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Week 9 Defense/Special Teams Rankings

Look here to help avoid another hellish bye week and for who I'm calling out to step up and make a play. The playoffs are looming so every win is crucial. Are you sure you're making the right calls?

The Packer pass rush should be there again this week
The Packer pass rush should be there again this week
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Another week, another disaster in bye week hell. Another 6 teams are on a bye this week. Some things haven't changed, though. Cleveland blows a 3-1 World Series lead and now their football team has to take on Zeke Elliott. Like I said last week, at least JR Smith season is back, Cleveland.

Speaking of shooting your shot, in recent weeks I've called out a few players to perform better on defense than they have been. Khalil Mack answered the call last week with 2 sacks, Interception Marcus Peters showed up a few times, and Cameron Wake has been key for Miami. So I'm going to shoot my shot again and call out Aaron Donald of the former St. Louis Rams. He's played decent, but without JJ Watt playing, this was his chance to take the defensive spotlight and he hasn't grabbed it. They need a dominate performance out of him to avoid a 4-game skid and beat the Panthers that might have too much confidence after last week's dominance of the Cardinals. Now let's dive into some rankings.

Week 8 Rank





Minnesota Vikings


Let's call last week an outlier? It's also not on the Vikings D to support the entire team. The offense didn't do its job, so the rest of the team suffered. This week they should bounce back against DET. Still a top defense, but if that offense doesn't balance things out they may not score as many points as they did earlier in the season.


Philadelphia Eagles


Philly gets the edge in this week's rankings ahead of DEN because of matchup. The Giants offense hasn't been able to get much of anything going and OAK is a powerhouse offense for the Broncos to handle. PHI is 3rd in ESPN Standard Scoring and NYG has only managed 70.3 rushing yards per game.


Denver Broncos


Von Miller is the midseason Defensive Player of the Year, but like the Vikings, the offense needs to pick up some slack. The OAK offense is for real so Denver has to inflate their league leading sack total (T-26) in this game and get after Derek Carr.


Seattle Seahawks


A tired Seahawks team let up 25 points to the Saints last week, but this week they get a BUF team that had to resort to convincing Percy Harvin to come out of retirement and help their receiving corp. If LeSean McCoy can't go on top of that, SEA should have a good day.


Kansas City Chiefs


The Chiefs have a league leading 11 interceptions, while Blake Bortles has thrown nearly that many picks himself (9). Dee Ford managed 3.5 sacks in week 8 as well so he might be finding his groove in this defense, giving the Chiefs a much needed pass rush.


Buffalo Bills


Haven't given enough credit to Lorenzo Alexander in this column so I'd like to give a shout out to him. He leads the league in sacks (9) and has 3 FF to go along with it. Seattle is 25th in rushing DVOA so this struggling run defense in BUF could either improve their stats or spark the SEA run game. If you play them, hope it's the former.


Green Bay Packers


GB has had the misfortune of playing both ATL and DAL their past 2 games and the Indianapolis Andrew Lucks are no scrubs on offense either. Dwayne Allen and TY Hilton are both expected to play also despite being injured, but the real problem is that dreadful offensive line. It shouldn't matter if Clay Matthews is still on the sidelines for this pass rush.


San Diego Chargers


Matchup to watch: Joey Bosa vs. Jack Conklin. Conklin hasn't let up a sack all season at RT and Joey Bosa has single-handily made the SD defense fun to watch again. Interesting wrinkle here, Conklin played at Michigan State while Bosa was at Ohio State and they faced each other 3 times. Outside of this matchup, SD is 6th in rushing ypg allowed (86) which is all TEN can do. Advantage: SD.


Dallas Cowboys


Both Barry Church and Morris Claiborne are out for the Cowboys which is crucial considering the Browns use Terrelle Pryor so much. The Cowboys be relying on their offense to keep them fresh, which almost looks like a certainty with the Browns defense.


Carolina Panthers


Led by Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei, the Panther defensive line gave this defense the best chance to look formidable last week. The Rams haven't been able to run their offense effectively so the Panthers have some good value here.


