Remember "Miami Dolphins, elite defense"? Through their first eight games, the Dolphins' defense was No. 1 in fantasy points, and not by a little. They had 98 fantasy points; the next most through eight games was Philadelphia, with 82.
Well, in their last five games, the Dolphins' defense has managed only 16 fantasy points, only 24th in the league. Buffalo and Philadelphia have almost doubled their fantasy totals in that span; St. Louis has more than doubled its first-eight total. The Dolphins, meanwhile, have gone 2-3 over those games. Sure, one of their outings was against Denver, but the other four - Detroit, Buffalo, the Jets, Baltimore - aren't exactly known as offensive juggernauts.
Cameron Wake has slowed down, as have Reshad Jones and Olivier Vernon. And then Sunday, Louis Delmas hit IR with an ACL tear. The Dolphins' defense, a fantasy MVP a month ago, is now a unit that would be a totally justifiable drop in fantasy, with their Week 14 matchup against the Patriots.
The flip side, as I noted above, is the Rams' defense. Through their first eight games, St. Louis had 40 fantasy points, only 19th in the league. But since then, the Rams have 77 fantasy points, more than 15 a game. The last two weeks alone, St. Louis has 53 fantasy points from its defense. And yes, the last two weeks were against Oakland and Washington, but St. Louis put up a combined 20 fantasy points against Denver and San Diego in Weeks 11 and 12. This defense is legit.
Down the stretch, St. Louis has home games against Arizona, who can't score, and the Giants, who love to turn the ball over, before a Week 17 game at Seattle. If I'm in a league that ends in Week 16, there is literally no defense I'd choose over St. Louis, with the possible exceptions of Detroit and Seattle. Not bad for a defense that was literally in the bottom half of the league about a month ago.
Fortunes change quickly among defenses. As I've said before, take every weird factor - nagging injuries, fatigue, rejuvenation - that goes into gauging a running back or a wide receiver, and multiply it by 11 for a fantasy defense. And that's before wondering about special teams.
The No. 1 defense in the league a month ago can be dropped now if need be. A unit you couldn't roster in October might be the best. It's fun, huh?
On to our Week 15 rankings:
Defense/special teams rankings, Week 15
(DK: Daniel Kelley; DC: Dan Ciarrocchi; JD: John Daigle; SK: Scott Kaliska)
|4||St. Louis Rams||AZ||6||7||2||1|
|5||Kansas City Chiefs||OAK||2||5||16||5|
|7||New York Giants||WAS||16||4||5||7|
|8||New England Patriots||MIA||12||9||6||8|
|9||Green Bay Packers||@BUF||14||8||7||9|
|10||New York Jets||@TEN||13||10||11||10|
|17||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||@CAR||9||13||23||24|
|18||San Francisco 49ers||@SEA||8||24||17||21|
|25||New Orleans Saints||@CHI||-||19||-||20|