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Fantasy football rankings, Week 9: Defense/special teams

New York/New Jersey: The turnover capital of America.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Two teams are minus-12 in turnover differential this season: New York. That sounds like one team, but, you know, Giants and Jets. Hard times in the Meadowlands.

Anyway, the two New York teams (plus the Texans) are the only teams with negative double-digits in turnover differential. The Kansas City Chiefs are the only team in double-digits on the positive side. The Chiefs' unit has faded in recent weeks, however; after at least two forced turnovers in each of the team's first six games, Kansas City has only forced a single turnover in each of its last two, against Houston's and Cleveland's third-string quarterbacks. This week, against Buffalo's preseason fourth-string (I think, yeah? He was fourth?), Kansas City ought to be fine, but regression is attacking.

(Apropos of little when it comes to D/ST rankings, but there have been a lot of teams resorting to third-stringers this year, haven't there? Is this a disproportionate number? Minnesota, Houston, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Cleveland. Heck, if you count the fact that St. Louis would apparently prefer Brett Favre, the Rams count, too.)

A short-and-sweet intro to the D/ST rankings this week, in part because it's 12:15 a.m. as I write this, and I already wrote up the week's RB rankings today, and I'm sleepy, and you'll just have to deal with that. Don't you yell at me.

These are the fantasy defenses for Week 9 that I think are interesting, with their Week 9 ranking in parentheses:

Tennessee Titans (No. 5) - I made this point a few weeks ago, but the Titans have one of the least predictable defensive units fantasy can imagine. They followed up a 15-point performance in Week 1 with six points in Week 2. Weeks 4-7 went 22, 5, 9, 1. It's the heart monitor for a very alive person, so that's nice, but danged if they're hard to anticipate. This week, though, they are coming off a bye and face a bad St. Louis offense with a possibly-injured Zac Stacy. I feel like this is the easiest week to predict a high score for them. Which of course means they'll score negative-five, but whatever, I'm ranking them high.

Indianapolis Colts (No. 9) - The Colts' defense has been up-and-down this year, too. Coming off their bye, they're facing a Houston Texans team that has installed Case Keenum as its starter for the foreseeable future. While Keenum looked moderately competent in his debut, and I'm on-record as thinking he at least shows promise, he's still a third-stringer who wasn't really supposed to do anything any time soon. Beyond that, both the Texans' running backs -- Arian Foster and Ben Tate -- are banged up to the point of worrying whether they'll even be active in Week 9. An at-least-decent defense against Case Keenum and Deji Karim? Yeah, sure, they'll be top-ten.

Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 17) - I criticize recency bias in most things in sports analysis because it's way too much of a crutch to decide something off of a three-game sample. In football, it's too easy to look at something like Washington's disastrous offensive performance in the second half Sunday and draw conclusions, without considering the fact that they were a juggernaut only a week earlier. That said, Pittsburgh's defense was written off in many circles after five fantasy points total in the team's first four games. Since their bye, though, the Steelers have averaged nine fantasy points a game, facing the Jets, Ravens, and Raiders. Going against a Patriots offense that suddenly isn't all that scary, this ranking of 17 might even be too low, even if Pittsburgh's all-season numbers don't back that up.

San Diego Chargers (No. 23) - The Jaguars are the only defense that has yet to score double-digit fantasy points in a game this year, and the Chargers are the only other one that hasn't done the deed at least twice (and the single time they did accomplish it came against Jacksonville). Facing a good Washington offense, the only thing keeping the Chargers from the bottom of the rankings is the possibility of a banged-up Robert Griffin III. Philip Rivers might be rejuvenated, and that's fun to see, but he doesn't play linebacker.

Here are the overall rankings for Week 9 (bye teams are the Broncos, Lions, Giants, Jaguars, Cardinals, and 49ers):

Rank Team Opponent
1 Seattle Seahawks Tampa Bay
2 Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo
3 Carolina Panthers Atlanta
4 Cincinnati Bengals at Miami
5 Tennessee Titans at St. Louis
6 New Orleans Saints at NY Jets
7 New England Patriots Pittsburgh
8 Dallas Cowboys Minnesota
9 Indianapolis Colts at Houston
10 St. Louis Rams Tennessee
11 Oakland Raiders Philadelphia
12 Cleveland Browns Baltimore
13 Green Bay Packers Chicago
14 Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland
15 Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland
16 Buffalo Bills Kansas City
17 Pittsburgh Steelers at New England
18 Miami Dolphins Cincinnati
19 Houston Texans Indianapolis
20 Washington Redskins San Diego
21 Chicago Bears at Green Bay
22 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Seattle
23 San Diego Chargers at Washington
24 Atlanta Falcons at Carolina
25 Minnesota Vikings at Dallas
26 New York Jets New Orleans

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