Defense Wins Championships, Week 3

Updated: September 17, 2013

Update! The final four D/STs have been calculated.

4. Chicago, 11.72 points. Chicago clock in with another monster forecast. They almost lived up to expectation in week 2 (scoring 11 points), and in week 3 they get to face the freefalling Pittsburgh Steelers. I expect sacks and turnovers in approximately equal proportions from the Chicago D/ST this weekend, and if I had to gamble on one team to score a defensive touchdown this week, it would be Chicago, not Seattle.

23. Cincinnati, 4.97 points.

25. Green Bay, 4.79 points.

28. Pittsburgh, 3.03 points.

All three of the above are unplayable this weekend. There is a single exception: If you own Cincinnati D/ST and cannot afford to roster a second D/ST for the weekend and you are heavily favored in your matchup this weekend, go ahead and start Cincinnati. In all other cases, you should highly consider working with your roster until you can afford to bench them. Unless you are dropping the Bengals D/ST to pick up Seattle, Chicago, Denver, or maybe New England, you should not be dropping the Bengals this weekend. Period.

The new D/ST scores have been added to the Week 3 table below. Best of luck in week 3!


Hello, and welcome back to Defense Wins Championships! Here, our goal is to objectively min/max our D/ST position (with a little help from Las Vegas) to squeeze out every extra point we can. Contrary to popular belief, “streaming” D/STs – making aggressive use of the waiver wire to jump between favorable D/ST matchups – can be just as effective (or more!) than drafting a strong D/ST in the mid-late rounds.

As always, there will be an accompanying discussion thread for the week on Reddit’s /r/fantasyfootball. Please join me there all week! I try to answer every question posed in the D/ST discussion threads.

Week 1 (and basic methodology) | Week 2 | Week 2, part 2

What better place to begin than with where we left off last week?

Results From Week 2

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

  1. Chicago (12.45) versus Minnesota [11]
  2. New England (12.34) versus NY Jets [15]
  3. Houston (9.83) versus Tennessee [8]
  4. Cincinnati (9.21) versus Pittsburgh [11]
  5. Seattle (7.50) versus San Francisco [21]
  6. Miami (7.47) at Indianapolis [2]
  7. Baltimore (7.36) versus Cleveland [11]
  8. Oakland (7.19) versus Jacksonville [10]
  9. Atlanta (6.89) versus St. Louis [5]
  10. Denver (6.77) at NY Giants [14]
  11. St. Louis (6.57) at Atlanta [0]
  12. Carolina (6.14) at Buffalo [2]
  13. New Orleans (6.07) at Tampa Bay [8]
  14. Arizona (5.98) versus Detroit [5]
  15. Green Bay (5.95) versus Washington [0]
  16. Buffalo (5.65) versus Carolina [8]
  17. Kansas City (5.60) versus Dallas [8]
  18. Indianapolis (5.53) versus Miami [6]
  19. San Francisco (5.35) at Seattle [9]
  20. Philadelphia (5.35) versus San Diego [-2]
  21. Tampa Bay (4.97) versus New Orleans [14]
  22. Dallas (4.96) at Kansas City [7]
  23. Detroit (4.91) at Arizona [9]
  24. Cleveland (4.72) at Baltimore [7]
  25. Minnesota (4.72) at Chicago [17]
  26. NY Giants (4.30) versus Denver [-4]
  27. Tennessee (4.26) at Houston [6]
  28. NY Jets (3.28) at New England [6]
  29. Washington (3.37) at Green Bay [-6]
  30. San Diego (3.09) at Philadelphia [-6]
  31. Pittsburgh (3.00) at Cincinnati [-3]
  32. Jacksonville (2.80) at Oakland [5]

What the hell can we do with all this data? Let’s start with some very basic comparisons. Our expected average point score was 6.06. If you recall from last week, we predicted somewhat fewer D/ST points scored than actually occurred. This week however, we were off by just 0.32. However, just because we’ve nailed that simple first-level analysis doesn’t mean we have anything of value. Let’s again use last week’s model to see if we are predicting the teams most likely to score us a jackpot (AKA D/ST touchdowns).

Here’s how our predicted top 10 teams did in terms of turnovers:

1. Chicago – 2 FF, 1 INT (1 TD)

2. New England – 2 FF, 3 INT

3. Houston – 1 FF

4. Cincinnati – 1 FF, 1 INT

5. Seattle – 2 FF, 3 INT

6. Miami – 1 FF, 1 INT

7. Baltimore – 1 FF, 1 INT

8. Oakland – 1 FF

9. Atlanta – 1 INT (1 TD)

10. Denver – 4 INT (1 TD)

The other teams scoring defensive TDs this week were Minnesota (2), Detroit (1), Tennessee (1), and Tampa Bay (1), and it should be no surprise that all four of those teams exceeded their own expectation significantly. Last week’s D/ST darlings, Kansas City and Dallas, scored 8 and 7 respectively – respectable scores for sure, but a huge step down from their week 1 thrashings. And of course, we’d expect nothing less if our basic theories about scoring are correct. Starting with the postgame analysis of week 3, we will look a little more in depth into the actual versus projected point totals. I suspect we will still have sample size problems, but we shall see.

Last week I made the case for choosing Oakland D/ST in my own league, and they rewarded owners with 10 points in ESPN Standard scoring – Fantasy Pro’s “Expect Consensus Ranking” (or ECR) had them ranked just 21st, behind Pittsburgh (-3 points), Carolina (2), Indianapolis (6), Green Bay (0), and Philadelphia (-2).

