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Fantasy football rankings, Week 9: Defense/Special Teams

Everyone knows to add the defense that faces Jacksonville, but when that unit is gone, where do you look next?

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Two of the top four fantasy defenses by points per game are on a bye this week, and the No. 5 unit (New England Patriots) faces the Denver Broncos. So basically, the defensive side of the waiver wire this week is going to be pretty active. I'm still firmly in the camp that a defense's opponent matters far more than the defense itself. You'd never start a defense against the Broncos; you'd always start one against the Jaguars.

A few weeks ago, I ran a check of fantasy defense downsides -- I looked at the worst score each defense had managed on the season, just to see what the worst possible outcome was for each unit. Today, I'm doing the same for defensive opponents. On top of that, I'm looking at best-case scenario. So the following charts will show the worst fantasy defense performance against each team, and the best.

Point Total Opponents' Worst Score
-10 Minnesota
-9 New England
-8 Baltimore
-7 Atlanta, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh
-6 Denver
-5 Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit
-4 Carolina, Kansas City, New Orleans, Philadelphia
-3 Cleveland, NY Giants, San Diego, Washington
-2 Green Bay, San Francisco
-1 Arizona, Buffalo, Seattle
0 Chicago, Miami, Oakland
1 Houston, St. Louis, Tennessee
2 NY Jets, Tampa Bay
8 Jacksonville
Point Total Opponents' Best Score
5 Denver
6 Arizona, San Diego
8 Houston, Seattle
10 Indianapolis
11 New Orleans, Philadelphia
12 Pittsburgh, Tennessee
13 Carolina, Detroit
14 Atlanta, Buffalo, Cincinnati
15 Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City
17 Dallas, Green Bay, NY Giants, NY Jets, Oakland
18 Chicago, New England
20 St. Louis, Washington
21 Miami
23 San Francisco
26 Jacksonville
27 Minnesota
28 Tampa Bay

So I can't even remotely explain the Vikings, who have held two opposing defenses to negative production and allowed 20-plus to three others. That variance is insane.

But to the point here, every single defense that has faced the Jaguars has put up at least eight fantasy points. No defense against Denver, Arizona or San Diego has put up so many. That's why we so often hype the team going against the Jaguars as a fantasy must. They've allowed 15.1 fantasy points a game to opposing defenses, easily the worst number in the league.

You knew that already, though. And every week, [DEFENSE THAT FACES JACKSONVILLE] is a hot waiver add. What we're looking for here, then, is that next defense.

So, here's the next tier of "please let my defense face them" teams:


Pros: St. Louis hasn't forced an opponent into a negative performance yet. With 11 turnovers in seven games, and bottom-four in points scored, the Rams' offense doesn't scare anyone. And with Brian Quick and Jake Long both down for the year, things are getting worse.

Cons: They held the Seahawks' defense to a single fantasy point. Unpredictable performance levels always scare you when you're streaming.

Week 9 opponent: San Francisco


Pros: Third-worst in Defensive Fantasy Points Against, with 11.6. Team turmoil, with some pieces dealt off before the deadline and others strongly rumored for the same. A sad offensive line.

Cons: That "third-worst" bit includes Josh McCown's quarterback tenure; since Mike Glennon took over the team, they have a much more respectable 8.3 points per game against. With Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans and some semblance of running backs, the team should have some offense.

Week 9 opponent: Cleveland


Pros: Geno Smith and Michael Vick. Michael Vick and Geno Smith. Six turnovers on Sunday alone. Have turned the ball over at least once in seven of eight games and 18 times total.

Cons: Haven't had a true disaster game against opposing defenses (no more than 17 in a game). That's ... that's about it. Geno Smith and Michael Vick, remember?

Week 9 opponent: Kansas City

It's not quite this simple, of course. If the worst defense in the league -- right now, that's Oakland -- were to face the Jaguars, maybe I'd be hesitant in my ranking. But defenses this year have done so little to distinguish themselves on that side, that the difference most weeks appears to come from the other side of the ball. Grab someone going against Jacksonville. Or St. Louis. Or, you know, Geno Smith and Michael Vick.

On to the Week 9 rankings, where Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay and Tennessee are on bye:

Defense/special teams rankings, Week 9

(DK: Daniel Kelley; DC: Dan Ciarrocchi; JD: John Daigle; SK: Scott Kaliska)

Rank Consensus Opponent DK DC JD SK
1 Seattle Seahawks OAK 1 1 3 3
2 Kansas City Chiefs NYJ 3 3 1 2
3 Cincinnati Bengals JAC 2 2 8 1
4 San Francisco 49ers STL 4 4 2 4
5 Baltimore Ravens @PIT 11 6 9 7
6 Cleveland Browns TAM 8 5 16 5
7 Philadelphia Eagles @HOU 5 12 13 6
8 Indianapolis Colts @NYG 6 14 10 11
9 Houston Texans PHI 14 13 5 10
10 Minnesota Vikings WAS 18 7 11 8
11 Miami Dolphins SD 7 9 18 12
12 Arizona Cardinals @DAL 19 8 7 13
13 Denver Broncos @NE 13 11 12 15
14 Dallas Cowboys ARI 12 15 19 9
15 Pittsburgh Steelers BAL 10 10 -- 14
16 San Diego Chargers @MIA 9 18 20 17
17 Tampa Bay Buccaneers @CLE 17 16 14 18
18 Carolina Panthers NO 20 21 4 21
19 New York Jets @KAN 24 19 6 20
20 Washington @MIN 15 17 23 16
21 New England Patriots DEN 21 20 15 19
22 Jacksonville Jaguars @CIN 17 25 21 25
23 St. Louis Rams @SF 23 23 22 24
24 New York Giants IND 25 22 24 22
25 New Orleans Saints @CAR 22 24 25 23
-- Oakland Raiders @SEA -- -- 17 --