Jeff Ratcliffe

Three And Out

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Getting Defensive: Week 9

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Defense wins championships.


This statement is just as true for the NFL as it is for your fantasy team. Yet, owners often overlook their D/STs and kickers, and leave valuable points in free agency every week.


There’s a lot of variance that comes with these positions on a week-to-week basis, but a careful analysis of the matchups can help you mine some fantasy gold.


Each week, I’ll take a look at the 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.



The Usual Suspects

Teams you’re not even thinking about benching this week include - Chicago (at Tennessee), Houston (vs. Buffalo), Green Bay (vs. Arizona)



Preferred Plays

1. Seattle (vs. Minnesota) – After a hot start to the season, the Seahawks put up goose eggs in two of the last three games. Don’t let the fantasy numbers mislead you. These performances came against two of the league's most high-powered offenses in the Patriots and Lions. Christian Ponder is no Tom Brady or Matthew Stafford. He’s thrown seven picks and has been sacked eleven times in his last four games.


2. Atlanta (vs. Dallas) – Speaking of poor quarterback play, Tony Romo has been extremely loose with his passes this season, throwing four picks last weekend and five in Week 4 against the Bears. Atlanta’s ball-hawking secondary is a big play waiting to happen in this one.


3. Miami (at Indianapolis) – I missed the Dolphins last week, and really should have seen that one coming. They put up 20 fantasy points, holding the Jets to nine points and recording four sacks, an interception, a fumble recovery, and a touchdown. The Colts aren’t the strongest matchup for D/STs, but this is a case where you have to ride the momentum of a strong defense.


4. Denver (at Cincinnati) – The Bengals currently yield the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing D/STs, and have given up double-digit points in three-of-seven games. Denver hasn’t been the most consistent D/ST this season, but they showed a massive ceiling in Week 6 against the Chargers with four picks, two scores, two fumble recoveries, and four sacks. With the Bengals giving the ball away 12 times in the last five games, the matchup bodes positively for the Broncos.




1. San Diego (vs. Kansas City) – Start your D/STs against the Chiefs. Through their first seven games this season, they’ve given up double-digit fantasy points five times, and have turned the ball over a whopping 25 times. The 2012 Chargers defense certainly doesn’t resemble what we saw from them in early-2000s, but they’re still capable of big weeks, especially against the Chiefs. When they last played back in Week 4, the Chargers had three interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and a touchdown. They’re the top plug-and-play for Week 9.


2. Detroit (at Jacksonville) – Chances are that the Lions are available in your league. They’ve been generally unimpressive so far, an even posted negative points in Week 3 against the Titans. That’s good news if you’re in need of a spot play this week, because the Jags give up the third-most fantasy points to D/STs on a per game basis. With Blaine Gabbert at the helm, are you surprised?


3. Cleveland (vs. Baltimore) – This Browns defense is pesky and improving. They’ve held their last two opponents in check, giving up 17 points to the Colts, and just six to the Chargers. The Ravens return from a bye that they entered after getting spanked by the Texans. In that contest, a Texans defense still reeling from the loss of Brian Cushing put up four sacks, two interceptions, and a touchdown. I doubt the Browns equal those numbers, but they’re still a very sneaky play for owners in need.


4. New Orleans (vs. Philadelphia) – While I normally would never recommend starting a defense that has put up negative points in each of their last two games and three times on the season; the Eagles are in a downward spiral, so get while the getting is good. If you’re in a deep league with limited options, the sneaky play of the year just might be against the Eagles in the Superdome on Monday night.



Matchup Downgrade

1. Pittsburgh (at New York Giants) – Most weeks the Steelers are a solid and steady D/ST play. They don’t have massive fantasy upside, but they’re usually good for a turnover or two and a couple sacks. The Steelers also don’t give up a lot of points, with just two teams topping 30 points on them. Pittsburgh gets a matchup downgrade this week, though, as only the Patriots give up less fantasy points per game than the Giants do to opposing D/STs.


2. Oakland (vs. Tampa Bay) – After putting up negative points in two of their first four games, the Raiders D/ST has been on fire over their last three. It’s tempting to pick them up and throw them in our lineups, but it looks like their hot streak will come to an end this week. The Bucs offense is clicking on all cylinders right now. They currently give up the fifth-least points to D/STs, and they’ve held their last two opponents (including a solid Vikings defense) to negative points.


3. New York Giants (vs. Pittsburgh) – The G-Men are another defense that has been heating up at mid-season. They’ve scored double-digit points in two of their last three games, and looked fantastic while scoring 19 fantasy points in their Week 8 win over the Cowboys. Comparatively, the Steelers have given up a combined 11 fantasy points to opposing D/STs over their last six games. Temper your expectations for the Giants D/ST in this tough matchup.



Don’t Get Cute

1. Buffalo (at Houston) – Buffalo has been one of the most up and down D/STs in the league. They’ve topped double-digit fantasy points three times, and conversely have posted a negative score three times this season. Expect this to be a down week for the Bills, who face an ugly matchup against a Texans team that gives up the third-least fantasy points per game to opposing D/STs.


2. Philadelphia (at New Orleans) – The Saints are another offense you don’t want your D/ST to tangle with. They’re currently tied with Houston as the third most-difficult matchup for fantasy D/STs. While the Eagles were a popular early season pick, their D/ST hasn’t topped two fantasy points since Week 3. The team is floundering as a whole, and should definitely be avoided this week.


3. Carolina (at Washington) – Carolina has looked like a brand new defense with Luke Kuechly in at middle linebacker, and they've scored double-digit fantasy points in two of his three games as a starter. While things are certainly looking up for this unit, you may want to avoid rolling the dice on them in Week 9. The Redskins have been one of the worst matchups for D/STs this season, and no defense has topped double-digit fantasy points on them.



Can I Kick it?

Here’s my top-12 kickers for Week 9:

1. Robbie Gould (at TEN)

2. Sebastian Janikowski (vs. TB)

3. Lawrence Tynes (vs. PIT)

4. Garrett Hartley (vs. PHI)

5. Jason Hanson (at JAC)

6. Matt Bryant (vs. DAL)

7. Shayne Graham (vs. BUF)

8. Connor Barth (at OAK)

9. Nick Novak (vs. KC)

10. Kai Forbath (vs. CAR)

11. Mason Crosby (vs. ARI)

12. Justin Tucker (at CLE)  


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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