Fantasy Football Week 17: Top Defenses to Start Final Weekend
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The old saying "defense wins championships" can also apply to fantasy football leagues, so don't treat the decision of which team to start lightly during the final week.
Just ask anyone who played the San Diego Chargers' defensive unit last week. They snatched two takeaways, returned a punt for a touchdown and sacked poor Greg McElroy 11 times.
The Indianapolis Colts also served amicably as a one-week add, forcing three turnovers, one of which they returned for a score against Brady Quinn and the lowly Kansas City Chiefs.
This week, however, the stars align in a couple instances with top defenses set to tear apart bottom-dwelling offenses. Looking at the matchups, fantasy gamers are better off sticking with their usual defense in most instances.
5. Chicago Bears
Despite losing seven straight games in a baffling collapse, the Detroit Lions trail only the New England Patriots in yards produced per game.
And yet, the Lions frequently fall short, with turnovers often fueling the disappointments. Not only do the Bears force takeaways more than any other team in the league, they turn them into points. The Bears defense has scored 10 touchdowns this year.
When these teams met in Week 7, Chicago held Detroit to seven points and amassed three turnovers. While Detroit is merely trying to propel Calvin Johnson to the 2,000-yard plateau, Chicago is fighting for its postseason life.
Chicago's defense is too good to sit against an underachieving offense who constantly finds way to get in its own way.
4. Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks are on fire, and don't expect the St. Louis Rams to put it out.
While Sam Bradford has established some rhythm late in the season, he's still not dazzling enough to incite confidence in the 25-year-old against an elite defensive squad.
The league's best home-field advantage should shine through yet again on Sunday. In seven home games this season, Seattle has allowed 13.4 points on average, with only New England exceeding 20 points.
During its last four games, Seattle's defense has spawned 13 turnovers and four touchdowns. Keep on rolling with the Seahawks for one more week.
3. San Diego Chargers
Those who added the Chargers before their favorable matchup should stick with them through the season's conclusion.
Following the dismantling of McElroy and the downward-spiraling Jets, another chaotic mess in the Oakland Raiders awaits.
These Raiders are not even at full strength. According to NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal" href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000116786/article/carson-palmer-to-miss-oakland-raiders-season-finale">NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal, Carson Palmer will miss the game after cracking his ribs and bruising his lung last week. Matt Leinart or Terrelle Pryor will start in Palmer's place.
Either way, a quietly capable Chargers defense, whose 303.1 yards per game rates fourth-best in the NFL, should pounce on Palmer's replacements and generate plenty of turnovers and sacks for their fantasy owners.
2. Denver Broncos
Finding the team facing Kansas City and scooping it from free agency won't work this week.
If the Denver Broncos defense remains available, it's time to find a new league for next year. They rank fifth in the NFL with 19.1 yards per game, first in sacks and third with six defensive touchdowns.
They get to close out their season by chasing their 11th straight victory against the 2-13 Chiefs, who average a league-low 13.9 points per game.
The Colts are by no means a stellar defense, so if Quinn can make them look good, it's highly likely that the Chiefs won't even find the end zone this Sunday.
1. San Francisco 49ers
Last week, I advised owners to turn their backs against the San Francisco 49ers against the red-hot Seahawks. Hopefully owners listened instead of suffering through 42 points allowed from the usually stout group.
Those who play to the final week should confidently insert the 49ers back into the lineup and watch them demolish an inept Arizona Cardinals offense.
After posting at least 20 points in their first four games with Kevin Kolb under center, Arizona has failed to touch 20 since. The Bears notched two defensive touchdowns against the Cardinals last week, and somehow that seemed like a letdown.
Sunday night's embarrassing loss to Seattle will propel San Francisco to unleash their anger on Arizona so they can clinch the NFC West and gain some momentum heading into the postseason.
This is as easy as it gets in terms of fantasy-football decision making.
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