Fantasy Football Week 14 Rankings: Defenses

Michael WhooleySenior Writer IDecember 12, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 29:  Nnamdi Asomugha #21 of the Oakland Raiders is introduced against the New Orleans Saints during an NFL preseason game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on August 29, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Every week we try to give you the best plays based on projections, statistical information, and how the teams match up. While we don’t get every defense right, the Bruno Boys provide with enough reasoning to help you make sense of why we are projecting these defenses where they are at.

Unlike other sites, we provide numbers and analysis that is unmatched by any other site. That’s why you need to keep checking in and see why a defense is ranked where it is with the playoffs getting under way in many leagues.

You will find Week 14 in the NFL a bit interesting with your defensive plays. Some of the top units chosen very high in drafts or grabbed up quickly on the waiver wire have difficult plays in a crucial playoff week for many fantasy football players.

Below you will see in our Bruno Boys Fantasy Football Week 14 Team Defense Rankings that some defenses we suggest you gamble with could be a one week wonder, but may be exactly what you need that puts you over the top. If you have the roster space, try to add an extra defense this week and rest your main starter who has a tough match up as it could pay big dividends.

As we head into the article, I would like to explain the “Bruno Boys Star System” .


5-Stars (* * * * *) —Bruno Boys Top Plays of the Week

4-Stars (* * * *) —Bruno Boys Very Solid Plays of the Week

3-Stars (* * *) —Bruno Boys Average Plays of the Week

2-Stars (* *) —Bruno Boys Try to Avoid Playing this Week

1-Star (*) —Bruno Boys Do Not Start Unless You COMPLETELY Have To

Key Abbreviations: YPG (Yards Per Game); PPG (Points Per Game)

1. (Pittsburgh Steelers) at Cleveland Browns  

While some have seen this defense as a bit of a disappointment this season after the remarkable numbers the Steelers offered up a year ago, there is still a ton of talent on the unit. This season Pittsburgh isn’t getting the same pressure from its defense line after the loss of end Aaron Smith , meaning quarterbacks have more time to throw and pick apart their so-so secondary.

Add that their best defensive back Troy Polamalu isn’t back there and you see why the team is having problems. The good thing is that their weaknesses should not be exposed against their pathetic division foe, the Cleveland Browns . Offensively, Cleveland will not be able to gain many yards at all on the ground and their passing game is pathetic no matter who is under center.

Pittsburgh’s defense will sack the quarterback numerous times and force multiple turnovers to have a big fantasy football day. This season the Steelers have allowed 297.3 yards and 19.3 points per game with 38 sacks and 16 turnovers.

Bruno Boys Stars: * * * * *

2. (Baltimore Ravens) at Detroit Lions  

After losing the likes of defensive coordinator Rex Ryan , linebacker Bart Scott , and safety Jim Leonhard , the Baltimore Ravens defense was thought to be softer and not a fantasy player like they had been in years past.

What many may not realize is the Ravens have one of the most consistent defenses in the NFL in 2009. They have only had one negative fantasy day (which you could have seen coming against the Minnesota Vikings ) , and have contributed five double digit outings. This week should add to that total, when the team travels to Detroit to take on the offensively challenged Lions. On the year the Ravens have given up 312.3yards and 17.9 points per game while adding 22 sacks and 20 turnovers.

Bruno Boys Stars:   * * * * *

3. (New York Jets) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After nose tackle Kris Jenkins went down with a season ending injury, the thought was the Jets defense could really suffer without their anchor in the middle. That has not been the case though, as New York continues to shutdown opponents and put up solid fantasy points week after week. That won’t change in Week 14 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the schedule. Head coach Rex Ryan will come up with a ton of different blitz packages on a long preparation week to confuse rookie quarterback Josh Freeman and force him to throw multiple interceptions like he did against the Carolina Panthers (whose defense is no where near as good as New York’s unit) .

On the season the Jets have given up 276.4 yards and 17.3 points per game while adding 24 sacks and 23 turnovers. Look for New York’s defense to have it’s third straight double digit fantasy day as they try to carry their team into the playoffs and help your squad get to a championship.

Bruno Boys Stars: * * * * *

4. (Tennessee Titans) vs. St. Louis Rams

This defense has really went full circle in 2009, going from a top ten draft choice and a unit you planned on starting every week, to being a must drop and do not own, to now being a must start against bad offenses and an average start against good offenses. The St. Louis Rams categorize as one of the worst offenses in the NFL this season even with one of the best running backs in the game in Steven Jackson .

