Jeff Ratcliffe

Three And Out

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Getting Defensive: Week 12

Wednesday, November 21, 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 – Chicago (vs. Minnesota), Houston (at Detroit), Seattle (at Miami), New England (at New York Jets)



Preferred Plays

1. Denver (at Kanas City) – The Broncos have been on an absolute tear over the last month with double-digit fantasy points in three of four games. They now sit second in standard scoring leagues behind only the Bears. Oh, and they get the Chiefs this weekend. Gobble gobble.


2. Baltimore (at San Diego) – San Diego currently gives up the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing D/STs. Despite losing Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb, the Ravens defense hasn’t skipped a beat in terms of fantasy production. Baltimore has recorded six turnovers and two scores in their last two games. I like their chances of adding to those totals against the turnover prone Chargers.


3. Arizona (vs. St. Louis) – After floundering for a bit mid-season, the Cardinals D/ST exploded last week for six turnovers against the high-powered Falcons offense. This week, they face a much less intimidating opponent in the Rams, who have topped 30 points just once this season.


4. Minnesota (at Chicago) – The Vikings haven’t exactly been a defensive stalwart this season, allowing 30 points or more in three of their last five games and producing just five turnovers during that stretch. However, this week they face a Bears team that even with Jay Cutler has been a strong fantasy matchup for D/STs.




1. Carolina (at Philadelphia) – A friend of mine has started the Eagles’ opponent as his D/ST in each of the last three weeks. He’s gotten a combined total of 56 points using this strategy and is 3-0 in that stretch. Philadelphia now gives up the second-most fantasy points per game to D/STs and is rapidly closing in on the Chiefs. The Panthers aren’t exactly a sexy option, but they showed last week that they can put up double-digit fantasy points against a good Bucs offense. Just imagine what they’re going to do this weekend.


2. St. Louis (at Arizona) – While the Rams weren’t the best play last week against the Jets, they still posted a respectable seven fantasy points. I expect that total to be higher this week against a Cardinals team that has given up double-digit fantasy points to six of their last seven opponents.


3. Cincinnati (vs. Oakland) – Oakland has turned the ball over five times and given up two scores in their last two games. They face a Bengals D/ST that seems to have found an identity over the last two weeks, recording double-digit fantasy points in both contests. You could do a lot worse this week.


4. Cleveland (vs. Pittsburgh) – The Browns D/ST hasn’t exactly been a great fantasy option this season, but they get a huge boost this week against Charlie Batch and the Steelers. With Phil Taylor back, the Cleveland defensive line is clicking and racked up seven sacks last week. They should have no problem getting to Batch and forcing him to make decisions.



Matchup Downgrade

1. San Francisco (at New Orleans) – Tough one for 49ers owners. They’re still an elite D/ST option, but they face the second-worst fantasy matchup in the Saints. Start them at your own risk.


2. Atlanta (at Tampa Bay) – This one is actually bad on both sides for the D/STs, but I’m highlighting the Falcons because they’re been the better of the two options this season. The Bucs yield the third-least fantasy points per game to D/STs, and the Falcons aren’t far behind at the sixth-least.


3. Green Bay (at New York Giants) – Green Bay is ordinarily a "set it and forget it" D/ST, but the Giants have been a very tough matchup. Outside of the Bengals in Week 10, no team defense has scored double-digits on the G-Men. A refreshed Giants team coming off their bye doesn’t bode well for the Packers D/ST.



Don’t Get Cute

1. New Orleans (vs. San Francisco) – A few weeks back, I recommended that you start the Saints against the Eagles, and that strategy was just crazy enough to work. The Saints have scored double-digits in two of their last three, but they’ve also scored negative points in three of their last five. It’s not worth the risk to start New Orleans in a poor matchup against the 49ers.


2. San Diego (vs. Baltimore) – The Chargers are another very tempting D/ST, but it’s best to resist the urge to start them this week. Despite the fact that they’ve scored the fourth-most fantasy points this season, San Diego has been a roller coaster ride. The Ravens offense hasn’t exactly been a model of consistency either, but their extremely high ceiling makes starting the Chargers a risky proposition.



Can I Kick it?

Here’s my top-12 kickers for Week 12:

1. Matt Bryant (at TB)

2. Stephen Gostkowski (at NYJ)

3. Shayne Graham (at DET)

4. David Akers (at NO)

5. Matt Prater (at KC)

6. Dan Bailey (vs. WAS)

7. Sebastian Janikowski (at CIN)

8. Lawrence Tynes (vs. GB)

9. Garrett Hartley (vs. SF)

10. Alex Henery (vs. CAR)

11. Jason Hanson (vs. HOU)

12. Rob Bironas (at JAC)



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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