Jeff Ratcliffe

Three And Out

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Getting Defensive: Week 15

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

You made it through the first round of the fantasy playoff gauntlet, but there’s still at least two more weeks before you can hoist that championship trophy.


Last week we saw a historic performance out of the Seahawks D/ST that propelled many teams forward. Seattle’s been a top option all season, and they were undoubtedly owned in your leagues.


However, the second-highest score of the week came from the Browns, who racked up five sacks, a pick, and a score while holding the Chiefs to just seven points. Cleveland was the top plug-and-play option in last week’s column, so hopefully some of you caught lightning in a bottle with them.


There’s a number of strong plays this week. Let’s see if we can mine some fantasy gold.



The Usual Suspects

Teams you’re not even thinking about benching this week include – Chicago (vs. Green Bay), Seattle (at Buffalo), Denver (at Baltimore)



Preferred Plays

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

1. Cincinnati (at Philadelphia)Nick Foles and company looked better last week against a suspect Tampa pass defense, but he faces a much tougher test in the Bengals defense that currently leads the league in sacks. If the Bucs were able to tee off on Foles for six sacks, just imagine what Cincinnati will do.


2. Green Bay (vs. Chicago) – When these divisional foes last met back in Week 2, the Packers picked off four Jay Cutler passes and sacked him seven times. The Packers D/ST has been up and down since then, but given the fact that the Bears have yielded double-digit fantasy points to five of their last eight opponents, I like the Packers chance of a repeat performance.


3. Miami (at Jacksonville) – The Jaguars’ anemic offense has managed to top 20 points just twice in their last seven games, as they continue to be one of the best fantasy matchups for D/STs. Miami is a middle of the pack D/ST, but they’ve shown that they can take advantage of a strong matchup this season with double-digit points against the Cardinals, Bills, and Jets this season.


4. Dallas (at Pittsburgh) – Maybe you’re still holding onto the Cowboys after their Week 10 explosion against the Eagles. Well, they haven’t come close to matching that output since then, but there’s a silver lining to that cloud. The Steelers have given up double-digit fantasy points in four of their last six, including last week with Ben Roethlisberger back in the lineup.




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

1. Detroit (at Arizona) – The Seahawks singlehandedly won a lot of games for fantasy owners last week, as they put up a massive 39 fantasy points against the Cardinals. The Lions won’t touch that lofty number, but they’re still the top plug-and-play of the week. Arizona has yielded double-digit fantasy points to nine of their last ten opponents. If you’re in a pinch, the Lions are a top-five D/ST play this week.


2. New York Jets (at Tennessee) – This is third week in a row that I’ve mentioned the Jets here, and so far, so good. The Jets have held their last two opponents to six and ten points respectively and have put up double-digit fantasy points in both games. This week they face a Titans team that gives up the sixth-most fantasy points per game to D/STs. Oh, and by the way, their Week 16 opponent is the Chargers, who give up the seventh-most. The Jets don’t have a massive upside, but they’re about as solid of a plug-and-play as they come.


3. Tennessee (vs. New York Jets) – After not doing much of anything for most of the season, the Titans defense has put up two big efforts in their last four games with 22 fantasy points against Miami in Week 10 and 16 fantasy points against the Colts last week. The Jets have been extremely friendly to opposing D/STs this season, giving up double-digit points in seven of their last ten games.


4. Carolina (at San Diego) – Your upside is fairly limited with the Panthers, as they have only reached double-digit fantasy points just three times this season, but the Chargers give Carolina a matchup boost and raise their fantasy ceiling in Week 15. I wouldn’t go crazy here, but they’re worth a look in deeper leagues.


5. Oakland (vs. Kansas City) – Just when it looked like Kansas City was improving, they went out and put up a stinker to the Browns last week, giving up five sacks, a pick, and a return touchdown while scoring just seven points. Oakland is the lowest scoring D/ST, so this play isn’t for the faint of heart. But if you’re desperate, I suppose you could do worse.



Matchup Downgrade

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

1. San Francisco (at New England) – Unless you have an extremely strong alternative option, I don’t think you can sit San Francisco, but you will need to temper your expectations for the 49ers this week. I’m not ruling out the possibility they put up a strong week, just as they did in a poor matchup against the Saints in Week 12. But given the fact that the Patriots currently yield an average of -1.5 fantasy points per game to D/STs, the odds are certainly stacked against the Niners.


2. Baltimore (vs. Denver) – The Ravens D/ST put together a little run at the end of the fantasy regular season, but hopefully you didn’t rely on them last week against the Redskins. If you did, you got just one fantasy point out of Baltimore. Things don’t get much better this week against Peyton Manning and the Broncos, who give up the sixth-least fantasy points to D/STs and have only yielded double-digit points twice this season.


3. Atlanta (vs. New York Giants) – New York is coming off a 52-27 thumping of the Saints, and have been an extremely formidable opponent for D/STs this season. While the Falcons do have double-digit games in two of their last four, they also put up -5 fantasy points last week against Carolina. You don’t want to risk your playoff life on Atlanta this week.



Can I Kick it?

Here’s my top-12 kickers for Week 15:

1. Lawrence Tynes (at ATL)

2. Matt Bryant (vs. NYG)

3. Shayne Graham (vs. IND)

4. Jason Hanson (at ARI)

5. Stephen Gostkowski (vs. SF)

6. Sebastian Janikowski (vs. KC)

7. Matt Prater (at BAL)

8. Connor Barth (at NO)

9. Garrett Hartley (vs. TB)

10. Dan Bailey (vs. PIT)

11. Phil Dawson (vs. WAS)

12. Justin Tucker (vs. DEN)


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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