Tennessee Titans


TEN is in the top-10 for total yards allowed, but I don't think that matters to Philip Rivers. What they'll need to do is force Rivers into mistakes which may be difficult considering this team has only intercepted 6 passes all year. Play a better option if you have it.


New York Giants


The Giants are coming off a bye while the Eagles are coming off a tough game against the Cowboys. New York's pass rushers should be well rested and ready, but their linebacking corp. worries me.


Baltimore Ravens


Word on the street is that Ben Roethlisberger will be back in action for the Steelers. How truly healthy he is will impact how many points BAL could let up. The Ravens have played well all year, but in a week with limited options, they're risky against a full strength Steeler offense.


Los Angeles Rams


The Rams have stated that they won't take it easy on Cam Newton. Teams always seem to want to go after him and with the Rams D-Line talent, they can make good on those words. They've scored just 36 fantasy points in ESPN Standard Scoring, so they'll need more than sacks to make them a viable option.


Oakland Raiders


Khalil Mack may be able to do some more things against this Bronco offense that can't run the ball, or pass block very well. They may let up a lot of points and yards, but they make up for it by having forced 18 total turnovers already. If their pass rush starts getting to the QB (Only 11 team sacks) then this team won't be so one-dimensional. A good Watch List candidate at this point.


New York Jets


The Jets lead the league in rushing yards allowed and faces a Dolphins team that's #1 in rushing DVOA. That Dolphins stat felt weird to write and I've tried so hard to look for numbers to disprove it (DAL is 2nd). NYJ has holes in so many other defensive areas, it's hard to justify playing them.


Pittsburgh Steelers


Teams with a defensive DVOA rank better than PIT: SF, JAX, TB and MIA. They play a low scoring Ravens team, but this team struggles against the pass, which is likely what they'll have to defend most if their offense puts up a boatload of points with the Roethlisberger return.


Atlanta Falcons

Vs. TB

Vic Beasley has still been such an impressive watch. His leap from last year has been so critical and it's allowing Dan Quinn's defense to play the way it wants to. Adrian Clayborn's emergence from draft bust has also been a bright spot. Against an up-and-down Jameis Winston, they could continue to show they're not pushovers. Sleeper potential.


Miami Dolphins


In their 2-game winning streak, MIA has 6 sacks and 2 picks. Led by Cameron Wake, the pass rush has improved and they've gotten some nice rest because of their ground-n-pound offense. The Jets offense has stalled completely. Miami may have a chance to put up decent points here.


Detroit Lions


DET doesn't have a good defense, but the Vikings offensive line is in shambles. Ezekiel Ansah doesn't have a sack yet, but this is the opportune time to start putting up numbers. DET may not score you many points, but I don't think they lose you points here either.


Jacksonville Jaguars


The Jaguars defensive woes lie within their rushing defense giving up 124.7 ypg on the ground. This is what KC will try to exploit. The Jags have averaged 2.0 fantasy points per game also, according to ESPN Standard Scoring. Not a good pickup.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Matt Ryan has proved that he can move the ball all over the field and not just to stud WR Julio Jones. TB have surrendered 27 ppg and 390 total yards per game. There are worse options at defense, but not many.


Indianapolis Colts


The Packers run game has been completely absent without Eddie Lacy and James Starks suiting up. But they've also proved that it doesn't matter if it is. A soft Indy defense isn't going to halt the Packers O, running game or not.


New Orleans Saints


What?! 2 weeks in a row that the Saints aren't basement dwellers on D? It helps that they play one of the worst offenses in football and the Browns and Niners have terrible matchups.


Cleveland Browns


Dak Prescott probably had his worst week as a pro last week against the Eagles and the Cowboys still won. That's because of the freight train that is Ezekiel Elliot. I doubt the Browns are stopping that locomotive. Tough week for Cleveland.


San Francisco 49ers

Vs. NO

New Orleans is second in ppg and total yards gained. If you've watched football in the past 10 years, you know that Drew Brees scores points. This SF defense isn't equipped to handle an offense like this.