Gary Davenport

Getting Defensive

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Getting Defensive: Week 10

Monday, November 5, 2018

When it comes to team defenses in fantasy football, the Buffalo Bills are the gift that keeps on giving.


And as gifts go, Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman is like a puppy, a pony and a new Corvette all rolled into one.


Thanks to injuries to rookie Josh Allen and veteran Derek Anderson, the Bills were forced to turn back to Peterman in Week 9 against the Chicago Bears. The results were very, well, Peterman—the second-year pro passed for 189 yards and three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. The Bills also lost a fumble—which was also returned for a score.


In news that should surprise approximately no one, the Bears were the No. 1 fantasy defense in Week 9 by a significant margin.


This week, that Buffalo gravy train takes a short trip south to the Big Apple for an AFC East showdown with the New York Jets—and the Jets shoot to the top of the streaming options in Week 10 at about 475 miles per hour.


The Jets have actually been one of the better fantasy options on defense this season—maybe even the best one that isn't talked about much. Despite ranking just 14th in total defense (351.7 yards per game) and 16th in scoring defense (23.7 points per game), the Jets rank well inside the top-10 in most fantasy scoring systems thanks to 21 sacks, 15 takeaways and a pair of defensive touchdowns.


The Jets are coming off a good effort in a loss to the Miami Dolphins—168 yards allowed, 13 points allowed and four sacks. No matter who is the starter under center for the Bills in Week 10, the Jets should better that performance.


If it's Peterman, they could better it by a lot.


If you can't get your hands on Gang Green this week, here's a look at the best (and worst) of team defenses across the NFL in Week 10.


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Chicago Bears (vs. Detroit Lions)


The Bears steamrolled the Bills in Week 9, allowing just 264 total yards and nine points while piling up four sacks, four takeaways and a pair of touchdowns. It was a performance that moved the Bears back to the top of the leaderboard among team defenses. The Lions are coming off one of their worst offensive performances of the season last week in Minnesota, allowing a staggering 10 sacks and a fumble return for a score to the Vikings while managing just 209 yards of total offense. Both teams keep rolling in opposite directions Sunday in the Windy City.


Los Angeles Chargers (at OAK)


The 6-2 Chargers might just be the best team in the NFL no one is talking about after downing the Seahawks in Seattle in Week 9. The 1-7 Raiders looked like the worst team in the NFL in getting absolutely blasted last Thursday night in San Francisco. It was a miserable showing that continued a trend of both offensive futility by the Raiders and allowing a boatload of fantasy points to opposing defenses in the process. Oakland's in free-fall, and as such they've become one of the top matchup targets for defenses in all of fantasy football.


Jacksonville Jaguars (at Indianapolis Colts)


This is it for the struggling Jaguars—whether it's from an NFL or fantasy perspective. This is a team defense that was the first off the board in many fantasy drafts—yet over Jacksonville's four-game skid the team has ranked outside the top 20 defenses in fantasy points. This may be pure stubbornness, but the Jaguars had an extra week to try to right the ship. And this is a defense with no shortage of talent at all three levels. If you drafted the Jags this year roll them out one last time in Week 10. If they disappoint again? It's time to admit they're a lost cause and cut bait.




Kansas City Chiefs (vs. Arizona Cardinals)


The Kansas City Chiefs aren't exactly known as a defensive powerhouse. Quite the opposite, in fact—the Chiefs rank at or near the bottom of the NFL in a number of categories. However, Kansas City has been a better fantasy option than real-life defense—the team is fifth in fantasy points in default fantasy scoring through nine weeks. This Sunday the Chiefs face a Cardinals team that has tallied over 300 yards of total offense all of once in eight games, and no team in the NFC has surrendered more fantasy points to team defenses this season.


New England Patriots (at Tennessee Titans)


The theme with D/ST streamers last week was good defenses with sketchy matchups. This week that coin has flipped a bit—the predominant theme of Week 10 is so-so defenses with excellent matchups. The Patriots aren't exactly stout defensively—New England is one of nine NFL teams that has given up over 380 yards a game this season. And the Patriots are coming off a less-than impressive fantasy effort against the Packers—albeit in a 14-point win. But a Week 10 matchup with a Titans team allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to defenses should keep the Pats inside the top-10 defenses (from a fantasy perspective) in 2018.


