We are less than a month away from the kick off of the 2010 NFL season. However, it’s never too early to start planning for your draft. Today, we’ll take a look at the NFL schedule in hopes of pinpointing some trends and players to target in your drafts.

Washington Post

There is always a ton of debate when it comes to the fantasy playoffs and drafting. Typically, the fantasy playoffs run from Weeks 14-16 in a single elimination format. Some parties will argue that you should always draft the best player available, regardless of their playoff schedule because those players will get you into the playoffs. Others will take the playoff schedule into account when drafting. Regardless of your preference, take a look at the study below before your draft.

Before we start to analyze who has good match-ups and who doesn’t, let’s sort out our criteria for the study.

Good Rushing Match-up: Teams who yield more than 125 rushing yards per game.
2009 Culprits: Tampa Bay (158); Kansas City, Buffalo, Oakland (156); Cleveland (145); St. Louis (138); Denver (129); Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis (127)

Good Passing/Receiving Match-up: Teams who yield more than 235 passing yards per game.
2009 Culprits: Detroit (266); Tennessee (259); Seattle, Cleveland (245); Atlanta (241); Miami, Jacksonville, St. Louis, New Orleans (235)

Vulnerable defenses owners should key on: Detroit, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Cleveland, Oakland.

Even though teams like Tampa Bay and Detroit addressed their defenses through the draft, don’t expect a complete turn around in one season.

Teams Who Have Good Playoff Match-Ups:

Baltimore Ravens: 14 (at Houston); 15 (vs. New Orleans); 16 (at Cleveland)

These match-ups stack up well for Ravens running back, Ray Rice. Houston (10th); New Orleans (21st); Cleveland (28th) are all great match-ups for Rice. Michael Turner has a similar strength of schedule for the playoffs Carolina (22nd); Seattle (15th); New Orleans (21st), but Turner dealt with assorted injuries throughout 2009.

San Francisco 49ers: 14 (at Seattle); 15 (at San Diego); 16 (at St. Louis)

These match-ups set up nicely for the 49ers. They have retooled their offensive line through the draft by adding guard Mike Iupati and tackle Anthony Davis.

49er quarterback, Alex Smith only played in 11 games for the team last season. However, he amassed 2350 yards and 18 TDs. If we project his numbers to 16 games, he’d throw for 3200 yards and 24 TDs. I’m not saying that he should be one of the first five quarterbacks drafted, but he has excellent skill position players (Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, and Michael Crabtree) around him. I like Gore more than Ryan Grant and Vernon Davis should be the first tight-end drafted this season. All of these players should get a boost given their playoff schedule.

Teams and players to avoid:

New York Giants: The Giants have one of the roughest fantasy playoff schedules. They play 14 (at Minnesota); 15 (vs. Philadelphia); 16 (at Green Bay). The Packers and Vikings ranked 2nd and 6th respectively in rushing defense and Philadelphia ranks 12th. If there weren’t enough questions about Brandon Jacobs, this playoff schedule should put you off.

Chicago: The Bears playoff schedule may be a little less daunting, but none the less, they’ll also face the Purple People Eaters. They play 14 (New England); 15 (at Minnesota); 16 (vs. New York Jets). All three of these squads ranked in the Top 11 in total defense in 2009. I’ll take a pass on Matt Forte and Jay Cutler this year.