Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks play the New York Giants. That would be the Seahawks, a defense that has the second-most fantasy points on the season, facing the Giants that have allowed the most. Rarely does it get easier than that to place a team's defense/special teams first in the rankings.
Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings play the Philadelphia Eagles. That would be the Vikings, a defense that has the second-fewest fantasy points on the season, facing the Eagles that have allowed the seventh-fewest. Rarely does it ....
Damn, I can't finish that parallel. Because Thursday, the San Diego Chargers play the Denver Broncos. That would be the Chargers, a defense that has the fourth-fewest fantasy points on the season, facing the Broncos, who have allowed the fewest. Rarely does it ...
Okay, here's the thing. In Seattle, Week 15 has a very obvious, no-thought-needed top defense, and a few obvious, no-thought-needed defenses that fantasy owners can't touch. In the middle, of course, it gets a bit more muddled, but after several weeks of question-mark rankings, I've gotta say, some clear parts were awfully nice.
Anyway, I'm continuing with my playoff ranking system from a week ago, and offering two system of rankings - a set of rankings for Favorites, and another for Underdogs. Basically, if you are a top seed in your league, all you want is a D/ST unit to go out there and be reliable. A 20-point game is nice, sure, but if the team is just as likely to score 2 as it is 20, it's not worth it. You need reliability. On the other hand, if you've squeaked in as a six-seed (or whatever), and you have to hope for big performances to have a chance, that 2-or-20 possibility might be just what you need.
Here's a look at a few key units this week:
Carolina Panthers (No. 6 Favorites, No. 2 Underdogs) - The Panthers have allowed the second-fewest yards in the NFL, and the fewest points. They are the only team holding opposing teams to less than 80 rushing yards. Meanwhile, their opponent, the Jets, has been one of the most bipolar teams in the league. The Jets simply have no middle ground, and that carries over to defensive scoring against them - in the Jets seven losses, opposing defenses have scored more than 18 points a game; in their six wins, that number falls to 3.8. It seems pretty safe to predict a Panthers victory, and with that victory could easily come huge production from a defense.
Kansas City Chiefs (No. 15 Favorites, No. 4 Underdogs) - The Chiefs had the season's high score for a D/ST Sunday, putting up a billionty jillionty fantasy points on the Washington Redskins (or 27, but whatever). That came after three straight games of -1, -7, and 1 fantasy points. They scored 23 in Week 1, 8 in Week 2, and 20 in Week 3. The Chiefs' defense is unquestionably good, and definitely one of the top units, but there is literally no D/ST unit in the league with more week-to-week variability in its score, coming in 32nd in consistency rating. So playoff favorites might steer clear, but underdogs who are just hoping for a jackpot? That "billionty jillionty points" result is always in play.
Here are the overall rankings for Week 15:
|Favorites ranking||Opponent||Underdogs ranking||Opponent|
|1||Seattle Seahawks||at NY Giants||Seattle Seahawks||at NY Giants|
|2||San Francisco 49ers||at Tampa Bay||Carolina Panthers||NY Jets|
|3||Buffalo Bills||at Jacksonville||Buffalo Bills||at Jacksonville|
|4||Philadelphia Eagles||at Minnesota||Kansas City Chiefs||at Oakland|
|5||Arizona Cardinals||at Tennessee||Arizona Cardinals||at Tennessee|
|6||Carolina Panthers||NY Jets||San Francisco 49ers||at Tampa Bay|
|7||Detroit Lions||Baltimore||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||San Francisco|
|8||New Orleans Saints||at St. Louis||New Orleans Saints||at St. Louis|
|9||New England Patriots||at Miami||Detroit Lions||Baltimore|
|10||Baltimore Ravens||at Detroit||Chicago Bears||at Cleveland|
|11||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||San Francisco||Philadelphia Eagles||at Minnesota|
|12||Green Bay Packers||at Dallas||Cincinnati Bengals||at Pittsburgh|
|13||Jacksonville Jaguars||Buffalo||Baltimore Ravens||at Detroit|
|14||Chicago Bears||at Cleveland||Jacksonville Jaguars||Buffalo|
|15||Kansas City Chiefs||at Oakland||St. Louis Rams||New Orleans|
|16||Cincinnati Bengals||at Pittsburgh||Atlanta Falcons||Washington|
|17||St. Louis Rams||New Orleans||Miami Dolphins||New England|
|18||Miami Dolphins||New England||Pittsburgh Steelers||Cincinnati|
|19||Atlanta Falcons||Washington||New England Patriots||at Miami|
|20||Washington Redskins||at Atlanta||Green Bay Packers||at Dallas|
|21||Houston Texans||at Indianapolis||Washington Redskins||at Atlanta|
|22||Cleveland Browns||Chicago||Indianapolis Colts||Houston|
|23||New York Jets||at Carolina||Dallas Cowboys||Green Bay|
|24||Tennessee Titans||Arizona||Houston Texans||at Indianapolis|
|25||Pittsburgh Steelers||Cincinnati||New York Giants||Seattle|
|26||Oakland Raiders||Kansas City||Tennessee Titans||Arizona|
|27||San Diego Chargers||at Denver||New York Jets||at Carolina|
|28||Dallas Cowboys||Green Bay||Denver Broncos||San Diego|
|29||New York Giants||Seattle||Cleveland Browns||Chicago|
|30||Indianapolis Colts||Houston||Oakland Raiders||Kansas City|
|31||Denver Broncos||San Diego||San Diego Chargers||at Denver|
|32||Minnesota Vikings||Philadelphia||Minnesota Vikings||Philadelphia|