the focus normally falls on the topics of primetime games, revenge games, and games with overarching storylines. What often gets overlooked in the schedule shuffle is where the bye weeks of your favorite teams fall.

In a 17 game (18 weeks) schedule, the bye holds even more value than ever. A team can have their bye as early as Week 6 and as late as Week 14.

Last season, during the traditional 16 game (17 weeks) structure, byes fell to teams between Weeks 5 and 13. While the distribution feels relatively the same, the canyon between the two is vastly different.

A Week 6 bye in 2021 implies that a team is on a 12 game stretch right into the playoffs. A team with a Week 14 bye this year enters the off-week having played 13 straight games, a slog by any measure.

With the league schedule fully in front of us, let’s take a look at the teams most drastically affected by their early and late byes.

It should be noted that, unless otherwise stated, games and opponents mentioned will not appear in chronological order. Rather, they will simply be acknowledged as pre/post-bye opponents.

Week 6

New York Jets

Consider these first five weeks for the New York Jets as a bit of a “super-pre-season.” A new head coach, a rookie quarterback who benefitted from a luxury of prospects, and a newly revamped offense may take some time to work into.

The team has more weapons to work with than years past, a stronger offensive line, and a new rookie running back. At the very least, the team will be able to assess Zach Wilson and his mistakes during the first five weeks of real play, then be able to prep for the long trudge through the back “half” of their season. Admittedly, it is long, but not the hardest stretch. Their bye follows the London game, and strong non-divisional opponents include Indianapolis on short rest in Week 9 and home against Tampa Bay in Week 17. If Wilson is a proven commodity at this point, this should be a fun test for the BYU product.

If he ends up a letdown, however, the Jets have nothing to succeed the No. 2 overall pick. New York may already be realizing they reached on a quarterback with backyard-football-like qualities that scouts saw in Patrick Mahomes as a prospect. That volatility may have only shown up on tape because of the amount of support Wilson had and the relative level of competition that Wilson feasted on in 2020.

Boom-or-bust, Week 6 of the 2021 season may be telling for the next several years of the Jets franchise going forward.

New Orleans Saints

While I wouldn’t necessarily call a Week 6 bye good for any NFL team, it may work out best for the New Orleans Saints.

The Saints are the only team I will touch on in this list with a true quarterback battle heading into camp. Taysom Hill, the human Swiss Army knife, will go toe-to-toe with former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston to fight for the role of Drew Brees‘ successor.

Neither quarterback is by any means a sure thing. Combined, Taysom Hill has rushed and received more yards than he has thrown for as a quarterback. Hill has never felt like a true quarterback during his Saints tenure, but rather a player who can do it all, but also can serve a wildcat role. Jameis Winston, on the other hand, is a relatively enticing prospect with well-known flaws. Ignore his downsides, and he was a 30-touchdown quarterback. Disregard his peaks, and he’s a 30-INT quarterback.

While Drew Brees was a virtual lock to be rostered in every league while he played for the Saints, I don’t consider Hill or Winston to be viable fantasy QB options, regardless of who wins the camp battle. Their post-bye schedule includes games at Seattle, at Tennessee, home against Buffalo and Dallas, along with two games against Tampa Bay and Atlanta. Week 6 could mark a major pivot point for the direction New Orleans heads at quarterback. For all we know, Ian Book could be under center for the Saints by Week 7.

Week 7

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills are the first major playoff team we are covering that is affected by an early bye.

After an exceptional performance in 2020, the Bills are the favorites to win the AFC outside of Kansas City. While the toughest part of the Josh Allen-led Bills team has their work cut out for them in their pre-bye schedule (they enter the bye following back-to-back matchups at Kansas City and at Tennessee), the 11 games they will face after their Week 7 bye are no slouches.

5 of the Bills’ 6 divisional games come after the bye. Buffalo’s last 6 games are (in order) Monday Night home against New England, at Tampa Bay, home against Carolina, at New England, and home against Atlanta and the New York Jets. Two December matchups against the New England Patriots, three NFC South games, and a Week 18 game against a Jets team with nothing to lose sounds like a nightmare for Josh Allen and the Bills.

