Defense Wins Championships, Week 11

Updated: November 12, 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 more than 6,000 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 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10

It’s so important to compare results with projections and/or rankings. As always, we start with the results from the previous week:

Top scoring D/STs from Week 10 (ESPN Standard)

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

  1. Rams D/ST (3.08) at Indianapolis [25]
  2. Giants D/ST (9.85) versus Oakland [18]
  3. Raiders D/ST (4.49) at NY Giants [17]
  4. Panthers D/ST (4.56) at San Francisco [16]
  5. Jaguars D/ST (2.06) at Tennessee [16]
  6. Cardinals D/ST (8.20) versus Houston [15]
  7. Bengals D/ST (6.41) at Baltimore [14]
  8. 49ers D/ST (8.99) versus Carolina [13]
  9. Ravens D/ST (6.09) versus Cincinnati [11]
  10. Steelers D/ST (6.51) versus Bills [10]
  11. Seahawks D/ST (10.11) at Atlanta [9]
  12. Titans D/ST (12.43) versus Jaguars [8]
  13. Buccaneers D/ST (8.14) versus Miami [8]
  14. Saints D/ST (6.52) versus Dallas [7]
  15. Eagles D/ST (3.23) at Green Bay [7]
  16. Texans D/ST (6.49) at Arizona [7]
  17. Bills D/ST (6.17)  at Pittsburgh [6]
  18. Dolphins D/ST (8.54) at Tampa Bay [6]
  19. Broncos D/ST (3.95) at San Diego [4]
  20. Lions D/ST (4.37) at Chicago [4]
  21. Packers D/ST (5.23) versus Philadelphia [2]
  22. Chargers D/ST (-4.08) versus Denver [2]
  23. Redskins D/ST (4.91) at Minnesota [2]
  24. Bears D/ST (4.93) versus Detroit [1]
  25. Vikings D/ST (2.87) versus Washington [1]
  26. Colts D/ST (10.32) versus St. Louis [0]
  27. Falcons D/ST (2.69) versus Seattle [-5]
  28. Cowboys D/ST (0.46) at New Orleans [-9]

On Bye: Jets, Patriots, Chiefs, Browns

There are lots of ways to take a look at a set of results like these. First, how well did we hit the big scores?

The Rams D/ST was projected a measly 3.08 points, yet they scored 25 points. Twenty five! And this is the second time they’ve scored 25 points, a feat unmatched by Kansas City, Carolina, and Seattle. They’ve also scored 0, 1, and 2 points earlier in the year along with scores of 5, 6, and 7. They’ve been inconsistent at best. And facing the Colts team that had yet to concede 10 points to a D/ST all year? I don’t think anyone could have predicted this one. I won’t be concerned about this score or the Jaguars D/ST’s score of 16 – sometimes clearly suboptimal plays hit big. Cool. That leaves the Panthers and Raiders as the two question marks of the high scores: teams that scored well, have projected well in the past, but were projected low in week 10.

But first, the rest of the winners. The Giants, Cardinals, 49ers, and Bengals were all big winners, and all were recommend almost across the board if best available. They were rated 4th, 5th, 7th, and 12th. The Titans and Seahawks, ranked 1st and 3rd, were slightly disappointing (though Tennessee played well), but both still scored above average. The 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 13th, and 14th ranked teams all scored better than average this week – 6 or more points, with some (Baltimore, Pittsburgh, et al) scoring 10+.

Every single one of the top 14 ranked teams last week scored you at least average, and most scored far better.

Every one, that is, except for Indianapolis. They were our second ranked team, projected a hearty 10.32, against a weird Rams team. What the hell happened? First, flukey special teams scoring is going to affect both teams D/STs – Tavon Austin’s TD added 6 points to the Rams D/ST, but it also subtracted 2 points from Indy’s score. The Colts also couldn’t get to Kellen Clemens – just 2 sacks, no interceptions, and a forced fumble from the Rams’ QB. Games like this are why NFL games are played instead of simulated, because even underdogs can win big on occasion!

