Week 9 has inched up behind us ever so slowly, stealthily, like the creak of a door just around the corner, you turn your head and BOO! the season is halfway over. This truly is the scariest week of the year, so let us partake in scouring monster defenses that will face the most frightened and vulnerable offenses in the league.
In Week 9 we thankfully won’t be able to choose from the Atlanta Falcons or Cincinnati Bengals but unfortunately we can’t play the Los Angeles Rams or New Orleans Saints due to byes. Thankfully there are some teams with advantageous matchups who can be found on your waiver wire. Our No. 1 team is not one of those teams, as the 49ers have finally gotten their ownership levels up into the range they should be when they take on the porous Cardinals offensive line -- particularly considering how they embarrassed the Panthers last week. Lock them in.
We have strong matchups a tier below the 49ers as the Bills take on a Washington team that continues to play musical QBs. Case Keenum is still in the concussion protocol and Dwayne Haskins is waiting in the wings. Both are able to give up big fantasy points through turnovers in a game where they are the biggest underdogs this week. The Seahawks are also firmly in the second tier, as they get a home game against the turnover machine we call Jameis Winston. On the season, the Buccaneers have given up the most fantasy points to opposing D/STs.
Still in a big second tier, we find the Panthers ready to put the 49ers’ game squarely behind them with Ryan Tannehill and the Titans coming to town. So far we’ve seen good Tannehill but bad Tannehill lurks and the Panthers should be able to coax him out with their defensive line which ranks second in adjusted sack rate and first in sacks per game.
The Broncos defense could just as easily be ranked second this week at home, coming off a strong display in Indianapolis against one of the best offensive lines in the league where they brought down Jacoby Brissett four times despite them having given up seven sacks in the six games prior. Denver has also limited quarterbacks to .75 touchdowns and 205 passing yards per game, with no quarterback surpassing 259 yards all season. Baker Mayfield’s troubles might have to wait another weak to be corrected.
In our third tier, we have the Jets heading to Miami to take on the happy warrior Ryan Fitzpatrick and his “chuck it and see what happens” ways. The Jets have been beatable and Fitzpatrick has helped Miami actually move the ball, but in the end he usually gives your D/ST what it wants, and that’s the ball.
The Patriots are tough to rank this low when you look at the historical numbers they’ve put up, but even great defenses have trouble against great offenses and the Ravens are great this season, as they’ve scored 30.6 points per game, second only to the Patriots. Lamar Jackson did have a two-game stretch with five interceptions, but he’s thrown none in his other five games, including his last two. The Patriots are no-doubt starters still, but their upside goes down on the road in Baltimore.
We also can’t forget to pick on the new guy, Brandon Allen. This will be the first game action of his career as he takes over for the injured Joe Flacco. Facing the NFL sack leader, Myles Garrett, is not going to be a cake walk, but Denver will get extremely conservative and run with Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay, while playing strong defense at home, so Allen might be able to hide somewhat this week.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a few digs at Mitchell Trubisky taking on the Eagles in Philadelphia. Last week David Montgomery kept the offense from falling completely apart, but this week that will be a tough row to hoe for Montgomery against the Eagles top run defense. If Trubisky is pushed to do more than he’s capable of, he’ll make mistakes, especially in hostile territory.
Daniel Jones put up big numbers last week, but still looked shaky on a many of his throws. He’s turned into a strong quarterback to target your D/STs this season and should continue to provide turnovers in bunches, especially to a well-rested Cowboys defense.
Defense/Special Teams Rankings, Week 9
|1||San Francisco 49ers||@ ARI|
|2||Buffalo Bills||vs WAS|
|3||Seattle Seahawks||vs TB|
|4||Carolina Panthers||vs TEN|
|5||Denver Broncos||vs CLE|
|6||New York Jets||@ MIA|
|7||New England Patriots||@ BAL|
|8||Philadelphia Eagles||vs CHI|
|9||Cleveland Browns||@ DEN|
|10||Dallas Cowboys||@ NYG|
|11||Pittsburgh Steelers||vs IND|
|12||Minnesota Vikings||@ KC|
|13||Green Bay Packers||@ LAC|
|14||Chicago Bears||@ PHI|
|15||Houston Texans||@ JAC|
|16||Jacksonville Jaguars||vs HOU|
|17||Tennessee Titans||@ CAR|
|18||Kansas City Chiefs||vs MIN|
|19||Indianapolis Colts||@ PIT|
|20||Washington Redskins||@ BUF|
|21||Los Angeles Chargers||vs GB|
|22||Miami Dolphins||vs NYJ|
|23||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||@ SEA|
|24||Detroit Lions||@ OAK|
|25||Arizona Cardinals||vs SF|
|26||Oakland Raiders||vs DET|
|27||Baltimore Ravens||vs NE|
|28||New York Giants||vs DAL|