This schedule has no major fantasy ramifications outside of the regression inherent in continuous football games played without rest, but this has major implications on the AFC playoff race and beyond. Two games against a scrappy New England team could flip the tides in a division winner. Even if it fails to, the Buffalo Bills will be faced with an uphill battle trying to dethrone the Kansas City Chiefs.

Los Angeles Chargers

Justin Herbert was thrown to the wolves last year after a freak medical accident with Tyrod Taylor thrust him into the starting role minute before kickoff against the Kansas City Chiefs. From then on, I was enamored by the quarterback’s play as a rookie.

I don’t believe it was exactly a well-kept secret, either. Every media pundit out there is enamored with the third quarterback taken in the 2020 Draft. Some have the Chargers taking the leap to rival their dominant division rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs. Vegas has set the MVP odds for Herbert relatively high, but just low enough where they begin to look like a worthwhile reach.

If Herbert is to live up to any of these astronomical expectations, not only will it be an uphill battle, but it will be one on both ends of the bye.

The Chargers’ pre-bye schedule is nails on a chalkboard bad: at Washington, home against Dallas, at Kansas City, Monday Night at home against Las Vegas, home against Cleveland, at Baltimore.

Then, after their bye, their break abruptly ends with hosting the New England Patriots. For reference, New England trounced the Chargers last year to the tune of 45-0.

The Chargers’ main test comes before their bye on both sides of the ball but playing 11 straight games is difficult, no matter the opponent. Los Angeles has notoriously held some of the worst injury luck in the NFL, specifically to their defensive backs and offensive line. If the tools around Justin Herbert on Week 1 are stuck on Injured Reserve by Week 10 or 11, it may be hard for this prodigy to live up to expectations.

Week 13

Cleveland Browns

Considering the fact that the Cleveland Browns are co-chairs with the Buffalo Bills for the “Best AFC Team Not Named Kansas City” award, the two teams could not have a different runway headed into the playoffs.

Buffalo may end up battling through some tough games down the stretch, with no rest coming beyond Week 7. The Cleveland Browns have their work cut out for them early, but they may begin to feast by the time your fantasy football playoffs start.

Cleveland’s last five games are home against Baltimore and Las Vegas, away against Green Bay (on Christmas Saturday) and Pittsburgh (the following Monday, creating some extra rest), and a season-closer at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. The team’s most difficult game in this slate, Baltimore, falls at home after a bye, leaving them ample preparation time.

For the rest of the back slate, it’s tough to predict. I don’t anticipate Las Vegas being a major derailment, nor do I see a Week 17 Pittsburgh Steelers team playing any meaningful football in 2021. The Green Bay Packers are impossible to predict given the current state of Aaron Rodgers, and by the time Cleveland has to face Cincinnati, the Bengals will either be facing backups or a collective steamroll by the Browns rushing attack.

The tail end of this schedule particularly favors the Cleveland backfield. The Packers, Bengals, and Raiders defenses all finished in the bottom half of rushing DVOA last season, with no real support to boost any one unit. If you feel like your fantasy team may be in contention, considering trading for a Cleveland Browns running back before the playoffs. You won’t regret it.

Tennessee Titans

We will know just how effective the Tennessee Titans are well before their Week 13 bye hits. I anticipate some form of regression from Derrick Henry, and I do not believe that Tennessee has done enough to replace the pass catchers lost in free agency to keep this passing attack potent.

These are all personal projections. Even still, the beginning leg of their schedule is a doozy. Road games at Seattle, New England, and against the Los Angeles Rams coupled with house calls from Arizona, Buffalo, and Kansas City makes for an extremely difficult run before their bye.

If the team faces the regression I believe they will, then the final few weeks of the season may be inconsequential for anything outside a Wild Card berth. However, if the Tennessee Titans can muscle through the onslaught of top-tier opponents, they will be looking at a beautiful runway into the NFL Playoffs.

Their last five games, in order, are home against Jacksonville, at Pittsburgh, home against San Francisco on a short week, home against Miami, and at Houston. Three of those five teams are question marks at best, while one of the two remaining teams finished in the bottom of the league last year. If Tennessee’s momentum keeps rolling behind Tractorcito and Ryan Tannehill, then they may bulldoze their way into the playoffs.

Week 14

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots may be the only team to be hurt by having such a late bye.