Expect Jackson to face extra defenders in the box all game long, but unfortunately quarterback Kyle Boller doesn’t have the ability to make the defense pay. If the Titans are out there, they could be a terrific spot start in the first round of your playoffs. This season Tennessee has allowed 367.3 yards and 26.3 points per game while totaling 26 sacks and 16 turnovers.

Bruno Boys Stars: * * * * *

5. (Green Bay Packers) at Chicago Bears

After looking like utter fools in giving up back to back negative fantasy football days to the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers , the Green Bay Packers defense seems to have turned things around. The Packers have scored in double digits in three of their last four games while racking up 7 turnovers in their last two contests.

A ball hawking defense like this could have a field day against the Chicago Bears and their turnover machine quarterback Jay Cutle r. On the year Green Bay has given up a league low 273.5 yards and 19.1 points per game while totaling 26 sacks and 31 turnovers. This should turn out to be a fantastic play, something similar to what we witnessed back in Week 1 when these two teams met.

Bruno Boys Stars: * * * *

6. (Buffalo Bills) at Kansas City Chiefs  

The Buffalo Bills biggest weakness this season has been their run defense, who can’t stop too many ball carriers. Even with the Bills giving Jamaal Charles his yards, the Kansas City Chiefs will need to make some throws and Buffalo’s strong secondary will have Kansas City’s ho-hum wide receivers covered like a blanket.

Quarterback Matt Cassel will be on the ground a few times and will make more than enough mistakes to make an ordinary Buffalo defense look very good. On the year the Bills have given up 360.3 yards and 21.8 points per game while totaling 25 sacks and 25 turnovers. Feel confident in starting Buffalo’s defense this week against one of the worst offenses in the NFL

Bruno Boys Stars: * * * *

7. (Washington Redskins) at Oakland Raiders

If you base it on Week 13’s results, the Redskins defense would not be rated this high due to Oakland’s offense playing well against a very good Pittsburgh Steelers defense and Washington struggling with the New Orleans Saints . Even with the Raiders playing better with Bruce Gradkowski behind center, Washington plays tough in the secondary and will frustrate the young Oakland receiving core.

The Redskins should be able to create some turnovers against the Raiders and be a worthy starter in all fantasy football formats this week. On the season Washington has allowed 312.0 yards and 19.8 points per game while adding 28 sacks and just 14 turnovers.

Bruno Boys Stars: * * * *

8. (Minnesota Vikings) vs. Cincinnati Bengals

The way to dissect the Minnesota Vikings defense is through the air, where teams can beat their so-so secondary if the quarterback gets enough time to throw downfield. One thing we have seen from Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer is that the team is winning despite his porous numbers, where he has thrown for 224 yards or less and a combined three total touchdowns with three picks in his last five games.

Remember, Palmer’s last three games were against the Oakland Raiders , Cleveland Browns , and Detroit Lions , which means he may not be able to pick apart Minnesota this week. The Bengals will try to keep it on the ground and you can expect the Vikings will do everything to stuff them, forcing Palmer to throw. If this is the case you can expect Minnesota to add to their league leading 40 sacks and force an interception or two. On the year the Vikings have given up 311.4 yards and 19.4 points per game while totaling 40 sacks and 20 turnovers.

Bruno Boys Stars: * * * *

9. (Arizona Cardinals) at San Francisco 49ers  

Against a good offense that seemed nearly unstoppable, the Arizona Cardinals defense played phenomenal in being one of the bigger surprises of the fantasy football season. In Week 13, the San Francisco 49ers opened up their offense with Alex Smith throwing for over 300 yards, but it resulted in a loss. Will the team resort back to the ground against Arizona?

If they do, the Cardinals could end up having the best fantasy day for a defense in Week 14. Look for a mixture of plays out of the 49ers but Arizona to have a solid game, something similar to their Week 13 result. In 2009 the Cardinals have allowed 362.6 yards and 19.5 points per game while adding 35 sacks and 19 turnovers.

Bruno Boys Stars: * * *

10. (New Orleans Saints) at Atlanta Falcons  

How can one defense look so good against a great offense in the New England Patriots but play so poorly versus the Washington Redskins and their mediocre offensive attack? That is a tough question to answer and really there is no way to explain it other than the Saints played up on Monday night but got too relaxed thinking the same thing the experts were when taking on Washington. Now they get to take on their divisional foe in the Atlanta Falcons , who scored 27 points on their defense in their last meeting but the Saints racked up three interceptions and a touchdown en route to a double digit fantasy performance.

