Jeff Ratcliffe

Three And Out

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Getting Defensive: Week 11

Wednesday, November 14, 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. Chicago), Chicago (at San Francisco), Houston (vs. Jacksonville)



Preferred Plays

1. Denver (vs. San Diego) – There’s no team D/ST hotter than the Broncos right now. They’ve put up 20-plus points in two of their last four games, and won a lot of folks their Week 10 matchups. This week they face the same Chargers team they racked up six turnovers and two scores on back in Week 6. Giddy up.


2. Atlanta (vs. Arizona) – The Cardinals have given up double-digit fantasy points to opposing D/STs in five of their last six games. Look for John Abraham and Kroy Biermann to get after John Skelton early and often in this one, which could lead to plenty of turnover opportunities for this Falcons defense.


3. Dallas (vs. Cleveland) – It was looking rocky for the Cowboys after the first half last week, but they exploded for three second-half TDs against the Eagles. On paper, their matchup against the Browns doesn’t look particularly strong. Cleveland gives up the 14th most fantasy points per game to D/STs, but they’re trending upward thanks to an anemic offense. If you started the Cowboys last week, keep riding them in this one.


4. Tampa Bay (at Carolina) – Tampa Bay may have been overshadowed by the performances of the Broncos and Cowboys D/STs in Week 10, but they were still pretty darn good, putting up two turnovers and two scores against the Chargers. This week they get a Panthers team that just gave up 28 fantasy points to Denver and currently yield the eighth-most fantasy points per game to D/STs.




1. Cincinnati (at Kansas City) – While it wasn’t the huge number we’ve seen in most weeks this season, the Steelers still managed nine fantasy points against the Chiefs on Monday night. The Bengals are coming off a rock solid defensive performance in a tough matchup against the Giants. They should have no problem with the Chiefs and make for the top plug-and-play option this week.


2. St. Louis (vs. New York Jets) – Aside from two tough outings in back-to-back weeks against the Pats and Packers, this Rams defense has been better than you might think this season. They’ve topped double-digit fantasy points three times, and could make that four this weekend. The Jets give up the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing D/STs and have yielded double-digit fantasy points in five of their last six games.


3. Washington (vs. Philadelphia) – The Eagles have turned into a team you circle on your calendars for your D/STs. This week they face a Redskins defense that was hit hard with injuries and has been generally uninspiring this season. However, they make for a great spot-start if you’re in a pinch. Nick Foles will get the start for Philadelphia, and the fact that all of the Cowboys’ Week 10 fantasy points came while he was in the game bodes well for the Skins.



Matchup Downgrade

1. Arizona (at Atlanta) – If you held onto the Cardinals through their bye, you’re not exactly rewarded in this one. The Falcons give up the fourth-least fantasy points per game to opposing D/STs and have given up negative points in each of their last two games.


2. Pittsburgh (vs. Baltimore) – The Steelers D/ST was solid but unspectacular on Monday night, and that about sums up their play for this entire season. The days where you locked them into your lineup are gone, and you may want to take a look at other options this week. The Ravens just put up a 50 burger on the Raiders, and look to be firing on all cylinders.


3. New England (vs. Indianapolis) – I’m surprised and impressed by this Colts offense. They got off to what looked to be a slow start, giving up double-digit fantasy points to the Bears D/ST in Week 1. Since then they’ve held their opponents in check, and only one team has topped ten fantasy points on them. The Patriots D/ST does come with a relatively high ceiling, but last week they also showed us that their floor is pretty low managing just three fantasy points against the Bills.



Don’t Get Cute

1. Indianapolis (at New England) – The Colts D/ST had their biggest fantasy performance of the season in Week 10, but it came in a great matchup against the Jaguars. This week they get the exact opposite in a Patriots team that has yielded negative fantasy points in four-of-nine games this season.


2. San Diego (at Denver) – San Diego has been the picture of inconsistency this season. They followed up their huge Week 9 performance against the Chiefs with a stinker against the Bucs this past Sunday. Look for a repeat of the latter this week. The Broncos have given up a total of negative three fantasy points over their last three games.


3. Carolina (vs. Tampa Bay) – The Panthers defense has a new look, but they’re still struggling to put up fantasy points, scoring just one last week against the Broncos. Don’t expect a turnaround this week. Tampa Bay has really found their groove on offense and currently gives up the second-least fantasy points per game to D/STs.



Can I Kick it?

Here’s my top-12 kickers for Week 11:

1. Sebastian Janikowski (vs. NO)

2. Stephen Gostkowski (vs. IND)

3. Matt Bryant (vs. ARI)

4. Shayne Graham (vs. JAC)

5. David Akers (vs. CHI)

6. Greg Zuerlein (vs. NYJ)

7. Garrett Hartley (at OAK)

8. Mike Nugent (at KC)

9. Matt Prater (vs. SD)

10. Connor Barth (at CAR)

11. Mason Crosby (at DET)

12. Dan Bailey (vs. 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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