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Week 5 Defense/Special Teams Rankings

Week 5 is upon us and there's been a shake up at the top of the rankings! See where your team has risen or fallen this week.

Harrison Smith earning that extension
Harrison Smith earning that extension
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

This week's rankings see a change up towards the top of the rankings. Minnesota, by virtue of matchup, is the top play this week as opposed to perennial #1 Denver. An intriguing matchup for those Broncos this week to see if they can slow down Julio Jones or if Jones will cost another player his job. The resurgent Bills will continue to save Rex Ryan his job. Also worth noting, Houston may have lost their best defensive player, but if Will Fuller V continues to return punts, they're a defense worth keeping because Fuller is the definition of playmaker. 4 teams are on bye, so pay attention with who might be the best back up plan. Let's dive in.

Week 5 Rank

Team

Opponent

Previous Week's Ranking

Notes

1

Minnesota Vikings

vs. HOU

2

The Vikings get their first crack at the #1 spot this week. They play a Texan team that hasn't lived up to the offensive powerhouse they were hoping to be. This defense has combined 11 forced fumbles and interceptions so that doesn't hurt either.

2

Denver Broncos

vs. ATL

1

Atlanta has the hottest offense in the NFL and present a tougher matchup for the Broncos than the Texans do for the Vikings. Julio Jones proved he isn't human last week, and Denver has to try and do their best to bring him back down to earth. It'll be Denver's toughest test throughout the first quarter of the season. I've learned not to bet against Wade Phillips boys though.

3

Buffalo Bills

@LA

10

Apparently, firing your offensive coordinator can do wonders for your defense. Since Greg Roman's firing, the Bills have shut out the Pats and crushed ARI to the tune of 4 interceptions. Not to mention the Bills pass rush has come alive for Rex Ryan with 13 sacks through 4 games.

4

Philadelphia Eagles

@DET

--

The Eagles had last week off in order to prepare for a matchup with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's former team. Matthew Stafford threw 2 picks to a bad Bears team and Fletcher Cox and those boys can get after the QB.

5

New England Patriots

@CLE

5

The return of Tom Brady is good news for this defense because it will provide them a little relief. The Bills were on the field for 36 minutes as opposed to 23 minutes for the Patriots last week. Still 4th in ppg allowed, a Hall of Fame QB back under center should help the defense get some sideline rest.

6

Green Bay Packers

vs. NYG

--

Coming off a bye week, the Packers play home versus a Giants team that just had a cage match with the big, bad Vikings. The Packers have struggled against #1 receivers so hopefully the off week helps them prepare. They also tote the league's best run defense so far.

7

Los Angeles Rams

vs. BUF

13

With all due respect to Von Miller, Aaron Donald might be the best defensive player in football who's not on IR. He has the highest grade of all NFL players according to Pro Football Focus. He can lineup anywhere on the line and Tyrod Taylor should be having some sleepless nights this week. The Trumaine Johnson-led secondary has also stepped it up recently.

8

Cincinnati Bengals

@DAL

9

CIN hasn't played liked they usually due this season, but their game against MIA might have been a turning point with Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins getting comfortable in the Dolphins backfield. A less than 100% Dez Bryant also doesn't help the Cowboys.

9

Houston Texans

@MIN

12

I'm probably one of the few who think the Texans defense can still do some things and that the MIN offense isn't all that good. HOU is still 5th in total yards allowed while MIN is 2nd to last in offensive yards gained and bottom 3 in 1st downs per game. The offense of this 4-0 team isn't all that scary. Will Fuller is also a weapon that could continue to be used on special teams.

10

Carolina Panthers

vs. TB

6

Sure Matt Ryan and Julio Jones had record setting days against the Panthers secondary, Thomas Davis got injured, and the Panthers as a whole are trying to play themselves out of the playoffs. The good news? TB is not ATL. If there was any week to fix the hull on this sinking ship, it's this week.

11

Baltimore Ravens

vs. WAS

14

A slight setback last week when the Ravens had to play a stellar Oakland offense. This week, they get a turnover prone WAS offense. The Ravens have also only allowed 13 receptions on 19 targets to opposing tight ends this year so they should be able to slow top red zone target, Jordan Reed.

12

Arizona Cardinals

@SF

4

Arizona as a team may be in some trouble this early in the season, but the defense can still play some ball and force turnovers. So far, Blaine Gabbert has 4 TD's and 4 picks so the Cardinals secondary should capitalize.

