Fantasy Sleeper Defenses
It has been an interesting and somewhat surprising start to the NFL season. Many expected studs have disappointed, C.J. Spiller, Stevan Ridley and Roddy White. There have also been several surprise stars through 3 weeks. Joique Bell, Michael Vick and Eddie Royal are a few players who have far exceeded expectations thus far. That’s part of the fun of fantasy! Players come out of nowhere to have monster years and become “must start” studs, while some first and second round picks become back-ups or even waiver wire material. All NFL players can be a complete roll of the dice and your starting D/ST is no different.
There are some surprise names on top and bottom of the D/ST rankings so far this season. The Kansas City Chiefs (yes the 2-win, number 31 ranked fantasy D of 2012) are the early leaders in D/ST scoring with 51 points. They have already outscored their entire point total of last year… in THREE games! The Panthers, Saints and Browns also crack the top 10. These are all teams that finished last season near the bottom of fantasy in D/ST scoring. On the flip side, the Rams, Steelers, Chargers and 49ers are all teams that finished last season in the top 12, but are near the bottom this season. Never let past seasons cloud your judgement of a current season.
We are only three games in, so nothing is etched in stone yet, but we are starting to see exactly what teams are made of. Some of the big names of years past are no longer weekly plays, while many of the teams you would’ve never touched before are now very valuable. Here are a few things we have learned so far:
- The vaunted 49ers D is actually worst in the NFL against RBs.
- The Chiefs defense is for real. They have the current NFL leader in sacks, Justin Houston, lead the NFL in sacks as a team and lead the AFC in turnovers forced.
- The Steelers are washed up. Their defense is old and it shows. They are being dominated by good offenses.
- “The Bears are who we thought they were!” (okay, okay, I know it’s old and played out, but I couldn’t resist). Their D, even with a new coaching staff, is still the best at taking the ball away and scoring touchdowns. Even without Brian Urlacher, they are very dangerous.
It’s obviously too early to completely give up on old stalwarts or go 100% in on new up and comers, but it’s time to bench a team that has underwhelmed and wait until they improve. If you have one of these squads, here are the 5 best sleeper D/ST of week 4. This sleeper rating is based on teams owned in less than 50% of ESPN leagues.
#5) Kansas City vs. New York Giants
#4) Detroit vs. Chicago
#3) New Orleans vs. Miami
#2) Indianapolis at Jacksonville
#1) Tennessee vs. New York Jets