Jeff Ratcliffe

Three And Out

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Getting Defensive: Week 15

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

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 some crazy games in the snow, and a ton of fantasy points scored by the Chiefs, Bucs, and Cards. This week most of the top units are in extremely strong matchups, but there are still a few streamable options


Let’s see if we can mine some fantasy gold in Week 15. 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 15. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ETHere's the FanDuel link. 



The Usual Suspects

Seattle (at NY Giants) gets an ideal fantasy playoffs matchup against the sinking G-Men. ... Carolina (vs. NY Jets) faces a Jets team that looked good last week, but has given up double-digit fantasy points in six of their last eight games. ... After a rough stretch against the Broncos and Chargers, Kansas City (at Oakland) surged back onto the fantasy radar last week. They’re locked in your lineup in this strong matchup. ... San Francisco (at Tampa Bay) may be coming west to east, but they’re still an automatic start against a Bucs team that has yielded 10 sacks and four takeaways in the last three games.



Preferred Plays

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

1. Arizona (at Tennessee) – With six turnovers in their last two games, the Titans are exactly who Cardinals owners want to see this week. If that applies to you, make sure you have a backup plan in place for next week when Arizona gets the Seahawks.


2. New Orleans (at St. Louis) – Thanks to a strong pass rush, the Saints have been an extremely solid fantasy option this season. My one concern is they have only generated two takeaways in their last six 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. Buffalo (at Jacksonville) – The Bills weren’t spectacular last week, but they did post solid fantasy points thanks to two interceptions. Jacksonville has proven to be a tougher matchup in the second half of the season, but it’s still worth rolling the dice on Buffalo this week if your options are thin.


2. Philadelphia (at Minnesota) – You’re obviously not starting the Eagles over solid top 10 options, but Philly is the team you want to target if you’ve streamed all season. The Eagles have posted double-digit fantasy points in each of their last two games, while the Vikings could be without their top weapon, Adrian Peterson.


3. Jacksonville (vs. Buffalo) – This play isn’t for the faint of heart, but considering how E.J. Manuel has looked recently, you could do a lot worse than the Jags this week. They’ve posted a combined 11 sacks and takeaways over the last two weeks, which is the exact same total the Bills yielded to Bucs last week.


4. Dallas (vs. Green Bay) – They’re at the bottom of the list as a bit of a hedge. If Aaron Rodgers plays, you don’t want any piece of the Cowboys. However, he’s currently about 50-50 to suit up. If Matt Flynn is under center, the Cowboys make for a strong play against this Green Bay team that has given up 12 sacks and five takeaways in the last two games. 



Middle of the Road

Tennessee (vs. Arizona) is the most tempting of the mid-pack options. If you’re really scrambling, the Titans offer the most upside of this bunch. ... On the other hand, Chicago (at Cleveland) doesn’t have much fantasy upside, as they have only generated one turnover in their last three games. ... New England (at Miami) gets a downgrade this week after back-to-back disappointments in strong matchups. ... Detroit (vs. Baltimore) scored two touchdowns last week, but got torched by the Eagles offense. ... Green Bay (at Dallas) has six takeaways in their last two games, but they face a Cowboys team that has yielded the third-least fantasy points to opposing defenses this season. ... Cleveland (vs. Chicago) looked very good against the Pats last week, but it’s a little too tough to trust them against the Bears, who give up the fifth-least fantasy points per game. ... While the Lions have given up double-digit fantasy points in two of their last three, I’m reluctant to roll with Baltimore (at Detroit) on the road this week. You likely have better options elsewhere. ... Miami (vs. New England) managed just one fantasy point last week. They’re not ideal, even against a banged up Patriots squad sans Rob Gronkowski. ... Tampa Bay (vs. San Francisco) posted huge numbers last week, but they face a stingy 49ers team that has only turned the ball over once in each of their last four games. ... Jason Worilds has helped reinvigorate the Steelers, though I’d lean toward other options this week. The Bengals have not yielded a sack in the last three weeks.



Matchup Downgrade

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

1. St. Louis (vs. New Orleans) – It isn’t a home game for the Saints, but they’re still in a dome this week. We just saw New Orleans hold one of the league’s top units to zero fantasy points, so it’s a good idea to fade the Rams this week.


2. Denver (vs. San Diego) – The last time these two met, the Broncos generated zero turnovers and managed just four fantasy points. They’re not a good option with the fantasy playoffs on the line.


3. Cincinnati (at Pittsburgh) – Over the last four games, the Steelers have turned the ball over once and have given up just four sacks. If you own the Bengals, you may want to look elsewhere, especially after how Andrew Luck performed against them last week.



Bottom of the Barrel

Indianapolis (vs. Houston) has scored negative fantasy points in three of their last six games. Despite the good matchup, they’re not worth the risk. ... Atlanta (vs. Washington) had their best outing of the season last week, posting two takeaways, five sacks, and a score against the Rodgers-less Packers. Still, it’s too tough to put our fantasy lives on the line with this unit. ... Washington (at Atlanta) has been a bottom of the barrel option for most of the season, and we’re going to keep them there in this one. ... San Diego (at Denver) gets the Broncos this week. That’s all I have to say about that. ... I got a little cute with Oakland (vs. Kansas City) last week and got burnt. They are who we thought they were. ... The Seahawks have given up negative fantasy points in three of their last four games, which is all the more reason to give no thought to the NY Giants (vs. Seattle) this week. ... Minnesota (vs. Philadelphia) faces a dangerous Eagles team. ... How the mighty have fallen. Once an elite fantasy option, Houston (at Indianapolis) now should not be started after they’ve posted just one takeaway and two sacks in their last two games. ... The NY Jets (Carolina) are off the fantasy radar this week on the road against the Panthers.



Can I Kick it?

Here are my top 12 kickers for Week 15:


1. Matt Prater (vs. SD)

2. Stephen Gostkowski (at MIA)

3. Phil Dawson (at TB)

4. Justin Tucker (at DET)

5. Adam Vinatieri (vs. HOU)

6. Steven Hauschka (at NYG)

7. Mason Crosby (at DAL)

8. Robbie Gould (at CLE)

9. Dan Bailey (vs. GB)

10. Nick Novak (at DEN)

11. Blair Walsh (vs. PHI)

12. Graham Gano (vs. NYJ)



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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