Fantasy Football Week 3: The NFL Defense You Can't Overlook

C.D. Carter@@CDCarter13Featured ColumnistSeptember 21, 2012

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 27:  Running back LeGarrette Blount #27 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is tackled by defenders Karlos Dansby #58 and Vontae Davis #21 of the Miami Dolphins during a preseason game at Raymond James Stadium on August 27, 2011 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

They've dominated the trenches and bottled up two of the game's most prolific runners. They're playing an inept offense this week, and hardly anyone is plugging them into their fantasy lineups.

They're the Miami Dolphins defense, and they're begging for you to use them against the Jets in Week 3.

The team's almost total absence of skill-position talent and management's disastrous handling of personnel decisions in recent years have overshadowed a defense that has had flashes of dominance over the past calendar year. Miami's front seven are a fearsome group that plugs running lanes and pressures quarterbacks almost every week.

It's had success despite a moribund offense that so often leaves the defense in unenviable positions, as it was after two turnovers against the Texans in Week 1 that gave Houston the ball near the goal line. 

The Dolphins' defense held Houston running back and fantasy deity Arian Foster to 79 yards on 26 rushes—good for a measly three yards per carry. And last week against the Raiders, the Dolphins put the clamps on Darren McFadden, holding the elite running back to 23 rushing yards and 19 yards through the air.

The front seven were relentless against an overmatched Oakland offensive line, as they simply bulldozed their way through the Raiders' zone-blocking scheme—destroying running lanes before they ever developed.

Despite this early-season success, the Dolphins' defense is owned in just 11 percent of CBS fantasy leagues, and started in just five percent. This is a travesty. Miami, who plays at home against the Jets, should be started this week over a laundry list of fantasy defenses, I think, including the Ravens, Chargers, Patriots and Cowboys.

Ah, you say I'm not telling the whole story of this Dolphins defense.

This unit, you say, is tied for 30th in pass defense after Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer shredded the Dolphins for 373 yards and a touchdown. However, you should note that Oakland took to the air only after giving up on running McFadden into the razor talons of the Fins' defensive line. Palmer threw the ball 48 times against Miami.

Sure, the Jets' pass attack looked prolific against the Bills in Week 1, but they looked slightly less dominant in Week 2 in Pittsburgh, where Mark Sanchez threw for just 138 yards. Santonio Holmes, New York's presumed No. 1 wide receiver, was held to three receptions for 28 yards.

The Steelers' secondary is far better than Miami's, but a review of last week's game will show a discombobulated Jets passing offense that looked downright pathetic at times.

The Jets' passing offense scares no one, and shouldn't scare fantasy owners looking for a rock-solid plug-and-play defense. Bank on the Dolphins shutting down the Jets' middling run attack led by Shonn Greene, who left last week's game with concussion-like symptoms.

The South Beach heat shouldn't be overlooked here, either.

We've all seen visiting teams wilt in the oppressive heat and humidity of Miami in September. The effects aren't seen in the first quarter—sometimes not even in the first half—but visitors are so often left lagging in the relentless rays of the South Beach sun.

I wouldn't play the Dolphins' defense over top units like the Steelers, Texans, Bears or Seahawks this week, but if you're playing matchups—and really, you should be—there isn't a better option than the Fins.

And don't fear that Tim Tebow guy. He's talking politics more than he's playing football these days.