Tier One - Must Starts
- Chicago – The Bears haven’t done anything to make me think they don’t deserve this ranking again. The special teams (well, Devin Hester) are just as lethal as the defense, too. The Bucs have no chance. Could easily be a shutout with a defensive score or two.
- Baltimore – The Ravens’ D is getting close to catching the Bears in total fantasy points. This week, they face a 4-9 Brown team which will give the ball up and allow plenty of sacks.
- New England – The Pats put up a very unimpressive single fantasy point against the Dolphins, but I don’t think there’s anyone outside of south Florida that thought the Fins would have a chance against the Pats. They put up 10 and 15 points the weeks before last week’s shocker. Figure they’ll get to Texan QB David Carr several times and look to make up for last week’s stinker.
Tier Two - Solid Starts
- Pittsburgh – Carolina backup QB Chris Weinke threw three picks last week, and will probably toss at least two this week.
- Miami – Jason Taylor himself brings the Dolphin D to this ranking. He’s been given the green light to essentially call his own play, and is making the most of it. He’ll surely cause plenty of havoc in the Buffalo Bill backfield. Should the Bill runners get past him, I’m sure Zach Thomas will step up to make plays.
- San Diego – Soft? What? The Chargers are anything but soft, but apparently some Kansas City Chiefs think so. Hey Chiefs, you’re 7-6 and all but out of the playoff race. The Bolts are at home, a very solid 11-2, and will punch you in the mouth (figuratively) defensively.
- Seattle – The Birds continue solid defensive play, although they only posted two measly fantasy points last week. The two previous weeks saw 10 and 19 points, though. Against the Niners in the wind, cold, and possible wet weather, they should really pick it up.
Tier Three - Best of the Rest
- Minnesota – The matchup isn’t terrific; the New York Jets will take care of the ball and won’t allow too many sacks. But you can’t ignore the Vikings’ recent defensive surge. They allow barely anything on the ground, and feature an aggressive, playmaking secondary.
- Arizona – Don’t look past the Arizona defense. They’re currently ranked the #7 fantasy defense (see scoring, below) over the past three weeks. Denver rookie QB Jay Cutler surprisingly threw no interception last week. He did, however, fumble the ball three times. He’ll be good for at least one INT this week, and perhaps will cough the rock up again.
- Jacksonville – Sure, Titan QB Vince Young has looked god-like recently, but he’s yet to face a defense like the Jags. Back in Week 9, the Jags put up 20 fantasy points against the Titans. Young threw three picks in that one, and was obviously in a feeling-out period. But the Jags will definitely rattle the Titan offense yet again.
- Cincinnati – Hard to recommend a fantasy D against the high-flying Colts, but hey, the Bengals are the third-ranked fantasy D over the past three weeks (according to scoring used below). On top of that, the Colts have shown signs of weakness. There are probably options out there, but if you’re struggling to find a D this week, they could put up some decent fantasy stats.
- Detroit – The Lions stink. So do the Packers. This game is going to be sloppy. Brett Favre forces the ball to his receiving corps, which will feature a banged-up Donald Driver. The Lions offense will sputter, even against the poor Packer D, so figure the Lion D will be on the field plenty, offering opportunities for fantasy defense scoring. The Pack is 1-5 at Lambeau this season; perhaps the Lions think they have a chance.
Note: League scoring used for this column is 2 points for safety, fumble recovery, blocked punt or FG, 1 point for blocked PAT or sack, 6 points for defensive or special team TDs, and anywhere from 10 to 2 points based on points allowed.