Before the season started, if someone told you the Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions would be leading the NFL in total defense, you’d probably call them crazy. The two squads have been synonymous with defensive inadequacy for about as long as most fantasy owners can remember, but after two weeks Washington’s first in total defense, fourth in points allowed (13.5) and first in total sacks (10.0), while Detroit’s No. 2 in total defense and second against the run (57.5 yards ppg).
But neither is worth a start for fantasy owners in Week 3, and it has more to do with who they’ll face. Washington will hit the road against the NFC East rival and high-scoring Philadelphia Eagles, while Detroit hosts Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
For fantasy purposes, we need a defense that will keep opponents out of the end zone while forcing sacks and turnovers. Washington’s pass rush makes for a tempting start, but the Eagles offensive line has let up only five sacks, and quarterback Nick Foles has thrown only two interceptions. The Redskins secondary has totaled one interception in their first two games, and they didn’t exactly face world-beaters in Jacksonville’s Chad Henne and Houston’s Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Meanwhile Detroit’s certainly improved from a squad that was 16 th overall last season in total defense. The Lions are allowing 4.5 fewer points per game, and their sixth in the league with 6.0 sacks. With Green Bay’s o-line already surrendering 7.0 sacks, it would seem like Rodgers will be chased all day and rendered ineffective.
But in 10 career starts against the Lions, Rodgers is 9-1 (his best record against any opponent) with 19 touchdowns to five interceptions, and a 68.3 completion percentage. Maybe the Lions will finally figure out Rodgers in Week 3 this year, but it’s a much bigger gamble compared to the four other teams below.
Let’s breakdown each of the best DSTs to start in Week 3, and who else to start/sit .
They’re on the road for the second straight week, hitting the West coast for a 30-14 drubbing of Oakland, and now turning back East to face a struggling New York Giants offense. The Texans aren’t really scoring points for owners with sacks (3.0) or INTs (2), but they are keeping teams out of the end zone, surrendering only three TDs so far. But Houston could light up every defensive category against Giants quarterback Eli Manning (4 INTs) in Week 3.
Their pass rush already misses defensive end Robert Mathis as the Colts only have 1.0 sack in two games, and they’re allowing 30.5 ppg. But keep in mind the Colts had to face Denver in Week 1 and Philadelphia in Week 2, two of the most dangerous offensive teams in the league. Next up they’ll feast on a Jacksonville o-line that’s given up a league worst 13.0 sacks, and an offense that’s scoring 13.5 ppg, tied for the second worst mark in the league.
New England Patriots
That Week 1 debacle on the road to Miami is clearly behind New England. They took advantage of a Minnesota squad missing running back Adrian Peterson and totaled 4 INTs and six sacks in Week 2. The Patriots matchup in Week 3 is pretty similar. They’ll take on rookie Oakland quarterback Derek Carr and the league’s No. 23 passing attack; and the Raiders are also last in the league in rushing, meaning Carr will need to throw a ton to keep his team in the game.
This is a huge Week 3 for the Cardinals, who could take a commanding lead in the NFC West with a victory over visiting San Francisco. Arizona is third in the league against the run (66.5 yards ppg), which means they can neutralize running backs Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde, and has enough talent in the secondary to force 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick (3 INTs, 84.6 passer rating) to make several mistakes.
Week 3’s Starts/Sits
Sit: Dallas, San Diego, Washington, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Detroit, N.Y. Jets, Carolina, Kansas City, Cleveland, Seattle, Tampa Bay
Start: Houston, Indianapolis, New England, Arizona, Cincinnati, Chicago, New Orleans, Buffalo