Defense Wins Championships, Week 13

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Updated: November 26, 2013
Steelers_defense

Welcome back to 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. Playoffs are either on the horizon or have just begun. Sell your soul to whichever deity you choose, but do it quickly: if you’re in a do-or-die game this weekend, you must sacrifice whatever it takes to maximize this week’s scoring expectation. It’s simple. If you lose and you’re out, then you had better not lose. Also, have realistic expectations: if your team sucks, play your high variance, high upside players as necessary, but don’t get carried away!

That being said, let’s first look briefly at week 12′s results:

Top scoring D/STs from Week 12 (ESPN Standard)

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

  1. Steelers D/ST (6.01) at Cleveland [21]
  2. Buccaneers D/ST (0.43) at Detroit [19]
  3. Ravens D/ST (10.38) versus NY Jets [15]
  4. Cardinals D/ST (6.58) versus Indianapolis [14]
  5. 49ers D/ST (6.46) at Washington [13]
  6. Broncos D/ST (2.30) at New England [11]
  7. Rams D/ST (5.55) versus Chicago [10]
  8. Jaguars D/ST (0.65) at Houston [10]
  9. Cowboys D/ST (5.87) at NY Giants [9]
  10. Saints D/ST (6.98) at Atlanta [9]
  11. Texans D/ST (9.72) versus Jacksonville [9]
  12. Dolphins D/ST (6.07) versus Carolina [8]
  13. Lions D/ST (6.21) versus Tampa Bay [6]
  14. Patriots D/ST (-0.29) versus Denver [6]
  15. Giants D/ST (5.59) versus Dallas [6]
  16. Jets D/ST (6.81) at Baltimore [6]
  17. Panthers D/ST (10.48) at Miami [6]
  18. Packers D/ST (7.78) versus Minnesota [5]
  19. Redskins D/ST (2.15) versus San Francisco [4]
  20. Titans D/ST (5.83) at Oakland [3]
  21. Chargers D/ST (3.41) at Kansas City [3]
  22. Falcons D/ST (-2.45) versus New Orleans [1]
  23. Raiders D/ST (7.77) versus Tennessee [1]
  24. Browns D/ST (7.83) versus Pittsburgh [0]
  25. Colts D/ST (6.32) at Arizona [-0]
  26. Vikings D/ST (5.90) at Green Bay [-3]
  27. Bears D/ST (6.94) at St. Louis [-4]
  28. Chiefs D/ST (8.61) versus San Diego [-7]

Carolina disappointed but scored alright. Cleveland disappointed, the Chiefs showed that their ship might be sinking, and about the only highly-ranked teams that scored well this week were the Ravens, Saints, and Texans. A slew of teams scored 6 or better.

A number of people on Reddit were complaining about the Texans – they did fine! They’ll still be a good play in week 14, and are worth a stash through the week. Their offense was putrid all game, Jacksonville owned time of possession, and they still only conceded 13 points to the Jaguars. They sacked Henne a respectable 4 times. It wasn’t flashy, but the Texans D/ST was the only remotely bright spot in Houston this Sunday.

Of the other top scorers, the Steelers, Cardinals, 49ers, Rams, Cowboys, and Dolphins were all clumped in with the 6-to-7-pointers last Tuesday. I project to two digits to give some order to the chaos, but when teams are very close in the rating, we should be really careful with who we select. Similarly ranked Chicago, Minnesota, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Oakland, Tennessee, and Green Bay all scored below average or downright bad. Remember: it takes luck to score well in fantasy football, but it does not take luck to select the right starters. The two are not the same thing. Let’s try and apply what we know now to what we have for week 13:

Week 13 projected D/ST scoring (ESPN Standard)