The other high-end waiver wire teams, Miami, Atlanta, and Baltimore, were a mixed bag last week. Miami scored just 2 points, though the Colts were just barely into the -3 territory for yardage allowed with 454. They also only sacked Andrew Luck 3 times. Atlanta finished with 5 points, but 5 is an excellent score for recording 0 sacks. Sam Bradford cut up the Falcons with 352 yards passing and 377 overall, again barely enough to sneak into the -3 category for yardage allowed. Baltimore were even more forgiving than Oakland, granting us 11 points in ESPN Standard scoring.

How did the stubborn ones do?

What did Green Bay, Indianapolis, Carolina, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh have in common? They scored a combined 4 points, 6 of which came from Indianapolis alone. Each of these teams was either overrated in name alone (Pittsburgh, Green Bay) or overrated by eyewitness evidence that the numbers did not support (Carolina, Philadelphia, Indianapolis). If you had any of those teams, you would have been much better suited looking elsewhere.

Especially when using subjective judgment to determine which D/STs are advantaged, always remember:


I’m looking at you, Carolina.

And now for something completely different!

Something something week 3*:

  1. Seattle (17.40) versus Jacksonville
  2. Denver (12.20) versus Oakland
  3. New England (12.18) versus Tampa Bay
  4. Chicago (11.72) at Pittsburgh
  5. Minnesota (9.35) versus Cleveland
  6. San Francisco (8.62) versus Indianapolis
  7. Miami (8.41) versus Atlanta
  8. Tennessee (7.62) versus San Diego
  9. NY Jets (7.50) versus Buffalo
  10. Buffalo (7.46) at NJ Jets
  11. New Orleans (6.96) versus Arizona
  12. NY Giants (6.46) at Carolina
  13. Dallas (6.46) versus St. Louis
  14. St. Louis (5.98) at Dallas
  15. Houston (5.83) at Baltimore
  16. Tampa Bay (5.59) at New England
  17. Philadelphia (5.58) versus Kansas City
  18. Cleveland (5.09) at Minnesota
  19. Carolina (5.08) versus NY Giants
  20. Washington (5.08) versus Detroit
  21. Atlanta (4.60) at Miami
  22. Baltimore (4.12) versus Houston
  23. Cincinnati (3.97) at Green Bay
  24. San Diego (3.90) at Tennessee
  25. Green Bay (3.79) versus Cincinnati
  26. Detroit (3.73) at Washington
  27. Kansas City (3.45) at Philadelphia
  28. Pittsburgh (3.03) versus Chicago
  29. Arizona (2.68) at New Orleans
  30. Indianapolis (2.31) at San Francisco
  31. Oakland (0.68) at Denver
  32. Jacksonville (0.56) at Seattle

*updated Tuesday evening with the final two games

 Unlisted: Chicago, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Pittsburgh. If you are considering one of these four teams, then check back here at Nerdball Magazine this evening – provided Vegas cooperates, these games should be calculated by the end of the Tuesday.

It doesn’t take a mathematician to determine Seattle are a strong play at home against Jacksonville, and I have a suspicion that this will be one of the top situations for a D/ST in all of 2013. But where can you find value this week?

Minnesota D/ST are owned by just 8.4% of teams on ESPN. After week 2′s blitz of Chicago it will likely creep up naturally, but you should highly consider snagging them as the best available waiver wire team this week. Perhaps a little bit of noise exists from last year, but 2012 is still being weighted at 60% of our total data for this week. They’re in a great place this weekend against an offensively-challenged Browns team, and I’m not sure that Josh Gordon is going to change that for them.

Miami D/ST were a let down in week 2, but they did manage to hold Indianapolis’ scoring below expectation. They were a turnover or a few more yards prevented from scoring just fine last week. This week, we see them at home against Atlanta. Miami are tied for the league lead in sacks, and it’s not very surprising that they are. Atlanta for their part are middle-of-the-pack at allowing sacks, so if you’re holding Miami from last week, don’t feel too averse to trying again week 3. They’re owned by 25.2% in ESPN right now, but I would expect that number to dip a little after Tuesday’s waivers clear.

Tennessee D/ST are owned by a brave 2.5% of owners. They are this week’s Oakland Raiders, except I think they’ve got more talent in the abstract than Oakland do. The flip side of this one is that San Diego are probably a better team than Jacksonville; however, I know I’m not the only one expecting Philip Rivers to fall back to earth at some point soon.

In deeper leagues, I can see strong arguments for the NY Jets, the Bills, and the Saints.

The Ravens roller coaster ride

Savvy owners were able to get away from Baltimore in week 1, stuck with them in week 2, and now can get away from them again in week 3. There are simply too many good waiver wire options this week to be holding onto them – not to mention, their next three games at at Buffalo, at Miami, and versus Green Bay. There’s nothing so compelling there that they’re worth the spot on your roster anymore.

Other D/STs you should be able to get away from this week are Houston, Dallas, Tampa Bay, and Carolina. Weeks like this illustrate exactly our point from the beginning:

There are far too many good waiver wire D/STs week-to-week to do anything but stream them!

As always, best of luck this week! As mentioned above, please join me at Reddit to discuss D/ST or general fantasy football strategy! You won’t find a better public discussion of fantasy football on the Internet.


@dtlerch on Twitter

/u/quickonthedrawl on Reddit

t4blog at gmail dot com

Note: I’m experimenting with different ways to present the data for each week. If you have any input, please share!

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One Comment

  1. Corbin

    September 18, 2013 at 9:15 am

    Another awesome article, love these every week.

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