Let me start off by saying I hope that everyone had an excellent Thanksgiving. This is no shocker, but it is my favorite holiday of them all. Nothing beats eating some turkey and stuffing your mouth with well, stuffing. The fact that you get to do that and huddle up with your family to watch some good ol’ American football makes it all the more special.
Unfortunately for most, they turned off the earlier games before halftime, unless they had Calvin Johnson on their fantasy team. Now I’m a die-hard, born and bred Giants fan so I gotta say that I enjoyed the blow-out games on “Turkey Day,” although I wouldn’t be laughing after Sunday’s debacle in the nation’s capital.
Last week defenses were all over the board. Nine teams broke double-digits in standard scoring, while almost half the league clocked in with a total of two or fewer. This just goes to show the variance of Fantasy defensive scores. I mean how in the world could someone predict the ending to Monday Night Football. Poor Cleveland.
But it’s back the business as I welcome you to the Week 13 edition of the Defense Rankings Reaction. Week 13 in most Fantasy leagues is the regular season finale, and those clinging to playoff hopes may need whatever they can get to move into a shot at the championship.
So how about I try to lend a hand and hopefully help to steer you in the right direction, as I discuss the SCFE staff’s Week 13 Defensive Rankings.
Week 13 Defense Rankings Reaction
Defenses I Like More
Houston Texans @ Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills welcome the red-hot Houston Texans to Orchard Park in Week 13. The SCFE staff has the Texans at No. 10, but I think were are going to see a continuation of dominance that the Texans DST has shown over their last four games.
It looked like the season was all over for Houston after an embarrassing loss to the Miami Dolphins, in which they allowed 44 points and fell to 2-5. Since that game, J.J. Watt has taken over and silenced the critics, tallying nine and a half sacks. The Texans have only given up 35 total points during their four-game winning streak, including holding the Titans, Bengals and Saints to only six points.
The Monday Night game versus Cincinnati was the most impressive. The Bengals were still undefeated and had been rolling. Brian Hoyer even left the game for Houston, and the Texans DST were still able to stifle an offense with multiple playmakers, despite having the pressure of knowing that they had to if they wanted a shot to save their season.
I know they go into Orchard Park, which has always been a tough place to play, but the Texans have racked up an average of two turnovers and four sacks over the last four games. The Bills showed a little life on offense last week against Kansas City but reverted to their struggles, only scoring once in the second half.
I believe this one is going to be a true defensive battle. It would not surprise me one bit if the teams fail to combine for 30 points in this contest, leading me to predict that the Texans DST will have their fifth straight double-digit Fantasy total.
San Francisco 49ers @ Chicago Bears
I was really shocked by this one. No love for the Niners? The SCFE Staff did not even rank San Fran in their Top 20. After their performance last week, I think they are worthy of a ranking.
The Niners did what no one thought they were capable of and held the Arizona Cardinals to 19 points. We are talking about the team who is the NFL’s top scoring offense. On one particular drive, the Niners would not die and let up a short score, only to have a few penalties continue to give Arizona a shot at the end zone until they finally converted. Despite giving up the touchdown, that drive showed a lot of heart from a group that had lost so much talent this year.
While it’s true that the Chicago Bears have played better as a whole and even upset the Packers on Thanksgiving night, they have scored more than 23 points in just two games. Jay Cutler has been taking care of the ball a bit better but there is always a potential for a big mistake.
The Niners only have one double-digit performance that came on Monday Night Football in Week 1, but I have the confidence that they will find a way to be a Top 15 option this week. So if you are looking for a desperation stream in a deeper league, the Niners are your team to go with.
Defenses I Like Less
Seattle Seahawks @ Minnesota Vikings
In what may be the most intriguing game this weekend, the Seahawks travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings. Seattle is ranked by the SCFE staff at No. 5, but I think we get a middle-of-the-road performance.
The Seahawks have not been the same defense in 2015 and are no longer a team that makes opposing offenses shake in their boots. In fact, over the last three games at home, the Seahawks have only averaged five Fantasy points per game. The identity of the team seems to have been lost and it’s their offense that has turned on, leading to more shootout-type games.
While I don’t believe we will see a shootout in this one, the Vikings are a team that has not been profitable to face for Fantasy defenses. They had the stinker game versus the Niners, but outside of that, they have allowed an opposing defense to score double-digit Fantasy points just once. The Vikings also don’t turn the ball over, tied for fourth in the NFL with 11 giveaways.
I am looking forward to watching this game, mainly because I am anticipating an old school, smash-mouth style in this one. While the Vikings don’t pile points on the scoreboard, they usually sneak out about 20 and limit their turnovers, making it hard for the Seattle DST unit to finish in the Top 5.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders
You are entering the Black Hole! The Chiefs, winners of five straight, head to Oakland to face their bitter rivals, in what are usually some of the most entertaining games. The SCFE staff put down Kansas City as a Top 10 Fantasy defense, but I think they don’t even crack the Top 15.
The Chiefs have played really well, averaging over 13 Fantasy points during their winning streak, but they face one of the more stiffer tests with a Raiders team that has saddled their opponents’ defense with negative scores on four occasions in 2015.
Mark it down as a gut call because there isn’t too much evidence against the Chiefs these days, but they will most likely be without star linebacker, Justin Houston, who suffered a sprained PCL last week in the victory over Buffalo.
Sure, the Chiefs have won five straight, but Oakland is also a tough place to play on the road. The Chiefs have had a heck of a run, not turning the ball over once and only allowing around 12 points per game. On a whim, I think regression will set in and the Raiders knock off their rival in a game they need as well to hang onto any hope of a wild card.
St. Louis Rams vs Arizona Cardinals
Just like San Francisco’s ranking, I am surprised by this one. Only this time it’s the flip side. I just don’t see a scenario where I could feel comfortable with the St. Louis Rams this week. I get that they handed Arizona one of their losses, but both teams are in completely different states at this time.
The Cardinals have been neck and neck with New England the whole year as the two teams that you do not want to play a defense against. They struggled a bit last week against the Niners, but they still won and will look to carry the momentum of their own five-game winning streak over.
What have the Rams done since that win over Arizona in Week 4? They are 2-5 and losers of four in a row. Things have gotten so bad that head coach, Jeff Fisher, went postal during a post-game Q&A and Case Keenum is their best option at quarterback.
Sorry to bring Cleveland up again but the Rams, along with the Browns may be the two most dysfunctional franchises in the NFL at the moment. In this case, stay far away from the Rams DST for the rest of 2015.
Good luck to everyone in Week 13 and I hope you will be back next week for some more Defensive Rankings Reaction.
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