Tier One - Must Starts
- Minnesota – Yup, you’re reading this right. The Vikes take the top spot this week after posting a hefty 53 fantasy points in two weeks. And this week’s opponents, the Kansas City Chiefs, let the Bears’ D put up big fantasy stats last week so expect more of the same this week.
- New England – The Patriots are the #6 fantasy D so far this season and have a terrific matchup (at home) against a Bill team that yielded 15 fantasy points to the Steelers’ D last week. Figure they’ll get about the same.
- Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh keeps their #3 spot again this week, and why not? The Niners’ offense looked good against the Rams last week, but the Steelers will present a ton of problems for QB Alex Smith and they’ll try to quell RB Frank Gore.
Tier Two - Good Starts
- Chicago – It pains me to rank them this low, especially on national TV (Sunday night), but the Dallas offense is rollin’. But if any defense can stop the Boys, it’ll be the Bears. Don’t expect points based on points allowed, but they’ll probably pick QB Tony Romo off at least once and could cause a fumble or 2. And don’t forget about the dynamic Devin Hester in the return game.
- Baltimore – The Ravens deserve this mild demotion after a couple of pretty average fantasy weeks. Expect them to pressure Arizona QB Matt Leinart plenty this week and reach into double digits.
- Denver – They’re the #8 fantasy D thus far on the season and host a Jacksonville offense that has struggled. Recipe for mild success and they are a fine start in most leagues, especially those that award based on points allowed.
- Washington – Like Jacksonville, they’re not a flashy fantasy D (only put up 10 fantasy points thus far) but will definitely be riding high after a big win in Philly. The Giants will again be lackluster on offense so the Skin defense could certainly make some things happen.
- Oakland – The Raiders’ D improved, fantasy-wise, last week. This week, a Cleveland Brown team that looked like world-beaters last week, comes to town and will certainly come crashing to Earth, especially if the Raiders are able to rush the passer.
Tier Three – Average Starts
- San Diego – With their offense struggling a bit, their defense will have to step up big time in order for them to escape Lambeau with a victory. We all know QB Brett Favre’s penchant for gun slinging and hanging in the pocket, two qualities that lend themselves well to an aggressive defense like the Bolts’ putting up good fantasy stats.
- Green Bay – This young and aggressive defense has put up 14 and 7 fantasy points in two weeks and if they are able to smother LT (good luck with that), they could certainly rattle QB Philip Rivers into making some key mistakes.
- Indianapolis – The Colts remain in the top-5 this season in terms of fantasy defenses, but mostly due to their huge Week 1. They very well could expose the Texans if they’re able to slow down WR Andre Johnson and get to QB Matt Schaub this week.
- Philadelphia – Expect the Eagles to come out with guns blazing this week after being somewhat humiliated against the Skins on Monday night. They face the Lions, who will most certainly air it out. The Eagles’ D isn’t what it used to be but I believe they’ll do enough to warrant a start (albeit a risky one).
Track Record – Week 2
Chicago: 1 TD, 4 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 INT, 10 points against (18 fp). The Monsters of the Midway almost took the crown as high-scorer this week, and certainly not for lack of trying. Those are great stats and there’s no reason to think they can’t do that just about every week.
Baltimore: 4 sacks, 2 INTs, 13 points against (9 fp). Definitely not bad numbers, but they just don’t add up to #2 billing. But how can you bench this D?
Pittsburgh: 4 sacks, 3 points against (15 fp). Wow, this defense has only allowed 1 FG and 1 TD all season! We’d like to see some INTs (yeah, we’re talking to you, Mr. Polamalu) and big plays, but you just can’t argue with this production so far. Start ‘em if you got ‘em.
Jacksonville: 7 sacks, 7 points against (14 fp). And this is why Jacksonville is sometimes a frustrating fantasy defense to own. They are stout, but just don’t make many big plays (INTs, fumble recoveries, TDs). But at least you know what you’ll get from them and they’ll remain a top-10 fantasy D.
Cincinnati: 1 INT (2 fp). OK, if you predicted THAT outcome, why are you even reading this column? No one, and I mean no one, expected a Bengal loss in that fashion. The Bengal defense could turn things around and become a fringe starter or solid backup defense by mid-season, though.
Minnesota: 1 TD, 4 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 3 INTs (20 fp). This week’s big winners, fantasy defense-wise. I guess they are for real. They’re not flying under anyone’s radar this season. Until further notice, they’re a must-start.
Indianapolis: 3 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries (7 fp). They were once again baffled by Vince Young (to a point) but ended putting up alright fantasy stats (nowhere near #7, though) and won the game.
Seattle: 1 INT (2 fp). Ew. Not a good showing for this defense, fantasy-wise. Expect them to rebound and they’ll continue to be a top-10 or 12 fantasy defense.
Denver: 4 sacks, 3 INTs, 10 points against (14 fp). The Broncos’ D put up just about what we thought in terms of fantasy production this past week. They’ll remain a good start each week with their very solid, playmaking secondary.
New England: 1 TD, 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 2 INTs (15 fp). Well they actually performed better than I expected against a very solid (or wait, are they solid?) San Diego offense. They are certainly becoming a must-start fantasy defense.
Dallas: 2 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 4 INTs (12 fp). Well I pegged this one. Figured they’d improve from Week 1, and they were in fact the #11 fantasy defense this week. Look for them to continue to improve even more (although don’t expect 4 INTs each week)
Green Bay: 2 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 INT, 13 points against (7 fp). Not exactly top-12 numbers (#17, actually) but we see promise from this young, smothering defense.
Carolina: 1 fumble recovery (2 fp). Hmm, maybe they’re not the defense (fantasy and otherwise) we thought they were. They still have Julius Peppers, a terrific playmaker, but he can’t do it on his own.
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.