Jeff Ratcliffe

Three And Out

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Getting Defensive: Week 14

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Defense wins championships.


With the fantasy playoffs now in full swing, it’s time to put this mantra into action. However, at this point in the season it’s important to remember a few other key fantasy maxims.


When making your roster decisions this week, don’t overthink it. If you were to play this week 100 times, make the lineup choice that would be successful most frequently, not the one that only has a five percent chance of hitting. Sometimes, this means avoiding the boom/bust plays in favor of higher floor options. Don’t get cute with your roster in the fantasy playoffs. Start your studs.


Now, let’s check in on the DST landscape for Week 14. 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.


Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $300,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 14. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ETHere's the FanDuel link.



The Usual Suspect

Seattle (at San Francisco) solidified their spot as the elite fantasy defense with a dominant performance against one of the league’s most prolific offenses on Monday night.



Preferred Plays

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

1. New England (vs. Cleveland) – While the Pats didn’t live up to expectations last week in Houston, they do get a butter matchup here with the potential to face Caleb Hanie or Alex Tanney. The Patriots are a top DST option this week even if Jason Campbell and/or Brandon Weeden are cleared to play.


2. Kansas City (at Washington) – After three tough weeks, the Chiefs are back in our good graces. While the Redskins haven’t turned the ball over a lot over the last month (just four turnovers) they have yielded 19 sacks during that span.


3. Baltimore (vs. Minnesota) – The Vikings aren’t the pushover of a matchup they were earlier in the season, but they have given up 11 sacks over the past two games. Baltimore has the pass rushers to capitalize on this matchup and offer a lot of upside here.



Still Solid

Arizona (vs. St. Louis) posted five sacks in a tough matchup against the Eagles last week. They remain a strong play against the sometimes-shaky Rams offense. ... Cincinnati (vs. Indianapolis) squares off against a floundering Colts team that has given up strong fantasy days in three of their last four games. ... St. Louis (at Arizona) has produced four or more sacks in three of their last five games. Arizona has had trouble keeping Carson Palmer upright this season, so look for Robert Quinn and Chris Long to have their way on Sunday. This opportunistic unit makes for a rock solid play this week.




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

1. Oakland (at NY Jets) – With 10 turnovers and 11 sacks yielded over the last three games, the Jets are arguably the top fantasy matchup for opposing defenses. Oakland is a middle of the pack DST, but they have the tools necessary to take advantage of this matchup. They’re the top Week 14 plug-and-play.


2. Buffalo (at Tampa Bay) – The Bills didn’t have the big fantasy day I had expected last week, but I’m sticking to my story. Buffalo is still one of the strongest fantasy streaming options down the stretch, and they get another good matchup here, as the Bucs have given up nine sacks in their last two games.


3. Houston (at Jacksonville) – This is one where you just have to close your eyes and click “submit lineup.” The Texans have not been a particularly good fantasy option this season, but they did hold Jacksonville to 13 points in their last meeting two weeks ago. You could do a lot worse than Houston this week.


In the four weeks since their bye, Jacksonville (vs. Houston) is averaging 8.25 fantasy points per game. They’re a risky play, but the Jags did post double-digits fantasy points in their last meeting with Houston. ...Tampa Bay (vs. Buffalo) doesn’t possess elite firepower, but they have put up double-digit fantasy points in two of their last three. ... Owners really scraping the bottom of the barrel may want to take a long look at Green Bay (vs. Atlanta) in a good matchup against a Falcons team that has yielded 11 sacks over the last two weeks. ... Digging even deeper, Denver (vs. Tennessee) isn’t a play for the risk adverse, but they offer loads of upside against a Titans team that has yielded double-digit fantasy points in five of their last eight games.


Middle of the Road

Pittsburgh (vs. Miami) has fluctuated between good and bad fantasy outings over the last two months, and would appear to be due for a good week after the stinker they posted on Thanksgiving. But it’s tough to trust such a streaky unit at this point in the season. ... Chicago (vs. Dallas) faces a tough matchup against a Cowboys team that still has not given up double-digit fantasy points this season. ... Dallas (at Chicago) looks like they’ll get Sean Lee back, but they’re still going to have their hands full with this Bears offense. ... New Orleans (vs. Carolina) has generated just two turnovers in their last five games and get a tough one against the surging Panthers. ... Last week, I wrote Indianapolis (at Cincinnati) off and they went out and posted double-digit fantasy points. Go figure. I’m still not willing to place much trust in this unit, especially against a Bengals team that has not yielded a sack in their last two games. ... Miami (at Pittsburgh) was one of last week’s top plays, but they face a Steelers team that has given up one sack and no takeaways in their last three games.



Matchup Downgrade

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

1. Tennessee (at Denver) – This one is fairly obvious. However, Tennessee does have plus matchups in their next two games against the Cards and Jags. They’re worthy of consideration for Weeks 15 and 16.


2. Carolina (at New Orleans) – While the Seahawks handled New Orleans on Monday night, I have my concerns with this matchup. The Saints play much better at home than they do on the road. In six home games this season, New Orleans has yielded a combined negative-six fantasy points.


3. San Francisco (vs. Seattle) – The surging Seahawks have given up just three sacks and zero turnovers in their last three games, with opposing DSTs scoring negative fantasy points in each of those contests. If you own the 49ers, you’re likely stuck playing them, but it’s far from a desirable matchup.



Bottom of the Barrel

Despite the strong matchup against the Giants, San Diego (vs. NY Giants) has done nothing to earn our trust in the fantasy playoffs. ... The NY Jets (vs. Oakland) have scored negative fantasy points in three of their last five games. ... Minnesota (at Baltimore) has created just two takeaways in their last six games, scoring a combined one fantasy point over that span. ... The revitalized NY Giants (at San Diego) aren’t an ideal play against the potent Chargers offense. ... Likewise, Philadelphia (vs. Detroit) has turned things around in the second half of the season, but the Lions currently yield the fifth-least fantasy points per game. ... On the other side of this contest, Philly has been one of the toughest fantasy matchups with Nick Foles under center. Despite their strong Thanksgiving performance, you’re going to want to fade Detroit (at Philadelphia) this week. ... Atlanta (at Green Bay) has managed just five sacks and four takeaways in their last five games. They’re currently fantasy’s No. 32 unit. ... Washington (vs. Kansas City) faces a Chiefs team that has turned the ball over just 12 times and has yet to yield a defensive score this season. ... Cleveland (at New England) couldn’t get it done last week against the Jags, and they’re not going to get it done this week against the Pats.



Can I Kick it?

Here are my top 12 kickers for Week 14:


1. Justin Tucker (vs. MIN)

2. Stephen Gostkowski (vs. CLE)

3. Matt Prater (vs. TEN)

4. Garrett Hartley (vs. CAR)

5. Adam Vinatieri (at CIN)

6. Alex Henery (vs. DET)

7. Matt Bryant (at GB)

8. Steven Hauschka (at SF)

9. Dan Bailey (at CHI)

10. Phil Dawson (vs. SEA)

11. Mason Crosby (vs. ATL)

12. Randy Bullock (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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