13

New York Jets

vs. PIT

11

You know the scene from Walking Tall where Dwayne Johnson tears through the casino after his nephew gets drugs from the casino guards? That's kinda how the Steelers offense looked last week. The Jets run defense is solid, but the pass D might get Chris Vaughn'd here.

14

New York Giants

@GB

8

The Giants have a ton of issues, but the defensive line isn't one. They'll have to apply the pressure on Rodgers and Co. this week, but the Packers have had an extra week to prepare for this matchup while the Giants are coming off a short week.

15

Pittsburgh Steelers

vs. NYJ

16

The Steelers inability to pressure opposing QB's is still a problem with this defense only tallying 5 total sacks thus far. The Jets' ability to turn the ball over may be even worse, however. The Steelers can stop the run so Ryan Picks-patrick may be called upon to pass a lot.

16

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

@CAR

19

The Bucs may need some help from Jameis Winston here and by that I mean: don't turn the ball over and let this defense take a break. CAR may not look the best right now, but they still average 27 ppg on offense.

17

Oakland Raiders

vs. SD

22

Oakland's D was able to hold on for a decisive win over Baltimore despite being on the field for nearly 10 minutes longer than their offense. Inserting Karl Joseph into the lineup and Khalil Mack (finally) getting a sack will help this defense improve.

18

Dallas Cowboys

vs. CIN

21

The Cowboys defense benefits from an offense that loves to pound the rock and dominate time of possession. They don't dominate any statistical category, but the delay of Tyler Eifert's return certainly helps this defense looks more valuable. Maurice Claiborne has also stepped his play.

19

Washington Redskins

@BAL

25

The Redskins are 4th worst in yards allowed, but their ability to stop drives through a league leading 8 forced fumbles has been a key attribute. The Ravens have only lost one of the 2 footballs they've put on the ground so far which isn't good for a defense that feeds off poor ball control.

20

Miami Dolphins

vs. TEN

17

Miami has allowed 129.8 yards/game to opponents on the ground this season and DeMarco Murray has averaged over 7 yards per carry against to defenses that are rated better than MIA in rush ypg (DET and OAK). Not quite sure why they paid Ndamukong Suh so much money.

21

San Francisco 49ers

vs. ARI

23

Drew Stanton will get the start with Carson Palmer still recovering from a concussion. This could be good news for the 9ers. But look for David Johnson to get more rushing opportunities considering SF is dead last in rush yards per game allowed (140.5).

22

Atlanta Falcons

@DEN

26

ATL caused some problems for the Panthers last week, but that was due to CAR playing from behind virtually all game. The Broncos will keep this game closer. A team in the bottom 3 for yards allowed per game is not one you want to play against a repeat Super Bowl contender.

23

Indianapolis Colts

vs. CHI

29

The Colts are coming back from a trip across the pond and don't get the luxury of having a bye week to recover. Since Brian Hoyer took over for the Bears, he's completing 77.8% of his passes and turning Eddie Royal into a solid flex option for fantasy players.

24

Tennessee Titans

@MIA

15

The Titans have played surprisingly well on the road recording 5 of their 6 sacks and 3 of their 4 interceptions in opposing stadiums. Tannehill has 5 picks on the season as well so this defense does have sleeper potential. But, remember, they're the Titans.

25

Detroit Lions

vs. PHI

20

Playing a red hot PHI team that had a bye week to prepare for this game is not ideal. DET has only forced one interception so far and rookie QB Carson Wentz has been taking care of the ball like a 10-year vet. PHI has also only allowed 4 total sacks.

26

Cleveland Browns

vs. NE

24

The return of Tom Brady isn't good for anyone in this league. CLE has allowed 32 catches for 325 yards to opposing tight ends this year so expect Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett to see a healthy serving of targets this week.

27

Chicago Bears

@IND

27

Andrew Luck doesn't have very strong protection, but the Bears haven't exactly been causing havoc in the backfield for opposing QB's this season. Playing these fast receivers in a dome won't benefit the Bears either.

28

San Diego Chargers

@OAK

18

The Chargers lost their top defensive back, Jason Verrett, to a season-ending ACL tear. Already allowing 289.5 yards per game through the air, this is not a good matchup against a team that's turned into an offensive power with Derek Carr under center.