Justin Bailey

Getting Defensive

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Getting Defensive Week 5

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The defenses I touch on are not my ranks, but my overall thoughts on the defenses I find notable. The goal of these pieces is to give you a concise, actionable rundown on defenses for the upcoming week.

Defensive order is based on their opponents implied team total, from lowest to highest. The team in parenthesis is the defenses opponent.

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Worth Mentioning  

Defenses that are highly owned, or worth noting overall.


Ravens (@ Raiders — No Line)


With Derek Carr out and E.J. Manuel starting, it’s pretty easy to feel good about starting the Ravens defense. It’s not ideal that DT Brandon Williams will be out, but Manuel has a career 58.5 percent completion rate, with a 3.4 percent touchdown rate as he has almost as interceptions (16) as he does touchdown passes (19.)


Vikings (@ Bears — No Line)


There is no line for this game with Sam Bradford’s status being up in the air. Mitch Trubisky was recently named the starter. It’s a plus that the Vikings face a rookie quarterback making his first career start, but the Vikings have allowed a scoring play on 40.5 percent of their drives, along with a turnover rate of 7.1 percent. Both marks rank in the bottom third of the league. Trubisky completed 36-of-53 preseason passes for 364 yards and three touchdowns.


Bengals (vs. Bills — 18-point implied team total)


The Bengals defense is set up in a nice spot at home against a Bills team that is implied for just 18 points. The Bills rank in the bottom-third of the league in scoring rate, and the Bengals have allowed the fourth-lowest scoring rate to opposing offenses this season. They’ve also generated the second-most sacks in the league.


Chiefs (vs. Texans — 23.5-point implied team total)


The Kansas City defense is owned in 100 percent of ESPN league, so it’s likely most people are just riding them this week. Though, I would understand if they wanted to try their luck with a streamer. On a short week, the Chiefs will head to Houston to take on a Texans offense that has strung together exceptional performances in two straight games. Deshaun Watson has thrown for 384 yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions while adding another 65 yards and a score on the ground over his last two starts. Watson’s completion rate and passer rating have improved with each start this year. While he has been impressive, the Texans still have the sixth-highest turnover rate this year as the rookie quarterback can make some mistakes. The Chiefs defense has also done an exceptional job at generating pressure as they have the eighth-most sacks in the league before their Week 4 game against the Redskins.

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Patriots (vs. Buccaneers — 25.25-point implied team total)

At this point, I am not entirely sure why the Patriots’ defense is still over 90 percent owned, which is why I am writing about them in this section. Through four weeks here is where they rate among other defenses; points allowed: 31st, total yards: 32nd, yards per play: 32nd, passing touchdowns: T32nd, net yards per attempt: 32nd, scoring rate allowed: 32nd. You get the point.

Matchup Downgrade

Highly Owned Defenses with limited upside in the current matchup.

Texans (vs. Chiefs — 23.5-point implied team total)

The main reason I have the Chiefs as matchup downgrade is because they don’t turn the ball over. The Chiefs have a turnover rate of 2.9 percent, which is the fourth-lowest rate in the league. They have a middling team total of 23.5 points, and it’s a boost to the Texans they’re at home, but they’ll need to generate some sacks and try and limit the Chiefs’ big plays from Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill to be effective.

Seahawks (@ Rams — 24.5-point implied team total)

I’m not sure anyone would have anticipated the Seahawks vs. the Rams as a matchup downgrade, yet here we are. Seattle remains 100 percent owned as people aren’t ready to jump ship yet. While the Seahawks aren’t necessarily a “bad” defense, they haven’t been performing at an output that we are used to. They will also be without DE Cliff Avril. Seattle ranks in the middle of the road in most defensive categories such as points allowed, yards per play, total yards allowed, scoring rate allowed, and turnover rate. They may have their hands full on Sunday as they’re on the road against a Rams offense that appears to be firing on all cylinders with new HC Sean McVay. The Rams have forced a league-high 142 points and rank in the top-four in total yards and yards per play.

Cardinals (@ Eagles — 25.75-point implied team total)

Targeting defenses on the road, as underdogs is usually not the best idea. The Cardinals head into Philly as large 6.5-point favorites against a Carson Wentz-led offense that has the fifth-highest scoring rate among offenses. Turnovers or sacks are crucial to give your defense a high floor, but the Cardinals have the eighth-lowest turnover rate on defense, along with the 12th-fewest sacks this season.