  1. Panthers D/ST (9.99) versus Tampa Bay (low variance)
  2. Dolphins D/ST (9.21) at NY Jets
  3. Browns D/ST (9.13) versus Jacksonville (low variance)
  4. Cowboys D/ST (9.04) versus Oakland (low variance)
  5. Jets D/ST (8.90) versus Miami (low variance)
  6. Seahawks D/ST (8.80) versus New Orleans
  7. Ravens D/ST (8.75) versus Pittsburgh (low variance)
  8. Patriots D/ST (7.29) at Houston
  9. Colts D/ST (7.25) versus Tennessee
  10. 49ers D/ST (7.20) versus St. Louis
  11. Bills D/ST (7.07) versus Atlanta
  12. Steelers D/ST (6.61) at Baltimore
  13. Bears D/ST (6.09) at Minnesota (high variance)
  14. Eagles D/ST (5.93) versus Arizona
  15. Broncos D/ST (5.61) at Kansas City (low variance)
  16. Giants D/ST (5.61) at Washington (high variance)
  17. Lions D/ST (5.19) versus Green Bay
  18. Buccaneers D/ST (4.76) at Carolina (high variance)
  19. Jaguars D/ST (4.72) at Cleveland
  20. Chargers D/ST (4.71) versus Cincinnati
  21. Redskins D/ST (4.62) versus NY Giants
  22. Rams D/ST (4.59) at San Francisco (high variance)
  23. Titans D/ST (3.93) at Indianapolis
  24. Saints D/ST (3.84) at Seattle
  25. Bengals D/ST (3.80) at San Diego
  26. Falcons D/ST (2.02) at Buffalo (Toronto)
  27. Cardinals D/ST (1.99) at Philadelphia
  28. Chiefs D/ST (1.97) versus Denver
  29. Raiders D/ST (1.83) at Dallas
  30. Vikings D/ST (1.32) versus Chicago
  31. Packers D/ST (0.84) at Detroit
  32. Texans D/ST (0.24) versus New England

No one on bye. Game on!

Tier 1: Panthers (89.7% owned)

The Panthers should surprise nobody at number one. They scored an modest 6 points at Miami last week – below expectation, but well within a reasonable range of normal. This week, they’ve got the Buccaneers at home: Vegas has an over/under of just 16.5 points for Tampa Bay in what really might be the harshest atmosphere Mike Glennon will face during his rookie half season. In their week 8 matchup, the Panthers D/ST scored 10 points. But most importantly, no regular reader here would have dropped the Carolina Panthers at any point over the last few weeks – if you’ve got them, you’re starting them this week without regret for the last time before they get the Saints.

Tier 2: Dolphins (18.4% owned), Browns (19.3%), Cowboys (36.2%), Jets (10.2%), Seahawks (100%), Ravens (68.8%)

The Seahawks are going to be questioned this week. While I don’t think that losing Browner and Thurmond will be very devastating to the Seahawks D/ST rest of season, I do think it’s enough reason to get off the fence about facing Drew Brees and sit my beloved Seahawks this weekend. I would not be surprised to see them score well, but does anybody want to rest their playoff hopes on a D/ST that let Mike James throw for a TD and let Trent Richardson run 16 yards in just one play against Drew *censored* Brees? Yuck.

The two best fades in the NFL right now for D/STs are the Jets and the Jaguars, so it should be no surprise to see their respective opponents as #1 and #2 of the streaming choices this week. The Dolphins rate statistically as the best choice, however I have a concern: last week, Geno Smith (again) showed why he’s about as bad this year as it gets, which is awesome for D/ST scoring. He might be good some day, but right now he stinks. And that makes the Dolphins an appealing choice, except that in the Jets’ week 10 game versus the Saints, Geno Smith was minimized and the Jets just pounded the run. The Dolphins aren’t particularly stout against the run. It gives me caution at the least, but they still rate very well (depending on how you think Ryan and the Jets will gameplan this one, perhaps).

Many of us were burned by Cleveland’s score of 0 in week 12. I had them in two leagues! However, they still project very well against a Jaguars team during whatever spews out of the Cleveland sky this Sunday afternoon. Starting the Browns against Jacksonville for the playoffs – which I plan to do in my (nonstandard scoring) money league this weekend during the first leg of my playoffs – gives me the opportunity to watch Brandon Weeden fight against the mighty Jaguars defense with a rooting interest. In return, you’ll get to cheer for Joe Haden against Chad Henne. How on earth does that not sell you?

