Defense Wins Championships, Week 15

Updated: December 10, 2013
chiefs D 2

Defense Wins Championships

Week 1 (and basic methodology) | Week 2 | Week 2, part 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14

If you hadn’t noticed by now, the highest scoring D/ST from the previous week is featured in the image above. The Chiefs top the scoreboard for a ridiculous third time! They also surge back into #1 overall scoring D/ST in 2013.

Let’s jump straight into the results:

Top scoring D/STs from Week 14 (ESPN Standard)

#. Team (expected score) versus/at Opponent [actual score]

  1. Chiefs D/ST (6.83) at Washington [27]
  2. Buccaneers  D/ST (7.60) versus Buffalo [23]
  3. Cardinals D/ST (8.49) versus St. Louis [21]
  4. Falcons D/ST (2.68*) at Green Bay [15]
  5. Jets D/ST (7.48) versus Oakland [12]
  6. Saints D/ST (3.43) versus Carolina [10]
  7. Eagles D/ST (0.51) versus Detroit [10]
  8. Steelers D/ST (8.62) versus Miami [9]
  9. Chargers D/ST (5.53) versus Giants [9]
  10. 49ers D/ST (7.14) versus Seattle [9]
  11. Lions D/ST (-0.41) at Philadelphia [8]
  12. Bills D/ST (5.53) at Tampa Bay [7]
  13. Broncos D/ST (8.93) versus Tennessee [7]
  14. Packers D/ST (7.14*) versus Atlanta [7]
  15. Vikings D/ST (3.60) at Baltimore [7]
  16. Ravens D/ST (9.05) versus Minnesota [7]
  17. Seahawks D/ST (6.91) at San Francisco [4]
  18. Jaguars D/ST (4.36) versus Houston [4]
  19. Browns D/ST (-0.42) at New England [3]
  20. Texans D/ST (6.35) at Jacksonville [3]
  21. Bears D/ST (5.48) versus Dallas [2]
  22. Rams D/ST (7.54) at Arizona [1]
  23. Dolphins D/ST (6.38) at Pittsburgh [1]
  24. Giants D/ST (2.94) at San Diego [0]
  25. Panthers D/ST (3.43) at New Orleans [0]
  26. Raiders D/ST (8.78) at NY Jets [-1]
  27. Redskins D/ST (3.18) versus Kansas City [-1]
  28. Bengals D/ST (7.99) versus Indianapolis [-2]
  29. Cowboys D/ST (2.32) at Chicago [-3]
  30. Patriots D/ST (11.42) versus Cleveland [-4]
  31. Colts D/ST (4.91) at Cincinnati [-6]
  32. Titans D/ST (-1.69) at Denver [-12]

* Atlanta and Green Bay’s projections from here.

At first glance, it looks like clusterfuck. New England, Oakland, and Cincinnati all got shelled. The Rams were pretty bad too. All four were top ten teams – oops! But first glances often come up lacking, so consider that those four teams were ranked by the Fantasy Pros Expert Consensus (ECR) as the #1, #4, #8, and #7 D/STs on the weekend. These weren’t rogue picks gone sour – strange outcomes all across the league shocked analysts everywhere!

The Good

We ranked Tampa 8th, and they came up with the second best score of the weekend. Tampa’s ECR was just 17th. We had the Jets as tenth best, compared to their 19 in ECR. The other big discrepency at the top with the ECR was Pittsburgh: ranked by my metric as the #5 choice, but just 18th in the ECR. The Steelers D/ST rewarded owners with a very solid 9 in a week in which many finished in the negatives.

On the other end of the spectrum, the ECR ranked Seattle as the #2 choice this weekend – they were #13 here, and finished with a measly 4 points. Carolina rated as the #9 choice by ECR, for reasons I could not possibly explain. Our ranking here was a much more meager 24th, and the Panthers finish tied for 23rd in scoring with 0 points.

Time to celebrate!

