After three weeks, we have a clearer picture of which teams field a dominate defense, and which wilt at key moments of the game.
The usual suspects like the Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks, and Pittsburgh Steelers remain near the top, but the New York Jets have made a return after a poor rushing defense left them near the middle of the league last season. In 2009, the Jets were first in total defense, and in 2010 they were third. After two straight years out of the playoffs and three games into this season, Rex Ryan and his squad are third overall and held the New England Patriots to a respectable 13 points in Week Two.
Led by third year defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and his three sacks, the 2-1 Jets are also tied for third in total sacks with 12. The remaining teams on their schedule are once again wary of the Jets.
Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints are probably the biggest surprise, ranking fourth in total defense, after they finished dead last in 2012. But in terms of fantasy football, we’ll have to wait and see with big road games coming up against the Chicago Bears and New England. For now it’s best to stick with the defensive stalwarts like the Bears and Steelers before taking a risk on New Orleans.
Below are four defenses to consider in Week Four, and one to sit.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs face a stumbling and one step away from tumbling New York Giants team in Week Four. Kansas City is eighth in total defense and ranked third overall on third down. New York‘s passing game has worked, but new d-coordinator Bob Sutton also has the Chiefs ranked fifth against the pass. Last week the Chiefs stymied Philadelphia and its high-octane and more balanced offense, earning more than 20 points in most leagues. Start them this week and for the foreseeable future.
New York Jets
Defense is what carried the Jets to two straight AFC title games under Rex Ryan, and this team appears to be back in form. They are on the road against a Titans offense that may have found their groove, but New York should be prepared for quarterback Jake Locker.
The Cardinals face Tampa Bay’s rookie quarterback Mike Glennon after Josh Freeman was benched. Arizona’s secondary is loaded with young talent, and they should force Glennon into at least two interceptions.
Led by LaRon Landry and Jerrell Freeman, the Colts are a middling defense (14th in total defense), but the Jacksonville Jaguars are next on their schedule in Week Four. The Jags are last in yards and points per game, making them easy pickings for Indianapolis.
They are 3-0 thanks to their defense, and are fifth in the AFC in takeaway/giveaway differential. But it’s too risky to start any defense against the pass-happy Saints and Drew Brees. When Week Nine or Week 10 rolls around, the Dolphins might be a solid start, but not Week Four.