San Francisco 49ers (vs. New York Giants)


Make no mistake—the San Francisco 49ers are not a good football team. Last week's blowout win over the hapless Oakland Raiders doesn't change that. But Week 9 marked the second consecutive game in which the 49ers were able to parlay a favorable fantasy matchup into a top-six weekly finish among team defenses. Week 10 brings with it a third consecutive matchup with an opponent who has been kind to opposing defenses this season—the floundering Giants rank seventh in fantasy points given up to the position so far this season.


Green Bay Packers (vs. Miami Dolphins)


I wasn't kidding about that theme for team defenses in Week 10—the Green Bay Packers are coming off a game in which the team managed just two sacks while allowing 433 yards of offense and 31 points in a loss in New England. The Packers haven't posted a fantasy stat line of note since shutting out the woeful Bills back in Week 4. But Green Bay's nightmarish scheduling streak takes a temporary break Sunday when the Dolphins come to town. The Dolphins are struggling in a big way offensively, managing just 168 total yards in an ugly Week 9 win over the Jets.


Buffalo Bills (at New York Jets)


It's gotten lost in the midst of the apocalyptic catastrophe that is the Buffalo offense, but the Bills have quietly played good defense this season—Buffalo is third in the NFL in total defense, third against the pass, 11th against the run, 13th in sacks and 13th in takeaways. Those numbers haven't translated to great fantasy production—largely because the offense keeps putting the team in untenable positions and forcing Buffalo to defend a short field. However, the way that Sam Darnold is handing out turnovers, it's hard not to like the Bills at least a little in Week 10.


Atlanta Falcons (at Cleveland Browns)


For much of the 2018 season, the Atlanta Falcons have been a sieve defensively—largely because of injuries to prominent players. And despite the team playing their best effort defensively in well over a month in a decisive road win in Washington, it's premature to say that the Falcons have figured things out on that side of the ball. But this recommendation is more about the matchup than the Falcons themselves anyway—the Browns lead the NFL in sacks allowed with 35, have 12 giveaways and are sixth in fantasy points given up to team defenses in 2018.


New York Giants (at San Francisco)


The New York Giants haven't given their fans or fantasy owners much to cheer about this season outside of the play of tailback Saquon Barkley and wide receiver Odell Beckham. It's no different on defense—the Giants are 21st in total defense, 18th in scoring defense, 31st in sacks and 19th in fantasy points. However, despite how well Nick Mullens played in his NFL debut last week we're still talking about an undrafted rookie who will be making his second career start. And a San Francisco team that ranks inside the top-five in fantasy points allowed to team defenses this season.




Washington Redskins (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers)


Over the first eight weeks of the 2018 season, the Redskins rode a solid defense to a 5-2 record and first place in the NFC East. In six of those seven games the Redskins posted double-digit fantasy points in most scoring systems, and Washington ranked inside the top-10 fantasy defenses for the year. But last week against the Atlanta Falcons, the Redskins fell completely apart, surrendering 38 points and almost 500 yards of offense. It wasn't a showing that instills a lot of confidence before a road trip to Tampa to face a Buccaneers team that has piled up yardage and points in bunches in 2018.


Los Angeles Rams (vs. Seattle Seahawks)


On one hand, it's possible that an angry Rams team smarting over their first loss of the season will rally and stomp a mudhole in a flawed Seattle team at home on Sunday. However, the Rams big-name defense has struggled over the past month or so—including a Week 5 game in Seattle where the Rams allowed 31 points. Seattle hasn't been a good fantasy matchup this season—the Seahawks are 20th in fantasy points allowed to defenses this year and rank in the bottom-five in that category over the past few weeks.

Gary Davenport is a Senior Staff Writer at Fantasy Sharks, an NFL and Fantasy Football Analyst at Bleacher Report and a contributing author and Associate Editor at Football Diehards. A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Gary was the winner of the 2015 FSWA award for Print Article of the Year. You can follow Gary on Twitter @IDPSharks.
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