Getting Defensive: Week 2

Jeff Ratcliffe
Jeff Brubach highlights the top fantasy D/ST and kickers for Week 6

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $25,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 2. It's $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the link.

Defense wins championships.

This statement is just as true for the NFL as it is for your fantasy team. Yet, owners often overlook their team defense and kickers and leave valuable points in free agency.

Let’s face it. As much as we value our skill position players, fantasy weeks are often won or lost at the team defense and kicker positions. A couple of extra points at each spot can even be the difference between your team making or missing the playoffs.

There’s a lot of variance that comes with these positions on a week-to-week basis, but a careful analysis of the matchups can help you mine some fantasy gold.

Each week I’ll take a look at all of the fantasy defense matchups, highlighting teams in good matchups, teams in bad matchups, and teams that should be left in free agency.

The Usual Suspects

Teams you’re not even thinking about benching this week include – Houston (vs. Tennessee), Chicago (vs. Minnesota), Cincinnati (vs. Pittsburgh), and Denver (at New York Giants).

Preferred Plays

Your solid fantasy defenses with a weekly matchup upgrade. They're just below the Usual Suspects tier.

1. New England (vs. Jets) – The Pats were solid, but unspectacular in Week 1 against the Bills posting two takeaways and yielding 21 points. They face another rookie quarterback this week in Geno Smith. Admittedly, Smith wasn’t terrible in his debut, but on the road in Foxborough is a different beast entirely than being at home in the friendly confines of the MetLife Stadium. In two meetings last season, the Jets yielded a combined 34 fantasy points to New England. Get the Patriots in your lineup.

2. Baltimore (vs. Cleveland) – It’s really not fair to judge this Ravens defense based on their performance against the Broncos last Thursday night. This unit is a lot better than the scoreboard suggests. They get things back on track this week against a Browns team that yielded six sacks and three interceptions to the Dolphins in Week 1.

3. Carolina (at Buffalo) – Carolina is one of the league’s up-and-coming defenses, and they showed it on Sunday, holding the Seahawks to just 12 points. The Bills will struggle to get much of anything done against a Panthers unit that will apply pressure on E.J. Manuel early and often. Carolina doesn’t quite have the fantasy ceiling of the other two preferred plays, but they’re still a solid start this week.

Still Solid

Seattle (vs. San Francisco), San Francisco (at Seattle) and St. Louis (at Atlanta) are all in less than desirable matchups, though it’s tough to bench any of these top 10 units. I’d also be comfortable starting Cleveland (at Baltimore). They’re an extremely high upside defense on the verge of cracking into the top 10 fantasy units.


You don't want to rely on these D/STs on a weekly basis, but their matchup is too juicy to pass up.

1. Oakland (vs. Jacksonville) – The best fantasy defense this season will be the team that plays the Jags each week. Last week, Blaine Gabbert threw two picks against a Chiefs team that managed just seven interceptions for all of 2012. Gabbert is out this week, and the Jags will roll with Chad Henne, who averaged slightly over one interception per game last season. Oakland is by no means a stellar unit, but the matchup makes them the biggest "swing for the fences" play of the week.

2. Philadelphia (vs. San Diego) – In a surprising twist, the Eagles defense came out and impressed on Monday night. They were aggressive in the pass rush with three sacks and had three takeaways against division rival Washington. We may have spoken too soon with this unit, and their fantasy arrow is now pointing straight up. The Chargers gave up 11 fantasy points to Houston on Monday night, and are coming east on a short week. It’s not the safest play, but the Eagles offer some of the biggest upside in Week 2.

Middle of the Road

While I’m not crazy about the matchups, you can get away with starting Green Bay (vs. Washington), Dallas (at Kansas City), Miami (@Indianapolis), and Atlanta (vs. St. Louis). I’d lean towards not starting Detroit (at Arizona), Pittsburgh (at Cincinnati), San Diego (at Philadelphia), Buffalo (vs. Carolina), and New Orleans (at Tampa Bay).

Matchup Downgrade

They shouldn't be dropped, but a tough matchup limits the fantasy upside of these units.

1. Tampa Bay (vs. New Orleans) – Granted, they faced the Jets in Week 1, but I do like this Bucs unit. They’ll have matchup fantasy value at various points this season. However, you’re going to want to steer clear of them this week against a Saints team that picked right up with where they left off last season, yielding just one fantasy point to the Falcons.

2. Arizona (vs. Detroit) – Arizona is another squad I like for the rest of the season. They posted a solid two takeaways and a score against the Rams, and they’re only going to get better when Daryl Washington returns from suspension. I’d seek out other options this week, though. The Lions high-powered offense was one of three teams to yield negative fantasy points in Week 1.

3. Tennessee (at Houston) – The Texans were the seventh worst fantasy matchup for opposing team defenses last season, and they continued that trend in Week 1, yielding zero fantasy points to the Chargers. Tennessee looks to be much improved this season, but they’ll have their hands full with a Houston team that ran 80 plays on Monday night. The Titans will be worth a look most weeks this season, but it’s best to avoid them in this one.

I’d also recommend avoiding Minnesota (at Chicago), Washington (at Green Bay), and Kansas City (vs. Dallas).

Don’t Get Cute

1. New York Giants (vs. Denver) – This is fairly obvious, but just in case you got stuck with the Giants in your draft, you’re not starting them this week. Denver isn’t going to put up 500-plus yards of offense and score seven touchdowns every week, but they’re still going to be one of the worst fantasy matchups for team defenses this season.

2. Indianapolis (vs. Miami) – The Colts were the sexy pickup last week against what we thought would be a struggling Oakland offense. Things didn’t entirely shake out as anticipated, due largely to the athletic play of Terrell Pryor. If you happened to pick up the Indy last week, cut them loose for a better option. Miami isn’t a horrible matchup, but the Colts aren’t a strong defense and they offer limited fantasy upside. 

Bottom of the Barrel

Jacksonville (at Oakland) should remain in free agency until further notice. I’d also avoid New York Jets (at New England) at all costs.

Can I Kick it?

Here are my top 12 kickers for Week 2:

1. Matt Bryant (vs. STL)

2. Stephen Gostkowski (vs. NYJ)

3. Justin Tucker (vs. CLE)

4. Randy Bullock (vs. TEN)

5. Garrett Hartley (at TB)

6. Phil Dawson (at SEA)

7. Greg Zuerlein (at ATL)

8. Alex Henery (vs. SD)

9. Matt Prater (at NYG)

10. Robbie Gould (vs. MIN)

11. Mason Crosby (vs. WAS)

12. David Akers (at ARI)

D/ST Standard Scoring System

Any Touchdown

6 pts


0 points allowed

5 pts


Under 100 yards allowed

5 pts


2 pts


1-6 points allowed

4 pts


101 to 199 yards allowed

3 pts

Fumble Recovery

2 pts


7-13 points allowed

3 pts


200 to 299 yards allowed

2 pts

Blocked Kick

2 pts


14-17 points allowed

1 pt


300 to 349 yards allowed

0 pts


2 pts


18-27 points allowed

0 pts


350 to 399 yards allowed

 -1 pts


1 pt


28-34 points allowed

 -1 pts


400 to 449 yards allowed

 -3 pts


35-45 points allowed

 -3 pts


450 to 499 yards allowed

 -5 pts


46+ points allowed

 -5 pts


500- 549 yards allowed

 -6 pts


550+ yards allowed

 -7 pts

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