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It appears that we may have this year’s version of the 2016 Minnesota Vikings and they are the Jacksonville Jaguars. Like the Vikings of a year ago, for better or worse (but usually better), I find myself talking about the Jaguars every single week. They’ve gone from 1st to worst once already this season and find themselves at the top again this week. Overall, we saw 5 different teams score a defensive or special teams TD and 4 teams with 5 or more sacks in Week 5. There were predictable performances and big surprises, which seems to be the norm for 2017, so let’s dig into what Week 5 gave us on DEF/ST.

Week 5 Top Performances

Jacksonville Jaguars: @ Pittsburgh Steelers
After this game, Ben Roethlisberger said: “Maybe I just don’t have it anymore?” This is the type of information that could’ve been brought to my attention last week when I told you not to start the Jags. After being held to 3 field goals, it appears the allure of the Steelers offense at home is all but gone. Big Ben threw 5 interceptions. Two of those were returned for TDs…on back-to-back drives. This Jags pass defense is just plain suffocating. They get after the passer and force bad decisions. Bad decisions that are further compounded by the world-class secondary that Jacksonville runs out on the field. They are fun to watch unless you are Ben Roethlisberger.

Week 6 Matchup: vs Los Angeles Rams
The Rams offense was hot to start the year but got shut down in Week 5. Jared Goff seems to have turned things around this season but may be in for a 2016 flashback in Jacksonville. No way I’m telling you to bench the Jags.

Miami Dolphins: vs Tennessee Titans
The Dolphins defense had shown no signs of life coming into Week 5. I imagined that Jay Cutler was just a total “Debbie Downer” and crushed any hope that existed in the locker room. Even with Matt Cassel starting for Tennessee I wasn’t confident that the Dolphins defense would be able to overcome the bad situations that Cutler would inevitably put them in. Instead, they came out and sacked Cassel 6 times, forced 2 fumbles, and took one of those back to the house in one of the week’s more bizarre plays. The Titans scored only 10 points and can only hope they get Marcus Mariota back as soon as possible.

Week 6 Matchup: @ Atlanta Falcons
It sounds like the Falcons will get Julio back this week and I expect a much better performance than we saw before their bye week. You’re not starting the Miami defense here.

Baltimore Ravens: @ Oakland Raiders
This was an easier outcome to predict. Like Miami, the Ravens would be facing a backup QB due to injury. Unlike Miami, Baltimore’s DEF/ST has been very good this year. EJ Manuel didn’t play as bad as I thought he might, but Baltimore still got the job done. They held Oakland to 17 points on offense and sacked Manuel 3 times. Also, like Miami, they returned a fumble for a TD. It wasn’t their best performance, but it was good enough for top 3 in Week 5.

Week 6 Matchup: vs Chicago Bears
The Bears severe lack of WRs has made them an easy target this year. They are giving up the 4th most fantasy points to DEF/ST and Baltimore is a top-ranked unit. Start with confidence.

Week 6 Starts

Denver Broncos: vs New York Giants
The chalkiest of recommended starts but they were let go in 10% of leagues due to their bye week. The Giants are the definition of a dumpster fire and get the best possible defense at the worst possible time. The Broncos are going to own Week 6.

Getty Images Sport / Dustin Bradford

Kansas City Chiefs: vs Pittsburgh Steelers
After last week, I am so much more confident about telling you to start the Chiefs against the Steelers. Kansas City will control the game with the run and may even get you a special teams TD thanks to Ty-Freak Hill.

Houston Texans: vs Cleveland Browns
Another 2016 trend that has leaked into 2017…play any defense against the Browns’ offense. Their QB woes continue and they have no help at WR. Duke Johnson and David Njoku look like they are the only parts of this offense to contend with. It should be noted that Houston lost JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus for the season but the Browns are still the Browns.

Stream of the Week

Atlanta Falcons: vs Miami Dolphins
The Falcons are available everywhere after their Week 5 bye. They get Jay Cutler and the Dolphins at home with an extra week to prepare. The Dolphins give up the 3rd most points to fantasy defenses and it sounds like Atlanta may get Vic Beasley back for this one. I expect big things from this defense that is only owned in 15% of leagues.

Week 6 Sits

Detroit Lions: @ New Orleans Saints
You don’t start defenses against the Saints, especially at home. Not even the #2 fantasy defense. The Saints have given up negative fantasy points to opposing DEF/ST this season. The Lions follow this game up with a bye so you can go ahead and cut them…or trade them to an owner that doesn’t pay as much as attention as you do.

Philadelphia Eagles: @ Carolina Panthers
It appears that Cam Newton is back and this Philly secondary is vulnerable. With Christian McCaffrey finally emerging as a receiving threat and Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess looking like a real NFL WRs, this is not the week to start the Eagles.

Pittsburgh Steelers: @ Kansas City Chiefs
Hopefully, you signed Pittsburgh after my “Defenses With Favorable Opening Schedules” article but the honeymoon is over. I know I have been piling on the Steelers in this article, but it’s well deserved. The next 3 games are tough for this defense and then they have their bye. Time to cut bait here but, before sending them to the waiver wire, maybe try to trade them to a gullible owner in your league.

Top DEF/ST Year-to-Date

The table is arranged by YTD fantasy points but all categories are sortable. Also, I have ranked teams on a Yards-per-Game basis in Passing/Rushing.

Team Fantasy Points Weeks in Top 12 Points Allowed Sacks Int Fum Rec Def/Ret TD Safety Blocked Kick Rank vs Pass Rank vs Run
1 Jaguars 78 4 83 20 10 5 4 0 0 3 31
2 Lions 59 4 91 13 7 4 3 0 0 27 3
3 Steelers 53 3 77 17 5 3 1 0 1 1 28
4 Bills 47 4 74 12 8 2 1 0 0 23 9
4 Bengals 47 3 83 18 4 0 1 0 0 2 15
4 Ravens 47 3 97 12 9 3 1 0 0 9 23
7 Seahawks 45 3 85 11 5 3 2 0 0 7 26
8 Rams 44 1 121 15 6 3 2 1 0 10 27
9 Broncos 38 2 74 10 4 0 1 0 1 11 1
10 Chiefs 37 3 11 14 4 3 2 0 0 25 20
11 Eagles 36 1 93 12 3 4 1 0 1 29 2
11 Texans 36 3 124 11 4 3 2 0 0 13 14

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