Jeff Ratcliffe

Three And Out

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Getting Defensive: Week 16

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

We’ve arrived at your final destination – the fantasy championship game. I know the nerves are flowing, but take a deep breath and relax.


You got here by making smart decisions, and this week is no different. If you’ve been relying on a stud defense all season, this is not the week to switch things up. But if you’re a streamer, there are plenty of options to consider.


Let’s dive into the matchups for Week 16. 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 16. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ETHere's the FanDuel link



The Usual Suspects

While Carolina (vs. New Orleans) struggled in their last meeting, the Saints are a different team on the road. They’ve given up double-digit fantasy points in each of their last two away tilts. ... The Colts aren’t the ideal championship round opponent for Kansas City (vs. Indianapolis) owners, but you’re completely overthinking it if you bench the league’s top fantasy unit. ... Seattle (at Arizona) also gets a moderately tough matchup against a Cards team that has yielded zero or less points in three of their last five. But come on, it’s the Seahawks, and you’re not sitting them. ... San Francisco (vs. Atlanta) has the lowest ceiling of the elite units, but they also arguably have the highest floor, as only the Saints have topped 20 points against the Niners over their last eight games.



Preferred Plays

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

1. Miami (at Buffalo) – The Dolphins boast one of the league’s more potent pass rushes with Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon, and Dion Jordan. This bodes extremely well against a Bills team that has yielded 11 sacks over the past two weeks. The Bills have turned the ball over seven times in that stretch. No E.J. Manuel and Stevie Johnson also help the Dolphins’ cause in this one.


2. Cleveland (at NY Jets) – Strong performances in each of the last two weeks have vaulted the Browns back into the top 10. They make for an extremely desirably play this week against a Jets team that has yielded double-digit fantasy points a whopping 10 times this season.


3. St. Louis (vs. Tampa Bay) – In their last five home games, the Rams have posted 18 sacks and seven interceptions, topping double-digit tackles four times. After what they just showed against Drew Brees and the Saints, you’re locking St. Louis in your lineups this week in a strong matchup against the Bucs.


4. Cincinnati (vs. Minnesota) – I have to admit that I’m not blown away by this matchup. The Bengals have really faded over the last two weeks, while the Vikings are much improved. But you’re unlikely to find another option, so I’d recommend staying the course if you own the Bengals.




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 (vs. NY Giants) – The G-Men are really coming to the end of the road after yielding four sacks and five picks last week at home against Seattle. Detroit’s secondary is nowhere near equal to what the Seahawks have to offer, but they certainly have the firepower on their defensive line to force Eli Manning into some bad decisions.


2. Buffalo (vs. Miami) – While the Dolphins have not given up double-digit fantasy points since Week 8, I’m betting against them in the cold weather. Buffalo isn’t always pretty, but they’ve been a decent fantasy option over the last month with seven interceptions and 16 sacks in that stretch.


3. Denver (vs. Houston) – The game script could cause this one to get out of hand very quickly, causing the Texans to turn to the pass early and often. In their last five games, the Texans have thrown seven picks. While Denver is certainly not the strongest defense in the league, they’re opportunistic enough to capitalize on any mistakes Houston makes.


4. Tennessee (at Jacksonville) – It’s extremely tough to trust a unit that has scored negative fantasy points in three of their last five outings, but then again the Titans are playing Jacksonville. Just don’t get too cute with this one. Tennessee hasn’t scored double-digit fantasy points since Week 4, and the Jags have been a tougher matchup since their bye.



If You’re Desperate

1. San Diego (vs. Oakland) – I have a hard time putting the Chargers in the plug-and-play section, as they’ve been one of the worst fantasy defenses this season. However, if you’re in a league with few options, they make for an intriguing swing for the fences play against a Raiders team that has yielded eight turnovers and two scores in the last two weeks.



Middle of the Road

New England (at Baltimore) hasn’t been able to do much of anything over their last six games. It’s tough to place much trust in them with a fantasy championship on the line. ... Pittsburgh (at Green Bay) posted decent numbers last week, but their low fantasy ceiling isn’t desirable. ... New Orleans (at Carolina) gets a Panthers offense that has turned the ball over just three times in their last five games. ... There’s a lot of potential for the future in Tampa Bay (at St. Louis), but their performances have been too inconsistent to invest in the Bucs this week. ... Jacksonville (vs. Tennessee) produced four takeaways and a score when these teams last met in Week 10, but you have to be really desperate to place your championship faith in the Jags. 



Matchup Downgrade

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

1. Indianapolis (at Kansas City) – Despite their strong performance last week, it’s a good idea to fade the Colts against a Chiefs team that has given up a combined two sacks and three turnovers in their last three games.


2. Arizona (at Seattle) – The Cardinals are trending in the wrong direction for fantasy owners thanks to a banged up secondary. You’re going to want to look for other options this week, as Arizona also gets a tough matchup against a Seahawks team that hasn’t given up double-digit fantasy points since Week 8.


3. Baltimore (vs. New England) – The Gronk-less Pats still proved a formidable matchup for Miami last week, holding the Fins to negative fantasy points on just one pick and one sack.


4. Chicago (at Philadelphia) – With Nick Foles under center, the Eagles have been an extremely efficient offensive team and have not yielded double-digit fantasy points with the exception of the Dallas game where Foles was concussed. The Bears get a significant downgrade in this one.



Bottom of the Barrel

Dallas (at Washington) has a good matchup, but it’s impossible to trust them as long as Sean Lee is on the sideline. ... The NY Jets (vs. Cleveland) may be good on the field, but they’ve scored zero or less fantasy points in four of their last seven games. ... You’re not reading this column for me to tell you to sit Houston (at Denver). ... Washington (vs. Dallas) faces a Cowboys team that still has yet to give up double-digit fantasy points this season. ... Oakland (at San Diego) has scored negative fantasy points in each of their last two games and face a Chargers team that gives up the fourth-least points to opposing defenses. ... Green Bay (vs. Pittsburgh) has not posted double-digit fantasy points since Week 8, and their opponent has not yielded double-digit fantasy points over that same span. ... Despite Jay Cutler’s turnover potential, you’re not trusting Philadelphia (vs. Chicago). ... Continuing the NFC East theme, you’re going to want to avoid the NY Giants (at Detroit). ... Atlanta (at San Francisco) faces a 49ers team that has given up double-digit fantasy points once in their last 11 games. ... Minnesota (at Cincinnati) is fantasy’s No. 32 unit.



Can I Kick it?

Here are my top 12 kickers for Week 16:


1. Justin Tucker (vs. NE)

2. Matt Prater (at HOU)

3. Phil Dawson (vs. ATL)

4. Stephen Gostkowski (at BAL)

5. Steven Hauschka (vs. ARI)

6. Dan Bailey (at WAS)

7. Josh Scobee (vs. TEN)

8. Mason Crosby (vs. PIT)

9. Robbie Gould (at PHI)

10. Nick Novak (vs. OAK)

11. Blair Walsh (at CIN)

12. Adam Vinatieri (at KC)



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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