Jeff Ratcliffe

Three And Out

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Getting Defensive: Week 14

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Week 14 is upon us, and it’s time to put our mantra of “defense winning championships” into action.


Looking back to last week, I recommended the Jets, Bengals, and Chargers as three team defenses to stash for the playoffs in that order. All three got off to a strong start and recorded double-digit fantasy points last week. They all need to be owned, so snatch them up if you’re struggling at D/ST.


It’s do or die time this week, so let’s get right into the matchups.



The Usual Suspects

Teams you’re not even thinking about benching this week include – Chicago (at Minnesota), San Francisco (vs. Miami), Seattle (vs. Arizona), Denver (at Oakland)



Preferred Plays

Your solid D/STs with a weekly matchup upgrade. They're just below the Usual Suspects tier.

1. Pittsburgh (vs. San Diego) – The Steelers are fighting for their playoff lives, and their defense has really rounded into form at just the right time. A rejuvenated James Harrison has significantly helped the Pittsburgh pass rush, which should capitalize on a San Diego offensive line that has given up 14 sacks in the last three weeks. The anemic Chargers offense has also yielded double-digit fantasy points in each of the last four games.


2. Cincinnati (vs. Dallas) – Outside of maybe the Broncos, the Bengals are the hottest D/ST in the league over the last four weeks. They’ve recorded double-digit fantasy points and have not given up more than 13 points to any opponent in each game during that stretch. The Cowboys offense has rebounded after their early season struggles, but Tony Romo's propensity for slinging the rock creates the potential for a huge fantasy day for the Bengals.


3. Tampa Bay (vs. Philadelphia) Nick Foles and Bryce Brown have righted the ship a bit for the Eagles, but you could still do a lot worse than facing a rookie quarterback in the first round of the playoffs with your D/ST. The Buccaneers tough run defense should give Brown more trouble than he’s faced in the last two games, which means we could see more passing from Foles. The Bucs pass defense is poor, but they still have Ronde Barber and a bunch of younger players like Lavonte David and Mark Baron who have the potential to turn a poorly thrown pass into six points.




You don't want to rely on these D/STs on a weekly basis, but their matchup is too juicy to pass up.

1. Cleveland (vs. Kansas City) – Kansas City is regressing a bit towards the mean and are not the elite fantasy matchup they were earlier in the season. However, this Browns team showed us two weeks ago that they’re fully able to take advantage of a strong matchup, as they racked up eight turnovers on the Steelers.  


2. New York Jets (at Jacksonville) – As I mentioned earlier, the Jets have one of the strongest schedules for the stretch run of the fantasy season. They didn’t put up a huge number against the Cardinals last week, but you’ll take the 11 fantasy points they scored in standard leagues. Here’s their remaining schedule with their opponents D/ST matchup rank in parentheses – Jacksonville (6th), Tennessee (7th), and San Diego (5th). If the Jets are still available, they make for the best plug-and-play D/ST for the fantasy playoffs.


3. Indianapolis (vs. Tennessee) – Indianapolis is playing inspired football, and this week face a Titans team that has given up twenty-plus fantasy points in two of their last four games. The Colts defense has been extremely streaky, so there is plenty of risk that comes with starting them. If you’re in a situation where it behooves you to be more risk adverse, this is not the play for you.


4. Jacksonville (vs. New York Jets) – The Jets have given up double-digit fantasy points in seven of their last nine games. In their last two games, New York has turned the ball over nine times and given up two scores. While the Jags have been an extremely poor fantasy option this season, the Jets enormous ceiling is a huge matchup boost. 




Matchup Downgrade

They shouldn't be dropped, but a tough matchup limits the fantasy upside of these D/STs.

1. Houston (at New England) – After back-to-back stinkers, the Texans rebounded last week with a game effort against the Titans, racking up a combined 12 sacks and turnovers and holding Tennessee to just ten points. If you started them, you’re very happy with that, but it’s going to be very tough to roll with them this week. The Patriots currently yield an average of -1.3 points per game in standard scoring leagues.


2. New England (vs. Houston) – The Patriots are the only team that gives up less fantasy points per game than the Texans do to opposing D/STs. While New England has massive fantasy upside, they’re not the strongest defense in the league, which leaves them vulnerable to this matchup. Only one team has put up double-digit fantasy points on Houston, and the Texans have held five teams to negative fantasy points this season.


3. Baltimore (at Washington) – Despite being hit hard by the injury bug, the Ravens have managed to remain a relatively strong D/ST play. Baltimore has hit double-digit fantasy points in three of their last four, but I wouldn’t count on them getting there this week. Washington hasn’t given up double-digit fantasy points yet this season, so you’re best to pursue other options here.



Can I Kick it?

Here’s my top-12 kickers for Week 14:

1. Matt Bryant (at CAR)

2. Lawrence Tynes (vs. NO)

3. Stephen Gostkowski (vs. HOU)

4. Connor Barth (vs. PHI

5. Justin Tucker (at WAS)

6. Matt Prater (at OAK)

7. Mike Nugent (vs. DAL

8. David Akers (vs. MIS)

9. Shayne Graham (at NE)

10. Dan Bailey (at CIN)

11. Jason Hanson (at GB)

12. Rian Lindell (vs. STL)    



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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