Week 4 Fantasy Football Projections: Top 5 Defenses to Start

John Degroote@john_degrooteCorrespondent IISeptember 25, 2012

Week 4 Fantasy Football Projections: Top 5 Defenses to Start

0 of 5

    The first three weeks of the NFL season has had it all—big hits, highlight reel offensive plays, overtime thrillers and controversial endings.

    Fantasy owners have been pulling their hair out due to inconsistent play from the perennial top-notch defenses. Last week the 49ers, Steelers, Lions and Ravens posted a combined four points.

    Surprisingly, defensive units like the Cardinals and Seahawks currently ranking among the leagues' elite.

    Here are five defenses with favorable matchups you should start in Week 5.

Arizona Cardinals

1 of 5

    The NFL's best defense may reside in the desert of Arizona.

    The Cardinals have dominated opposition offenses and have been able to make up for their lowly offense.

    They held Tom Brady and the high powered Patriots offense to 18 points, and scored a defensive touchdown and forced three fumbles against the Eagles.

    Arizona has surprised the NFL and are one of only of three teams with a 3-0 record.

    This week the Cardinals take on rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins at home.

    Tannehill only has only one touchdown and four interceptions this season. The Cardinals secondary should be able to dominate the Dolphins thin receiving core, and the front seven will keep the rookie on the run.

    The Dolphins probably will not have the help of Reggie Bush in the running game either. Daniel Thomas has not proven he can carry the load yet, so this could mean big trouble for the Dolphins in Week 4.

Baltimore Ravens

2 of 5

    The Ravens had a disappointing performance against the Patriots in Week 3, letting up 30 points and not forcing a turnover.

    However, this should not scare away fantasy owners to start them in Week 4. They will face the Cleveland Browns, that are indeed still an NFL franchise.

    The Browns offense ranks near the bottom of every NFL offensive category and boast an all-rookie backfield. Quarterback Brandon Weeden has thrown six interceptions and three touchdowns. Ed Reed and Lardarius Webb should feast on the ducks thrown up by Weeden.

    Trent Richardson has been a powerful, explosive runner, but the Browns do not have a solid No. 2 option to relive some of the pressure.

    Baltimore has forced six turnovers this season and scored a defensive touchdown in Week 1. They should have a big week defensively.

New York Giants

3 of 5

    The Giants defense is coming off a week where it shut down Cam Newton and the Carolina offense, forcing three interceptions and two fumbles.

    Newton is a bigger, younger version of Michael Vick, so the Giants should have no problem shutting down the 11th year quarterback.

    Vick has also been turnover prone this season, throwing six interceptions and fumbling the ball three times through three weeks. Those numbers will increase after Week 4.

    Vick has been sacked nine times this season already, and the Giants line will keep the aging, but still quick quarterback on the run Sunday.

    The Eagles have also been hampered by injuries in their receiving corps. Jeremy Maclin's status is still uncertain for Sunday, and DeSean Jackson has continued to be a shadow of his former self.

Dallas Cowboys

4 of 5

    The Cowboys defense has been inconsistent. They let up 27 points to the lowly Seattle offense, but held the Giants and Buccaneers to the same total combined.

    They lead the league with 250.0 YPG allowed and are tied for seventh with 18.0 PPG allowed.

    However, the Cowboys should have a field day against the Bears and the struggling Jay Cutler.

    After throwing for 126 yards and four interceptions against Green Bay, Cutler was equally unimpressive in his Week 3 performance against the Rams, throwing for 183 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.

    The Bears running game has its share of injuries as well. Matt Forte is questionable for Week 4 and Michael Bush only had four second-half carries against the Rams. The Bears plan to work out former Green Bay running back Ryan Grant on Tuesday, so this could be a sign that their top two backs injuries are worse than they are letting on (via ESPN).

    The Cowboys defense should be started purely for the reason that Jay Cutler has struggled tremendously and is playing with little confidence. Not breaking the 200-yard mark for consecutive weeks is a major issue for the Bears QB.

    Owners should feel confident starting America's team as their defense.

Houston Texans

5 of 5

    The Texans are a top five defense in every major category. They have playmakers all over the D and the loss of Mario Williams is not being felt as heavily as projected.

    They will play host to the Tennessee Titans, who are coming off an upset win against the Detroit Lions.

    Jake Locker was impressive in Week 3, but I'm hard pressed to think the second-year QB will put up back-to-back big games.

    Locker has also been the teams leading rusher. Chris Johnson has not even hit the 50-yard mark through three games and CJ2K is looking like CJ0K.

    The Texans defense will continue to play big against the Titans in Week 4 and should be a big contributor for owners who start them.