Ranking the Week Eight defensive matchups
When it comes to choosing a streaming DST, your league rules really need to be understood. In some leagues, DSTs are awarded Fantasy points purely by the amount of points they give up during a game. In some leagues, points don’t matter; it’s all about yardage given up. Personally, I like this as return yardage (interception, fumble, punt, kick) doesn’t count against your DST. In others, it’s all about sacks and turnovers and of course there can even be a combination of all three. What I’m trying to say is know your league rules. When it comes to a DST that you’re planning on keeping all season, I generally just want the best NFL defense, but when it’s a streamer, I want the best defense that week that is available and fits my league’s criteria.
As always, the top of this list are teams to make sure you start players against, while the bottom are defenses you want to start.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (against Cincinnati): Andy Dalton and company were a disappointment Sunday night in Kansas City, but you’re still giving them another shot here against a defense that is non-existent. Maybe there is something to the Bengals’ inability to play in prime time. Sunday is a day game.
- Green Bay Packers (against Los Angeles Rams): There is still no definitive word one way or the other on whether or not Cooper Kupp (doubtful) will play this week. If he starts for the Rams, you’re starting him on your Fantasy team against that secondary. Josh Reynolds could once again make a nice addition to your starting lineup should you be in need of a WR and Kupp is inactive.
- Oakland Raiders (against Indianapolis): All of those doubts about Andrew Luck from earlier this season have been erased. He looks like the Luck of old and is a must-start week in and week out. Marlon Mack is also in this category. Mack may not be a RB1, but he’s not that far off, either. Jack Doyle is still questionable for this week with a hip injury and in a perfect world it would be nice if we could wait and watch him play a game first before starting him; that may not be possible with the dearth at the TE position this season.
- Buffalo Bills (against New England): Rob Gronkowski owners can’t be happy about this game being on Monday night. We may not have any clarity about his back before the games start Sunday. With Gronk having been underwhelming for a majority of this season, I wouldn’t take any chances this week. If we have any doubts about Gronk’s availability Monday, I’d go with another TE. I don’t like risking a zero.
- Denver Broncos (against Kansas City): The Broncos did slow down Patrick Mahomes in their first meeting this season, but that doesn’t mean much here. As always, you’re starting all of your Chiefs here.
- Kansas City Chiefs (against Denver): If you’re still deciding between Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, it’s Lindsay, and this was true before Freeman suffered the ankle injury. I know it’s the Chiefs’ defense, but I still can’t make Case Keenum a QB1 or even a top QB2, but he is still in play in 2QB and superflex leagues. This may be the last game for Demaryius Thomas in a Broncos’ uniform. Thomas starts for your Fantasy team.
- Arizona Cardinals (against San Francisco): I would be careful about starting Matt Breida. He has an ankle injury and there really is no telling how long he will last in this game. I’m not big of Marquise Goodwin, either, as he could be matched up with Patrick Peterson more often than not. By the way, if you want a good laugh, google Matthew Berry’s Alfred Morris rant after the 49ers’ loss to the Packers in Week 6.
- Cincinnati Bengals (against Tampa Bay): This should be another high-scoring game. Jameis Winston is a start once again. Yeah, he didn’t throw for any TDs last week, but did have 365 yards passing and also ran for a score. You’re still starting O.J. Howard over Cameron Brate. Peyton Barber is my only iffy start, as he is only a flex play at best. Ronald Jones just has to get a turn here eventually; one would think, anyway.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (Cleveland Browns): Perhaps the bye week has helped solve the Steelers’ problems in the secondary, but I doubt it. Baker Mayfield is still a solid streamer. Nick Chubb is a mid-range RB2 with upside. Chubb is an every week starter for me. Duke Johnson is a flex play at best in PPR leagues and not someone I’m rushing to get into my lineup. David Njoku, however, is back in my Top 12 and shall be week in and week out.
- New York Jets (against Chicago): The good news: Jordan Howard had a TD last week. The bad news: it came with only 39 yards rushing. Still, you’re likely starting him unless your depth is better than most. I prefer Tarik Cohen over Howard. Allen Robinson is nursing a hamstring injury, so make sure to check his status before putting him in. Mitchell Trubisky is yet another streaming QB you can put in this week, as the Jets are crushed with injuries in their secondary.
- Indianapolis Colts (against Oakland): Doug Martin and Jalen Richard are both pickups this week if available on your WW. I prefer Richard in PPR leagues, as he was catching passes before Amari Cooper was traded and Marshawn Lynch was placed on IR. Richard should only get more touches now and we all know that any RB with a pulse has value, more or less. As for Jordy Nelson, yes, he may be the focal point of the passing offense, but will also be a focal point of opposing defenses. I’m not sure he can handle that load at this point in his career.
- Seattle Seahawks (Detroit Lions): Let me explain. I like Kerryon Johnson. I believe he will be or even is a very good NFL RB, but if the Lions continue to use LeGarrette Blount inside the 10-yard line, it limits the Fantasy value of Johnson. You can’t rely on 150-plus yard games each week. I’m still starting Johnson, but keep your expectations in check. As for the passing game, Marvin Jones has fallen behind Kenny Golladay and Golden Tate as the preferred targets for Matthew Stafford.
