If you do not like overpaying for a defense in your auction or being
the first one to take the plunge on the Ravens in the mid-rounds
of your draft, then here are some tips for digging up some defenses
overlooked by others.
When selecting, or ranking, defenses most people look at the
actual defensive unit of the team. But you can get a little more
insight when choosing your fantasy defense by looking at everything
except the actual defensive unit.
#1 – Schedule
Spotlight: Jacksonville - The
Jags play the Colts twice (still, they tend to play pretty well
against Indy) and have to travel to New Orleans, but they have several
great match ups with what are likely to be average at best offenses.
Tennessee and Houston twice, Atlanta with Joey Harrington and an
older Warrick Dunn could be nice, so could a late fall date with
the Bills. Oakland at the end of season will likely feature a raw
JaMarcus Russell if he ever signs a contract. Once the top ten defenses
are off the board, you will have a tough time finding another option
that has this many quality match ups throughout the season.
This is as easy as it gets. The less above average offenses you
face, the more likely the defense is to post decent fantasy production.
There is no guarantee of course, but would you feel good about
a team’s defense that had to lineup up across from Carson
Palmer and the Bengals offense every week? More often than not,
teams that play the worst offenses have a better shot at being
good fantasy defenses, even more so in leagues that factor in
#2 – QBs Faced (Particularly Within
Break the schedule down further and look at the QBs a defense
faces. Favre and Frye like to hold the ball and scramble around,
forcing throws. Manning and Palmer are the reverse as they get
the ball out quick and read defenses very well. Some QBs are just
turnover factories and you should take advantage of it when looking
Keep in mind this is a continuous process throughout the season,
too. Every year skilled position players go down with injuries
and untested or career backups are thrust into duty. Likewise,
some do not play well and are benched mid-season. When these changes
take place and everyone is scrambling to pick up the replacement
quarterback or running back, don’t forget to look at remaining
schedules for the season taking these switches into account. You
might just find a nice second half defense for free on your waiver
Spotlight: Washington - The ‘Skins
face Trent Green in Week 1 who is coming off surgery and playing
behind a poor offensive line. In the division he faces an unproven
Romo, Eli Manning (35 INTs combined over past two seasons), and
McNabb who is coming off injury. Non-divisional opponents include,
Kitna, Leinart, Favre, Garcia, Grossman and whoever is starting
for Minnesota. There are plenty of interceptions and fumbles to
be had from that group.
#3 – Offensive Unit
Spotlight: Minnesota - The Vikings
are a prime example of a defense that can benefit because of increased
opportunity. Their offense should struggle to move the ball without
a passing game. Also, they should run just enough to give the defense
a little rest between series. With more downs played, the Vikes
will out-produce most of the other middle-of-the-road fantasy defenses.
Opportunity plays a big role. WRs that get more targets, RBs with
more touches, QBs with more passing attempts all have more opportunity
to post fantasy points and are usually more valuable. The same
goes for a defense, although it can be a little trickier to figure
out. A defense that is on the field more often has more plays
to get a sack, interception or forced fumble leading to more points
for you. However, if they are giving up a ton of points in the
process then it may not be worthwhile if your league deducts fantasy
points based on points allowed or yardage gained. Yet, there is
something to be said for being the defense on a team that has
an offense that scores quickly or is just flat out lousy because
they have more opportunity.
None of these factors has anything to do with how good or bad
a defensive unit actually is talent-wise. I am not saying you
just overlook how good the Ravens defense is, but if the best
units are gobbled up before you can snag them, there is hope if
you wait till the end. Only half of your league at most will have
a defense that is productive on a weekly basis. So do some homework
and you’ll be the one who gets a defense or two that can
churn out solid production for a fraction of the cost paid to
the brand names.
One Last Thought…
Many people like to rotate defenses off the waiver wire each week
based on favorable match ups (many times I am one of them). It
isn’t difficult to spot them in your league, so you only
need to take a glance at your league schedule to see when you
play them. If you play them in Week 5, you should plan on picking
up a defense in Week 4 that has a solid match up in Week 5. There
may be more than one defense on the wire with a good match up
but at least they won’t have a shot to get the best defense
available to play against you that week. After all, your fifth
WR, second K, or third QB is not going to help you win that week.
Then go ahead and drop the extra defense the following week.