Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire
At this point in the season, I find it helpful to go back and look at the preseason top-5 defenses. How did they do, and were they truly worth the capital that went into them? Before the season, we could no doubt say Jacksonville was on top of the world. They were going in the 8th round for most drafts, and they were far and away number one. Behind them came the Los Angeles Rams, the Minnesota Vikings, the Philadelphia Eagles, and then the Los Angeles Chargers. Basically, it was thought to be guaranteed success if you grabbed any of these 5 units. I myself was high on the Chargers with dreams of what Joey Bosa would do to opposing quarterbacks. Well, let’s look at the current top-8 rankings. Preseason ranks are shown for reference in parenthesis.
- Los Angeles Rams (2)
- Chicago Bears (13)
- Seattle Seahawks (14)
- Washington Redskins (28)
- Houston Texans (6)
- New England Patriots (11)
- Denver Broncos (8)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (9)
Notice the glaring absence of 4 of our “elite” defenses? You can’t miss it. I only listed the top 8 as these are the only teams averaging at least nine points per week so far. After that, we have a huge logjam of teams averaging eight points per week. Only one more team of the “top-5” even comes in by that point. Jacksonville, Philadelphia, and the LA Chargers are currently averaging 6 points per week. Okay, so the top teams are faltering this year. What about our streamers? By week, our streamer of the week has put up 17, 1, 9, 23, 22, 17, 4, and 1 point by week. Those 1’s are definitely worrisome, but we are averaging 12 points per week: good enough to be the best defense in fantasy right now. Looking week by week, our defenses put you in excellent shape for 4 weeks (15+ points), they were decent in one week (9 points) and they hurt us for three weeks (less than 5 points). Moving on to this week, let’s see how the top-12 shook out:
|Team||Opponent||Fantasy Points||Percent Owned||Interceptions||Sacks|
|LA Rams||Green Bay||7||99%||0||3|
The top team of the week was New England, who we pointed out as being completely under-owned. We also see three of our streaming options in Washington (#3), San Francisco (#5), and Arizona (#8). Our streamer of the week put up a measly 1 point and proved to be an outright dud. However, we still found general success and we were on the right track with good results in 4 of 5 choices. Moving forward to this week, let’s see what we can find.
Carolina Panthers (66%)
The Carolina Panthers defense has averaged 8 fantasy points per game over the last 5 weeks. Over that time, the have 12 sacks and 8 interceptions. Any defense that can pull in close to 2 picks each week is worth a look. Now, we add in the match up: Tampa Bay. To say the Buccaneers are dysfunctional would be a bit of an understatement. They may be dumping Jameis Winston this week, as well as moving forward altogether. Their head coach is sitting on one of the hottest seats in the league as they have been 1-4 since a 2-0 start that seems ages ago. I don’t trust Tampa Bay’s offense to get through the game mistake free (even if they do put up some points), and I think Carolina is safe to win this one. I like the Panthers in my top-10 this week, and they are my top choice on this list if they are out there.
Dallas Cowboys (53%)
The Dallas Cowboys have only really had two good fantasy weeks this season. They limit opponent scoring, but they don’t create a lot of turnovers. They added Amari Cooper, but I don’t see this completely changing the offense either. Still, the Cowboys draw the Tennessee Titans this week. The Titans offense, while better than Dallas, still is not what I would call “scary”. I like this matchup to be low scoring, and I could see both defenses ending up in our top 12 for the week. Dallas is not my top choice, but they still seem worth mentioning if you are desperate this week.
Tennessee Titans (10%)
The Tennessee Titans defense has done a great job this year of limiting their opponents’ scoring opportunities. They haven’t given up 28 points in a game all season, and three times they held them under 20. They have fifteen sacks (just over 2 per game) and they would be a legit threat if they could just force more turnovers each week. To this point, the Titans have only forced 5 interceptions and 2 fumbles. This will limit our scoring ceiling, even if the floor is safe. I expect the Titans/ Cowboys game to be a slugfest (as I mentioned before), and I think both defenses will be safe. I expect whoever wins the game to be the one who forces that key mistake at the right time, and I think it will be Tennessee.
New York Jets (27%)
The Jets are coming off a couple bad weeks, having been dealt beat-downs by the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears. They gave up 61 points between those 2 weeks, totaled only 3 sacks, and didn’t register an interception. Still, this is a defense that had 14 sacks and 10 interceptions over the first six weeks. I trust that the Jets have not given up, and I trust that they will give the Dolphins a good fight this week. Like the Cowboys/ Titans game, I expect this one to be a low scoring ball control affair. I still think Brock Osweiller is a disaster waiting to happen for Miami, so I am fine with targeting him via the Jets and hoping for an interception or two.
Miami Dolphins (23%, stream of the week)
If I’m going to pick on the Miami offense, it’s only fair to do the same to the Jets. New York is likely going to be without their top two receivers, Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson, and their rushing attack has been mediocre, save for one huge game against the Broncos back at the beginning of October. The Miami defense, in its own right, has looked good this year, and they have looked good in the run game behind Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake. Like the Jets, the Dolphins have struggled the last two weeks against strong competition. Also like the Jets, they had a great start to the year. I like Miami’s secondary, and I think it will be more than enough to contain the Jets passing attack. Assuming Isaiah Crowell doesn’t break free for another 200 yard game, I like the Dolphins to win this one, and they are my stream of the week.