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Andy Richardson

Notes on the NFL schedule

Pain for some national competitions

The NFL schedule was released last night, which is always fun. And lately frustrating, as the schedule-makers deliver choices which kind of mess with a lot of big fantasy leagues. I know, they don't have to care about us. Rest assured, they don't.

Some thoughts:

1. Bye weeks. Once upon a time, the league put exactly four teams on their byes each week from say Week 4 through Week 11. Tricky to navigate for fantasy players, but we managed. But at some point they drifted to putting six teams on byes in one week, and now we're getting six teams on byes in multiple weeks. That's the case again this year, and they picked Week 12 and Week 14. If you play in either The Fantasy Championship (RealTime Fantasy Sports) or the Fantasy Football Players Championship (, as I do, you know that Week 14 is a playoff week in both of those competitions -- the semifinal round in one, the championship round in another. Draft accordingly, because about 20 percent of the NFL won't be in uniform those weeks. Week 14 bye players include Derrick Henry, Mark Andrews, C.J. Stroud, Joe Mixon, Nico Collins, Jonathan Taylor and a trio of dual-threat quarterbacks: Lamar Jackson, Anthony Richardson, Jayden Daniels.

2. New York, New York. Do you like seeing New York teams in primetime? I hope so. The Jets have a night game (either Thursday, Sunday, or Monday) in Week 1, Week 3, Week 6, Week 9 and Week 11. No, I'm not making it up. Every other week for the first two-thirds of the season. And don't worry about the gap weeks, because the Giants will be in primetime Week 4, Week 6 and Week 8. I understand the Jets, people will tune in to root for or against Aaron Rodgers. Giants are harder to figure, but I guess we'll get to see a lot of Malik Nabers and, uh, Devin Singletary.

3. Buffalo Bills. The Bills dumped a lot of starters on both sides of the ball this offseason, raising speculation that it was maybe a rebuilding year. Whether or not that's the case, it seems like they may get off to a shaky start, if factoring home-away concerns. Buffalo will play four of its first six games on the road (including a three-game road trip), and all of those road games look tough: at Miami, at Baltimore, at Houston and at the Jets. They get three home-games in December (weather concerns), and two of them are against tough defenses (49ers and Jets).

4. Detroit Lions. I like the looks of the Lions offense, and I like the way the schedule appears, especially the first half of the season. Rams, Bucs, Cardinals, Seahawks, Cowboys, Vikings, Titans and Packers in their first eight games. I don't see a lot of defensive struggles there.

5. Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins offense got off to a fast start a year ago, and it might again this year. The first 10 games include both Bills matchups, and maybe those will be tougher (the road game at least). But the other eight are the Jaguars, Seahawks, Titans, Patriots, Colts, Cardinals, Rams and Raiders.

6. Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings will be starting either Sam Darnold or J.J. McCarthy at quarterback. The early schedule seems to be mostly above-average defenses: 49ers, Texans and Jets at home, Giants and Packers on the road. I don't know if this will really influence my draft decisions, but if Darnold opens as the starter, given those matchups, a switch to McCarthy could happen fairly quickly.

7. New England Patriots. Similarly, look for the Patriots to open with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. It would be a rough start for rookie Drake Maye, since New England plays three of its first four on the road, against the Bengals, Jets and 49ers. Not great matchups for the offense. Two of their next four after that are against Houston and the Jets, as well, plus an England game against Jacksonville. I don't think anyone was building a fantasy roster around the Patriots anyway, but definitely an unexciting start.

8. Holiday problems. The NFL loves to put games on Christmas Day. They're doing it again this year, with two games -- Kansas City at Pittsburgh, and Baltimore at Houston, some star power there certainly -- on that date. Which happens to be a Wednesday this year. Selfishly, this will complicate Fantasy Index Weekly. We'll be publishing the Weekly on Tuesday, so as to preview all of the Week 17 games, which will start up with those four teams playing on Wednesday and conclude with the 49ers and Lions on Monday. Week 16 ends with a Monday night game. Week 17 starts up 36 hours later, with two Wednesday games, a Thursday game, three Saturday games, nine Sunday games, and finally another Monday game.

Give it a couple of years, and I'm sure they'll find a way to squeeze in a game on Tuesday of that week, too.

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