With the Colts facing a generous St. Louis team in Indianapolis in week 10, streamers who settled on them are going to face a difficult choice this week.

Replace “generous St. Louis” with “middle of the road Tennessee” and you have a similar choice for a second week in a row. The Colts D/ST is ranked a healthy 7th in week 11.

Carolina and Oakland

Both teams scored very well, despite low projections – however, unlike Jacksonville and St. Louis, both were in very intriguing positions. Many of /r/fantasyfootballs‘s questions this week were about Carolina: specifically, given their amazing rest of season (ROS) schedule, should the Panthers D/ST be dropped, sat, or started? In almost every case, I recommended they be benched or started, but not dropped. Benching them for any best available D/ST besides Indy would have yielded a fine result this week.

As far as I was concerned, the Raiders D/ST was unstartable in week 10. I stand by that one. Perhaps in a week or two we can point at week 9′s 49-point disaster against Foles and Philly as an outlier, but when setting our lineups for week 10, we did not have that luxury.

But that’s enough about week 10. I know you’re really here for week 11 (please read/contribute to the discussion thread here!)

Week 11 projected D/ST scoring (ESPN Standard)

  1. Seahawks D/ST (12.63) versus Minnesota (low variance)
  2. Cardinals D/ST (11.60) at Jacksonville (low variance)
  3. Giants D/ST (10.03) versus Green Bay
  4. Bears D/ST (9.18) versus Baltimore (high variance)
  5. Texans D/ST (9.06) versus Oakland (low variance)
  6. Jets D/ST (8.69) at Buffalo
  7. Colts D/ST (8.55) at Tennessee
  8. Bills D/ST (8.32) versus NY Jets
  9. Bengals D/ST (7.24) versus Cleveland (low variance)
  10. Panthers D/ST (7.00) versus New England
  11. Saints D/ST (6.70) versus San Francisco
  12. Buccaneers D/ST (6.53) versus Atlanta (high variance)
  13. Broncos D/ST (6.45) versus Kansas City
  14. Lions D/ST (6.02) at Pittsburgh (high variance)
  15. Titans D/ST (5.86) versus Indianapolis
  16. Dolphins D/ST (5.79) versus San Diego (high variance)
  17. Chargers D/ST (5.59) at Miami
  18. Packers D/ST (5.50) at NY Giants
  19. Patriots D/ST (5.41) at Carolina
  20. Jaguars D/ST (5.28) versus Arizona
  21. Falcons D/ST (4.63) at Tampa Bay
  22. Browns D/ST (4.61) at Cincinnati
  23. 49ers D/ST (3.59) at New Orleans
  24. Eagles D/ST (3.40) versus Washington
  25. Raiders D/ST (3.10) at Houston
  26. Ravens D/ST (2.73) at Chicago
  27. Steelers D/ST (2.18) versus Detroit
  28. Chiefs D/ST (1.10) at Denver
  29. Redskins D/ST (-0.24) at Philadelphia
  30. Vikings D/ST (-0.93) at Seattle

On Bye: Dallas Cowboys, St. Louis Rams

Tier 1: Seahawks, Cardinals

These two should should surprise nobody: The Seahawks get to hop on the QB Carousel, and right now it’s currently looking like Christian Ponder might get the go. The Cardinals get a crack at the Jaguars pinata. If you’re holding one of these two teams, you should be starting them this week over all alternatives. The Cardinals D/ST is only owned in 31% of ESPN leagues!

Tier 2: Giants, Bears, Texans

The Bears seem like the odd one out here. Once mighty, their numbers have cooled off significantly since their torrid start – they’re a very high risk play this week. However, they’re projected a very high expectation of 9.2, and they’re owned in just 74% of ESPN leagues. If you want a high variance home run, the Bears are probably your choice.

