Jeff Ratcliffe

Three And Out

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Getting Defensive: Week 10

Wednesday, November 07, 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.


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 – San Francisco (vs. St. Louis), Chicago (vs. Houston), Houston (at Chicago), Seattle (vs. New York Jets)



Preferred Plays

1. Pittsburgh (vs. Kansas City) – The Bears have been the best fantasy defense this season, and the second-best D/ST has been the Chief’s opponent. This week the Steelers win that lottery, and surprisingly could be available on your waiver wire. They’re not the same defense from a few years ago, but a J.V. squad could put up 20 fantasy points against the Chiefs.


2. New York Giants (at Cincinnati) – Despite a poor matchup last week against the Steelers, the G-Men still managed double-digit fantasy points. Just imagine what they can do this week in a good matchup. Cincinnati doesn’t score a lot of points on offense, and Andy Dalton has thrown at least one interception in every game this season. The Giants are a borderline elite start this week.


3. New England (vs. Buffalo) – The Patriots D/ST has forced at least two turnovers in all but one game this season, and they've scored twice. When New England last faced the Bills in Week 4, the Pats put up double-digit fantasy points. Scoop them up if they were dropped due to their Week 9 bye week.


4. Miami (vs. Tennessee) – The Dolphins D/ST followed their impressive Week 8 performance with a stinker against the Colts last week, but don’t overreact. Tennessee has been a great matchup, and currently gives up the fourth-most fantasy points to D/STs on a per game basis.  You could do a lot worse this week.




1. Detroit (at Minnesota) – The Vikings are a very different team than they were when these two teams last met in Week 4. At that point, Christian Ponder had yet to throw an interception. In the five games since then, he’s thrown eight of them. While the Lions don’t have a high fantasy ceiling, Minnesota has given up solid weeks to their last four opponents. Detroit is a safe bet for decent fantasy points.


2. Dallas (at Philadelphia) – If you’re more of a gambler, you may want to take a look at the Cowboys. Last week, I recommended the Saints against Philadelphia. New Orleans entered the week as the league’s lowest-scoring D/ST and exited with a 17-point performance. The Cowboys get the same matchup boost this week, and make for a high upside play.


3. Tampa Bay (vs. San Diego) – Tampa Bay has been one of the most difficult teams to run on this season, and this has led to a lot of opportunity for their D/ST. Over the last four games the Bucs have recorded nine turnovers and a touchdown. The Chargers offense has yielded ten turnovers and two touchdowns in their last four. 



Matchup Downgrade

1. San Diego (at Tampa Bay) – Things don’t work both ways in this one, as the Bucs have been the second-worst matchup for D/STs and have held their last three opponents to negative fantasy points. The Chargers had a monster Week 9 against the Chiefs, but they won’t repeat that performance this week.


2. Atlanta (at New Orleans) – The Falcons have faded a bit after their hot start to the season. If you’ve been relying on them so far, it may be time to cut bait. They have a very tough remaining schedule, including two games against this Saints team that has been the fifth-worst for D/STs this season.


3. Baltimore (vs. Oakland) – Injuries have hit the Ravens' defense hard this season, as they've lost both Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb. Without Webb in particular, the Ravens’ secondary has really struggled against the pass. This plays right into the Raiders’ hands. Despite the fact they’ll likely be without Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson, Carson Palmer is coming off a 400-yard passing performance against the Bucs. There could be some turnovers here for the Ravens, but it has the makings of a high score, high yardage game that kills D/ST scoring.



Don’t Get Cute

1. Buffalo (vs. New England) – The Bills surprisingly managed eight fantasy points against the stingy Texans, but I wouldn’t expect them to fare well this week. The Patriots currently yield an average of -0.8 fantast points per game to D/STs, and only one team has managed to score more than two fantasy points against them. 


2. New Orleans (vs. Atlanta) – After back-to-back weeks in the red, the Saints went out and torched the Eagles thanks to a Patrick Robinson 99-yard interception return. That’s not happening this week against a high-powered Atlanta offense that hasn’t turned the ball over in their last two games.


3. Carolina (vs. Denver) – I do like the look of this Panthers defense since Luke Kuechly took over at middle linebacker, but it’s tough to trust them this week. Denver gives up the seventh-least fantasy points to opposing D/STs, and no team has scored double-digit points on them since the Falcons back in Week 2.



Can I Kick it?

Here’s my top-12 kickers for Week 10:

1. Matt Bryant (at NO)

2. Stephen Gostkowski (vs. BUF)

3. Sebastian Janikowski (at BAL)

4. David Akers (vs. STL)

5. Lawrence Tynes (at CIN)

6. Shaun Suisham (vs. KC)

7. Matt Prater (at CAR)

8. Jason Hanson (at MIN)

9. Robbie Gould (vs. HOU)

10. Dan Bailey (at PHI)

11. Blair Walsh (vs. DET)

12. Shayne Graham (at CHI)



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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