Tier One - Must Starts
- New York Giants – The trip across the pond might affect both teams, but still, they’re playing the Dolphins. Expect multiple turnovers now that this team is down to Cleo Lemon, Jesse Chatman and Derek Hagan. Maybe the Fins will sign Ray Finkel.
- San Diego – Another top fantasy defense will be on the move this week, but with the Chargers, it’s for a much different reason. They will most likely play this “home” game away from home due to the fires in San Diego. Still, they will be all over the Texans, who have not allowed opposing defenses to put up big fantasy points, but the Bolts are rolling and the Texans are hurting.
- New England – The Patriots are the #7-ranked fantasy D this season but deserve this ranking at this point due to a few factors: their D has performed well at home, the Patriots have a +8 turnover ratio, and the Skins are converting only 39% of their 3rd down plays. The Patriots will run up the score early, and Jason Campbell will be forced to throw the ball to receivers that have been dropping passes lately.
Tier Two - Good Starts
- Tennessee – Taking out Week 6, the Titans have averaged 17 fantasy points over the past three weeks. Now they face the Oakland Raiders, who will certainly turn the ball over.
- Tampa Bay – The Bucs are nowhere near a top fantasy defense, but this week they host the limping Jaguars. Whether it be the hurt David Garrard, the below-average Quinn Gray or a veteran to be named, the Jag QB will face constant pressure and will struggle to pick apart the Cover-2.
- Pittsburgh – They were ranked here at #6 last week facing the Broncos and have a similar task this week in traveling to Cincinnati to face the Bengals. Hopefully with the Bengals struggling, they’ll be able to do better than 16th-best on the week.
- Chicago –Yes, they are a shell of their former selves and seem to score only when Devin Hester returns kicks for scores. But they did already put up 16 fantasy points Week 4 against the Lions, and the Bear fans will get behind their D at Soldier Field, urging this defense to once again dominate.
Tier Three – Average Starts
- Minnesota – After starting the season hot, the Vikes cooled a bit but have put up 22 fantasy points over the past two weeks. The Chicago D didn’t do much against the Eagles last week, but the Vikes could make some things happen at home this week.
- Indianapolis – Is this D finally getting back to fantasy relevance? Well, they put up 18 fantasy points against the injury-ravaged Jag team last week, and face a Panther team that will most likely start Vinny Testaverde at QB. The old man looked pretty good two weeks ago, but that was against the Cardinals.
- Cleveland – Yes, they are the 30th-ranked fantasy defense using the scoring system below, but face it, they’re playing the Rams. The Rams have a ridiculous –12 turnover ratio and are averaging 11.3 points per game. Expect the Brown offense to once again roll, forcing Marc Bulger to air it out. The Browns’ secondary could be very busy.
- Jacksonville – Put them down as an average start last week and they ended up putting 7 fantasy points on the board against the Colts. The Bucs offense is certainly not on par with that Indy team, and figure the Jag defense will be on the field more given all the injuries on the offensive side.
- New Orleans – Paul Sandy hit the nail on the head in his Free Agent Forecast this week. The Saints could be a sneaky play against the struggling Niner offense that could be without RB Frank Gore (or he’ll be gimpy at best). Either way, the Niner offense has looked horrible as of late and the Saints did put up a solid 15 fantasy points against the Seahawks 2 weeks ago.
Track Record – Week 7
(Last week’s rank/Actual rank)
- Baltimore (19) – The Bills put up a fight and actually beat the Ravens at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Ravens are now an average fantasy D that can’t be depended on.
- New York Giants (2) – Hit this one on the mark rank-wise. The G-men are playing terrific team defense, led by their aggressive front seven. Go ahead and mark them down as a must-start for the remainder of the season (possibly minus their showdown against the Cowboys Week 10).
- Dallas (4) – Hey pretty close on that one. The Cowboys held the Vikes to only 7 points and got a defensive score. They’ll remain a solid play for the remainder of the season.
- New England (7) – Another close one. The Pats could have been ranked way higher but figured their D wouldn’t be on the field much. Still, they mustered 13 fantasy points against the ridiculously bad Dolphin team. Plug those Pats in for just about every remaining week (they do face the Colts and Steelers in coming weeks).
- Washington (8) – And another close one. It’s hard to project fantasy defenses week to week, especially when solid defenses like the Skins’ don’t always put up fantasy points. Well the Skins were solid both in the true football sense of the word and in fantasy this week. The Cardinals are just plain bad. And the Skins D will be a solid start for several remaining weeks, just not this coming week versus the Pats.
- Pittsburgh (16) – Missed on this one. Thought the quick defenders of the Steel City would come into Mile High and really affect the Bronco offense. The Steelers did muster up two sacks and two INTs, but allowed 24 points.
- Chicago (20) – Like the Ravens, this one-time fantasy giant is slipping. Chalk this one up to the inability for the Bears to create turnovers and the Eagles kicking away from KR Devin Hester. The Bears did sack Donovan McNabb three times, though. Smoother sailing is ahead, though, with the Lions and Raiders upcoming.
- Houston (11) – At least they finished as a top-12 defense this week. If they were able to keep the Titans out of the endzone (and redzone, with Rob Bironas kicking 8 FGs), then this would have been a bigger number. They did get a DeMeco Ryans defensive TD but not much else.
- Detroit (14) – Performed admirably but not quite admirable enough to be ranked. They did force a couple turnovers and got three sacks. Pretty promising, especially since they have some cupcakes on the remaining schedule.
- Tampa Bay (22) – Really missed on this one. Figured the Cover-2 would net at least 2 Lion turnovers, but the Motor City Kitties kept the ball but did allow three sacks. The Bucs are looking like one of those “solid NFL defenses but below average fantasy defenses”.
- New Orleans (26) – So maybe this “versus Atlanta” thing doesn’t work. Should have replaced the Saints – and ranked higher – the Seahawks, as the “versus St. Louis” trick seems to work.
- Jacksonville (18) – I threw them on this list as they had played the Colts tough recently and I knew they’d be pumped up at home. But the David Garrard injury affected more than just the offense. Sure, the defense did sack Peyton Manning twice and even picked him off, but the Colt machine proved to be just too much.