The Texans get a chance to follow up their first solid D/ST performance in weeks with a game at home against Oakland. The Raiders have conceded 10+ points to 4 of their last 6 D/STs faced, and they’re on the road against a Texans team that scored another disappointing score last week. This is a great confidence test prior to their Jacksonville game next week. They’re currently owned in 81% of leagues, but that number should be 100% this week.

The Giants. The mother. fucking. New York Giants. I hate the team with a passion, but they’ve continued to roll! Three straight wins has them right back in the playoff race, and their D/ST has scored well for three games in a row now. This week, they get backup backup QB Scott Tolzien and the Green Bay Packers… what’s left of the Packers offense, anyway. Be warned that Tolzien’s miniscule sample size may be creating some noise here – I would much rather have the Texans this week than the Giants, for example.

Tier 3: Jets, Colts, Bills, Bengals, Panthers

All five of these teams have promise this week. The Bengals are the safest play of the five, for sure. The Jets appear to have the most upside, but as with the Giants, Tuel Time has only been airing for a couple weeks now. His body of work is lacking, too, so proceed with caution when the Jets are concerned… but which NY Jet can you not say that about?

If you have the Panthers D/ST, you can probably start them with relative confidence. They’ve been outscoring projections for weeks and have been the most valuable D/ST recently (even more points than KC over each team’s last 5 games!), and their next two games are at Miami and versus Tampa Bay. The Panthers should not be dropped for any team, and they can be started over most or benched for a stream based on roster space. The Panthers are at a 70% ownership rate – what is going on with this?

The Bills could be a very sneaky play this week. They’ve underperformed all year, but they’re a team full of IDP studs. Kyle Williams, Mario Williams, Aaron Williams, and a few other guys not named Williams have all been keeping pace with the leaders at their respective positions in fantasy scoring, but the Bills D/ST have been giving up too many points to score consistently well in fantasy. This might be their breakout week. Ownership of just 7% ensures the Bills should be available in most leagues.

The situation with the Colts is simple: They’ve got an average matchup, but they’re on the road, have been giant turds for two weeks in a row, and I wouldn’t be able to recommend them be started over any option in tier 2 or 3 this week.

Tier 4: Saints, Buccaneers, Broncos, Lions

There should be sufficient choices higher up on the list for most owners, but these should do in a pinch for an average score. Denver rate as having the least upside of the four, but as with any team facing significant personnel changes midseason, they’ve got slightly more uncertainty than I’d like.

Tbe only team of the four with 2-week considerations is the Lions, with their chance next week to face GB’s QB of the future (get well soon, Aaron Rodgers), but you can probably stream something equivalent next week.


On Kansas City

Would you consider starting any other D/ST at Denver? I wouldn’t. I don’t care who. A all-star team playing hard would have a hard time stopping that offense. Vegas has the Broncos expecting approximately 28 points this weekend. What kind of room does that leave for KC? They’re in the position where they’ll probably need a defensive TD in order to stay relevant. That being said, is a 14-13 kind of game possible? Absolutely. Is it likely? Hell no. You had to roster a D/ST last week in order to get past Kansas City’s bye week, so don’t get cute. Start them again, or stream something new.


Week 13 begins the fantasy football playoffs for many leagues, and it’s close for others. Here are the D/STs that I would look for in order to cover playoff matchups. If you don’t see your team in the “Consider starting” list, and you don’t see it in the “Consider sitting” list, you can assume that they’re a safe start. For example, in Week 13, Carolina have the Buccaneers at home, and should not be sat in any league.