The Bad

It felt like the Saints should have been rated higher, but no one asked about them and they seemed forgotten. I didn’t even consider them in my leagues. Though they were rated just 15th in ECR, my metric had them a whopping 3 points worse at 21st. Hard to say whether this was just good luck for New Orleans, bad luck for Carolina, or a little bit of both.

I had Denver at #3. They didn’t excited, but they sure didn’t disappoint like the Patriots or Bengals did. Seven points had to feel fine this weekend. Still, the ECR had them rated a much more accurate 12th, and it’s still proving very difficult to pin this Broncos team down to an expectation of any kind.

The Ugly

Can it be anything else? The only other big discrepancy between the ECR and my rankings last weekend was Kansas City – #3 in ECR, #14 here. Oops. Big oops. My sincerest condolences to anyone who lost an elimination game with the Chiefs D/ST on their bench – if it’s any consolation, I benched them too for San Francisco in my playoffs! Their pass rush showed up big. The answer to the only question anyone cares about? Yes. Start the KC D/ST this weekend at Oakland.

But enough about week 14. It’s playoff time.

Week 15 projected D/ST scoring (ESPN Standard)

  1. Panthers D/ST (12.81) versus NY Jets (high variance)
  2. Seahawks D/ST (11.82) at NY Giants (high variance)
  3. Chiefs D/ST (8.89) at Oakland (low variance)
  4. 49ers D/ST (8.71) at Tampa Bay (low variance)
  5. Bengals D/ST (8.22) at Pittsburgh
  6. Cardinals D/ST (7.91) at Tennessee
  7. Bills D/ST (7.58) at Jacksonville
  8. Saints D/ST (7.37) at Rams (high variance)
  9. Lions D/ST (7.20) versus Baltimore
  10. Bears D/ST (7.20) at Cleveland (high variance)
  11. Patriots D/ST (7.08) at Miami
  12. Colts D/ST (7.00) versus Houston
  13. Titans D/ST (6.78) versus Arizona
  14. Steelers D/ST (6.54) versus Cincinnati
  15. Buccaneers D/ST (6.07) versus San Francisco
  16. Broncos D/ST (6.01) at San Diego
  17. Raiders D/ST (5.84) versus Kansas City
  18. Jaguars D/ST (5.68) versus Buffalo
  19. Eagles D/ST (4.91) at Minnesota
  20. Falcons D/ST (4.53) versus Washington
  21. Dolphins D/ST (4.51) versus New England
  22. Browns D/ST (4.34) versus Chicago (low variance)
  23. Giants D/ST (4.18) versus Seattle
  24. Rams D/ST (3.60) versus New Orleans (high variance)
  25. Jets D/ST (2.45) at Carolina
  26. Ravens D/ST (1.64) at Detroit
  27. Texans D/ST (0.83) at Indianapolis
  28. Redskins D/ST (0.18) at Atlanta
  29. Vikings D/ST (-0.23) versus Philadelphia
  30. Chargers D/ST (-4.71) versus Denver

*Not listed: Dallas/Green Bay, due to uncertainty with Aaron Rodgers’ injury.

Tier 1 – Carolina, Seattle

Tier 1 is obvious, very strong, and shows huge separation from the choices beneath them. If you need any justification as to why you should start either of these two D/STs this week, then you have not been paying attention!

Tier 2 – Kansas City, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Arizona

Tier 2 should surprise no one either. In reality, it’s very hard to go wrong with any of these four choices, but in practice I would order them KC  > SF > Arizona  > Cincinnati. In all cases, if I have the Chiefs D/ST, I would be starting them. However, owners should temper expectations – their score this weekend was hugely boosted by high-variance touchdowns, much like they have been all season long. However, we saw what a bad stretch looks like for the Chiefs – but that San Diego game now might be seen as a complete outlier. They’ve shown me enough to start at Oakland, but I’m unwilling to commit to further weeks.

A case could be made f0r Arizona over SF instead.

Unfortunately, every single top 6 D/ST should likely be owned in all active leagues right now. Streamers may have to find value elsewhere.

