Getting Defensive: Week 3

Jeff Ratcliffe
Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down the matchups for all 32 fantasy team defenses and gives his top kicker plays for Week 3

Getting Defensive: Week 3

Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down the matchups for all 32 fantasy team defenses and gives his top kicker plays for Week 3

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $250,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 3. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ETHere's the link.

The first two weeks of the season are in the rearview mirror, and the cream is starting to rise to the top. Despite a very difficult matchup against the 49ers, the stout Seattle unit managed to post the highest fantasy points total for Week 2.

At the same time, matchup patterns are starting to emerge. The best fantasy defense at the end of the season will be the one that played the Jags each week. This week, that defense happens to be the Seahawks. Get your popcorn ready.

Streaming Seattle this week obvious won’t be an option, but there are plenty of decent matchups on the docket for Week 3.

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The Usual Suspects

Teams you’re not even thinking about benching this week include – Seattle (vs. Jacksonville), Chicago (at Pittsburgh), and Denver (vs. Oakland).

Preferred Plays

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

1. Minnesota (vs. Cleveland) – In hindsight, the Vikings turned out to be a surprisingly strong play against a tough Bears offense. This week, they face a Browns team that has given up the third most fantasy points to team defenses. Look for Jared Allen and Brian Robison to run wild on a suspect Cleveland offensive line that has yielded 11 sacks already this season.

2. Dallas (vs. St. Louis) – The Cowboys have taken well to Monte Kiffin’s Tampa-2 system and currently sit as the No. 3 fantasy defense. While we can’t expect them to break out in every game as they did in Week 1, we know the high ceiling is there for this unit. Getting Anthony Spencer back in shape will only help Dallas’ cause. They’re a strong play against a St. Louis team that has given up a touchdown to fantasy defenses in each of the first two weeks.  

3. Carolina (vs. Giants) – Carolina struggled to put fantasy points on the board last week, but I still believe in this unit. They boast one of the league's best front-sevens, especially with the impressive play of Star Lotulelei. The Giants are currently fantasy’s top matchup for team defenses. While I don’t anticipate this continuing for the entire season, New York has yielded double-digit fantasy points in each of the first two games. Ride this trend while it lasts.


Still Solid

Houston (at Baltimore) hasn’t quite been lights out so far this season, but they face a struggling Ravens offense. Likewise, New England (vs. Tampa Bay) gets the anemic Bucs at home. San Francisco (vs. Indianapolis) has faced two tough matchups to start the season, but there’s just too much talent on this unit to keep them on your bench. Cleveland (at Minnesota) gets a Vikings team that has yielded double-digit fantasy points in each of their first two games.


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

1. Buffalo (vs. Jets) – The Jets lackluster offense will likely be one of the best matchups for fantasy defenses all season. Rookie QB Geno Smith has been sacked nine times this season, and is coming off a three-interception performance against the Pats. Buffalo is a better defense than many people think. They’re a sneaky play, and could very well end up as a top 10 unit this week.

2. Kansas City (at Philadelphia) – Thanks largely to their Week 1 matchup against Jacksonville, the Chiefs currently sit tied with Seattle as fantasy’s top scoring unit. Still, they were solid last week, holding the Cowboys to 16 points and scooping two takeaways. You know Andy Reid is going to get his team fired up for this one, but this isn’t a slam-dunk play. As we saw last week, the Eagles offense can be a tough matchup. You’re hoping for a lot of Michael Vick turnovers if you start the Chiefs.

3. Giants (at Carolina) – Okay, this one is digging very deep, but hear me out. The Giantshave been one of the worst units through to games, but this was due largely to two tough matchups against Dallas and Denver. Carolina currently gives up the ninth most points per game to fantasy defenses. If you’re in a pinch in an extremely deep league, you could do worse.

Middle of the Road

While I’m not crazy about the matchups, you can get away with starting Arizona (at New Orleans), Detroit (at Washington), St. Louis (at Dallas), Miami (vs. Atlanta), and Tennessee (vs. San Diego). I’d lean towards not starting Pittsburgh (vs. Chicago), New Orleans (vs. Arizona), Jets (vs. Buffalo), and Tampa Bay (at New England).

Matchup Downgrade

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

1. Indianapolis (at San Francisco) – The Colts get an angry San Francisco team coming off Sunday night’s beat down. I suspect we see the 49ers offense come out firing on all cylinders here, which bodes very poorly for the Colts defense. In Week 1, the Packers defense posted negative fantasy points against the Niners. If you own the Colts, it’s a good idea to look elsewhere this week.


2. Cincinnati (vs. Green Bay) – Not surprisingly, the Packers are currently one of the worst matchups for fantasy defenses through the first two games of the season. Aaron Rodgers looked like he was playing a video game through the first half of last week’s contest against the Redskins. While Cincinnati is a much tougher matchup, you can’t like your prospects here as a fantasy owner of the Bengals.

3. Baltimore (vs. Houston) – The Ravens rebounded against the Browns after a rough Week 1, but they face a much tougher matchup in this one. Texans have consistently been very stingy against fantasy defensive units over the past several seasons. Baltimore will have several good weeks this season, but this will not be one of them.

I’d also recommend avoiding Atlanta (at Miami). With Kroy Biermann and Sean Weatherspoon out, the Falcons defense are trending downward. Green Bay (at Cincinnati) has struggled this season, and they get a tough matchup against the Bengals. The Packers should be left on the bench.

Bottom of the Barrel

Jacksonville (at Seattle) should remain in free agency until further notice. San Diego (at Tennessee) is currently the lowest scoring fantasy team defense. It’s tough to trust them in any matchup right now. Oakland (at Denver) gets to travel to Mile High to play a Broncos team that put up 40-plus in each of their first two games. Washington (vs. Detroit) has been dreadful so far and face the high-powered Lions offense. Not to be outdone, NFC East rival Philadelphia (vs. Kansas City) has given up 60 points this season.

Can I Kick it?

Here are my top 12 kickers for Week 3:

1. Stephen Gostkowski (vs. TB)

2. Phil Dawson (vs. IND)

3. Garrett Hartley (vs. ARI)

4. Steven Hauschka (vs. JAC)

5. Matt Prater (vs. OAK)

6. Matt Bryant (at MIA)

7. Caleb Sturgis (vs. ATL)

8. Alex Henery (vs. KC)

9. Dan Bailey (vs. STL)

10. Greg Zuerlein (at DAL)

11. Blair Walsh (vs. CLE)

12. Justin Tucker (HOU)

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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