Defense Wins Championships, Week 7

Updated: October 15, 2013
Kansas City Chiefs v Jacksonville Jaguars

Welcome back to Defense Wins Championships!

Each week, 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 posted in the D/ST discussion threads – so far this year, we’ve had more than 3,000 comments posted on Reddit!

Week 1 (and basic methodology) | Week 2 | Week 2, part 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6

As always, we start with the results from the previous week:

Top scoring D/STs from Week 6 (ESPN Standard)

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

  1. Kansas City (12.30) versus Oakland [27]
  2. St. Louis (6.61) at Houston [25]
  3. Pittsburgh (6.74) at NY Jets [13]
  4. Chicago (13.61) versus NY Giants [12]
  5. Seattle (14.84) versus Tennessee [12]
  6. Carolina (6.65) at Minnesota [12]
  7. Dallas (5.07) versus Washington [11]
  8. Tennessee (2.37) at Seattle [9]
  9. San Diego (2.36) versus Indianapolis [8]
  10. San Francisco (12.56) versus Arizona [8]
  11. Cincinnati (9.73) at Buffalo [7]
  12. Green Bay (8.82) at Baltimore [7]
  13. Oakland (3.00) at Kansas City [7]
  14. Detroit (8.85) at Cleveland [6]
  15. Jacksonville (-10.47) at Denver [6]
  16. Denver (14.30) versus Jacksonville [5]
  17. New Orleans (4.45) at New England [5]
  18. New England (5.75) versus New Orleans [4]
  19. NY Jets (8.20) versus Pittsburgh [4]
  20. Arizona (2.48) at San Francisco [4]
  21. Washington (-0.10) at Dallas [4]
  22. Baltimore (3.66) versus Green Bay [4]
  23. Philadelphia (5.80) at Tampa Bay [3]
  24. Cleveland (3.67) versus Detroit [1]
  25. Indianapolis (5.93) at San Diego [1]
  26. Buffalo (4.78) versus Cincinnati [0]
  27. NY Giants (0.02) at Chicago [-1]
  28. Tampa Bay (6.86) versus Philadelphia [-1]
  29. Houston (8.38) versus St. Louis [-1]
  30. Minnesota (9.06) versus Carolina [-3]

Is it… is it over yet? Cam Newton dismantled the Vikings and the Rams stomped all over the Texans. I told y’all it would be a rough week for D/ST streamers, but I don’t think anyone could have accounted for it being that bad! In case you are second guessing yourself as a Vikings D/ST streamer, consider:

The Vikings went into the game with 7 INTs and 4 FFs in just 4 games, an almost Bears-like total. They had just 9 sacks, but Cam Newton had been sacked almost 4 times per game! The Panthers had been held to 7 points by the elite Seahawks and 6 points by the less-elite-but-still-solid Cardinals. This was going to be a boom-/bust-style play from the beginning, but that it was such a bust is just downright unlucky. There were a few very key penalties early in the game that directly hurt, but the list of wrongs is far too long to itemize it all here.

Consider too that Minnesota was rated as the 7th best option for week 6 – in most weeks, the 7th best option will tend to be a recommended pass because there are going to be sufficient waiver wire options even higher! Also, those that settled on Detroit or Green Bay fared better (6 and 7 points, respectively), and those that picked the Jets at least salvaged 4 points. Two solid results, one disappointing result, and one disaster.

I even squeaked out a win in one league with Minnesota D/ST starting against Kansas City D/ST and Vernon Davis!

On the Houston Texans D/ST

Ugh. The Texans have become my adopted second team, and their circling of the drain has been excruciating to watch. It’s time to make a decision here if you own the Texans. Their turnover rates are too low to even be a matchup play, let alone a team you can actually consider stashing on your bench. But overshadowing everything else, their offense would be among the best in the league – if only completions to opposing defensive backs could count!

Weak and especially turnover-prone offenses pair very poorly for their team’s D/ST scoring. The Texans are a prime example of that. Their schedule is drool-worthy down the stretch, but they need to play better before you can start them with any measure of confidence.

Our projected top 10 (and beyond)

Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, Kansas City, Cincinnati, and Green Bay all scored an above average 7+. Of the other four, Denver were a huge disappointment and could not have been sat with any confidence. We’ve covered Minnesota and Houston. That leaves Detroit, who were almost exactly average with 6 points, and that’s not surprising at all.

Actual top 10 plays St. Louis, Carolina, and Pittsburgh (who finally forced a turnover!) were all in the same tier, along with disappointing Tampa Bay, and just below the first-choice streaming tier. Plenty of managers in deeper leagues may have found themselves “stuck” with one of these D/STs on Saturday, but it would have worked out very well in the end.

