It has certainly been an exciting fantasy football season, marked by the Bears running away with the top fantasy defense award. In the scoring format used for this ranking column, the Bears are at 238 fantasy points. After a disappointing 2005, the Ravens came on strong in 2006 and have finished the season strong, and are at 219 points. For those of you still playing for your league’s championship here in Week 17, here’s how we rank the team defenses. Keep in mind there may be situations where teams rest starters. Good luck, and thanks for your loyal readership and I look forward to 2007.
First Tier – Must Starts
- Chicago – The Bears will look to send off Brett Favre with plenty of turnovers to remember. Maybe Favre will come back after getting shellacked in Chicago this week.
- Baltimore – As noted in the lead-in paragraph, they’re hotter than blazes and could potentially catch the Bears in fantasy points with a huge game against the Bills.
- Dallas – After getting spanked by their division rivals, they Cowboys will look to take their frustrations out on the 2-10 Lions, who will most likely roll over in their quest for the Brady Quinn sweepstakes.
Second Tier – Solid Starts
- Cincinnati – This is a huge game against the Steelers at home for the Bengals. Their D, which has been quiet over the past 2 weeks, but is still a top-10 D over the past 6 weeks, will need to disrupt the Steeler offense to escape with a win.
- San Diego – They wrap up the season against the 5-10 Cardinals and will look to finish strong. They’ve put up 15 and 10 fantasy points over the past two weeks, so you gotta figure they’ll be in the double digits yet again.
- Pittsburgh – The matchup against the high-flying Bengals is certainly not the best, but the Steelers did put up 12 fantasy points against them in Week 3. They’ve been the third-best fantasy D – in this scoring format – over the past 6 weeks. Give them a shot if you think they have a chance at flustering Carson Palmer. Look for the Steelers to make a statement in their final game of the season, as they have been eliminated from playoff possibilities.
- New Orleans – The Saints’ D is going to be all over Chris Weinke this week. The Panthers may try running the ball a bunch, as they did against the Falcons last week, but Sean Payton’s squad will be prepared.
- Green Bay – The Packers deserve some mention this week after posting 17 and 19 fantasy points over their last two outings. The Bears may be resting some starters here in Week 17, and even if they don’t, we all know Rex Grossman is capable of multiple turnovers.
Third Tier - Best of the Rest
- Philadelphia – The Eagles’ D has been solid over the past three weeks and could certainly cause havoc against their bird counterparts, the Falcons.
- St. Louis – The Rams’ D has been on a roller coaster ride over the past three weeks, posting a goose egg Week 14, then 28 big points Week 15, then 2 points last week. If that’s a trend, then expect them to go big against the Vikings and their rookie QB.
- Minnesota – Tough matchup for the Vikings D. The Rams’ offense has been its typical stellar self and will put points on the board. But the Vikes’ D has put up 18-point fantasy weeks a couple times over the past month and will probably approach and could surpass double digits here this week.
- New York Jets – The Jets pulled out a big Week 16 win, and will have no problems with the Raiders here to end the season. They have been somewhat quiet over the past 3 weeks, but could certainly duplicate the 12-point effort they had against the Packers during Week 13.
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.