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Team Defenses Report - Week 17
Darin Tietgen
December 29, 2005

First Tier – Must Starts

  1. Pittsburgh The second-best fantasy defense over the past 3 weeks hosts the ridiculously bad Detroit Lions. Start ‘em if you got ‘em.
  2. Tampa Bay They’ve been somewhat quiet over the past few weeks, but hosting the Saints will liven things up for this defense.
  3. New England To say this defense has gelled is an understatement. The possible loss of LB Tedy Bruschi may sting a bit, but they’ll still roll the Fins.
  4. Chicago You just have to start them, regardless of the matchup. They may be sitting some key defensive studs, but start ‘em anyways.

Second Tier – Solid Starts

  1. Washington An absolute must-win for the Skins. They’re a borderline “must-start” this week, given the fact they’re facing the hapless Eagles. Plus, they’ve been rather hot over the past few weeks.
  2. Jacksonville Rounding out the cupcake schedule of the Jags’ last few games is Tennessee. Billy Volek gets the nod at QB for the Titans, so you know they’ll be airing it out and the Jag DBs can certainly grab some picks.
  3. New York Giants – They have been very average over the past 3 weeks (8 fantasy points per game), but facing a depleted Raider squad could be a big boost. Plus, they’re in a critical, must-win situation. The D will come to play.
  4. Carolina They’ve played Michael Vick tough in the past. This is a meaningless game for the Falcons (although you know they’ll want to go out in style), while it’s an important one for the Panthers. Expect them to make big defensive plays.

Third Tier - Best of the Rest

  1. Cincinnati – They’ve dropped off, fantasy-wise, over the past few weeks. Plus, their Week 17 opponents, the Kansas City Chiefs, rarely turn the rock over. Start with caution.
  2. Dallas They’ve been one of the worst fantasy defenses over the past 3 weeks, but this is a must-win situation for the Cowboys. Plus, they face the turnover-prone Rams at home in the final regular season game for the NFL.
  3. San Francisco They’ve been a terrible defense, both fantasy and real football wise, all season. But this is an interesting matchup against the horrible Houston Texans, AKA “The Reggie Bush Bowl”. Expect plenty of wackiness on both sides of the ball.
  4. Baltimore They’ve been posting some decent fantasy numbers (and a huge Week 15), and face the Browns in Cleveland. Expect the boos to be loud but the Raven D to make the real noise.

Note: League scoring used for this column is 2 points for safety, fumble recovery, blocked punt or FG, 1 point for blocked PAT or sack, 6 points for defensive or special team TDs, and anywhere from 10 to 2 points based on points allowed.