* - Competing with Ryan Succop for a
job. I want the kicker attached to this offense, but feel free to
move down the list if this competition hasn't been decided by the
time you draft. Succop has enough of a track record to be confident
he is a one-for-one replacement if he takes the job from Gay.
** - Competing with rookie Rodrigo
Blankenship for a job.
And now the defenses…
Let’s revisit the color-coding system before we start:
Red – For a second-tier D/ST, this is
generally a bad option to start that week (high-powered offense,
low-turnover offense or both). For elite D/STs, expect them to
struggle to create sacks/turnovers.
Yellow – For a second-tier D/ST, this
is a questionable start at best. For the elite D/STs, expect average
White – This one can go either way, but
I favor the D/ST over the matchup. For the elite D/STs, expect
Green – For non-elite D/STs, the stage
is set for a productive day. For the elite D/ST, this matchup
is about as good as it gets.
“SD” refers to schedule difficulty. (The bigger the
number, the more favorable the schedule.) In short, here is how
I scored each matchup:
Green - two points White - one point Yellow – minus-1 Red – minus-2
As you can tell, the defenses were not ranked based entirely
on schedule difficulty, but it was the primary factor after I
completed my matchup analysis - which takes into account a host
of variables, including each defense's aggressiveness and the
offense's propensity for allowing sacks and committing turnovers.
For the most part, the first seven defenses above shouldn't need
to be streamed very often, if at all. The Steelers have a chance
to be an elite unit - much like they were after Minkah Fitzpatrick
arrived in Week 3 last year - although they are highly unlikely
to match the 38 turnovers they forced in 2019. In fantasy leagues
where points allowed is rewarded handsomely, Pittsburgh should fare
quite well. The Bucs are an interesting unit in the sense they will
give up their fair share of points, but DC Todd Bowles' heavy blitz
scheme and the likelihood of a lot of positive game scripts should
lead to a lot of garbage time opportunities (i.e. converting forced
passes into interception returns for a score).
My cutoff line for teams that have a defense fantasy owners might
be willing to start every week ends right after the Saints.
Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured
in USA TODAY's Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He
is also a high-stakes player who often appears as a guest analyst
on a number of national sports radio shows, such as Sirius XM's
"Fantasy Drive." Doug is also a member of the Fantasy
Sports Writers Association.