The top 10 highest scoring fantasy football defenses (DSTs) in Week 1 featured some familiar teams, and we’ll delve into several of them to determine whether any are worthy of a start in Week 2 and beyond. The familiar and consistently strong DSTs from a year ago, who performed well in Week 1, include the Seahawks, Ravens, Rams, 49ers, and Lions.
Seattle uncharacteristically gave up a whopping 34 points to a limited St. Louis offense, but made good by forcing three fumbles and by rookie receiver Tyler Lockett’s 57-yard punt return.
A lot’s been made of Kam Chancellor’s absence in the game, but remember this is still the same DST that gave up 30 points only twice all of last season and just once in 2013. Owners' may be right to explore other options outside of Seattle in Week 2 since they’ll be on the road against Green Bay, but down the line the Seahawks are still the No. 1 DST to own throughout the fantasy season.
The Ravens and Rams’ DSTs are typically near the top of the fantasy scoreboard, but they especially deserve some credit for how well they performed against two very difficult opponents. Baltimore pushed past the loss of leader and linebacker Terrell Suggs and held the Broncos explosive offense to 13 points, while sacking Peyton Manning four times and picking him off once for a 24-yard TD return. Manning was sacked 17 total times all of last season.
St. Louis was known for its pass rush last season but was especially dominate against Seattle, sacking Russell Wilson six times and also benefitted from Tavon Austin’s 75-yard punt return for a touchdown.
With Baltimore facing Oakland and St. Louis visiting Washington, both should repeat their performances and are must starts in Week 2.
The Lions were the surprise fantasy DST last season but no one expected much from them or the 49ers in 2015. Detroit’s defensive line was decimated in free agency, but its secondary still made plays for two interceptions and returned one for a touchdown. Last year, the Lions were tied for third in the league with 20 picks.
San Francisco also dealt with a personnel exodus, particularly at linebacker, but they completely shut down Minnesota and running back Adrian Peterson, while recording five sacks and a pick. The 49ers are owned in only 49 percent of Yahoo and 17.8 percent of ESPN leagues -- numbers that will rise but they have a very tough test against a loaded Pittsburgh offense in Week 2. The 49ers are worth a pick-up, but maybe not a start in Week 2.
Keep all those squads in mind before you add/drop a DST this week, and here are the five DSTs to consider starting in Week 2, each broken down and picked by their favorable matchup or superior personnel.
Other than two sacks, both by J.J. Watt, Houston’s performance was downright awful in Week 1. But they have a much more favorable matchup at Carolina in Week 2. The Panthers were actually outgained by Jacksonville despite winning 20-9, and have no clue as to who their No. 1 receiver is. They used nine pass catchers in Week 1, including two running backs and their full back. That’s an excellent indicator that Houston’s secondary, which was burned for 243 yards by the Chiefs, will recover and earn some points.
This is perhaps the most difficult start/sit of Week 2. They’ll face the Patriots and Tom Brady, who’s an incredible 23-3 with 58 touchdowns to 19 picks against Buffalo in his career. But the Bills have the personnel to matchup nicely against New England’s top weapon, tight end Rob Gronkowski, and don’t forget the two picks they forced out of the Colts Andrew Luck, one of the premier quarterbacks in the league, in Week 1. A hard choice, but owners should start the Bills this week.
Yes, the Lions gave up 388 passing yards and 33 points in their Week 1 loss to San Diego. But they’ll face a Vikings offensive line that couldn’t protect quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5 sacks) or open holes for Adrian Peterson. Detroit should be a second or third choice, but can put up decent points even if Peterson goes off.
The Ravens are still a must start against a hapless Raiders offense that needed three quarters to reach the end zone. Baltimore has enough playmakers to give the Raiders' passing game headaches all game. Even with Suggs out, Baltimore's defense should perform well on the road.
They were our pick last week, but got burned by Buffalo. The Colts draw the Jets this week, and are more than capable of containing leading rusher Chris Ivory. The Jets got five more possessions because of Cleveland turnovers, something that won’t happen against Luck and the Colts. Expect the Colts' defense to step up after a lackluster performance in Week 1.