Considering that the team is playing a third-place schedule, there are no major breaks that New England gets from the 2021 slate they were doled.

The Patriots will be facing off against teams with ample rest this year despite not seeing any until the final possible bye week of the season. New England will face three different opponents coming off byes, the only team with that many opponents under such a condition. Their pre-bye games consist of home games against Tampa Bay, Dallas, and Cleveland, and away games at the Los Angeles Chargers, Atlanta Falcons, and the Buffalo Bills. Post-bye, two of their four games will be in the division.

The Patriots have choices at quarterback. Will they stay with Cam Newton and allow him to cook in a retooled offense? Or will Mac Jones take the reins at some point during the season, acting as the true heir apparent to the throne left open by one Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr.? If the latter were the case, it would surely benefit Jones to have a bye week in between the transition, allowing for a week of acclimation.

Brady’s first game came unexpectedly after a life-threatening injury to Drew Bledsoe thrust the then future G.O.A.T. into the spotlight. Brady’s starting debut came in late October, surely late, but with enough time in the calendar to get comfortable and eventually win his first of seven Super Bowls. Mac Jones will not be able to dip his toes in NFL waters considering how late the team’s bye is. Will that spell success for the

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are yet another team with playoff potential that may earn a much-needed break in the final bye week of the season. The training wheels are officially off for Tua Tagovailoa. The Miami Dolphins have instilled complete trust in the quarterback, designating him the starter and allowing Ryan “Fitzmagic” Fitzpatrick to seek greener pastures elsewhere. The team has surrounded him with weapons both in free agency and the draft.

If Tua cannot make this situation work, the leash may be shorter than we all anticipated. The second-year gunslinger will certainly face his fair share of challenges along the way. Weeks 5 through 8 are a particularly tough stretch: at Tampa Bay, at Jacksonville in London, home against Atlanta, then back on the road in Buffalo.

If Tua can carry on through the fire and flame of a 13 week, bye-free schedule, then his bye will come at the perfect time. The last four weeks of the Dolphins’ schedule have two divisional games, but both are at home. Their road excursions, New Orleans and Tennessee in weeks 16 and 17, are difficult but not impossible to overcome. While Miami may be battling with New England for a Wild Card spot behind Buffalo, Tua will be more than ready to take up the mantle. He won’t just be playoff-ready; he’ll be battle-tested.

It should be noted that one may hope that Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle are both available in this scenario. Fuller (through NFL experience) and Waddle (following last year’s college football season) have proven that they are not the most durable receivers. If Tua is to take a step forward, it must be with a fully stocked arsenal of receivers.

– Cale Clinton (@CaleClinton)

NFL UK – via Richard Savill (@RRSSavill)

The main issue Fantasy Footballers have with the UK games is the kickoff times. In recent years, efforts were made by the schedulers to make the kickoff time splits concurrent with the early games. It worked fine as Sunday Night Football for UK fans with no scheduling issues for Fantasy. However, for 2021 at least, west coast Fantasy fans can expect a return to the days of farmer breakfasts.

Two games are on tap for 2021. They are Atlanta Falcons vs the New York Jets (Week 5) and the Jacksonville Jaguars vs the Miami Dolphins (Week 6). All four of these teams have at least one previous visit to London, with the Jaguars notching their eighth visit.

The Falcons and Dolphins are fulfilling an unrealized commitment to the International Series from 2020.

As for the games, Londoners will get a first look at Trevor Lawrence of the Jaguars and Zach Wilson of the Jets, before many other ‘away city’ fans in the States.

With Tua Tagovailoa of the Dolphins in his sophomore season, you can include him with the same status.

One plus about the London games from a Fantasy standpoint is that you likely know well in advance which players with injury will play or not. Players unable to suit up generally remain home. Thus, questionable players who make the trip, have a higher expectation of playing – barring any unforeseen mishaps during practice that week.

Finally, team bye-weeks immediately follow the London games for the participants. It makes it easy to remember and gives an added rest buffer for your banged-up starters coming out of the contests.

– Richard Savill (@RRSSavill)

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About Keith Lott

I have one goal, to help you win your league. It does not matter if you are a fantasy rookie or a veteran. Everyone has questions, and I have opinions. Lot(t)s of them!

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