It's easy to find bad defenses in the NFL these days. We are pretty close to just eliminating defensive players from the game entirely. By 2013 I predict that all NFL players will be two-way players like it was in high school. Remember that? When 100 kids would go out for the football team but only the 11 best would play and they'd play both sides of the ball.
Plus the kicker who was basically just a soccer player that wanted to hang out with the popular crowd and get respect but in reality you're still just the kicker.
Much of the reason for higher scoring in the NFL these days is rule changes that inches us closer and closer towards two-hand touch. I heard John Lynch on the radio this morning talking about wide receivers not having fear anymore because they feel protected by rules that no longer allow a safety to crush a defenseless player.
It's quite sad really that we can't see as many bone-crushing hits, but it has allowed for higher scoring games and turned the league into a pass-first, second, and third league. If Buffalo is putting up 40 points a game then you know that offenses are hotter than ever. And defenses are left... defenseless.
Through two weeks we've been able to get our first look at the NFL defenses this year and which ones are the fantasy matchups we want to exploit. On Tuesday I examined the ones that you may want to stay away from. Lets take a look now at the ones that will have you lickin' your chops like some sort of depraved lunatic. Seriously, who licks chops anymore? (NFL Rank in Scoring defense and points allowed in parentheses. This is also in parentheses)
Kansas City Chiefs (32, 44.5)
KC is not only last in the NFL in scoring defense, they've allowed 28 more points already than 2nd-to-last place. They've been absolutely dominated out there and they've been dominated by Buffalo and Detroit, allowing 89 points total in two games.
Much more after the jump...
You may remember back to last seasons Chiefs team and be thinking "they won with defense and a top ranked rushing team" but that would be partially incorrect. Yes, the Chiefs were first in the NFL in rushing, but they were 11th in scoring defense, 14th in total defense, 17th in pass d, and 14th in rush d. So they weren't that far from being bad if they lost some key players. Lose key players they did when top safety Eric Berry hit IR with a torn ACL.
By not having an offense that score points (10 total so far!) the Chiefs defense will consantly be on the field and getting beat up. Any fantasy owner would be hard pressed to not start player they wouldn't normally start if he's going against the Chiefs. They've allowed 8 passing touchdowns already which means you want to start QB's and WR's, but because they will fall behind early that also means opponents will go to the ground game early, so you want to start RB's.
Upcoming Matchups: @SD, Min, @IND, @Oak, SD, Mia, Den
Miami Dolphins (t29th, 30.5)
Much of the damage was done on Monday Night in front of millions of viewers when Tom Brady rang up 517 passing yards and 38 points on a Dolphins team left helpless. So bad that they immediately had to cut the guy that gave up a 99-yard TD pass to Wes Welker and left many-a-fantasy owner stunned.
Last season the Dolphins detriment was their offense, not their defense which actually ranked 6th in total yards while being solid against the pass and the rush. They're just unable to stop the Patriots, which isn't uncommon.
I wouldn't say the Dolphins are as bad as they've looked through two weeks after facing some tough offenses. Like I said in the opener, offense is up and will continue to be up all around the NFL. They should be able to pad their numbers a little bit with some softer matchups coming up. They start that against the Browns this week, where I'd expect Colt McCoy and Peyton Hillis to do well, but don't be expecting every QB to go for 400 yards on them.
Upcoming Matchups: @Cle, @SD, @NYJ, Den, @NYG, @KC, Was
Indianapolis Colts (t29th, 30.5)
The injury to Peyton Manning isn't just going to screw the Colts offense, but it's going to screw the defense as well. Indy's defense was built to play with a lead, because Indy always did play with a lead for the most part. Just keep the opposing teams at bay while Peyton does work. That's not happening this year and the Colts are pretty much screwed. It also doesn't help when defensive ends Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney, pretty much the strength of the defense, are held out of practice with injuries.
Last season the Colts were one of the better teams to start your RB against, finishing 25th against the rush. It should be even better this season as their weak rush defense could face more attempts as the opponents get out to early leads. Ben Tate and Peyton Hillis each had big fantasy games against Indy and you'll be hard pressed to not start all RB's against the Colts.
Upcoming Matchups: Pit, @TB, KC, @Cin, @NO, @TEN, Atl, JAX
Atlanta Falcons (t29th, 30.5)
Last season the Falcons were 5th in points against, but they've given up 30 or more in each of their first two games. The rush D has given up over 100 yards per game, but only on 3.9 yards per carry which actually ranks 13th in the NFL so far.
I wouldn't feel that they're going to continue to give up 30 points per game as they face some softer offenses in the coming weeks. I don't think this is a defense you can exploit, but it's not a great defense either. Jonathan Babineaux, Ray Edwards, and Kelvin Hayden show up on the injury list this week against Tampa Bay.
Upcoming Matchups: @TB, @Sea, GB, Car, @Det, @Ind, NO, Ten
Green Bay Packers (24th, 28.5)
While the Packers are known for defense, it can't be ignored that they currently rank last in the NFL in passing yards allowed (400YPG,) Giving up 396 passing yards to the Saints is understandable, but they came back in week 2 to give up 432 passing yards to Cam Newton.
The Packers were 2nd in scoring defense last season and 5th against the pass. They only gave up over 300 yards passing twice last season, with a high of 322, but they're already getting tossed with reckless abandon. Newton was picked off three times and they've still got Charles Woodson, but because the Packers offense is so good you could expect a lot of shootouts. Starting running backs against the Packers could be more difficult and they're only giving up 3.6 yards per carry.
Upcoming Matchups: @Chi, Den, @Atl, Stl, @Min, @SD, Min
New England Patriots (13th, 22.5)
Another team amongst the leagues elite that has abandoned pass defense is New England. They are 31st in the NFL against the pass giving up 381 yards per game thus far.
They gave up over 400 yards to Chad Henne (who couldn't surpass 200 yards in week 2) and then 378 yards to Philip Rivers, which is more understandable. They got absolutely buried by Vincent Jackson but completely shutout Antonio Gates. It will be interesting to see if they only defend tight ends this year.
They're more susceptible to the rush than Green Bay is, allowing 4.5 yards per carry, but they also figure to be in plenty of shootouts. Their matchup against Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills this week should be very interesting and I'd upgrade Steve Johnson to a must-start in all formats.
Upcoming Matchups: @Buf, @Oak, NYJ, Dal, @Pit, NYG, @NYJ
St Louis Rams (28th, 29.5)
I have to highlight the leagues worst rushing defense as well. The Rams are giving up 177.5 yards per game on the ground after getting torched by Philadelphia and the New York Giants.
Most of the damage was done against Philly and you can expect a lot of teams will have trouble stopping them when Michael Vick is healthy, but Brandon Jacobs also had little problem getting yards against the Rams.
St. Louis is 0-2 again, and with all the injuries adding up it seems this is just another year in the step of the rebuild process. The change in the NFL to a passing league and the piling up of more running back-by-committee teams means that you can't exploit bad rush defenses as easily, but if you were looking for a good matchup for your RB this would be it.
Upcoming Matchups: Bal, Was, @GB, @Dal, NO, @AZ, @Cle
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