The amount of points New Orleans puts up this time will depend on whether both quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Michael Turner play. If they do, this looks like a good ranking, as the Saints defense should put up at least an average day. If both guys don’t play, you may want to elevate this defense into the top five and possibly even higher. Either way, you are going to want to start this unit because of how aggressive they are and how many turnovers the Falcons have on offense this season. This year the Saints defense has given up 343.9 yards and 20.9 points per game with 26 sacks and a whopping 36 turnovers. 

Bruno Boys Stars: * * *

11. (Miami Dolphins) at Jacksonville Jaguars  

Well the Dolphins didn’t light up the scoreboard on defense versus the New England Patriots last week, they made some key stops and forced a couple turnovers while putting together an average afternoon. This season Miami has yet topost a negative fantasy football day to their defense, meaning they should always be considered especially when they face struggling offenses.

The Jacksonville Jaguars can score some points, but Miami has the personnel that can force the ball into David Garrard’s hands, which could result in a big day for the Dolphins defense. As long as their young corners do not allow the receivers a lot of separation, Miami can have a big game or at least a type of performance that will result in a good start. On the season the Dolphins have allowed 349.9 yards and 24.7 points per game while adding 35 sacks and 16 turnovers.

Bruno Boys Stars: * * *

12. (New England Patriots) vs. Carolina Panthers

New England’s defense sure didn’t show up last week against the Miami Dolphins after being blown out by the New Orleans Saints . The Patriots only forced one turnover in a subpar game on Sunday. Things could get better though against the Carolina Panthers , whose turnovers have really hurt their offense and considering how strong their running game is, it’s surprising they do not stick to the ground more. No matter what the score, Carolina’s struggles in the passing game should show they simply need to pound the ground the majority of the game.

Since the Panthers won’t do that the New England Patriot s should take advantage of a turnover prone passing attack and have a good fantasy day.On the year the Patriots have allowed 321.9 yards and 18.7 points per game while adding 20 sacks and 24 turnovers. New England should be able to force multiple turnovers in this game and be a good play against a struggling Panthers offense this week. 

Bruno Boys Stars: * * *

13. (Philadelphia Eagles) at New York Giants  

After a soft schedule boosted the point totals of the Eagles defense to start the year, the team has kept their strong play going by continuing to rack up solid games. While New York may have gotten out of their recent funk by putting some points on the board against the Dallas Cowboys , their offense still makes too many mistakes and gives defenses a chance to have good fantasy days.

Philadelphia loves throwing pressure packages at times and that won’t change with the Giants, who may not be able to handle the blitz which could force Eli Manning into making bad decisions. This season the Eagles have allowed 304.1 yards and 19.6 points per game while totaling 33 sacks and 28 turnovers. While the opponent is tough, the Eagles always play good defense and that shouldn’t change this week.

Bruno Boys Stars: * * *

14. (San Diego Chargers) at Dallas Cowboys  

What has happened to the San Diego Chargers defense? After putting up two straight double digit fantasy outings, they were a complete disappointment to fantasy footbal l owners in scoring three total fantasy points (in standard leagues) last week. Now they get to take on a tough offense that has shown flashes of brilliance at times but been completely putrid in other moments.

It’s really tough to decipher which defense we may see on Sunday, but you can expect the Chargers to at least be in the positive side of things, likely being average if anything else. Expect a solid, yet unspectacular, showing from a Chargers defense that has helped San Diego win seven games in a row On the year the Chargers have allowed 322.3 yards and 20.3 points per game with 30 sacks and 20 turnovers.

Bruno Boys Stars: * * *

15. (Oakland Raiders) vs. Washington Redskins  

Believe it or not the Raiders defense could be a sneaky play in Week 14. Oakland has played good defense at times in 2009 and they shutdown the reigning Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers until halfway through the 4th quarter last Sunday. Meanwhile the Washington Redskins may have awakened from out of their shell against the New Orleans Saints , but not enough to consistently be a dangerous offense.

The Raiders should be able to frustrate the Redskins wide receivers with strong coverage and as long as the defensive line can keep the pressure on quarterback Jason Campbell , Oakland could end up being the surprise strong play of the week. This year the Raiders have given up 378.9 yards and 23.5 points per game with 25 sacks and 18 turnovers. Sometimes in the fantasy playoffs you need to roll the dice and this is a defense you may be able to do that with in Week 14. 

Bruno Boys Stars: * * *