Justin Bailey

Getting Defensive

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Getting Defensive: Week 6

Monday, October 9, 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.

We’re still early in the season, so some of the research will still come from last year, but we can still draw conclusions from what we saw in the previous weeks.

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.


Broncos (vs. Giants — 14.25-point implied team total)

Not much needs to be said here. One of the best defenses in the league plays a Giants team that will be without Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, and possibly Sterling Shepard. The Giants are implied for just 14.25 points at the time of writing this. Per the FantasyLabs Trends tool, since 2014, when opposing offenses are implied for less than 15 points, the opposing defense averages 13.21 points fantasy points per game.

Ravens (vs. Bears — 17-point implied team total)

The Bears will head into Baltimore with an implied team total of 17 points. The Ravens are 7.5-point favorites, which tends to implement a more pass-heavy game flow for the opposing offenses. More passing equals more sacks and more potential for interceptions. The Ravens have allowed an offensive score on 30.5 percent of offensive drives, which is the ninth-best rate in the league. They’ve also forced a turnover on 20.3 percent of drives, which is the second-best rate among defenses — only the Jaguars have a higher defensive turnover rate.

Texans (vs. Browns — 17.5-point implied team total)

It’s not ideal the Texans will be without J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus, but the Browns’ “offense” is in shambles. They’ve forced the third-fewest points through four weeks, averaging 15.4 points per game. The Browns have the second-lowest scoring rate, and the highest turnover rate among offenses this season.

Jaguars (vs. Rams — 20.5-point implied team total)

The Jaguars’ corners, Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are currently PFF’s No. 3 and No. 5 ranked corners. They should have no issue containing the Rams' outside receivers. The Jags have allowed the fifth-fewest passing yards per game, and second-most rushing yards per game this season. This will be a difficult task for the Rams as the Jaguars defense is allowing the second-lowest scoring rate and boasts the league’s highest turnover rate among defenses. It may especially be difficult if they decide to keep running Tavon Austin out of the backfield.

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Matchup Downgrade

Highly Owned Defenses with limited upside in the current matchup.

Vikings (vs. Packers — No Line)

With Jordy Nelson’s hamstring becoming an issue, and Ty Montgomery's status unknown, there is no Vegas line for this game. However, even though the Vikings are at home, I wouldn’t be thrilled about using them against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. The Packers have the seventh-highest scoring rate this season, with 43.1 percent of their drives ending in a score. For a defense to bolster their floor, we also want turnovers, but the Packers have the sixth-lowest turnover rate this season. Green Bay’s scoring and turnover rate works with the Vikings’ weaknesses as they rank in the bottom-10 in turnover rate and scoring rate allowed.

Chiefs (vs. Steelers — 21-point implied team total)

I understand the Steelers have been brutal to start the season, and they are much worse on the road compared to home, but the Chiefs aren’t exactly a shutdown defense. They have a middling turnover rate and scoring rate allowed, although, they have generated the eighth-most sacks this season. They’re coming off a two-game stint in which they allowed 54 points, only to have their fantasy day salvaged by a defensive/special team touchdown in each game. If Ben Roethlisberger shows up with any competency, they will have their hands full with Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and big-play threat Martavis Bryant.

Panthers (vs. Eagles — 21.5-point implied team total)

The Eagles have been torching opposing defenses this season, averaging 27.4 points per game. They boast the fifth-highest scoring rate and a turnover rate of just 8.9 percent — the 10th-best mark in the league. That said, the Panthers’ defensive floor could be okay if they can get after Wentz. Carolina has generated 17 sacks this season, which is tied for the third-most this season — they’re also allowing 5.2 net yards per attempt (NY/A), the fourth-lowest mark in the league.

Eagles (@ Panthers — 24.5-point implied team total)

The Eagles may be in a tough spot on the road against a Panthers team that is implied for 24.5 points. Their defense has allowed 283.2 passing yards per game, but they boast a top-10 turnover rate, and scoring rate allowed this season. Since 2014, road underdog defenses have averaged 6.25 fantasy points per game.

Steelers (@ Chiefs — 25-point implied team total)

The Steelers’ defense has been exceptional this season as they’ve allowed a score on just 24.6 percent of drives (league-best), along with having the sixth-highest turnover rate, and the third-lowest yards per play (4.5). However, they come into this game as four-point road underdogs against an offense that has turned the ball over on just 1.9 percent of their drives.

Potential Streamers

See Above.

Colts (@ Titans — No Line)

The Colts are only in play if Marcus Mariota is out. Given the Colts' defense isn't particularly strong and they're on the road, they're a tough overall sell. 

Falcons (vs. Dolphins — 17.75-point implied team total)

Through four games, the Dolphins are averaging 10.25 points per game. Now, they head to Atlanta where they are implied for 17.75 points. The Falcons’ defense doesn’t stand out on paper as they rank 22nd in Football Outsiders' defensive DVOA, but Dolphins have done nothing to show they’re an offense to fear. There’s also a chance they are without DeVante Parker, leaving them with minimal big-play threats on offense, outside of Kenny Stills.

Redskins (vs. 49ers — 18.5-point implied team total)

The 49ers will be coming off a tough overtime loss against the Colts, only to fly all the way back across the country to play the Redskins. It’s not ideal the Redskins will be without Josh Norman, but it’s difficult to believe the 49ers will come in and pile on the points in this game. The Redskins have a middling scoring rate allowed, but they do boast the fifth-highest turnover rate among defenses.

Patriots (@ Jets — 19-point implied team total)

I’m not in love with the Patriots as a streaming option because defensively, they struggle in almost every defensive category. They rank 31st in points allowed, 32nd in yards allowed, 32nd in yards per play, T32 in passing touchdowns. But the Jets’ offense also isn’t very good, and they’re implied for just 19 points. I tend to think they will outscore their team total because they’re at home and the Patriots are so abysmal on defense. At 50 percent owned in ESPN leagues, they may not even be available to claim on waivers.

Rams (@ Jaguars — 23-point implied team total)

The Rams are one of the top-scoring fantasy defenses so far, but owned in 32 percent of ESPN leagues. They currently grade as PFF’s No. 7 defensive unit thus far. However, I don’t believe there is much upside to this play, on the road, against the Jaguars. Blake Bortles has historically been turnover prone, but the Jaguars are taking the ball out of his hands. They rank 26th in pass attempts and first in the league with 175 rushing attempts. They should be feeding Leonard Fournette early and often as he owns 41 percent of the Jaguars’ offensive looks.

Streamer preference: Falcons, Redskins, Rams, Colts (if Mariota is out), Patriots

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.


Matt Bryant (29.25-point implied team total)

Stephen Gostkowski (28.5-point implied team total)

Dustin Hopkins (28.5-point implied team total)

Wil Lutz (27.5-point implied team total)

Ka’imi Fairbairn (27.5-point implied team total)

Brandon McManus (25.75-point implied team total)

Harrison Butker (25-point implied team total)

Justin Tucker (24.5-point implied team total)

Graham Gano (24.5-point implied team total)

Matt Prater (23-point implied team total)

Jason Meyers (23-point implied team total)

Jake Elliott (21.5-point implied team total)

Phil Dawson (21-point implied team total)

Chris Boswell (21-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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