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Fantasy football rankings, Week 8: Defense/Special Teams

Who your defense is playing matters far more than who your defense is. Check out SB Nation's staff rankings for defense/special teams units.

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Choosing a defense is hard. The San Francisco 49ers, San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots have been three of the league's top units so far, but each of those teams plays the Denver Broncos in Weeks 7-9, and I'm just going to shake my head no for a while.

On the other side, choosing a defense against someone is easy. We just did it in that opening paragraph. The best fantasy defenses this year are the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions, but they aren't matchup-proof. On the flip side, the worst fantasy defense to play against is Denver, and yeah, the Broncos are matchup-proof.

The opposite side of that is the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have allowed 95 points to opposing defenses through seven games. No other team has allowed more than 77; only one has allowed more than 64.

I've been working on an idea for changing fantasy football a bit. It's a just-in-my-brain idea, since no one is going to go for it. But I think it's interesting.

I've long played survivor pools, picking a winner every week. A couple years ago, I started hearing of death pools instead, where you pick a different team to lose each week. It's a preventive measure against stacking your deck with only Jaguars and Oakland Raiders every week, making you pick and choose losers, which is frankly a little more interesting than sitting down to make your pick and saying "Okay, who's playing Jacksonville?"

My idea is that, instead of drafting defenses, we start drafting "defensive opponents." It's for basically the opposite reasons as the the death pools. Right now, it doesn't make sense to draft a defense before the last couple rounds, because the units are so unpredictable that you're burning a pick on something you might drop in Week 3.

The way to fix that -- the way to make that part of your roster something you might spend an earlier pick on -- is those defensive opponents. We all knew the Jaguars would struggle in the preseason -- wouldn't we have been willing to spend an earlier draft pick on "defense facing Jacksonville" than we would on "Seattle defense?" I certainly would have.

There is currently a 70-point range from the top fantasy defense to the bottom. But there is a 99-point gap between best defensive opponent and worst. The opponent matters to a defense more than it does to any other position.

This is ultimately silly, since we aren't changing fantasy like this. But I find it interesting. And when you're picking your fantasy defense (with the 49ers and New York Giants off this week), make sure you're looking at the opponent, because that could be some good times.

On to our Week 8 rankings:

Defense/special teams rankings, Week 8

(DK: Daniel Kelley; DC: Dan Ciarrocchi; SK: Scott Kaliska; John Daigle has the week off)

Rank Consensus Opponent DK DC SK
1 Buffalo Bills @NYJ 2 1 2
2 Detroit Lions ATL (London) 1 2 4
3 Miami Dolphins @JAC 3 3 1
4 Dallas Cowboys WAS 6 6 3
5 Seattle Seahawks @CAR 7 4 6
6 Houston Texans @TEN 8 5 5
7 Cleveland Browns OAK 4 8 8
8 New England Patriots CHI 10 7 7
9 Philadelphia Eagles @ARI 5 11 13
10 Indianapolis Colts @PIT 9 12 11
11 Baltimore Ravens @CIN 16 9 10
12 Arizona Cardinals PHI 13 13 12
13 Denver Broncos SD 12 14 14
14 Kansas City Chiefs STL 23 10 9
15 Minnesota Vikings @TAM 15 15 15
16 Tampa Bay Buccaneers MIN 11 19 17
17 Chicago Bears @NE 14 18 20
18 Cincinnati Bengals BAL 20 17 18
19 Tennessee Titans HOU 17 20 19
20 New York Jets BUF -- 16 16
21 Green Bay Packers @NO 18 21 21
22 Jacksonville Jaguars MIA 21 23 22
23 Pittsburgh Steelers IND 22 24 24
24 Carolina Panthers SEA 19 -- --
25 St. Louis Rams @KAN -- 22 23
-- New Orleans Saints GB 24 -- --
-- San Diego Chargers @DEN 25 -- --
-- Oakland Raiders @CLE -- 25 --
-- Atlanta Falcons DET (London) -- -- 25