Top 9 Fantasy Football Defense Rankings for Week 9: Steelers Set to Points Big Against Weak Cowboys Offense
Team defenses are frequently overlooked in fantasy because they are so often matchup-based. They are usually left undrafted until the last round or two, if drafted at all. Streaming your defense week-by-week is not uncommon. That is, picking up a new defense for your team from the waiver wire every week with which to start your game. Below are the top fantasy defenses heading into week 9.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
I honestly don’t expect the Steelers to be in your league’s waiver wire, but if they miraculously are, go ahead and pick them up. If you have them rostered, the only reason they shouldn’t be started already is if you’re one of those fantasy players that sets their lineups 5 minutes before Sunday’s kickoff. Starting the Steelers is by far the easiest decision you will make all year fantasy-wise. The current Steel Curtain is great, currently ranked as the second best in fantasy, but it is the horrendous Cowboys offense that makes this my number one ranked choice. Their quarterback this week is going to be either Garret Gilbert or Cooper Rush. There is not much going for that Dallas offense. Start the Steelers and feel confident in a dominant performance.
2. New England Patriots
Even though the Patriots defense is only averaging 6.3 fantasy points-per- game right now, I expect that number to get pulled much higher after this weekend. This Jets offense is a disaster. They rank last in PPG and it’s not even close. They score an average of 11.8, and the team above them is their roommates at Metlife, the Giants, with 18.1. The Jets give up the most points to opposing teams’ fantasy defenses. I would not be shocked if the Pats get even more points than the Steelers, but it will be close.
3. New York Giants
Bias has no role in my ranking of the Giants at 3. The G-men secretly have an above average defense. Patrick Graham, the defensive coordinator, has been able to use largely unknown names to put together a decent campaign. The player that first comes to mind is Dequartavous “Tae” Crowder, who was drafted with the last overall pick by the New York Giants. Mr. Irrelevant recovered a fumble against the Washington Football Team and took it in for a touchdown, helping to bring New York’s only win this season. Although Crowder is now out with an injury, he is a testament to this defense’s capability of making big plays out of nowhere. Against Washington again this weekend, I believe starting the Giants defense is a winning fantasy play.
4. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are staying at home this week to play a very young Dolphins team. In-fact, Miami ranks 2nd youngest in the league with an average roster age of just 25.0 years. This is especially highlighted in their 22 year old new starting quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa. The Hawaiʻi native got his start last week despite strong performances by veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. The prospect of sacks and turnovers is fair with a rookie quarterback. Start Arizona this weekend if you can.
5. New York Jets
I know it’s rare to find the Jets ranked top 5 in anything this year, but bear with me. They are battling a Patriots team that without Tom Brady, has really been struggling on offense. New England ranks 29th in points per game, 21st in yards per game, and 30th in offensive touchdowns per game. They’re not a scary looking offense anymore. Say what you want about this poor Jets secondary, but the Patriots simply do not pass the ball as much as other teams. They average just 29.3 attempts that ranks 30th in the league. They’re a running offense now, with the 3rd most rushes per game, which the Jets defense is surprisingly good at defending. The Jets hold opponents to just 4.1 rushing yards per attempt, which is 10th in the league. If those stats were too much for you, just think about this: it’s a run-first Patriots team with no Brady, no James White, and no Gronkowski, on the road against a defense that specializes against the run, albeit very little else. It’s not a no-brainer decision, it’s just a small-brainer decision.
6. Washington Football Team
I would like to preface this analysis by first stating that I hope this already pessimistic prediction for Washington is wrong, downright wrong. That being said, they are playing a bad New York Giants’ offense. Somehow New York manages to stay in ballgames, especially on primetime television, but it’s honestly not any thanks to their offense. In-fact, the Giants score the 30th most points per game in the second half. Washington does not have to worry about a run game. Saquon Barkley is injured, and Daniel Jones is their leading rusher. They rank 27th in ground yards per game. New York’s passing game is relatively worse, at 28th, but should be a bigger concern for Washington. The main problem of the Giants is that they can’t score touchdowns. They rank 31st in offensive TDs a game. There was a 4 game stretch when Jones did not score a single touchdown for this team. That’s not a receiver or running back in a 4 game touchdown drought, that’s the starting quarterback. In a low-scoring, high-punting affair, Washington is likely a good play at defense.
7. Houston Texans
The Texans are on the road this weekend playing the Jacksonville Jaguars. I think they will have a decent outing, but James Robinson worries me. Last week the running back torched the Chargers with a 137 yard, 2 touchdown total outing. They may have to rely on him, however, even more this week when it was decided that Gardner Minshew II is ruled out. Jake Luton will be filling in for the JockStrap King. Offensive tackle Cam Robinson is nursing a knee injury. I think this Jaguars offense is banged up enough to cause them issues, but don’t be surprised if Robinson finds himself in the endzone. Texans defense is a start based purely on exposing a backup QB.
8. Indianapolis Colts
There is a big drop-off of strong defense fantasy starts after the Texans. While the Colts rank first in fantasy points among defenses, they have a tough matchup ahead of them this weekend. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens are a high-powered, high-scoring offense. If I were Colt’s defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, I would be nervous. But not too nervous. The front seven includes defensive playmakers with Justin Houston, DeForest Buckner, and Darius Leonard. They are tackling machines. At the secondary level, the Colts lead the league with 1.6 interceptions a game. It will be a good matchup, but I think the Colts will slow down the Ravens’ offensive momentum. If you don’t have a defense above the Colts on this list, go ahead and start them.
9. Baltimore Ravens
On the opposite end of the ball, the Ravens could have a decent defense game themselves. Maybe the biggest question mark for this defense is if they can win the battle over a very strong Colts offensive line. With a league-leading 1.1 sacks allowed per game, the Ravens defensive line may not as easily get to the QB as they’re used to. I predict the Circle City defense will play slightly better, but this will be a defensive showdown on Sunday afternoon.
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