The two NFL defenses that played on Thursday night in Week 5 did not disappoint in terms of fantasy points gained for their legions of owners. Wait...that’s not true. The St. Louis Rams defense put on a dominating performance at home for the fewer than 10 percent of ESPN fantasy football players astute (or, perhaps, desperate) enough to own it.
The Rams gave up just three points to the Arizona Cardinals. St. Louis failed to intercept the opposing quarterback for the first time this season, but recovered a fumble for the first time and recorded a whopping nine sacks of Kevin Kolb.
The team had six sacks total in four games prior to that contest.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, were more appropriately termed a disappointment as just over 11 percent of fantasy leagues have the Cardinals defense readily available on the waiver wire.
Arizona gave up 17 points and recorded one interception and one sack.
Nonetheless, the 17 points that the Rams defense scored in ESPN standard formats would have placed it just sixth among league-wide defensive outputs in Week 4.
I had it ranked fifth earlier this week, so I’ll take that.
The San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears still figure to pack a wallop against the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars, respectively, so they remain 1-2 on this list.
The New York Giants should jump on the Cleveland Browns early offensively and force rookie Brandon Weeden to mount a comeback on the road. They will check in at No. 3.
The Pittsburgh Steelers should return playmakers Troy Polamalu and James Harrison to the lineup this week for a home game with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Steelers defense, as a fantasy unit, has been horrid this season.
Philadelphia, however, has turned the ball over an awful lot this year. Harrison’s and Polamalu’s inclusion in the Pittsburgh lineup makes for a risk-worthy fantasy defense play.
Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts might have his work cut out for him, facing a Green Bay Packers defense that should be able to prioritize getting after the quarterback once its offense gets a lead.
Running the football has not been easy on the Seattle Seahawks. With a Carolina Panthers offense that seems to prefer doing damage on the ground with Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, the Seahawks should provide an interesting matchup.
It may not be a top-10 unit in Week 5. Playing on the road against that run-oriented style of offense should translate into a relatively bland fantasy outing. By comparison, Seattle picked off Sam Bradford once and allowed 19 points at St. Louis in Week 4.
It had two sacks. That’s one more than what it managed in Week 1 at Arizona. Seattle also forced the Cardinals to turn it over twice.
Here are my top 15 defense/special teams units heading into Sunday’s games.
1. San Francisco 49ers (vs. Buffalo Bills)
2. Chicago Bears (at Jacksonville Jaguars)
3. New York Giants (vs. Cleveland Browns)
4. Houston Texans (at New York Jets)
5. Baltimore Ravens (at Kansas City Chiefs)
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Philadelphia Eagles)
7. Minnesota Vikings (vs. Tennessee Titans)
8. Green Bay Packers (at Indianapolis Colts)
9. New England Patriots (vs. Denver Broncos)
10. Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. Chicago Bears)
11. Philadelphia Eagles (at Pittsburgh Steelers)
12. Seattle Seahawks (at Carolina Panthers)
13. Atlanta Falcons (at Washington Redskins)
14. Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Miami Dolphins)
15. Washington Redskins (vs. Atlanta Falcons)
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