Start Em Sit Em Week 1: Defenses to Employ and Avoid on Opening Weekend

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2013

Don't expect Terrell Suggs and the Baltimore Ravens defense to start the season on fire.
Don't expect Terrell Suggs and the Baltimore Ravens defense to start the season on fire.Rob Carr/Getty Images

Defenses don't quite win fantasy football championships, but they're a piece of the puzzle that managers cannot ignore.

More so than any other position, owners must stay alert to matchups when choosing their starting squad. Even the most prolific defense is not worth using if it's facing Drew Brees, Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers.

If draft day has not yet come, the dependability on schedules is the prime reason to not fill the position before one of the final rounds. The person who drafts the Chicago Bears defense in the seventh round will regret the poor choice dearly.

Managers who completed their draft should remind themselves which team they scooped up and see what opponent awaits this week. Drafting Baltimore felt great on draft day, but let's hope there's a Plan B in place for its Thursday night clash with the Denver Broncos.


Sit: Baltimore Ravens (at Denver Broncos)  

Even without Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, the younger unit boasts top-10 potential after signing Elvis Dumervil and Michael Huff. This week, no thanks.

It's Denver's defensive ineptitude that stays fresh in our memory from last year's playoff bout, but Peyton Manning threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns. And that's with the Broncos letting precious seconds at the end of the second and fourth quarter waste away into obscurity.

If Denver matches its 30.1 point per game average from 2012 on Thursday night, Baltimore's defense will need several turnovers to scratch out a useful fantasy performance. Playing solely for turnovers presents a dangerous gambit for fantasy gamers.


Start: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at New York Jets)

Now a defense going up against a first-time starting quarterback in a barren offense? That's more like it.

According to ESPN New York's Rich Cimini, Geno Smith is slated to start the game by default, receiving the opportunity since an injured Mark Sanchez is unavailable. The preseason tape does little to support his status as a capable starter, which is great news for Tampa Bay.

While offenses devoured Tampa Bay's secondary last season, newly-acquired cornerback Darrelle Revis should change that. Not that the Jets have a receiver worth trapping on Revis Island, but Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill or whomever Revis covers won't accomplish much of anything on Sunday. tabs Tampa Bay as the No. 15 defense, so the Buccaneers could still remain on the waiver wire in some leagues. Give them a trial run against the Jets.


Sit: Green Bay Packers (at San Francisco 49ers)

The opening would suggest that San Francisco's D is the logical benching choice with Rodgers staring the 49ers down. You can bench him if another alluring option exists, but there's at least potential for an array of sacks.

After getting humiliated by Colin Kaepernick in the playoffs, Green Bay's defense should be avoided at all costs for this rematch.

In this contest, the 49ers amassed 323 team rushing yards, 181 from Kaepernick, and 45 points. Anyone who played Green Bay's defense in a fantasy playoff league would have been better served leaving the spot empty.

Months have passed for the Packers to reassess the pistol formation, but they're a fringe option anyway after only compiling eight interceptions last season.


Start: St. Louis Rams (vs. Arizona Cardinals)

Carson Palmer offers Arizona a considerable upgrade at quarterback, although the 2012 Cardinals would have fared better by starting Friday Night Lights signal-caller Matt Saracen over John Skelton and Ryan Lindley.

Palmer is a capable passer who should register a bunch of passing yards, but he is also prone to turnovers, throwing 50 picks in the past three seasons.

The Cardinals also gave up more sacks than any other team in 2012, which bodes well for Robert Quinn and Chris Long. St. Louis' defense has a chance to impact some fantasy leagues this season, and Arizona provides a great starting point.