The defenses I touch on are not my ranks, but my overall thoughts on the defenses I find notable. The goal of these pieces is to give you a concise, actionable rundown on this position for the upcoming week.
We’re still early in the season, so the bulk of the research will still come from last year, but we can still draw conclusions from what we saw in Week 1.
Defensive order is based on their opponents implied team total, from lowest to highest. The team in parenthesis is the defenses opponent.
Plays include some streamers and other options you should feel comfortable starting.
Seattle Seahawks (vs. San Francisco 49ers — 15.5-point implied team total)
The 49ers are going to be overmatched on the road in Seattle as the Seahawks were a top-five defense in DVOA last season. Their defensive line also ranked 10th last season with a 6.7 percent adjusted sack rate (Football Outsiders), and eighth with 3.81 adjusted line yards — they also have Sheldon Richardson now, PFF's No. 10 defensive end last season. On the flip side of things, the 49ers’ offensive line ranked 30th with an 8.4 percent adjusted sack rate (47 sacks allowed) and 32nd in run-blocking with 3.46 adjusted line yards. You probably didn’t need to know all that given you were already starting the Seahawks defense.
Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Houston Texans — 16.5-point implied team total)
The Texans’ offense is putrid, and with Deshaun Watson (ankle) banged up, they’re not even sure who their starting quarterback is. It doesn’t help that LT Duane Brown is still holding out and they’re forced to start converted jumbo TE Kendall Lamm in his place. The Texans allowed a massive 10 sacks against the Jaguars… Adam Jones also returns from his one-game suspension. With scoring typically lower on Thursday night games and Bengals playing an abysmal offense, there isn’t much risk in rolling out the Bengals at home against a Texans team with the third-lowest implied team total for Week 2.
Editor's Note: Looking for a weekly edge in your fantasy leagues? Get the Rotoworld Season Pass for projections, early-week rankings, WR & RB reports, exclusive columns and chats with our experts and much more for just $19.99.
Baltimore Ravens (vs. Cleveland Browns — 16.75-point implied team total)
The Ravens were able to shut out the Bengals while on the road, sacking Andy Dalton five times and forcing five turnovers. Now, they’re back in Baltimore and take on rookie DeShone Kizer. Kizer was sacked seven times last week as the blitz-happy Steelers pressured him on 47 percent of his dropbacks (per PFF’s Pat Thorman.) Being able to generate sacks is essential for your fantasy defense. I can’t imagine the Browns forcing many points in this game against a Ravens defense that ranked sixth in defensive DVOA last year, along with the Browns being implied for barely two touchdowns.
Carolina Panthers (vs. Buffalo Bills — 17.5-point implied team total)
If you have the Panthers, you’re likely starting them against a Bills team implied for just 17.5 points. Carolina ranked 11th in pass-defense DVOA last year and ninth against the run, so they’re strong overall. However, the downside in this matchup is the Bills don’t turn the ball over often with their run-heavy approach. Only 6.3 percent of their drives ended in a turnover last season — the third-lowest mark in the league.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Chicago Bears — 18.25-point implied team total)
Mike Glennon and the Bears’ offense typically won’t force a ton of points, and they just put Kevin White on injured reserve. They’re thin at wide receiver with the lackluster unit of Kendall Wright, Deonte Thompson, and Josh Bellamy. Tarik Cohen also ran 21 pass routes and led the team in targets last week (PFF.) Glennon could be in trouble if the Buccaneers can generate pressure as they ranked sixth last season with a 7.1 percent adjusted sack rate.
Arizona Cardinals (@ Indianapolis Colts — 18.25-point implied team total)
This one doesn’t need an explanation. Most of us saw the Colts’ offense get throttled by the Rams last week. The Colts have yet to name a starter for Week 2, but it’s possible they turn to Jacoby Brissett.
Denver Broncos (vs. Dallas Cowboys — 22-point implied team total)
The Broncos defense is elite and playing at home. If you drafted them, you’re likely starting them. The downside to Broncos in this matchup is they're vulnerable against the run (21st in rush-defense DVOA last season) ranking 28th with 4.60 adjusted line yards, while the Cowboys boast one of the best offensive-line units (ranked fourth with 4.63 adjusted line yards.) The Broncos' defensive line ranked dead last in 2016-2017 as they stuffed backfields (at or behind the line of scrimmage) on just 11 percent of their attempts, while the Cowboys were only stuffed on 15 percent of their attempts (fifth-best). Dak Prescott and the Cowboys also don’t turn the ball over often as just 8.7 percent of their drives last season ended in a turnover — the seventh-best mark in the league.
