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Worst RB schedules, running backs to fade in the fantasy football playoffs

We break down which running backs you should fade in the fantasy football playoffs because they have a tough strength of schedule.

Najee Harris #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries the ball as Xavier Woods #23 of the Minnesota Vikings defends during the second half at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 09, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

We have made it to the fantasy football playoffs and Week 15 of the NFL season. Matchups are more important now than ever and we are going to give you three running backs with the hardest strength of schedule left and discuss how you should handle them. A championship could be looming in the distance so make sure to analyze these matchups and know what lies ahead.

Fantasy football playoffs: Worst RB schedules

Josh Jacobs (@CLE, DEN, @ IND)

Over the last two weeks, Jacobs has been the main man in the backfield for the Las Vegas Raiders with Kenyan Drake going down for the remainder of the season with an injury. Unfortunately, he hasn’t taken much advantage of the opportunity. In Week 13 he was able to finish as the RB7 in half-PPR scoring, but he followed that up with a lackluster RB33 performance and only had nine carries.

It isn’t that Jacobs has the toughest matchups possible, it’s that none of them are good. In Week 15 Jacobs draws the Cleveland Browns, who are giving up middle-of-the-road numbers to opposing running backs in fantasy so that matchup isn’t bad. In Week 16 though, he takes on the Denver Broncos, who are giving up the ninth-fewest fantasy points per game and follows that up with a Week 17 date with the Indianapolis Colts giving up the fifth-fewest. Jacobs is worthy of a start in Week 15, but I would have a solidified backup plan for the last two weeks of the fantasy season.

Ezekiel Elliott (@NYG, WFT, ARI)

Tony Pollard is back with the Dallas Cowboys which likely means Elliott could go back to more of a time-share to try and rest his legs for the real-life playoffs. To start off the fantasy playoff run, he is gifted a matchup with the New York Giants. When they first met up in Week 5, Elliott had 21 carries for 110 yards and two total touchdowns and finished as the overall RB6. He hasn’t had more than 17 carries in a game since and that was the following week.

Start Elliott in Week 15, but then the final two weeks are when it gets a little tricky. With the NFL implementing the 18-week schedule this season, we don’t know how teams are going to rest their players. With a healthy Pollard, if the Cowboys can get leads in games I expect them to pull Elliott quickly. When he played Washington in Week 14, he finished as the RB28 so avoid him in Week 16. Finally, in Week 17, Elliott gets his toughest matchup with the Arizona Cardinals defense giving up the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. High chance of Elliott resting so I’d leave him snug on your bench.

Najee Harris (TEN, @KC, and CLE)

Harris has been the best rookie running back this season and is already making a name for himself in fantasy football. It is scary to think what he could do behind a competent offensive line and a quarterback that wasn’t a million-year-old statue. Thinking about the short-term and fantasy football playoffs, Harris draws the Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs and Browns over the next three weeks.

The Titans matchup is honestly the scariest for him as they are giving up the second-0fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. Harris has the added bonus of being involved in the passing game, but he is worthy of a fade as you start your playoff run for gold. The Chiefs ranks smack dab in the middle of the rankings for fantasy points given up and the Browns are 19th. Those matchups don’t worry me as much, especially seeing as how Harris put up 20 points and an RB8 finish in Week 8 when he played the Browns for the first time. Fade him in Week 15, but then get him back into your lineup the following two weeks.