Jeff Ratcliffe

Three And Out

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Getting Defensive: Week 8

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Let’s face it. As much as we value our skill position players, fantasy weeks are often won or lost at the D/ST and kicker positions. A couple of extra points at each spot can even be the difference between your team making or missing the playoffs.


The problem is that there’s a lot of volatility in these positions on a week-to-week basis. If you don’t get your hands on good options, you’re likely stuck working the waiver wire.


The good news is that very few owners actually carry backups, so you likely have plenty of options. But who do you choose?


Let’s take a look at which team D/STs with good matchups that are worth an add, those who face a matchup downgrade, and some tempting options who should be left on the waiver wire for Week 8.



The Usual Suspects

Teams you’re not even thinking about benching this week include - San Francisco (at Arizona), Chicago (vs. Carolina), Green Bay (vs. Jacksonville), Seattle (at Detroit)



Preferred Plays

1. Atlanta (at Philadelphia) – The Falcons are coming off their bye, so there’s a chance they were dropped in your league. Aside from Week 4, they’ve been a rock solid top-ten play so far. They continue to roll this week against a turnover-prone Eagles team that has given up double-digit fantasy points in three-of-six games this season.


2. Minnesota (vs. Tampa Bay) – If you took my advice and played the Vikings in Week 7, you were rewarded handsomely with a return touchdown, a pick, a fumble recovery, and a whopping seven sacks. If they’re still not owned, make Minnesota a top priority and pick them up. The Buccaneers aren’t a great matchup for D/STs, but the Vikings are now in every-week start territory.


3. New York Giants (at Dallas) – Dallas held the Ravens and Panthers D/STs in check over the last two weeks, but they face a Giants defense that is trending upward. The G-Men have notched nine sacks, four interceptions, and three fumble recoveries in the last two games.


4. New England (at St. Louis) – The Patriots enter Week 8 having recorded at least two sacks in each of their last four games, and have forced 13 turnovers during that span. In last week’s win over the Jets, Devin McCourty showed that he’s capable of taking a kickoff to the house with a 104-yard return. The Patriots D/ST should do quite well against the Rams somewhat anemic offense.




1. Cleveland (vs. San Diego) – I know the Browns aren’t exactly a sexy play, but this is a fantastic matchup. The last time we saw the Chargers, Philip Rivers threw four interceptions and fumbled twice against the Broncos. A repeat performance of that magnitude is extremely unlikely, but you still have to like Cleveland’s chances in this one.


2. Oakland (at Kansas City) – The Raiders got you seven points last week in standard scoring leagues, so you’ll take that if you started them. This week, they face a Chiefs team that gives up the most fantasy points to D/STs on a per game basis. Kansas City has yielded double-digit fantasy points in four-of-six games this season. Get Oakland in your lineup.


3. Kansas City (vs. Oakland) – One good turn deserves another. Both defenses from this contest are good plug-and-play starts in Week 8. The Raiders have given up five sacks over the last two weeks, and have the unenviable position of having to deal with Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. The OLB tandem has combined for ten sacks so far this season, so look for them to be in Carson Palmer’s face all afternoon.



Matchup Downgrades

1. Dallas (vs. New York Giants) – Not only did the Cowboys just lose the heart of their defense with Sean Lee now on injured reserve, but they also face the second-worst matchup for D/STs this week in the Giants. The Cowboys fared well against the Giants in their Week 1 meeting, but these two teams are very different than they were two months ago. The Giants are capable of putting points on the board in a hurry, so this is not the week to trust the Cowboys.


2. Denver (vs. New Orleans) – While I do like the Broncos D/ST going forward, they get a matchup downgrade this week. Sure, they put up a monster game in Week 6 against the Chargers, but the Saints give up the third-least fantasy points per game to opposing team defenses. With Drew Brees playing out of his mind right now, it might be a good idea to look elsewhere this week.


3. Pittsburgh (vs. Washington) – There’s a lot to like about this Steelers defense, but the Redskins aren't doing them any favors this week. Robert Griffin III is a matchup nightmare that defenses can only hope to contain. As a result, Washington has not yielded double-digit fantasy points to any opponent this season. In Week 6, the Redskins even held the impressive Vikings D/ST to negative points.



Don’t Get Cute

1. St. Louis Rams (vs. New England) – The Rams have been an interesting sneaky play at times this season. They’ve rewarded fantasy owners bold enough to start them with double-digit points three times so far in 2012. But last week, St. Louis showed us why they’re not an every-week start yielding 30 points in a tough matchup against the Packers. It’s even worse this week. Only three-of-seven opponents have scored positive fantasy points against the Patriots this season.


2. Washington (at Pittsburgh) – The Redskins haven’t been a particularly strong play this season, but they flashed some upside in Week 6 against the Vikings. However, this week isn’t the time to roll the dice on them. The Steelers aren't quite as tough on D/STs as their opponent, but they have proven to be a difficult matchup so far this season. Only the Broncos in Week 1 were able to top double-digit fantasy points. In the five games since then, opposing D/STs have scored a combined 11 fantasy points.


3. Indianapolis (at Tennessee) – Through the first five weeks of the season, we were all circling the Titans on our D/ST calendars, but there’s something brewing in Tennessee. I’m not reading too much into Chris Johnson’s Week 7 breakout, but over the last two weeks, the Titans have held the Steelers and Bills D/STs in check. The Colts have not been a strong D/ST play this season, and there’s no reason to think that changes this week.



Can I Kick it?

Here’s my top-12 kickers for Week 8:

1. Stephen Gostkowski (at STL)

2. Matt Prater (vs. NO)

3. Mason Crosby (vs. JAC)

4. Sebastian Janikowski (at KC)

5. David Akers (at ARI)

6. Lawrence Tynes (at DAL)

7. Matt Bryant (at PHI)

8. Robbie Gould (vs. CAR)

9. Garrett Hartley (at DEN)

10. Greg Zuerlein (vs. NE)

11. Rob Bironas (vs. IND)

12. Adam Vinatieri (at TEN)



D/ST Standard Scoring System

Any Touchdown

6 pts


0 points allowed

5 pts


Under 100 yards allowed

5 pts


2 pts


1-6 points allowed

4 pts


101 to 199 yards allowed

3 pts

Fumble Recovery

2 pts


7-13 points allowed

3 pts


200 to 299 yards allowed

2 pts

Blocked Kick

2 pts


14-17 points allowed

1 pt


300 to 349 yards allowed

0 pts


2 pts


18-27 points allowed

0 pts


350 to 399 yards allowed

 -1 pts


1 pt


28-34 points allowed

 -1 pts


400 to 449 yards allowed

 -3 pts


35-45 points allowed

 -3 pts


450 to 499 yards allowed

 -5 pts


46+ points allowed

 -5 pts


500- 549 yards allowed

 -6 pts


550+ yards allowed

 -7 pts




Jeff Ratcliffe is a football writer and IDP analyst for Rotoworld as well as the Assistant Managing Editor of Pro Football Focus Fantasy. He can be found on Twitter.
Email :Jeff Ratcliffe

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