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Week 10 Defense/Special Teams Rankings

Take a break from politics and dive head first into Week 10. Defenses are tricky this week, which one will step up to prove they're the best?

Defensive MVP candidate, Landon Collins
Defensive MVP candidate, Landon Collins
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This week's rankings have me feeling a mixed bag of feelings. Minnesota's defense hasn't played as elite as they seemed earlier in the season and Denver's injury riddled defense plays New Orleans. Arizona moves up to the 2nd spot because they play San Francisco, but this might be a stretch itself. Would the real best defense please stand up?

Aaron Donald answered my call to step it up and play big. He managed to record 2 sacks in a loss and even though it wasn't the most eye-popping performance from a defender this season, it was a good sign of potential big games in the future.

This week I'm calling out: Clay Matthews. As a Packers fan, I sometimes wonder what makes Matthews such a big deal because he's either injured or taking plays off. Is the fame in the hair? If Clay (questionable) plays this week, the Packers need him to step up, make some noise and energize this flat Packers team.

Week 10 Rank

Team

Opponent

Notes

1

Minnesota Vikings

@WAS

If it weren't for a favorable matchup, the Vikings wouldn't be number one anymore. This is still a good defense, but it's difficult to continually post big numbers when you're carrying your entire team. Denver's matchup with New Orleans and Arizona's inconsistently have kept the Vikes as the top play.

2

Arizona Cardinals

Vs. SF

Arizona has a matchup with the 49ers that haven't won a game in 7 weeks. They're a top play here as they look to come rolling off a much needed Week 9 bye. Arizona is top-5 in points allowed per game (17.5) while SF is 22nd in points scored per game (20.9).

3

Denver Broncos

@NO

Against 2 of the league's best offenses (Atlanta and Oakland) Denver has allowed 23 and 30 points, respectively. Good for 4.6 and 11.6 points above their league average. In come the high-powered Saints led by Drew Brees and a group of playmaking receivers that could cause issues. It doesn't help that the Broncos have to go to the Superdome, either.

4

Kansas City Chiefs

@CAR

Dee Ford has provided a much needed pass rush for the Chiefs with 5.5 sacks over the past 2 games. This has helped make Marcus Peters and Eric Berry's jobs a lot easier. The Panthers are playing better dropping 30 on Arizona, but only managing 13 against the Rams last week. KC should take a page out of LA's playbook: slow down Jonathan Stewart.

5

Philadelphia Eagles

Vs. ATL

Eli Manning tried to give the ball to the Philly defense plenty of more times than he did last week and they didn't want to take it. This defense often feeds off TO's so if Atlanta offers them up, they have to take advantage. If you have a better defense though, consider playing it cause Matty Ice is coming off his second 300+ yard, 4 TD game of the season.

6

Baltimore Ravens

Vs. CLE

The Ravens haven't been flashy this season, but they are legit. They're 2nd in rushing yards allowed and 7th in passing yards allowed so the numbers are backing them up. They could use a few more sacks to boost their fantasy value, but they won't lose you too many points.

7

Seattle Seahawks

@NE

In their first rematch since their bananas Super Bowl matchup 2 years ago, the 2 teams are possibly the best in their respective divisions. I'm a little worried, though, how this defense will handle the Patriots' TE combo and if the Seahawks secondary are going to have a referee spotlight on them after last week.

8

San Diego Chargers

Vs. MIA

The Chargers managed to score 2 defensive TD's which was great, but the amount of points they let up (35) was not. If the Chargers can clean up the large amount of points they allow, this is a top defense. MIA has been playing well with Jay Ajayi, so keeping him in check will be key to keep the yardage down.

9

New England Patriots

Vs. SEA

One thing not stated for the Seahawks above: the Patriots had a bye week to prepare for this rematch. They also had a week to prepare for life without Jamie Collins. The Pats D have only scored 41 fantasy points according to ESPN Standard Scoring, but Seattle's offense has been fairly one dimensional so this is a good matchup for them.

10

Green Bay Packers

@TEN

I feel like I have continually overrated the Packers D, but they look a whole lot better when they have other players in their secondary not named Ha Ha Clinton-Dix so they need to step up. Their run defense is still tops in the league bye average yards allowed (75.8) so clamping down on DeMarco Murray should be manageable.

11

Los Angeles Rams

@NYJ

The Rams D got a good matchup last week and an even better one this week. The Rams are 8th in total yards allowed per game (330.9) while the Jets offense sit at 23rd in total yards gained per game (339.7). Aaron Donald answered the call last week with a season high sack game with 2 takedowns of Cam Newton, looks for him to continue that pressure here.

12

Carolina Panthers

Vs. KC

The Panthers are 2-0 after their bye week and are getting solid play out of their defense. The defensive backs have played better, but keeping the Chiefs weapons in check will be a challenge. Despite one eruption in sacks against the Cardinals, this team still struggles to get after the QB consistently and Alex Smith likes to get rid of the ball quickly. Look for other options if you can afford to.

