Fantasy Sleeper Defenses Week 12
Defense wins championships! An old adage for sure, but one that’s true. In today’s NFL high-scoring, fast paced, aerial attacks are all the rage. In fact, a good old fashioned, smash mouth, 3-yards and a cloud of dust team is hard to find. With the massive shift in offensive ideology, has the importance of a good defense diminished? Are we now in an era where Offense wins championships? Maybe you should ask the 2007 New England Patriots about that. They set numerous NFL offensive records on their way to a 16-0 season.
No matter how good the offense is playing, a good defensive unit can wreak havoc and shut-down an offense. It doesn’t matter how good your quarterback is, if he doesn’t have time to make his throws, the defense will succeed. No matter how far the pendulum swings, no matter how offensively oriented the league becomes, it won’t change. A great defense can shut down a great offense. Defense still wins championships and always will.
Picking the right D/ST unit on a given week can win you a game. So even in fantasy, defense can win championships! Let’s look at the 5 best sleeper defensive units of week 12. Hopefully, one of these defenses can help you on your fantasy championship quest!
#5) NY Jets (25th ranked, 9.8% ownership) at Baltimore
The Jets are a much better real life defense than a fantasy one. They are a stout group that always goes hard, where they are particularly potent against the run. Unfortunately, they don’t force many turnovers (only 7 on the year) and that’s the key to any good fantasy unit. Fortunately for the Jets, they have an excellent match-up this week against the Ravens. Baltimore
is the 8th friendliest offense to opposing defenses, allowing 2.3 points more than the league average per game. The Ravens have been an absolute treat for D/ST units the last 3 weeks, allowing almost 13 points per game while giving up 7 turnovers, 13 sacks and a TD. It’s going to be a cold, hard-hitting game between two below average teams struggling to stay in the playoff race. I expect a low-scoring affair with plenty of sacks and turnovers. Hopefully for the Jets, the Ravens recent trend of sloppy play continues.
#4) Detroit (27th, 6.2%) vs Tampa Bay
The Lions D has been a major disappointment this season averaging just 4 PPG, way below expectations for a group that features one of the best D-lines in the league. Even with a disappointing year, they have been useful when played with the right match-up. This is one of those contests. Tampa Bay has played surprisingly well offensively since rookie Mike Glennon took over at QB, especially the last 3 games. They took Seattle to overtime… in Seattle! They beat Miami and Atlanta, scoring 63 points combined, both at home. They travel to Detroit this week and they have struggled for most of the year on the road. Opposing defenses have averaged 8.5 points against Tampa in their 4 road games. The high-powered Detroit offense is going to light-up the Bucs and force Glennon to throw early and often. The rookie has impressed, but he hasn’t been able to put the team on his back and win a game yet. Tampa’s only hope this week is for just that. This year Glennon has thrown 4 picks, had 5 fumbles and been sacked 17 times. Once Matthew Stafford puts up points, the Lions pass rush will have all day to pin their ears back and go hard after Glennon. I expect several sacks and a couple turnovers as the rookie does all he can to try and keep Tampa in the game.
#3) Green Bay (21st, 65.1%) vs Minnesota
The Pack was
back. This defense had turned a corner and looked to be on the verge of becoming a top tier unit. That’s about the time Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone. Rodgers is so important to this team, even to the defense. With Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien
throwing interceptions (6 combined), the defense has been on the field a lot and mostly in awful situations. Before his injury, the Packers had strung together 4 out of 5 double-digit point weeks. They were really on a roll. The struggling Vikings stroll into town this week as the sixth most giving offense to opposing fantasy defenses. The Vikings have turned the ball over 7 times, given up 8 sacks and 3 touchdowns in their last 4 games. Adrian Peterson, their lone true threat, is not a guarantee to play and even if he does is less than 100%. The Packers should dominate this game, forcing Christian Ponder into several mistakes.
#2) Houston (22nd, 88%) vs Jacksonville
The Texans have been a massive disappointment this year, in all aspects. Expected to compete for the Super Bowl, they have stumbled to a 2-8 start. The defense has been no exception to the disappointment. This unit finished 7th in fantasy scoring last year and was expected to improve with the addition of Ed Reed. Unfortunately, Reed didn’t pan out and he was released last week. Defensive superstar J.J. Watt
has fallen off a little, following his spectacular play from last year. Even through the lackluster season, this D/ST has been a useful unit in several games, scoring 7 or more five times. That number will increase to six times this week as they face the lowly Jaguars. Jacksonville has been pitiful in all aspects this season. They have allowed 12.4 PPG to opposing defenses, over 5 PPG above league average. Defenses have had nine games scoring 8 points or more on them with seven games in double-digits and two games over 20. That’s 9 out of 10! It is almost a guarantee that an opposing defensive unit will have a monster day against the Jags. The Texans should be able to score some points and force Jacksonville to air it out. That’s where things will get better for the Texans as they possess the number one pass D in the NFL, allowing just 167 YPG. The Texans will take out some of their frustrations this week and the defense will have a monster day!
#1) Baltimore (16th, 65.9%) vs NY Jets
Ah yes, the double dip. I definitely expect this game to be a defensive struggle. As much as I like the Jets D, I like the Ravens more. The Ravens have averaged 7 PPG on the year, but at home that number jumps to an impressive 12 PPG. In their four home games, they have forced 6 turnovers, 16 sacks and scored 2 TDs. They have been an upper echelon team at home. Not only are they home this week, but they get to face Geno Smith
. Smith leads an offense giving up the 3rd most points to opposing defenses at 12 per game. Geno has shown moments of promise, but he has been an absolute turnover machine with 16 INTs and 7 fumbles. The Jets have also allowed 35 sacks. Smith looks like he has hit the rookie wall, struggling mightily the last few weeks. Baltimore is 12th in total D in the NFL, 3rd in sacks and 4th in third down percentage. Expect those numbers to improve as the Ravens completely dominate Geno and score you a massive fantasy day!