13 | Consider starting Cleveland (v JAX), Miami (@ NYJ), Patriots (@ HOU), Ravens (v PIT)

13 | Consider sitting Tennessee (@ IND), Seattle (v NO), Kansas City (v DEN), Cincinnati (@ SD)

14 | Consider starting Houston (@ JAX), Miami (@ PIT), San Diego (v NYG), Arizona (@ STL)

14 | Consider sitting Tennessee (@ DEN), Seattle (@ SF), Carolina (@ NO)

15 | Consider starting Buffalo (@ JAX), Indianapolis (v HOU), New England (@ MIA), Tennessee (v ARI)

15 | Consider sitting Arizona (@ TEN), Houston (@ Indianapolis)

16 | Consider starting Tennessee (@ JAX), Detroit (v NYG), Cleveland (@ NYJ), Denver (@ HOU)

16 | Consider sitting Indianapolis (@ KC), Carolina (v NO), Arizona (@ SEA)

17 | Consider starting Indianapolis (v JAX), Cleveland (@ PIT), Tennessee (v HOU), Miami (v NYJ)

17 | Consider sitting Houston (@ TEN), Arizona (v SF)


Remember, choosing the right starters doesn’t take luck – but often times winning does! So, to everyone:

Best of luck in week 11!


@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 keep up to date on Reddit will be more likely to score big D/ST points on Sunday.

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  1. Paul

    November 13, 2013 at 1:00 am

    If I could trade SEA (after this week) for a D/ST that could help me in the playoffs (HOU) and week 12 since I have CIN
    Should I trade SEA for HOU?
    I am thinking about doing it after this week but if I could get HOU now I could put CIN in this week against the Browns.
    Week 11 – CIN vCLE or HOU vOAK
    Week 12 – HOU vJAX
    Week 13 – CIN @SD
    Week 14 – HOU@JAX
    Week 15 – CIN @PIT
    Week 16 – CIN vMIN
    The team that has HOU is the number 1 seed right now and in the other div and plays me week 13 with play offs starting week 14. He is definitely getting the bye. I might see him again week 16 (if I make it there).
    SEA had NYG and ARI week 15-16… would that hurt me in the playoffs if he has them

    • Dylan Lerch

      November 14, 2013 at 1:02 am

      Hi Paul,

      I wouldn’t be trading the Seahawks D/ST for any other D/ST, not even the Chiefs (or in your case, the Texans). That’s assuming standard scoring.

      They’re virtually matchup proof, and even with a bye and a game v New Orleans upcoming, should be a top 3 ROS option at the position.

  2. Flatty

    November 13, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Suggestion on who to pick up now to cover the CIN bye next week? I’m looking at DET or maybe JAC. The rest of my league has caught onto my shenanigans and are hoarding 2+ D/ST each.

    • Dylan Lerch

      November 14, 2013 at 1:05 am

      Hmm! Tough one. I would like the Jacksonville play a lot more if that were in Jacksonville, but on the road I don’t think I could pull the trigger. They’ve kind of crept in toward “a little worse than average” territory though.

      Detroit isn’t such a bad option. They’re not great, but they should have an average EV +/- 1 point or so. I also like that their game is at home, and Tampa (despite their win) is in a perpetual state of disarray.

  3. Arj

    November 14, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    Hey Dylan,

    You’re the best.
    Giants last week? Seriously?
    Rolling with them this week.

    Thanks for all the awesome advice.

  4. BoltTheBird

    November 15, 2013 at 1:00 am

    Hi Dylan,

    How much do the injuries for the Bears influence your thoughts on playing them? I’ve totally given up on them, and I drafted them about a round earlier that I probably should have (even assuming they were healthy). With Tillman out for possibly the season, all the playmakers seem to be gone from a unit that was built primarily on getting turnovers.

    • Dylan Lerch

      November 15, 2013 at 3:22 am

      It’s a big part of why this is a high risk/high reward kind of game. Baltimore has been lackluster at best on the road, and a healthy Bears team on defense would be a monster play here. Look at the Ravens’ D/ST points against on the road this year:

      Week 1 @ DEN (9 points)
      Week 4 @ BUF (14 points)
      Week 5 @ MIA (11 points)
      Week 7 @ PIT (4 points)
      Week 9 @ CLE (11 points)

      Overall on the year, the Ravens have been a fairly generous team to opposing D/STs. I think the Bears D/ST is a very solid, if risky, play this week.

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