Jeff Ratcliffe

Three And Out

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Getting Defensive: Week 17

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The fantasy gods giveth, and the fantasy gods taketh away.


They continued to give last week to Carolina and Seattle owners, as both units posted yet another double-digit week. Folks who rolled with the Bengals or Bills were rewarded with massive fantasy days. But the fantasy gods dashed the hopes of many Chiefs owners. Kansas City had one of their worst defensive performances of the season, managing zero fantasy points.


If you’re league is still playing, hopefully we can steer you clear of any fantasy duds for Week 17. 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 17. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ETHere's the FanDuel link.



The Usual Suspects

Carolina (vs. New Orleans) delivered for fantasy owners with a brilliant effort against the Saints last week. They’re locked in your lineup. ... Seattle (vs. St. Louis) held the Rams to just nine points in their last meeting, and this time the Seahawks are at home. ... San Francisco (at Arizona) completes the trifecta. Despite struggling a bit on Monday night, they still delivered thanks to Navorro Bowman’s pick-six.



Preferred Plays

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

1. Cincinnati (vs. Baltimore) – A lot of championships were won last week on the strength of the Bengals outburst against the Vikings. This week they get a Ravens team that just yielded a combined eight sacks and takeaways and two defensive scores to the Patriots.


2. Miami (vs. NY Jets) – The last time these two teams met, the Dolphins held the Jets to just three points while sacking Geno Smith four times and recording three takeaways.


3. Denver (at Oakland) – Losing Von Miller isn’t ideal, but the Broncos still proved a strong fantasy option last week against Houston. The Raiders have turned the ball over ten times and yielded two defensive scores in their last three games.


4. New England (vs. Buffalo) – The Bills proved a much tougher matchup last week than I had anticipated, but a revitalized Patriots defense appears primed for a strong performance in this one.


5. Indianapolis (vs. Jacksonville) – I gave up on the Colts a month ago. Since then, they’ve put up double-digit fantasy points in three-of-four games, racking up 10 takeaways over that span. They’ve been especially lights out the last two weeks, holding both of their opponents to single-digit points and managing a combined eight sacks.


6. New Orleans (vs. Tampa Bay) – While they’ve only produced one takeaway in their last four games, the Saints are still a fairly stout unit in a strong matchup against a Bucs team that has yielded 17 sacks over the last month of play.



Still Solid

While I don’t particularly like the matchup, Arizona (vs. San Francisco) gave an impressive effort in Week 17. If you own the Cards, it’s still safe to roll with them. ... You’re in the same boat if you’ve been relying on St. Louis (at Seattle). The matchup isn’t great, but the Rams have been rock solid in their last two.




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

1. Tennessee (vs. Houston) – The Texans have been dreadful over their last two games yielding double-digit fantasy points in both games. Tennessee has struggled down the stretch, but a solid outing last week against the Jags makes them worthy of plug-and-play consideration.


2. Detroit (at Minnesota) I though the Vikings were turning a corner. I was wrong. They gave up a monster game to Cincinnati. While Detroit doesn’t possess the Bengals’ upside, they did show an ability to produce solid numbers in a strong matchup last week against the Giants.

3. Pittsburgh (vs. Cleveland) – With double-digit fantasy points in each of their last two games, the Steelers have emerged as a potential Week 17 savior. They still don’t have much upside in terms of sacks and takeaways, but they have scored a touchdown in four of their last five games.


4. Philadelphia (at Dallas) – There’s a lot to like about this one. The Eagles are flying high after their Sunday night spanking of the Bears and seem to be really clicking on defense. On the other hand, Dallas is coasting into Week 17 on fumes like Cousin Eddie to the Griswold Christmas party with Kyle Orton behind the wheel. 


5. Washington (vs. NY Giants) – This isn’t the most desirable option, but Washington has managed to produce four turnovers in their last two games. With the Giants offense still struggling, it’s worth a shot in the dark.



Middle of the Road

The NY Giants (at Washington) have performed better over the second half of the season, but it’s still a little too tough to trust them with a championship on the line. ... Likewise, the NY Jets (at Miami) have been too inconsistent to trust this week. ... The Saints have yielded double-digit fantasy days in three of their last four, but I’m reluctant to start Tampa Bay (at New Orleans) on the road with the Saints playing for playoff seeding. ... Baltimore (at Cincinnati) is moving in the wrong direction after failing to produce a takeaway and yielding 41 points to the Pats. ... Despite the Packers giving up double-digit fantasy points in four of their last six, I wouldn’t recommend rolling with an underachieving Chicago (vs. Green Bay). ... In the two games since Jay Cutler has returned, the Bears have given up seven sacks, five turnovers, and three scores. Ordinarily, those numbers would suggest Green Bay (at Chicago) as a plug-and-play option, but they’re extremely banged up with Clay Matthews sidelined and should be avoided this week. ... Cleveland (at Pittsburgh) failed to deliver against the Jets last week, and can’t be trusted in this one.



Matchup Downgrade

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

1. Kansas City (at San Diego) – Not only did the Chiefs give up 41 points in their last meeting with the Chargers, but they’re also very likely to rest some of their starters this week. Fade the Chiefs this week.


2. Buffalo (at New England) – One of my favorite plug-and-plays over the last month, the Bills face a Patriots team that has yielded a combined negative three fantasy points over the last four games.



Bottom of the Barrel

Houston (at Tennessee) just isn’t the same defense without Brian Cushing. Maybe next year. ... Oakland (vs. Denver) gets Peyton Manning and company. ... Dallas (vs. Philadelphia) held the Eagles to just three points in their last meeting, but the Cowboys have struggled mightily with Sean Lee sidelined. ... San Diego (vs. Kansas City) made for a sneaky play last week, but they’re back to free agency this week. ... Jacksonville (at Indianapolis) is an improving unit, but you’re looking elsewhere this week. ... The Lions have been friendly to opposing defenses, but Minnesota (vs. Detroit) is the No. 32 fantasy unit and not worth consideration. ... Atlanta (vs. Carolina) doesn’t have much going on the defensive side of the ball.



Can I Kick it?

Here are my top 12 kickers for Week 17:


1. Matt Prater (at OAK)

2. Stephen Gostkowski (vs. BUF)

3. Justin Tucker (at CIN)

4. Phil Dawson (at ARI)

5. Steven Hauschka (vs. STL)

6. Dan Bailey (vs. PHI)

7. Robbie Gould (vs. GB)

8. Adam Vinatieri (vs. JAC)

9. Nick Novak (vs. KC)

10. Mason Crosby (at CHI)

11. Blair Walsh (vs. DET)

12. Alex Henery (at DAL)



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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