Getting Defensive: Week 7

Jeff Ratcliffe
Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down the matchups for all 30 fantasy defenses in action for Week 7 and gives his top kicker plays

Getting Defensive: Week 7

Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down the matchups for all 30 fantasy defenses in action for Week 7 and gives his top kicker plays

If you didn’t wind up with the Seahawks or Chiefs, it’s likely you’ve been streaming team defenses so far this season. Outside of these two teams, there just aren’t any other matchup-proof units. Even a strong fantasy option like the Browns showed us last week that they’re susceptible to a bad matchup.

Streaming can be a very successful fantasy strategy, but it’s important to pay close attention to the matchups. So let’s see what Week 7 has to offer. Remember that the following is breakdown of my thoughts on all of the team defenses for the week, but is not my rankings. You can get Rotoworld's complete rankings by signing up for our Season Pass. Feel free to shoot me a tweet if you have any specific questions about start/sit dilemmas that I don’t answer here.

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $300,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 7. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ETHere's the link

The Usual Suspects

Kansas City (vs. Houston) is the top fantasy unit, and it’s not close. They’re locked in your lineup. ... Seattle (at Arizona) isn’t quite equaling the Chiefs’ output, but they have put up double-digit fantasy points in five-of-six games this season. ... A resurgent San Francisco (at Tennessee) faces Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has thrown four interceptions in two games as a starter.

Preferred Plays

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

1. New England (at NY Jets) – Despite losing Jerod Mayo for the season with a torn right pectoral, the Patriots make for a strong play against a Jets team that managed just six points last week. Geno Smith has been sacked 12 times in the last three games, so look for Chandler Jones and company to be in Smith’s face all day.

2. Carolina (vs. St. Louis) – While the Rams offense may look improved on paper, they’ve played the hapless Jags and fading Texans the last two weeks. I’m not buying the uptick in points and expect the Panthers front seven to dominate this matchup. Carolina has scored double-digit fantasy points in each of their last three games, and that trend continues in this one.

3. Baltimore (at Pittsburgh) – No, they’re not the Ravens defense from the Ray Lewis era, but Baltimore has been a serviceable fantasy unit so far this season thanks in part to the stellar play of Terrell Suggs. The porous Steelers offensive line will have their hands full with Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. 

Still Solid

The Seahawks may not seem like an ideal matchup for Arizona (vs. Seattle), but they’ve given up a combined 30 fantasy points in the last three games. ... Chicago (at Washington) is banged up at linebacker and struggling on the defensive line, but they remain one of the league’s most opportunistic units with four scores already this season.


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

1. Minnesota (at NY Giants) – The Vikings are by no means a good defense, but they get the Giants "bump" this week. Eli Manning and company have turned the ball over at least three times in every game this season, and they’ve yielded seven scores to opposing fantasy DSTs.

2. San Diego (at Jacksonville) – Surprisingly, the Jags held Denver’s defense to just five fantasy points in Week 6. Still, this matchup is just too juicy to pass up if you’ve been streaming defenses this season. Grab the Chargers if you miss out on the Vikings.

3. St. Louis (at Carolina) – It’s hard to ignore what the Rams have done over the last two weeks with seven takeaways, seven sacks, and three scores. Yes, this production has come against the Jags and Texans, but they get another intriguing matchup against a Panthers team that has only been good against bad defenses (Giants and Vikings) this season.

4. Miami (vs. Buffalo) – The Dolphins return from bye and have the potential of seeing Matt Flynn. Reports from Bills practice sound positive for Thad Lewis’ status, but be ready to upgrade Miami if he can’t go.

Middle of the Road

Pittsburgh (vs. Baltimore) looked much improved last week, and could make for an ultra-sneaky play against a Ravens team that has yielded double-digit fantasy points in two of their last three games. ... Buffalo (at Miami) faces a lackluster Dolphins offense and could be a spot play in extremely deep leagues. ... Atlanta (vs. Tampa Bay) returns from bye still banged up. It’s an intriguing matchup against Mike Glennon, though you likely can do better elsewhere. ... Speaking of banged up, Green Bay (vs. Cleveland) gets a Browns team that isn’t as much of a pushover as we once thought they were. The Packers aren’t a desirable spot-start. ... New England may or may not have Rob Gronkowski back. Still, I’d shy away from starting the NY Jets (vs. New England) this week. ... The Houston (at Kansas City) defense currently yields the least yards per game and the fifth-most points per game. I’m still trying to figure out how that’s possible. Either way, it’s tough to start them this week on the road in Arrowhead. ... I’d lean towards not starting Denver (at Indianapolis) and Dallas (at Philadelphia).

Matchup Downgrade

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

1. Indianapolis (vs. Denver) – This one is fairly obvious. While the Broncos are still firing on all cylinders, you’re going to want to avoid them at all costs. That being said, the Colts are a solid unit with an extremely favorable schedule following their Week 8 bye with Houston and Tennessee both on the schedule twice along with games against St. Louis and Arizona.

2. Cleveland (at Green Bay) – The Browns ran into a buzz saw last week against the Lions high-powered offense. Things don’t get much better for them this week against the Packers. Despite losing Randall Cobb, Green Bay is still a very capable offense, especially at home in Lambeau.

Cincinnati (at Detroit) faces a strong Lions’ team that gives up an average of just 3.8 fantasy points per game to opposing defenses. ...Tampa Bay (at Atlanta) got steamrolled by the Eagles’ high-powered offense last week, and get an even tougher matchup in this one against the Falcons. ... The 49ers have put up 30-plus points in each of their last three games, yielding a combined eight fantasy points. While they’ve been strong this season, this is not the week to go with Tennessee (vs. San Francisco).

Bottom of the Barrel

Jacksonville (vs. San Diego) scored positive fantasy points against Denver thanks to a Paul Posluszny pick-six, but they should remain in free agency. ... The NY Giants (at Chicago) have posted negative fantasy points in four-of-six games this season. It’s almost impossible to trust them despite the favorable matchup against the Vikings on Monday night. ... Aside from their Week 4 outburst, Washington (vs. Chicago) hasn’t done much of anything for fantasy purposes this season. ... Philadelphia (vs. Dallas) might have the most upside of this bunch, but their low floor makes them an undesirable fantasy option, especially against the Cowboys’ offense.

Can I Kick it?

Here are my top 12 kickers for Week 7:

1. Stephen Gostkowski (at NYJ)

2. Matt Prater (at IND)

3. Dan Bailey (at PHI)

4. Mason Crosby (vs. CLE)

5. Alex Henery (vs. DAL)

6. Matt Bryant (vs. TB)

7. Blair Walsh (at NYG)

8. Nick Novak (at JAC)

9. Adam Vinatieri (vs. DEN)

10. Justin Tucker (at PIT)

11. Ryan Succop (vs. HOU)

12. Phil Dawson (at TEN)

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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