They say defense wins championships.
“They” obviously don’t play fantasy football.
By definition, the game we love so much is almost exclusively driven by offense – sorta like the Lions – with just one of eight or nine slots typically reserved for a team defense. Often selected in the last round or two of the draft, many players tend to view defenses as interchangeable on a weekly basis, based on matchups and which units are trending up.
Case in point: just watch the scramble for Kansas City’s defense on this week’s waiver wire.
Indeed, for one weekend, at least, several defenses demanded their due.
At the top of the heap were the ball-hawking Chiefs, whose eight-turnover, two-touchdown, three-point-yielding pummeling of the Jets produced enough points to offset a career day by the weekend’s top fantasy wideout, Marvin Jones.
The Vikings continued their early-season dominance by sacking Cam Newton an incredible eight times – one of which was a safety – picking him off thrice, taking a punt return to the house and holding one of the NFL’s top offenses to 10 stinking points. Kelvin Benjamin might as well have stayed home for the day.
New England’s defense shut out, and embarrassed, the Texans on Thursday night. The Bills picked off Carson Palmer four times, sacked him five times and returned a botched field goal for a score.
Defenses don’t win fantasy championships. But in any given week, they sure can propel you to victory.
FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS
To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.
Catch ‘em while you can
Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles. Two rookie quarterbacks are raising eyebrows across the league, but only Wentz currently looks like someone you can count on for consistent fantasy production. Like Dak Prescott, he has yet to throw an interception; but unlike the Cowboy rookie, Wentz has thrown TD passes in each game (five so far) and he’s looking downfield frequently. He’s not yet ready for fantasy primetime, but the Eagles’ future is worth stashing now for a rainy day.
Trevor Siemian, QB, Broncos. Once considered simply a placeholder until rookie Paxton Lynch is ready to roll, Siemian is making his case for a longer look. His 4-TD, turnover-free performance on the road against a solid Bengals defense catapulted him onto the fantasy radar. With the Bucs and other sub-par defenses on tap, QB-challenged teams should give him a call.
Jordan Howard, RB, Bears. Jeremy Langford was carted off the field Sunday night with a possible Achilles injury, leaving the backfield in the promising rookie’s hands. The Bears were in catch-up mode most of the night, so Howard’s carries were limited. But he made the most of his opportunities, including as a receiver. This should accelerate Howard’s expected ascension to the starting role over the less-heralded veteran.
Don’t be fooled
Shane Vereen, RB, Giants. He looked sharp taking over the starting job with Rashad Jennings nursing an injured thumb, but Vereen still shared carries – and short scoring runs – with Orleans Darkwa. Jennings is expected back next weekend, and the trio will be splitting touches against the fearsome Vikings defenders. I’ll pass.
Terrelle Pryor, WR, Browns. It certainly sounds intriguing to have a receiver who also lines up as a wildcat QB and a rusher. But Pryor has done precious little in his previous four years to suggest that Sunday’s outing was more than an aberration. Miami’s defense has a way of making mediocre talents look great.