Jeff Ratcliffe

Three And Out

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Getting Defensive: Week 16

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The fantasy playoffs is not the time to get cute. Start your studs.


This logic not only applies to your positional players, but also to your D/ST. Last week, many thought the Lions were an elite play and started them over more consistent options like the Bears.


That didn’t work out so well.


If you’re faced with a similar decision this week, start your studs. Good matchups are certainly enticing, but the higher floor that comes with stud defenses always trumps rolling the dice on a bad defense in a good matchup.



The Usual Suspects

Teams you’re not even thinking about benching this week include – Chicago (at Arizona), Houston (vs. Minnesota), Denver (vs. Cleveland)



Preferred Plays

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

1. New England (at Jacksonville) – The Pats have floundered in their last three games after putting up twenty-plus in back-to-back weeks. While Monday night’s 41 points yielded to the 49ers is concerning, the Jaguars have only topped 30 points once this season. Jacksonville managed just three points last week against the Dolphins, and currently give up the sixth-most fantasy points per game to opposing D/STs.


2. Green Bay (vs. Tennessee) – Green Bay has put together a nice little run for fantasy owners with double-digit points in each of the last two weeks. The good times continue to roll in this one against an inept Titans offense that is prone to turn the ball over and give up sacks in bunches.


3. Arizona (vs. Chicago) – While many thought the Lions D/ST would have a field day with the Cardinals last week, it was actually the other way around. Arizona racked up four turnovers and two scores while holding Detroit to just ten points. It’s unlikely the Cardinals top 20 fantasy points again this week, but the Bears have been an extremely favorable matchup, giving up double-digit points in six of their last nine games.


4. Atlanta (at Detroit) – Atlanta pitched a rare shutout last week against a strong Giants offense. With three turnovers and just one sack, it wasn’t a monster performance, but the shutout likely scored well in your fantasy league. The Lions were ugly last week, and we have no indication that they’re going to turn that around in this one.




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

1. San Diego (at New York Jets) Mark Sanchez will not start in this one, but a QB change will have little impact on the matchup. Greg McElroy is more of a game manager than Sanchez, but his inexperience bodes well for the Chargers. The Jets have yielded double-digit fantasy points to eight of their last eleven opponents. I like the Chargers chances in this one.  


2. Miami (vs. Buffalo) – There’s a good chance the Dolphins are available in your league, as they really haven’t done much over the last month. In fact, the last time they topped double-digit fantasy points was five weeks ago against the Bills. Since then, Buffalo has given up double-digits in three of four games. This isn’t a huge upside play, but Miami has a relatively safe floor here.


3. New York Jets (vs. San Diego) – The Jets D/ST had a solid and steady performance last week against the Titans. They likely didn’t win you your game, but they didn’t lose it for you either. This week they get another strong matchup against a Chargers team that has given up double-digit fantasy points in five of their last six games.


4. Washington (at Philadelphia) – Just when it looked like the Eagles were turning a corner, they went out and stunk up the joint on Thursday night giving up five turnovers and a score to the Bengals. Washington hasn’t been a particularly desirable fantasy play this season, but they did top double-digit points when they last faced Philadelphia back in Week 11. You could do a lot worse than the Skins this week.


5. Indianapolis (at Kansas City) – The Colts have been the ultimate roller coaster D/ST over the last six weeks. Starting in Week 10, Indianapolis has posted double-digit fantasy points followed by negative fantasy points three straight times. This pattern has a good chance to continue this week against the extremely fantasy friendly Chiefs, who have scored a combined seven points in the last two weeks while yielding double-digit fantasy points in both contests.



Matchup Downgrade

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

1. Seattle (vs. San Francisco) – The Seahawks have been one of the playoff darlings with huge games in each of the last two weeks, but the 49ers are one of the tougher matchups for D/STs with only one of their last seven opponents scoring more than five fantasy points on them (the Rams did it in Week 13). The possible suspension of Richard Sherman certainly doesn’t help the cause here. His appeal will be heard on Friday, but you still have to downgrade the Seahawks even with Sherman in the lineup.


2. San Francisco (at Seattle) – Things are just as bad on the other side of the ball in this matchup. The Seattle offense has put up 50 or more points in each of their last two games, and the Seahawks have held their last their opposing D/STs to negative fantasy points.


3. Minnesota (at Houston) – Minnesota has been a sneaky play over the last two weeks scoring a touchdown and notching double-digit fantasy points in both games. However, it’s really tough to roll with them this week against a Texans team that gives up the second-least fantasy points to D/STs on a per game basis. Houston has yielded double-digit fantasy points just once this season.



Can I Kick it?

Here’s my top-12 kickers for Week 16:

1. Stephen Gostkowski (at JAC)

2. Matt Bryant (at DET)

3. Matt Prater (vs. CLE)

4. Shayne Graham (vs. MIN)

5. Dan Bailey (vs. NO)

6. Lawrence Tynes (at BAL)

7. Jason Hanson (vs. ATL)

8. Sebastian Janikowski (at CAR)

9. Garrett Hartley (at DAL)

10. Connor Barth (vs. STL)

11. Justin Tucker (vs. NYG)

12. Kai Forbath (at PHI)


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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