Editor's Note: Get our 2017 NFL Draft Guide + Season Pass for FREE with your first deposit on FanDuel and dominate your leagues! Claim now.
Defenses with limited upside in the current matchup, but shouldn’t be dropped.
New England Patriots (@ New Orleans Saints — 23.75-point implied team total)
The Patriots defense was highly drafted in leagues, but it is not ideal to face the Saints in the Superdome. The team total isn’t huge as it’s the 14th-highest this week, but the Patriots can be vulnerable through the air as we saw last week and they ranked 22nd in pass-defense DVOA last year.
Minnesota Vikings (@ Pittsburgh Steelers — 26-point implied team total)
It’s difficult to get behind starting the Vikings when the Steelers are at home and implied for the fourth-highest team total in Week 2.
Worth Mentioning Quick Hits
Oakland Raiders (vs. New York Jets — 15-point implied team total)
This one is simple. If you need a streamer, in all likelihood the Raiders are available in your league. They’re massive 14.5 point favorites at home against a Jets offense that is implied for a paltry 15 points.
San Diego Chargers (vs. Miami Dolphins — 20.5-point implied team total)
The Chargers ranked inside the top 12 last season allowing 5.4 yards per play, allowed the eighth-fewest passing touchdowns in the 2016-2017 season and ranked ninth in pass-defense DVOA. Now they take on a Dolphins’ offense implied for 20.5 points that is commanded by turnover-prone Jay Cutler.
Houston Texans (@ Cincinnati Bengals — 21.5-point implied team total)
The Texans were a top-five unit in pass-defense DVOA last season, but they lost A.J. Bouye (PFF’s No. 7 ranked corner last year) which doesn’t bode well for their outlook overall. The Texans’ secondary will have a tall task ahead of themselves trying to stop A.J. Green and elite touchdown-scorer Tyler Eifert. However, the Bengals are implied for a middling 21.5 points and got shut out at home last week by stingy Baltimore defense.
Kansas City Chiefs (vs. Philadelphia Eagle — 21.5-point implied team total)
The matchup doesn’t jump off the page, and they just lost All-Pro safety Eric Berry for the season. It’s great the Chiefs are at home in Arrowhead Stadium, but the Eagles are still implied for 21.5 points. Kansas City is also weak on the defensive line as they ranked 26th with a 5.1 percent adjusted sack rate, and 30th with 4.72 adjusted line yards.
Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. Tennessee Titans — 22.5-point implied team total)
The Jaguars’ defense is no joke as they ranked fourth in yards per play (5.0) last season and allowed the sixth-fewest passing touchdowns last season. The Titans' offense has a middling implied team total at 22.5 points, but in most cases, home teams are spotted roughly three points by Vegas for just being at home. It’s difficult to envision the Titans piling up the points as they deal with A.J Bouye and Jalen Ramsey in the secondary and elite edge-rusher Calais Campbell. Granted, it was the Texans, but the Jaguars were able to force 10 sacks last week.
Kickers in Order of Implied Team Total
Kicker fantasy points have a strong correlation to Vegas implied team totals. Here are the top kickers in order of implied team total in order to help you find possible streamers.
- Stephen Gostkowski (30.25-point implied team total)
- Giorgio Tavecchio (28.5-point implied team total)
- Matt Bryant (28-point implied team total)
- Blair Walsh (27.5-point implied team total)
- Chris Boswell (26-point implied team total)
- Cairo Santos (26-point implied team total)
- Phil Dawson (25.75-point implied team total)
- Mason Crosby (25.5-point implied team total)
- Graham Gano (25-point implied team total)
- Nick Folk (24.75-point implied team total)
- Younghoe Koo (24.5-point implied team total)
- Greg Zuerlein (24.25-point implied team total)
- Justin Tucker (24.25-point implied team total)
- Wil Lutz (23.75-point implied team total)
- Ryan Succop (22.5-point implied team total)
- Dan Bailey (22-point implied team total)