- Los Angeles Rams (against Green Bay): At this point in time, it does look like Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison will both be returning to the lineup this week and both will be in WR3 range should they indeed play. It doesn’t matter who starts at RB, however; until I see something from one of them, I’ll pass.
- Cleveland Browns (against Pittsburgh): Le’Veon Bell still hasn’t reported to Pittsburgh and right now the smart money is that he won’t until after the trade deadline next week. James Conner is a must-start once again. I prefer Vance McDonald to Jesse James, but there is always the chance this is one of the couple of games where Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t feel the same.
- New York Giants (against Washington): Chris Thompson is expected to return Sunday, and that’s good news for those in PPR leagues. Thompson is in Flex consideration. The Giants seem to be trading everyone away on defense, but I’m still not starting any Washington WR. As for Jordan Reed, it’s simply mind-boggling. Reed is healthy plus Alex Smith is throwing nothing but short passes, yet Reed is still a major disappointment. You’re probably forced to start him, and the Giants’ recent history is that they don’t do well versus the TE. Perhaps this is the week for Reed.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (against Philadelphia): The Jaguars’ defense just isn’t what we expected, and now they are fighting with each other. Still, I’m staying away from the Eagles’ run game here. As a matter of fact, the only offensive player I like for the Eagles is Zach Ertz. Carson Wentz is still a Top 12 QB, but just barely. Sooner or later, the real Jaguars’ defense has to show up.
- Chicago Bears (against New York Jets): Bilal Powell is out for the season and possibly his career with a neck injury. This only makes Isaiah Crowell more valuable. As for the WRs, don’t think about starting the recently signed Rishard Matthews, but I might give Jermaine Kearse another shot as Robby Anderson is also banged up with an ankle injury and missed practice Wednesday.
- Carolina Panthers (against Baltimore): Joe Flacco is not in Superflex consideration this week, but John Brown and Michael Crabtree can both be started. We’re still waiting for Crabtree to have that breakout game, but he does seem to be getting in sync with Flacco. As for the run game, it’s nothing special, but Alex Collins and Buck Allen are both usable.
- Miami Dolphins (against Houston): So, Deshaun Watson couldn’t fly last week because of his chest injury, but was cleared to play football. Yeah, okay. The matchup is a sweet one for Watson this week, but I may not start him if you have one of those streaming QBs we have talked about in this column. I’d like to see Watson play well and look like himself first. Keke Coutee is out for this game. Will Fuller is a start for me if you can’t do better.
- Minnesota Vikings (against New Orleans): It’s easier to pass on the Vikings than it is to run on them. That being said, you’re still starting Mark Ingram and probably not starting any WR other than Michael Thomas this week. I like Tre’Quan Smith and Cam Meredith, but you may want to find a better opportunity for both before starting them.
- Washington Redskins (New York Giants): Lost amidst all of the “Eli Manning must go talk” over the past few weeks is the fact that he almost threw for 400 yards versus the Falcons. Okay, you’re not starting him, and the Redskins have a much better defense than the Falcons, but Sterling Shepard is still a usable Fantasy player and Evan Engram is a Top 12 TE.
- New Orleans Saints (against Minnesota): It looks like we won’t see Dalvin Cook until after the team’s bye in Week 10. If you have Latavius Murray, this is great news as you have a starting RB for the next couple of weeks.
- Baltimore Ravens (against Carolina): Cam Newton is dealing with a shoulder injury and against this defense, I can be talked into starting one of those streaming QBs over him. I’m not big on anyone in this offense this week. You have to start Christian McCaffrey, but he’s been quiet of late and you may not be able to do better than Greg Olsen either. Devin Funchess is a Flex play at best.
- San Francisco 49ers (against Arizona): Will the change of offensive coordinators help this offense? Well, it can’t hurt. David Johnson is my only must-start here but against this secondary, Christian Kirk is in play and possibly even Larry Fitzgerald.
- Detroit Lions (against Seattle): Doug Baldwin was starting to look like the player we have come to expect before the bye week, and we have to assume he will look even better now. Baldwin is a WR3 this week, however, as he will see quite a bit of Darius Slay, one of the better CBs in the game. As for the run game, good luck trying to figure out who is the better start out of Chris Carson and Mike Davis. I don’t love either one, but if forced to choose, give me Carson, but Davis and possibly even Rashaad Penny will get touches also.
- Philadelphia Eagles (against Jacksonville): Blake Bortles will start Sunday morning, but who knows how long that will last. This offense is a mess and it’s hard to trust anyone right now. If Bortles is replaced or just playing poorly, that makes the receivers difficult to start. The addition of Carlos Hyde means it won’t be easy to figure out or trust who will emerge as the starter between him and T.J. Yeldon. In a perfect world, I’d like to stay away from this offense in Fantasy this week.
- Houston (against Miami): This is another offense I’d like to stay away from. Do the Dolphins have a healthy WR? The Texans will play eight in the box to stop the run game here. I prefer Kenyan Drake and his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield to Frank Gore this week.
- New England Patriots (against Buffalo): LeSean McCoy is still in concussion protocol and if he can’t play Monday, then Chris Ivory could make for a low-end RB2 play.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you, @georgekurtz.