With two of the top six highest-scoring fantasy defenses (D/STs) enjoying byes this week, fantasy football owners of course need a few reasonable options to start in Week 5.
The Carolina Panthers and their eight picks and two defensive touchdowns, as well as the 13-turnovers-forced New York Jets can’t be relied on this week. The Minnesota Vikings and their under-the-radar crew also aren’t available. Despite the loss the Vikings D played quite well against Denver last week and, going forward, with an 11 percent ownership rate in Yahoo and 19.9 percent in ESPN leagues, fantasy players may want to target them in Week 6’s waiver wire period.
But turning back to Week 5, here are five fantasy D/STs owners should consider starting or adding if available.
The Jags DST is actually behind their Week 5 opponent Tampa Bay by one fantasy point, 14, has a middling pass rush with 9.0 sacks, and only one interception on the year. The only thing Jacksonville’s done well this season is stop the run, a mere 83.0 yards allowed per game at 3.1 yards per rush, fourth-best in the league, and that’s really the only facet of the Bucs offense that works even marginally well with 107.3 yards per game. The Jags should neutralize running back Doug Martin, with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston tossing seven picks so far, five of which have come in the last two games.
And based off the graph below, the Jags D is improving with each week.
Kansas City Chiefs
According to Yahoo’s tabulations, the Chiefs are the worst in fantasy against opposing quarterbacks, allowing an average of 23.89 points per game this season. Thankfully, Jay Cutler and the Bears’ banged up offensive line are coming to Kansas City in Week 5. Chicago placed starting center Will Montgomery on season-ending injured reserve, tackle Jermon Bushrod is still trying to pass the NFL’s concussion protocol after the hits he took against Seattle in Week 3, while tackle Kyle Long and back-up guard Patrick Omameh also missed Wednesday’s practice with an ankle injury. Chicago's now likely to start rookie Hroniss Grasu at center.
Cutler and ever-injured receiver Alshon Jeffery and receiver Eddie Royal also made Chicago’s injury report. K.C.’s put up only 9.0 sacks through four games, but that should change against the Bears.
New York Giants
Roughly two-thirds of New York’s 33 fantasy points this season have come in the last two weeks, against a poor Redskins offense and a Buffalo offense that may have been overrated after only three games. The Giants have 3.0 sacks, three interceptions, and two fumble recoveries in their last two games, and host a San Francisco offense that’s giving up the most points to DSTs this season. Not sure if the Giants have finally found some sort of defensive groove that make them one of fantasy’s elite DSTs, but in Week 5 they’re a must start.
New England Patriots
The Patriots pass rush fell to No. 5 in the league only because they were on a bye in Week 4. They might not force too many sacks against a Cowboys o-line that’s let up only 8.0 through four games, but Dallas’ offense is limited even more now that running back Lance Dunbar went down for the season. New England’s DST has surrendered the third-most fantasy points on average to quarterbacks this season, but Brandon Weeden hasn’t proved he can beat anyone. New England’s also tied for sixth in the league with five interceptions, and it can take away Dallas’ biggest current threat, tight end Jason Witten. The Patriots are allowing only 49.3 yards per game and two total touchdowns to tight ends.
St. Louis Rams
This isn’t just a shot in the dark if you look further than Aaron Rodgers’ ridiculously efficient numbers. The Rams are tied with 17.0 sacks, second-most in the league and only one back of leading Denver, and also tied for third with 27 quarterback hits.
Despite the Packers allowing only 6.0 sacks even with starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga out for the first four games and likely still out for Week 5, they haven’t exactly faced a murders-row of pass rushes. Chicago, Seattle, Kansas City, and San Francisco have 30.0 combined sacks through four games, and the 49ers are in an eight-way tie for No. 9 in the league.
Running back Eddie Lacy will be a challenge for a Rams D allowing 4.3 yards per carry, but everything the Packers do begins and ends with Rodgers. If he’s on his back or hurried, St. Louis can spoil another perfect record in consecutive weeks after dominating Arizona in Week 4.