Defense Wins Championships, Week 8

Updated: October 22, 2013

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 almost 4,000 comments posted on Reddit!

Week 1 (and basic methodology) | Week 2 | Week 2, part 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7

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

Top scoring D/STs from Week 7 (ESPN Standard)

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

  1. Panthers D/ST (8.77) versus St. Louis [17]
  2. Bills D/ST (5.61) at Miami [16]
  3. Cowboys D/ST (1.87) at Philadelphia [15]
  4. Jets D/ST (4.47) versus New England [14]
  5. 49ers D/ST (9.14) at Tennessee [13]
  6. Seahawks D/ST (12.30) at Arizona [13]
  7. Giants D/ST (5.31) versus Minnesota [12]
  8. Falcons D/ST (7.57) versus Tampa Bay [11]
  9. Chargers D/ST (8.45) at Jacksonville [11]
  10. Packers D/ST (11.14) versus Cleveland [10]
  11. Chiefs D/ST (13.16) versus Houston [10]
  12. Vikings D/ST (6.57) at Giants [10]
  13. Patriots D/ST (9.49) at Jets [10]
  14. Colts D/ST (-0.72) versus Denver [8]
  15. Dolphins D/ST (10.04) versus Buffalo [8]
  16. Ravens D/ST (8.29) at Steelers [7]
  17. Eagles D/ST (-1.72) versus Dallas [6]
  18. Cardinals D/ST (5.16) versus Seattle [6]
  19. Redskins D/ST (3.40) versus Chicago [6]
  20. Texans D/ST (2.99) at Kansas City [6]
  21. Rams D/ST (7.58) at Carolina [5]
  22. Steelers D/ST (6.24) versus Baltimore [4]
  23. Buccanneers D/ST (3.50) at Atlanta [3]
  24. Bears D/ST (5.51) at Washington [1]
  25. Broncos D/ST (2.76) at Indianapolis [1]
  26. Titans D/ST (6.67) versus San Francisco [ 1]
  27. Bengals D/ST (3.20) versus Detroit [-1]
  28. Browns D/ST (0.78) at Green Bay [-1]
  29. Lions D/ST (6.58) versus Bengals [-2]
  30. Jaguars D/ST (1.00) versus San Diego [-2]

Last weekend, an astonishing 13 D/STs scored 10 or more points. Did you do your part to make sure you had one of them? Those 13 teams were projected 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 14, 16, 18, 20, & 26 (not in order, obviously!) – Miami, our 4th ranked team, finished with a healthy 8 points, and Baltimore, our 9th ranked team, finished with an average 7 points. St. Louis, the 10th place ranking, was pegged as a high-variance play – and if you followed along on Reddit, you would have seen the following addendum on Saturday:

Green Bay is almost certainly better than Miami now, and Minnesota is now the high variance option of choice (rather than St. Louis).

We’re not always going to be right, but damn it feels good sometimes! And what of owners who stubbornly held on to the Broncos, Bears, and Bengals D/STs despite bad matchups? They were left with a combined 1 point between them (1, 1, -1).

Week 7 is a perfect example of why streaming D/STs is awesome: if you find yourself starting a D/ST near the bottom half of the rankings, ask yourself if you can afford a 6-10 point handicap on the week!

Other miscellaneous week 7 highlights

The Bills, Jets, and Giants were all unexpectedly awesome. So were the Cowboys, but that game was just weird all around. We can attribute all three finishes to their respective opponents, perhaps. The Miami Dolphins have been known to give up a sack or two, and Tannehill is one of the worst fumblers in the NFL. They’re a profitable fade in certain cases, and the Bills D/ST score here helps show why (even when the Bills D/ST itself wasn’t in the greatest position to exploit that!). The same can be said of the Vikings, who should be very easy to fade as long as Josh Freeman is still getting his act together. Next week, they have Green Bay. That should be exciting for Packers streamers this week.

And the Patriots? I’m not sure what to do about that entire team right now. Brady has been awful, Gronkowski looked amazing, and the rest of the team is so very confusing.

Week 8 projected D/ST scoring (ESPN Standard)