And now for something completely similar

Week 7 projected D/ST scoring (ESPN Standard)

  1. Kansas City (13.16) versus Houston (low variance)
  2. Seattle (12.30) at Arizona (low variance)
  3. Green Bay (11.14) versus Cleveland (low variance)
  4. Miami (10.04) versus Buffalo (low variance)
  5. New England (9.49) at NY Jets
  6. San Francisco (9.14) at Tennessee (low variance)
  7. Carolina (8.77) versus St. Louis
  8. San Diego (8.45) at Jacksonville
  9. Baltimore (8.29) at Steelers
  10. St. Louis (7.58) at Carolina (high variance)
  11. Atlanta (7.57) versus Tampa Bay (low variance)
  12. Tennessee (6.67) versus San Francisco
  13. Detroit (6.58) versus Cincinnati (high variance)
  14. Minnesota (6.57) at NY Giants (high variance)
  15. Pittsburgh 6.24) versus Baltimore
  16. Buffalo (5.61) at Miami
  17. Chicago (5.51) at Washington (high variance)
  18. NY Giants (5.31) versus Minnesota
  19. Arizona (5.16) versus Seattle
  20. NY Jets (4.47) versus New England
  21. Tampa Bay (3.50) at Atlanta (high variance)
  22. Washington (3.40) versus Chicago
  23. Cincinnati (3.20) at Detroit
  24. Houston (2.99) at Kansas City
  25. Denver (2.76) at Indianapolis
  26. Dallas (1.87) at Philadelphia
  27. Jacksonville (1.00) versus San Diego
  28. Cleveland (0.78) at Green Bay
  29. Indianapolis (-0.72) versus Denver (high variance)
  30. Philadelphia (-1.72) versus Dallas

On bye: Oakland, New Orleans

Each week of data gives us more opportunity for accuracy. Note that I’ve included a mark of (high variance) or (low variance) on six teams each. I caution you to put too much stock into that, because it is somewhat arbitrary, and that’s something we’re trying to avoid.

This is more like it

Kansas City and Seattle are 100% owned in all serious leagues, and both should be started this week across the board. And if you have both Kansas City and Seattle? Play the Chiefs. There are rumblings that Case Motherfucking Keenum has a nonzero chance of playing in the near future. Houston are a team in crisis, and an easy fade with the Chiefs D/ST.

Streamers will get to choose from a war chest that includes Green Bay, Miami, Carolina, San Diego, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Let’s take a brief look at each of them.

Green Bay D/ST: Green Bay get the Cleveland Browns at home. The Packers should keep the score low (Browns team total of 18), are the fourth-rated team for sacks this week, and the Browns have been turning the ball over at a healthy, if highly variant, rate (6 INTs in 5 games, but they came in only 2 games). The downside to this play? Well, there aren’t many. No D/ST is ever guaranteed to score well, but all the indicators are here for Green Bay as a relatively safe choice.

Miami D/ST: The Dolphins get Thad Lewis and his walking boot. Yikes. The Bills showed up big time in week 6, but even that wasn’t enough – to replicate the same feat in Miami would be no small miracle. Miami opened as a 6.5 point favorite, but are already -9 in some places. Whether it is Thad Lewis, Jeff Tuel, or Matt Flynn under center on Sunday, Miami should expect sacks on sacks on sacks. The Dolphins D/ST have scored all over the map so far in 2013: 17, 2, 3, -4, and 11 before their bye last week. The Bills gave up 18 points to Cleveland’s D/ST 2 points Carolina, and between 6-8 against all three other D/STs they’ve faced on the year.

Carolina D/ST: Three straight 10+ point games. They’ve been sacking, forcing turnovers, and should do fine at home against a relatively efficient Sam Bradford. Carolina have very consistently been rating in this 6th-10th place ranking for a few weeks now, and they have not disappointed yet. The Rams also have conceded big D/ST scores twice this year – 13 pts at Dallas and 15 versus San Francisco. Week 1 against Arizona, they conceded 9 points. The door is clearly open for Carolina D/ST this week.

San Diego D/ST: Fade the Jaguars! Just fade the Jaguars! Well, no, not quite. Denver showed their true colors on Sunday as Jacksonville actually held their own… and only lost by 2+ scores. Oops. Well, it seemed close for a few minutes. If the Jacksonville Jaguars can win a game this year, it will most likely be one of their home games against the Chargers, Bills, or Cardinals. That being said, they’re still very, very bad. San Diego D/ST get some fairly healthy upside here, but be sure to temper your expectations.

Baltimore D/ST: The Steelers showed a little bit of life on Sunday, but not much. Baltimore weren’t much better on the defensive end, but this ranking seems fair. Pittsburgh had been a gold mine to fade, and the Jets D/ST managed to score 4 points off of them by doing almost nothing. The Steelers are still conceding more than 11 points per game to opposing D/STs: the Ravens can capitalize on that, even on the road.

St. Louis D/ST: An honorable mention more than anything, but the Rams are the highest upside pick of this tier. Cam Newton struggled against the Seahawks and the Cardinals, and the Rams have enough talent on defense that they’re not that far behind the Cardinals. If I were having to stream against the Chiefs or Seahawks D/ST this week, I might lean toward St. Louis – but probably still follow through with Green Bay or Miami.

That wraps things up for week 7! Best of luck in your leagues this week. Please do keep in mind, that while I love playing around with numbers and how they interact with sporting events, I’m not a sorcerer. I make no indication that I can predict the future! I’m not even a so-called “expert,” but merely a math nerd who loves sports. Or a sports nerd who loves math?

Either way… My goal is to break this game, one small step at a time. Take it or leave it, but no one is forcing you. :)


@dtlerch on Twitter

/u/quickonthedrawl on Reddit

t4blog at gmail dot com

Don’t forget to check into /r/fantasyfootball throughout the week! I maintain a running D/ST thread, in which you can ask any question about fantasy football. If I can’t answer it, maybe someone else can? Intelligent discussion is always encouraged!

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