Jeff Ratcliffe

Three And Out

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Getting Defensive: Week 13

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It’s crunch time in a lot of leagues with this likely being the final week of the regular season. Like we’ve done all season long, we’re going to gain an edge on our opponents by exploiting the matchups on the defensive side of the ball.


Here’s what Week 13 has in store for us. Remember that the following is a breakdown of my thoughts on all of the team defenses for the week, but is not my rankings. Feel free to shoot me a tweet if you have any specific questions about start/sit dilemmas that I don’t answer here.

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The Usual Suspects

Carolina (vs. Tampa Bay) has not topped double-digit fantasy points in their last two games, but they’re still an elite fantasy option. A surprisingly efficient Mike Glennon has thrown just one interception in his last six games, but the Panthers gave him trouble in their previous meeting. If you own Carolina, don’t overthink it. Just start them.



Preferred Plays

Your solid fantasy defenses with a weekly matchup upgrade. They're just below the Usual Suspects tier.

1. New England (at Houston) – The Pats haven’t been able to stop much of anything since losing Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork, but they were able to produce four turnovers against the Broncos on Sunday night. Case Keenum’s struggles are just what the doctor ordered for New England.


2. Cleveland (vs. Jacksonville) – While the Browns Week 12 performance against Pittsburgh doesn’t inspire much confidence, they’re a strong start this week. Jacksonville has improved but they’re still giving up an average of nearly nine fantasy points per game over their last three games.



Still Solid

St. Louis (at San Francisco) is a very different team than when these two last met back in Week 4. The Rams have forced eight turnovers and scored three times in their last two games. ... On the other side of this matchup San Francisco (vs. St. Louis) has scored double-digit fantasy points in six of their last eight games.




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

1. Miami (at NY Jets) – The Jets have been a fantasy bonanza for opposing defenses over the last month and a half. Geno Smith has thrown five interception and been sacked seven times in the last two games. The Dolphins should have no problem capitalizing on this matchup. They’re the top plug-and-play option of the week.


2. Buffalo (vs. Atlanta) – Over their last five games, the Falcons have yielded an average of 13.6 fantasy points, which would put them near the top of the league during that span. The Bills showed us before their bye that they’re capable of taking advantage of a good matchup. Speaking of which, Buffalo gets the Jags and Dolphins in Weeks 15 and 16.


3. Pittsburgh (at Baltimore) Don’t call it a comeback. The Steelers appear to have rediscovered how to play defense after they put a beating on Cleveland, posting four takeaways and five sacks. The Ravens have really struggled to get much of anything done on offense this season, and have not topped 30 points since Week 1. While this may be more of a ground and pound game, you could still do a lot worse than the Steelers this week.

4. Jacksonville (at Cleveland) – As crazy as this sounds, I actually like the Jags this week. They’ve put up double-digit fantasy points in two of their last three games and get a Browns team that had yielded nine sacks, eight takeaways, and three scores in their last two games. The Jags are the ultra-sneaky play of the week.



Middle of the Road

Washington (vs. NY Giants) is tempting in a good matchup against a Giants team that remains the best fantasy matchup for defenses this season, but Washington has only generated four takeaways and seven sacks in their last four games. ... On paper, Dallas (vs. Oakland) has a good matchup, but I just can’t bring myself to trust them with Sean Lee on the sideline. ... The NY Jets (vs. Miami) have only managed double-digit fantasy points twice this season. It’s tough to roll with them despite the solid matchup against the Dolphins. ... Likewise, Chicago (at Minnesota) has a good matchup against the Vikings, but they looked horrible last week in St. Louis. The safe play is to fade the Bears this week. ... The Cardinals have not given up double-digit fantasy points since Week 7, so you’re probably best to avoid Philadelphia (vs. Arizona) this week. ... Tampa Bay (at Carolina) has racked up eight turnovers and two scores in their last two games, but they have to face a strong Panthers team on the road. ... Tennessee (at Indianapolis) was unable to get anything done against the Colts two weeks ago, and I don’t expect much to change this time around. ... The NY Giants (at Washington) certainly have some potential against a struggling Washington team, but you can likely do better. ... Baltimore (vs. Pittsburgh) took advantage of a strong matchup last week, but the revitalized Steelers offense has given up zero turnovers and just one sack in their last two games.



Matchup Downgrade

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

1. Kansas City (vs. Denver) – The Chiefs continued to flounder last week, managing no takeaways and one sack. They now have just two sacks in their last four games, and they could be without their two best pass rushers, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. You don’t want any piece of the Chiefs this week.


2. Seattle (vs. New Orleans) – It’s almost impossible to sit the Seahawks, but it would be foolish to ignore this matchup. The Saints aren’t quite the same team on the road, but they're still capable of putting a lot of points on the board in a hurry.


3. Cincinnati (vs. San Diego) – If you own the Bengals, you almost have to start them. But keep in mind that no team has managed to post double-digit fantasy points on the Chargers since the Raiders did it back in Week 5. San Diego has also turned the ball over just three times in their last six games.


Yet another strong unit in a poor matchup, Arizona (at Philadelphia) faces an Eagles team that has given up a combined negative-13 fantasy points in the five games in which Nick Foles was healthy. ... I really like what New Orleans (at Seattle) is doing on defense this season, but they get a Seahawks team that has yielded just three takeaways and two sacks in their last three games. ...  While the Chiefs defense is sputtering, their offense has held opposing fantasy defenses in check. Downgrade Denver (at Kansas City) this week.



Bottom of the Barrel

Atlanta (at Buffalo) has a good matchup this week, but they’re still fantasy’s No. 32 defense. Don’t get cute with the Falcons. ... Detroit (vs. Green Bay) has not topped double-digit fantasy points since Week 4, and that trend doesn’t reverse this week. ... I wouldn’t give much thought to starting Oakland (at Dallas) on a short week against a Dallas team that has yet to give up double-digit fantasy point to an opposing defense this season. ... The Lions faltered a bit last week thanks to four Matthew Stafford interceptions, but they’re still a very tough matchup for a Green Bay (at Detroit) team that has managed just five takeaways in their last eight games. ... Minnesota (vs. Chicago) has generated zero turnovers in their last three games. ... Not much of anything is going right for Houston (vs. New England) these days. I still love me some J.J. Watt, but you’re not even thinking about starting the Texans this week. ... San Diego (vs. Cincinnati) has only managed double-digit points against the Jags this season. ... After last week, the Indianapolis (vs. Tennessee) defense is now dead to me.



Can I Kick it?

Here are my top 12 kickers for Week 13:


1. Stephen Gostkowski (at HOU)

2. Matt Prater (at KC)

3. Justin Tucker (vs. PIT)

4. Blair Walsh (vs. CHI)

5. Mason Crosby (at DET)

6. Steven Hauschka (vs. NO)

7. Dan Carpenter (vs. ATL)

8. Adam Vinatieri (vs. TEN)

9. Dan Bailey (vs. OAK)

10. Robbie Gould (at MIN)

11. Phil Dawson (vs. STL)

12. Josh Brown (at WAS)


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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