  1. 49ers D/ST (16.35) at Jacksonville (low variance)
  2. Chiefs D/ST (13.50) versus Cleveland (low variance)
  3. Seahawks D/ST (12.93) at St. Louis (low variance)
  4. Panthers D/ST (10.70) at Tampa Bay (high upside)
  5. Bengals D/ST (9.99) versus NY Jets
  6. Saints D/ST (9.78) versus Buffalo
  7. Patriots D/ST (9.58) versus Miami
  8. Packers D/ST (9.45) at Minnesota
  9. Raiders D/ST (6.54) versus Pittsburgh
  10. Eagles D/ST (6.45) versus NY Giants (high upside)
  11. Buccaneers D/ST (6.27) versus Carolina
  12. Cardinals D/ST (6.08) versus Atlanta
  13. Steelers D/ST (5.88) at Oakland
  14. Falcons D/ST (5.21) at Arizona
  15. Broncos D/ST (5.18) versus Washington
  16. Lions D/ST (5.00) versus Dallas (high upside)
  17. Jets D/ST (4.97) at Cincinnati
  18. Rams D/ST (4.65) versus Seattle (high upside)
  19. Browns D/ST (4.18) at Kansas City
  20. Dolphins D/ST (3.57) at New England
  21. Vikings D/ST (2.41) versus Green Bay
  22. Cowboys D/ST (1.88) at Detroit
  23. Bills D/ST (-1.38) at New Orleans
  24. Jaguars D/ST (-1.66) versus San Francisco
  25. Giants D/ST (-1.99) at Philadelphia
  26. Redskins D/ST (-6.12) at Denver

On bye: Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, San Diego, Tennessee

The mighty Jacksonville Jaguars continue their tour de force, leaving in their wake the battered bodies of their oppone– oh, that’s right, the Jaguars are the battered ones. I blame those awful helmets, and the fact that they’re a really, really bad team.

Mind the Gap

Look at the drop off between rank 8, Green Bay, and rank 9, Oakland – they’re projected almost 3 points of difference! Bye weeks do strange things, and this is one of them. If you find yourself streaming, do what you can to be on the right side of this one! Where does that put us for streaming?

Panthers D/ST (41% owned): This one should be no surprise. The Buccaneers have been one of the most impressively bad teams on the year, and they’re going on the road to Carolina – a D/ST which is the 4th highest scoring in ESPN Standard! Their 41% ownership rate should continue to climb as Panthers D/ST continues to dominate.

This play should be a fairly safe play with significant upside – only SF, Seattle, Green Bay, St. Louis (!), and Philadelphia rate as having higher upside, and those (plus Carolina) are the teams I have most likely to score a defensive TD.

Saints D/ST (21% owned): My advice last week on New Orleans was to wait and see how Miami handles the Bills before deciding whether to back the Saints at home this week. And how did the Dolphins do? 8 points in Standard scoring was fine, if underwhelming, and New Orleans should be in an even better position than Miami were in last week.

This Bills team, regardless of who is playing QB, just isn’t very good. But they are a good team for our D/STs to face! They’re allowing > 3 sacks per game, they’re turning the ball over at a healthy enough clip, and Vegas has the Bills pegged at under 19 points this week. All signs point toward a Saints blowout.

Packers D/ST (71% owned): Most leagues will not have the Packers sitting on your waiver wire, however wherever they are, they should be snatched up immediately. I’m not sure what y’all were doing on Monday night, but I tuned into the greatest NFL game ever played – if by greatest I can actually mean the worst I’ve ever seen. In doing so, I got to see Josh Freeman in all his unprepared glory: he went 20/53 for 190 yards, and it sure wasn’t because of the Giants lockdown defense.

The Packers should have all the tools they need to crush the Vikings. Adrian Peterson will probably be more involved, however if the Packers get out to the lead that they should be able to (the spread here is Green Bay -7), his involvement can be minimized.

If you happen to have access to all three of the above, the Panthers are the safest play (then the Saints, then the Packers). The Panthers also have the most upside, but the Packers have more upside than the Saints. Choose accordingly! All three project very similarly.

Obviously, if you’re holding any of San Francisco, Kansas City, Seattle, New England, or Cincinnati, you’re going to be starting them this week. All five of those are 93%+ ownership, and all five are excellent starts this week.

The Best of the Rest

Consider the Oakland D/ST (1.4% owned) if you miss the boat on the Panthers, Saints, or Packers. They quite clearly are the top choice of the next tier, although the dropoff is quite severe. That being said, the Steelers have been very generous to opposing D/STs, and Oakland have been one of the most productive D/STs in the game this year – prior to week 7, I had the Raiders rated as the 4th best D/ST of 2013. That being said, they’re still on the road, and the Steelers regression looks to have already begun.

Consider the Eagles D/ST (3.1% owned) if you, again, missed one of the first choice streams, but if you want upside. Only once all year, week 5 versus Philadelphia, have the NY Giants given up fewer than 12 points to the opposing D/ST. Scores of 21, 14, 21, 20, 8, 12, and 12 should have owners salivating, but unfortunately the Eagles are not very good. So far this year, they’re the 3rd worst D/ST with just 20 points. However, as we saw last week with San Diego, even bad D/STs can have great games.

Unfortunately for streamers this week, that looks to be the bottom of the barrel. If you end up this far down the list and still haven’t found the droids you’re looking for, consider Arizona or Pittsburgh if you’re desperate. Neither are particularly exciting starts this week, but they should be good for an average score and both should fare better than the likes of Atlanta, Tampa Bay, the Jets, et al.


@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!

Owners who kept up to date on Reddit will be more likely to score big D/ST points on Sunday.

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