Week 8 Team Defense Recap

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Week 8 was a tough one for DEF/ST. We had 6 teams on bye, 3 of which were top 15 fantasy units, and then 8 teams proceeded to score 0 or negative points this week. With only 26 teams active, that means almost 1/3 of the league really crapped the bed in fantasy, including the #1 ranked Minnesota Vikings and #2 ranked Philadelphia Eagles. But Week 8 wasn’t without its stars. The Panthers had a bounceback game for the ages and 4 of the top 6 teams this week scored a defensive TD. So without further ado, let’s look at the best Week 8 had to offer.

Week 8 Standout Performances

San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos
For only the 2nd time this season, 2 of the top 5 fantasy defenses for the week came from the same game. The Broncos finished 2nd place this week with an impressive 4 sacks, 3 turnovers, one TD and a blocked kick. Not to be outdone, the Chargers took one of their 2 fumble recoveries to the house and added a sack and interception for good measure. The Chargers finished the week as the #4 fantasy defense. It was an entertaining game and one where both fantasy owners came away very happy.

Week 9 Matchup: Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders
I don’t care if Derek Carr threw for 500 yards against Tampa Bay, no QB has thrown for over 300 yards on the Broncos yet and only 3 have even crossed the 200-yard mark this season. You’re starting the Broncos.

Week 9 Matchup: San Diego Chargers: vs Tennessee Titans
This is a tougher matchup to predict. While San Diego is near the top of the league in takeaways, Tennessee only turns the ball over once per game on average. While the Chargers are giving up almost 27 PPG this year, the Titans are averaging less than 20 points scored on the road. If you’re in a bye week or streamer conundrum, you can start the Chargers, but there are probably better options (see below).

Carolina Panthers: vs Arizona Cardinals
Coming off of an absolute dud in Week 6 (-6 fantasy points), expectations were low for the Carolina Panthers. But as the old saying goes “Under promise and over deliver” and that’s exactly what happened with the Panthers. Coming off their Week 7 bye, Carolina took the top spot among fantasy DEF/ST in Week 8. With 18 fantasy points, they almost doubled their season total. They sacked Carson Palmer 8 times, added 2 turnovers and took a fumble to the end zone.  Unfortunately, they were owned in less than 67% of leagues and started by less than 50% of those owners, so only about 1/3 of the fantasy community really got to enjoy this performance.

Week 9 Matchup: @ Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are still second to last in Fantasy Points Against DEF/ST and there are rumblings that this may be rookie QB Jared Goff’s first appearance. So, if you were ever going to plug the Panthers back into your lineup, Week 9 is the time. Just don’t expect them to finish at #1 again.

Kansas City Chiefs: @ Indianapolis Colts
It has reached the point where I have to stop telling you guys to bench the Chiefs. While they are extremely hard to predict, they have played very well for 3 straight weeks since their Week 5 bye. They went into Indianapolis and sacked Andrew Luck 6 times and forced 2 turnovers. Kansas City held the Colts to only 14 points, 12 less than their season average. All around, it was a great showing for the Chiefs.

Week 9 Matchup: vs Jacksonville Jaguars
After what they did to the Colts, you’ll be starting the Chiefs with confidence against Blake Bortles and the Jags. Bortles looked like 2 different quarterbacks last week. He was terrible in the first half but went for almost 300 yards and 3 TDs in the 2nd half. If the Chiefs can shut him down in garbage time, they may finish at the top of the Week 9 rankings.

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Week 9 Starts

Miami Dolphins: vs New York Jets
The Jets still give up the most fantasy points to opposing DEF/ST and are giving up 3 sacks per game over their last 5 games. Miami gets a home game off of a bye week. I’m sure they used that extra time to come up with ways to remind Ryan Fitzpatrick how much he loves interceptions.

Dallas Cowboys: @ Cleveland Browns
The Cowboys are only allowing about 19 points per game. The Browns only score about 19 points per game. Plus, it’s the Browns. Do you need any more convincing?

Detroit Lions: @ Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota’s defense is great, their offense…not so much. The Lions could turn this into a blowout very quickly and that will let them pin their ears back and get after Sam Bradford. The Vikings have given up almost 4 sacks per game over their last 3 and the Lions are averaging about 2 sacks per game. The Bears shut Minnesota down in Week 8, they might not fare much better in Week 9. Start the Lions.

Week 9 Sits

Buffalo Bills: @ Seattle Seahawks
While the Seahawks offense is far from intimidating, they are not kind to fantasy defenses. They have only 6 giveaways this entire season and typically give up fewer than 5 fantasy points to DEF/ST at home. The Bills have been sliding lately and this is not a “get right” matchup.

Green Bay Packers: vs Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have been fairly generous to DEF/ST teams this season but the Packers make their money stopping the run and that’s not the Colts game. After seeing Matt Ryan sling it all over the field against the Packers in Week 8, there is no way I will be starting Green Bay against Andrew Luck.

Top DEF/ST Year-to-Date

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

Team Fantasy Points Games Points Allowed Sacks Int Fum Rec Def/Ret TD Safety Blocked Kick Rank vs Pass Rank vs Run
1 Vikings 92 7 104 20 9 7 4 1 0 4 8
2 Broncos 91 8 128 26 8 8 3 0 1 1 24
3 Eagles 80 7 117 22 6 7 3 1 1 5 20
3 Cardinals 80 8 128 21 9 6 1 2 0 3 14
5 Chiefs 63 7 137 14 11 5 3 0 0 14 19
5 Ravens 63 7 139 16 8 5 1 0 3 6 4
7 Bills 61 8 170 26 6 6 3 0 0 13 25
8 Seahawks 60 7 109 22 5 2 1 0 3 9 7
9 Chargers 53 8 200 18 9 6 2 1 0 24 6
10 Bears 49 8 179 20 4 3 2 0 1 11 12
11 Texans 47 8 167 17 3 3 1 0 0 2 29
12 Patriots 41 8 132 13 5 4 0 2 0 17 13
13 Panthers 40 7 188 20 7 3 3 0 0 30 3
14 Packers 38 7 150 19 5 3 0 0 0 16 2
15 Cowboys 37 7 130 14 4 6 0 0 0 18 9
15 Redskins 37 8 183 22 5 6 1 0 0 15 26

If you ever needed proof that team defense is impossible to predict, look at this week. The top 2 teams coming into Week 8 finished with negative points and the leading scorer wasn’t even in the top 20 coming into this week. If you look at the top 10 fantasy defenses overall, every one of them has had a week where they gave you less than 5 fantasy points. Five of them have had weeks where they produced negative points already this year. There are going to be tough weeks here and there but you better your odds when you play defenses against teams that allow sacks and turn the ball over. Good luck in the second half of the season.

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