After 13 long weeks, the final three games of the fantasy football season are here and owners have plenty of options for their defensive starter.
As NFL teams vie for playoff (and draft) positions, several teams standout as top starters this week with the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, and Oakland Raiders the three consensus best options.
The Patriots face a Cleveland Browns squad that is unsure whether Jason Campbell or Brandon Weeden will start, while the Chiefs head to Washington D.C. to face a Redskins team that’s averaging 16.5 points during their four-game losing streak.
And despite surrendering an average of 30 points and losing four of their last five games, the Raiders hit the road against a New York Jets squad that haven't scored a touchdown in eight straight quarters and have coughed up 10 turnovers in the last three games.
All three are smart moves for postseason owners, but if those teams aren’t available, mull over the four options below. Each could ensure a victory and a spot in the second round.
Yes it’s a division game against a hot-and-cold St. Louis team, but the Cardinals are too good against the run, allowing a miniscule 83.3 yards per game and were the first team to hold Philadelphia to under 120 yards rushing in the last four weeks. The Rams offense is too one dimensional and Arizona should capitalize for a solid 10-to-15 fantasy points.
Green Bay Packers
It’s been an ugly 0-4-1 stretch for Green Bay, but they draw an Atlanta Falcons squad that is ranked 26th in total offensive yards and 29th in points per game this season. The linebacker corps of A.J. Hawk and Clay Matthews have accounted for 11 of Green Gay’s 38 sacks, the third best mark in the NFL. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has been sacked 21 times in the last six games, compared to nine sacks in the previous six.
Going 3-2 in their last five games, the Dolphins have quietly crept up the AFC playoff standings by forcing 10 turnovers and 16 sacks, while allowing 17 points and 327.2 yards per game. Next up is a Pittsburgh Steelers team incapable of rushing the ball, ranked 31st in the league. Miami’s a much better choice over Buffalo or even Baltimore.
New York Giants
The playoffs might be out of reach, but the Giants are still a solid pick against a San Diego squad that’s lost four their last five while averaging just 22.2 points. The Chargers offensive line has also give up 11 sacks in the last five games, after allowing 11 in the previous seven games -- a bad trend that could be to New York’s advantage.