Tier One - Must Starts
- Chicago – Even after a six-point yawner for the Bear D, they lead most leagues in fantasy scoring for team defenses. How could you not recommend them as top dog this week against the Lions?
- Baltimore – The Ravens’ D is still playing second fiddle to the Bears’, but they face a Steeler team that has, despite playing better as of late, given up plenty of turnovers and allowed plenty of sacks. Expect the Raven D to show up big time.
Tier Two - Solid Starts
- New England – Jacksonville has given the ball up a modest 21 times and has allowed 27 sacks. But New England appears to have the advantage in this one, facing a team beset by injury (although both Jones-Drew and Taylor should play) and anemic offense.
- Minnesota – The Vikes continue to fly below the radar with their playmaking and run-stuffing defense. Last time they faced the Packers, they put up zero fantasy points. Believe me, that’s not happening again, especially since they’ve put up 12, 18 and 16 fantasy points prior to last week’s 6.
- Pittsburgh – They’ve been many leagues’ top scorer over the past three weeks, and certainly deserve “solid start” status. The only thing that scares me, though, is they put up a goose egg against these same Ravens back in Week 12. Is this the same Steeler team, though? We’ll see, as they’re not out of it yet.
Tier Three - Best of the Rest
- Buffalo – After two solid fantasy weeks, the Bills deserve some mention here. Last week, he Jags D put up 14 fantasy points against the Titans (the Bills’ Week 16 foes) and the Bills could certainly duplicate that.
- Tampa Bay – Playing Cleveland? Perfect. The Browns had looked better with Derek Anderson under center, but the Ravens exploited them last week. Will Tampa Bay be able to do the same? Probably not to the same degree, but they’re worth throwing out there if you have no better option.
- St. Louis – They hadn’t done much in 3 weeks prior to last week, but put up a whopping 28 against the Raiders. Washington’s offense is only slightly better. Expect multiple turnovers in this one.
- Cincinnati – The Bengals only put up 3 fantasy points last week, but that’s to be expected against the Colts. Previously, they’d put up 9 and 12 fantasy points in Weeks 13 and 14. The Cards were able to put up 11 fantasy points against Denver last week, so figure the Bengals should do about the same this week.
- San Diego – The Bolts still have plenty to play for, and will look to tune up their D against the very solid offense of the Seahawks. After consecutive 1-point outings previous, the Niners mustered up 7 fantasy points against the Hawks last week. A D like San Diego should be able to double that number with ease.
- Kansas City – In a pinch, the Chiefs D could provide double-digit fantasy points against 2-12 Oakland. Don’t expect much scoring from the anemic Raider offense.
- Indianapolis – The Colts have been a bad, bad defense this year. Horrible, actually. But they started to get a groove in Monday night’s game against the Bengals. Yes, they only scored 6 fantasy points, but could easily double that number against the Texans here this week. In a pinch, they’ll do. Hey, you’ll be watching this one anyways, why not add another component for your viewing pleasure.
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.