A case for the Bills: Jacksonville remains one of the more generous teams when it comes to D/ST scoring, even with Chad Henne. However, expectations must be tempered: this game is on the road for Buffalo, Jacksonville has had a resurgence of sorts, and the Bills D/ST is no all-time great. However, the opportunity is here for an above average D/ST score. The Bills D/ST should score pretty well (6-8) most weeks with relatively minor chances to score very poorly. Poor, poor Jacksonville… even on a three game winning streak, they still aren’t favored at home yet!

A case for the Saints: The Rams under Clemons haven’t been amazing, they haven’t been terrible, but they’ve been extremely mediocre for opposing D/STs. Over six games, the Rams have donated 8 points per game. The Saints themselves have been pretty solid, and this game shows one of the highest upsides on the board this week: if you need/want to swing for the fences, this is the streaming play to make. However, it comes with considerable risk, since the Saints are on the road and the Rams are not a true pushover.

A case for the Lions: Just about everything from the snow game this weekend can be thrown out. The Lions still have an epic run defense, their secondary isn’t worth their weight in anything, and they can rush the passer with relative frequency. This week, they’ll be at home against a Ravens team that has been very generous at times to opposing D/STs. Much like last week, pundits will come into this game talking up Joe Flacco and his weak receiving corps against the Lions like they did against Minnesota last week. However, I remain skeptical – Flacco impressed in week 14, but I would not be surprised at all with a letdown here.

A case for the Bears: I don’t really know what to think about this one. On paper, this could be a defensive struggle for both teams… however, Vegas just isn’t buying it. My model is expecting more points out of Carolina alone than out of the Bears and the Browns combined! I would highly consider the Bears as a high upside alternative to the Saints. The Bears are a riskier play, but the Browns under Campbell have had two 20+ games to opposing D/STs already in just a handful of starts. Then again, the Browns just got done stomping very lightly and politely on the Patriots for 3 quarters.

A case for the Patriots: Most owners of the Patriots are probably looking for excuses to dump them. I know I sure will be in the one league I started them. However, think twice first: the Dolphins aren’t bad, but they can be generous to opposing D/STs: they’ve only handed out one “bad” score all year. Looking at the Dolphins offense shows an almost impressive model of consistency: Ryan Tannehill’s numbers end up in a neat little box every week, they hand out 5-9 points to the opposing D/ST, and everyone goes home for the night. There’s a little upside beyond that, but I would more likely expect the lower end of that range than the higher since the Patriots have been so bad lately.

A Case for the Colts: The Texans haven’t been as stinky on offense lately. Opposing D/STs have only been abusing them for about 5 points per game lately against Case Keenum, and the Colts are no defensive powerhouses. In fact, their performances all year on both sides of the ball have been so boom/bust, I’d hesitate to trust a single Colt in my lineup this weekend. A necessary evil perhaps, but evil nonetheless.

Remember the Titans? No, really, remember when I suggested them as a possibility for this week? Well, I still like them (kind of), but Vegas does not – the Titans got picked apart by Peyton Manning and the Cardinals pecked apart the Rams, making this game open a little more lopsided toward Arizona than I expected. I suspect both D/STs in this game are fair play this week.

I would recommend the above teams in roughly the order above.

Best of luck in week 15. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions on Reddit or Twitter, let’s get these championship runs going!



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  1. reddit reader

    December 12, 2013 at 2:51 am

    i think philly needs a little more love. vikings have been top 7 friendliest to defenses the last 4 weeks and whoever they start at rb will be on one bad leg.

    • Dylan Lerch

      December 12, 2013 at 5:26 am

      Lot of questions on Reddit about Philly too. There’s a big problem though to me… Gerhart isn’t a *huge* step down from Peterson in this context, Philly is on the road, and they’re one of the worst D/STs in the league this year. Now, if you’re in a Yahoo league, they’re comparatively better; both this week and in general (Yahoo doesn’t count yards against, which helps them relative to other D/STs). In an ESPN league, I think it’s a huge trap, even if Gerhart is limited too.

      If this game were in Philly it would be very different.

  2. Max

    December 15, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Does AP and Gerhart both being out bump up the Philly Defense?

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