13

Houston Texans

@JAX

Houston has remained stout being 5th in total yards allowed per game. However, they only have 7 total turnovers on the season so the points won't come there. Or can they? They play a JAX team that has committed 16 turnovers on the season. A good play here based on matchup.

14

Washington Redskins

Vs. MIN

The Vikings haven't figured out their offensive line woes with an adjusted sack rate of 7.3%. The ‘Skins don't have a star pass rusher necessarily, but that isn't stopping them from being 7th in the league with 22 sacks. Washington has also forced 10 fumbles on the year. If you're thinking this is the game that the Vikings offense turns it around, I'm guessing it isn't.

15

Chicago Bears

@TB

Football Outsiders has the Bears sitting at 16th in overall defensive DVOA and 14th against the pass in DVOA. Their glaring week spot is stopping the run. TB running back Doug Martin was seen practicing this week, but it's uncertain he'll play so stopping the stable of 1 (Peyton Barber) shouldn't be too tough of a task. This isn't a shallow week here though for defenses, so stay cautious.

16

New York Jets

Vs. LAR

The Jets defense has been in the news this week for all the wrong reasons. Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson were benched in the 1st quarter last week for tardiness. It's not a distraction that this team needs. Maybe playing the Case Keenum-led (still, somehow. Give us Goff!)  Rams will help lift this team, but don't count on a heavy fantasy point total here.

17

Dallas Cowboys

@PIT

Dallas' defense has been good enough for their team to win, but haven't necessarily provided the juice to a fantasy squad. They haven't scored over 10 points according to ESPN Standard Scoring. Roethlisberger struggled last week in his return from injury, but he'll likely bounce back this week. Sub Dallas out.

18

Miami Dolphins

@SD

The Dolphins scored a defensive touchdown last week, but that was the Jets and this is the Philip Rivers-Melvin Gordon Chargers. Miami is 17th in total yards allowed per game (362.5) so I wouldn't count on them helping you out too much this week.

19

New York Giants

Vs. CIN

Landon Collins has been making his case for Defensive MVP as he is the only player to lead his team in tackles (69) (nice), interceptions (3) and sacks (3). But when your Safety is leading your team in sacks, that's usually not the best and the Giants are tied for last in that category with 11. With the return of Tyler Eifert to the offense, Cincinnati has been scoring more efficiently. Playing the Giants D is usually a gamble and that doesn't change this week.

20

Atlanta Falcons

@PHI

Philly is undefeated at home and the Falcons travel to Lincoln Financial Field this weekend. With ATL allowing 45% of 3rd down conversions, this isn't something you want to carry with you in a road game. There should be a lot of ball movement in this game so keep Atlanta's D on waivers.

21

Tennessee Titans

Vs. GB

The Packers haven't had a rushing game in quite a few weeks, but they've still found ways to move the football. If they get down in this game, it's likely that they will start gaining large chunks of yardage in a shootout. And TEN is 20th in passing yards allowed per game (260.4). They're a risk, but they could have a special teams day like the Colts did last week against this team.

22

Cincinnati Bengals

@NYG

The Bengals might be without linebacker Rey Maualuga this week, but with or without him, the defense has underperformed all season. They've averaged just 3.3 fantasy points per game according to ESPN Standard Scoring. Your kicker can get you more points.

23

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Vs. CHI

Tampa has been allowing 29 ppg this season and although this isn't the best version of the Bears we've seen, those stats aren't ideal. After scoring 13 fantasy points against SF in Week 7, they've gone for -4 in both Week's 8 and 9.

24

Jacksonville Jaguars

Vs. HOU

Okay, I swear I'm done trying to convince you guys that JAX might be figuring things out. They're pass defense has been great in terms of passing yards allowed (217.6/game) but they're just not solid enough to contribute to your squad this season. Even if they're playing Brock Osweiler and his lost confidence.

25

Pittsburgh Steelers

Vs. DAL

Ezekiel Elliott is making a case for MVP, Offensive POY and ROY all in one season. I think he owes his linemen some dope Christmas gifts. The Steelers have allowed just under 100 yards per game this season, but they haven't played this Dallas line yet.

26

New Orleans Saints

Vs. DEN

The Saints haven't been at the bottom of these rankings in a couple of weeks, but that doesn't mean they've gained respectability. Getting after Trevor Siemien has worked, but that's something the Saints haven't proven they can do with only 11 sacks.

27

Cleveland Browns

@BAL

There are only 2 teams allowing an average of over 30 points per game and they're both at the bottom of this list. Cleveland is 0-9 and although there are some bright spots, they're also in the bottom-2 for total yards allowed per game.

28

San Francisco 49ers

@ARI

Last time SF played Arizona, they got torched by David Johnson. They've also allowed 18 passing touchdowns on the year. If you're considering playing the Niners then you are so bold and I respect that.