Jaguars (@ Steelers — 26.25-point implied team total)

The Jaguars defense has been outstanding this season. Well, against the pass they have. They rank first against the pass this season, allowing just 147 passing yards per game, but they rank 32nd against the run as they have allowed 165.5 yards per game. The Steelers are at home where they play their best football, and they just fed Le’Veon Bell with 41 touches last week. On the road as 8.5-point underdogs is not an ideal spot for this Jacksonville defense.  

Potential Streamers

See Above.

Dolphins (vs. Titans — No Line)

I’d only qualify the Dolphins as a streamer if Marcus Mariota is out and Matt Cassel is thrust into the starting lineup. Cassel has a career 58.8 percent completion rate, 6.0 net yards per attempt along with a 3.9 percent touchdown rate.

Bears (vs. Vikings — No Line)

Case Keenum came back down to earth last week against the Lions, though, Sam Bradford still has yet to be ruled inactive for this game, he’s considered day-to-day as of now. However, the Vikings will also be without workhorse Dalvin Cook after he tore his ACL. Even if Bradford is active, losing Cook is going to hurt their offensive production as they’re forced to use a not 100 percent healthy Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon.

Steelers (vs. Jacksonville — 17.75-point implied team total)

The Steelers are owned in 52 percent of ESPN leagues, which makes them a potential streamer candidate if they are available in your league. To be honest, I am shocked they are only 52 percent owned as they are currently the No. 3 fantasy defense to date. They’ve been outstanding this season and have allowed just 22.9 percent of drives to end in an offensive score — the best mark in the league. The blitz-heavy Steelers also have the seventh-highest turnover rate, forced the second-most sacks (15), and allowed the second-lowest ANY/A (3.2) The Jaguars are on the road with an implied team total of just 17.75 points.

Browns (vs. Jets — 18.75-point implied team total)

The Browns are a viable streamer if you're desperate as they’re at home against a Jets team implied for 18.75 points. However, last week LB Jamie Collins, DE Myles Garrett, and DT Danny Shelton were inactive. The Browns are more so in play if their defensive starters are active and healthy.

Eagles (vs. Cardinals — 19.25-point implied team total)

I’m shocked and not shocked the Cardinals are implied for just 19.25 points. I’m shocked because the Eagles’ secondary is decimated with injuries, but I am not shocked because the Eagles have an exceptional front seven and Arizona’s offensive line is very bad. Per PFF, Carson Palmer has been pressured on 42.3 percent of his dropbacks (fourth-highest rate) and has a putrid 50.8 quarterback rating while under pressure.

Lions (vs. Panthers — 20.5-point implied team total)

The Panthers travel to Detroit in Week 5 after putting up 33 points on the putrid Patriots defense. Before facing the Patriots, the Panthers were averaging only 15 points per game. That includes a 13-point outing against a pedestrian Saints defense. This looks like a let-down spot for the Panthers, or at least for them to regress back to their early-season offensive output. The Lions have done well so far as they rank 10th overall as a defensive unit (PFF), and they’re currently the No. 2 fantasy defense this year, owned in just 34.4 percent of ESPN leagues.

Bills (@ Bengals — 21-point implied team total)

Through four weeks, the Bills have allowed a league-low 54 points, just 13.5 points per game. They have a top-four turnover rate along with ranking eighth in scoring rate allowed. This should pair well with the Bengals' bottom-five scoring and turnover rate as they've forced the fifth-fewest points, and rank in the bottom third in total yards and yards per play. 

Streamer preference: Steelers, Eagles, Bills, Lions, Dolphins (if Mariota is out), Bears, Browns

Kickers in Order of Implied Team Total

These are NOT kicker ranks. For those, check out Pat Daugherty's ranks later in the week. Kicker fantasy points have a strong correlation to Vegas implied team totals. Here are the top kickers in order of implied team total in order to help you find possible streamers.


Stephen Gostkowski (30.25-point implied team total)

Dan Bailey (27.25-point implied team total)

Chris Boswell (26.25-point implied team total)

Jake Elliott (25.75-point implied team total)

Mason Crosby (25.25-point implied team total)

Nick Folk (25.25-point implied team total)

Greg Zuerlein (24.5-point implied team total)

Aldrick Rosas (24-point implied team total)

Ka’imi Fairbairn (23.5-point implied team total)

Harrison Butker (23.5-point implied team total)

Matt Prater (23.5-point implied team total)

Blair Walsh (22.5-point implied team total)



Justin Bailey has been working with Rotoworld since 2015. His stat-forward analysis can also be found on FantasyLabs and 4for4. Follow him on Twitter - @justinbailey32.
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