Tier One - Must Starts
- Detroit – Yup, the Lions, the only must-start this week! They’ve been up and down this season but have two solid outings in a row. Now they face the Cards. Cardinal QBs have thrown 12 picks this season. And the real telling stat: +8 turnover ratio for the Lions to –9 for the Cardinals.
Tier Two - Good Starts
- Tennessee –They’d be ranked as a must-start, but this week’s opponents – the Jacksonville Jaguars – have a +2 turnover ratio on the season and actually looked somewhat good on offense against the Bucs and Saints. Expect the aggressive Titan front seven to rattle Quinn Gray and force a few turnovers, though.
- New Orleans – This week’s foes, the St. Louis Rams, are well-rested after their Week 9 bye, but still sport a –13 turnover ratio and have allowed 25 sacks. On top of it, the Saints’ D has put up an average of 11 fantasy points over the past two weeks. Like the Titans, they’re on the cusp of being a must-start, but will probably just outscore the Rams rather than batten down defensively.
- Seattle – Seahawk fans are very frustrated with the defensive play-calling at this point in the season. Zero sacks against the Browns? Sure, the Browns have only allowed 13 on the season, but when you have an aggressive front seven and capable linebackers, you’d think there’d be some more blitzing. In any case, the Hawks drubbed the Niners in Week 4 and could do more of the same this week, especially since Frank Gore will be gimpy and the Hawks (on the national stage) will look to make up for a poor Week 9 showing.
Tier Three – Average Starts
- Buffalo – The Bills’ D has been wildly inconsistent but did manage 20 fantasy points against the Jets just two weeks ago. They could put up double digits against the Dolphins, who feature one of the weaker offense in the NFL.
- Washington – The Skins have a solid defense, but fantasy-wise, they’re a bit frustrating. This week, their line will be pressuring Donovan McNabb and should sack him a few times (Eagles have allowed 30 sacks thus far this season). Expect a lower-scoring, hard-hitting affair.
- Dallas – The Cowboys’ D has played well this season, and will be a reliable start for the remainder of the season. I’d hesitate a bit, however, starting them in hopes they put up big numbers this week. During Week 1, they were only able to muster 3 fantasy points (by far their worst week) against the Giants. However, they have put up solid defensive fantasy stats (11 fantasy points against the Patriots, for example) so you might expect 8-12 this week.
- Pittsburgh – Tough matchup here. The Browns continue to put up points on whomever they play. The Steelers looked like world-beaters on defense against the Ravens, but may have trouble against the Browns. Good news is, though, they did put up 23 fantasy points during their Week 1 matchup. Granted, this Brown team has come a long way since then.
- Kansas City – The Broncos may be without Jay Cutler this week. On top of it, Travis Henry is a bit gimpy. The Chiefs, despite losing their featured RB, will control this game – and it could be due to their defense. They feature a +2 turnover ratio and could easily top double digit fantasy points against the MASH Bronco unit.
- Cincinnati – The Bengals’ D has been all over the place (not in a good way) this season. Have they now put it together? 12 fantasy points against the Jets, 8 against the Bills would point towards answering yes. And this week, they face a Raven team that looked completely lost against the Steelers. The Bengals don’t have the firepower that the Steelers do on D, but they could manage double digits against the struggling Ravens.
- Baltimore– The entire Ravens squad is embarrassed over their Week 9 drubbing. They will most certainly be fired up to attack the Bengals this week. The Ravens’s D managed 11 fantasy points against the Bengals Week 1, so don’t be surprised to see them get double digits again this week.
- Green Bay – The Pack sacked Viking QB Kelly Holcomb four times Week 4 and will probably allow more this week (Vikings have given up 21 on the season). The Packers will be hard-pressed to stop super rookie Adrian Peterson, but could pick off a pass or two on top of 3-4 sacks.
Track Record – Week 9
(Last week’s rank/Actual rank)
- San Diego (6): The Bolts put up 11 fantasy points but allowed 35 points to the offensively bland Viking squad. They have another tough matchup this week against the Colts.
- Dallas (9): They pretty much owned the Eagles on Sunday night and have a pretty nice schedule to end the season.
- Pittsburgh (2): An absolute man-handling of the now-hapless Ravens. Thank James Harrison for most of those 21 fantasy points.
- Tennessee (3): The Titans continue to play solid defensive football and in their racking up of 18 fantasy points against the Panthers, you know you can start them against poor offenses and expect solid stats. It only gets a little tougher this week against Quinn Gray and the Jags.
- Washington (19): The Skins’ D had been putting up solid fantasy stats before their battle with the Patriots, so it was thought they’d put up solid stats against Kellen Clemens and the Jets. They may be able to get back on track against the Eagles this week.
- Seattle (15): Tougher matchup against the offensive juggernaut of the Browns. They would have scored worse if it weren’t for a Nate Burleson return TD. They do have a better matchup this week, facing the Niners (who they dropped 23 fantasy points on during Week 4).
- Denver (24): Losing Jay Cutler affected the entire Bronco team. Figured that stellar secondary would pick Jon Kitna off a few times, but no such luck. The Broncos face a Larry Johnson-less Chief squad this week so they might have value in deeper leagues.
- Detroit (1): Holy defensive touchdowns Batman! A pair of D/ST scores, a gaggle of sacks and turnovers. This D is apparently for real and you can go ahead and add and start them against the Cards this week.
- Oakland (28): The Texans were able to limit their mistakes (only one turnover) against the Raider D. I’d look for other options this week.
- Kansas City (20): The Chiefs appeared to be a sneaky pick last week but ended up getting into a shootout against the Pack.
- Atlanta (8): Hmm, maybe this “vs. SF” thing works. The Falcons’ D had only put up double digit fantasy points once before this week but ended up with 10 against the Gore-less Niners.
- Jacksonville (10): Thanks to a Maurice Jones-Drew return TD, the Jags put up 9 fantasy points against the Saints. They have a pair of tough matchups in the next two weeks, so perhaps you look elsewhere.