The Cowboys and Jets both rate very well additionally. The numbers even paint the Jets to be low variance! However, I find labeling a Geno Smith-involved unit anything near “low variance” cannot be correct, so I would shy away. We’ll see if that turns out to be correct. The Dolphins have been relatively generous throughout the season to opposing D/STs, so there should be value here. The Cowboys have been very boom/bust this year, and face a Raiders team that has allowed D/STs to boom against it: twice over 20 points and once more with 18. A score like that can single-handedly win a crucial week 13 game.

Finally, the Ravens. I have them in one league and I will look to trade up to Miami or Cleveland. I started them for the week 12 matchup, and their week 13 score is a bonus in case something better is unavailable (or in case you want to use a waiver claim on something more important!). However, I would rather be on one of the other tier 2 options.

Tier 3: Patriots (84.9%), Colts (27.0%), 49ers (99.0%), Bills (9.4%), Steelers (72.6%)

Are you ready for pain? The Colts D/ST has been getting blown out: scores of -4, 0, 4, and -1 averages -0.25 per game. Oops. It took a brave (or desperate) owner to start them in week 12 at Arizona, but I can imagine someone as having had faith in Carson Palmer delivering with an interception or two. If I were stuck looking in this tier and playing spoiler, I’d love the opportunity to bust someone out with the Colts after their 4 stinkers. They certainly look good (again) on paper! I wouldn’t trust them with my playoff hopes though.

Instead, the whole rest of the tier look very good to me – I would lean toward sitting the Bills and Steelers while starting the Patriots and 49ers. The Bills need to show me another good showing before I’m willing to trust them already. The Steelers have been quietly putting together some good games, but they overall have scored very poorly. The Patriots have a game against the train wreck Texans, and I could see a valid argument why they should be ranked even higher! The 49ers, for their part, have begun to turn it on defensively. Aside from their game at New Orleans, they’ve scored very well in every week since week 3. They get a Rams team that, prior to the last couple of weeks, was very generous to opposing D/STs.

Tier 4 & Below: Bears (74.3%), Broncos (83.8%), Buccaneers (7.7%), Rams (71.3%), everything else irrelevant.

The Bears, Bucs, and Rams all rate as high variance. They’re the type of teams that are ideal if you’re stuck looking to the lower ranks – they tend to be boom/bust plays that are just a little weak, but when they do “boom” will still score among the week’s leaders.

The Broncos are a little different. It’s not the greatest matchup for the Broncos, mostly because it’s on the road, but it’s not a bad one. And we just saw them leave Foxboro with 11 points thanks to a monster IDP effort by Von Miller. It brings up the obvious question: with Miller suspended all season, could the Broncos be underrated? Yep. Not sure if there’s any way around that one. However, they’ve had 2 games with 4 INTs and 6 games with 0 – not a recipe for success with D/ST scoring. Either way, they’re worth a speculative pickup: week 14 v Tennessee and week 16 at Houston (and week 17 at Oakland if you play late) all figure to be positive games regardless of how you grade Denver… if they’re even available!

What about Arizona? Well, at some point, Nick Foles became a thing. It turns out he’s been a very effective quarterback, especially in ways in which we care about with D/ST scoring. He’s thrown a lot of touchdowns. He has yet to be intercepted. Arizona is tough, and they provide an intriguing matchup, but Nick Foles appears to be unworthy of a fade at this point, even with a quality Cardinals D/ST.

If you’re fighting for your playoffs and want a second opinion on anything this week, get in touch on Reddit or Twitter or on the comments here! I’ll try to get to everything. You probably don’t need help, and that’s awesome. If not, that’s awesome too. I just want my readers to crush hopes and dreams all weekend long!

Best of luck in week 13!

Dylan

@dtlerch on Twitter

/u/quickonthedrawl on Reddit

t4blog at gmail dot com

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