Welcome to Crunch-Time.
It is almost a Gambler's Fallacy to think that a win or loss at this point of the season is any more important than a win or loss early in the season. I guess you didn't watch the last week of the MLB season this year huh? You have no time to recover from a loss at this point in the season.
Here is the deal: If your fantasy football team has a win-loss record between 3-6 and 5-4, you need to win this week. You probably need to win every week. Sure, a team with five wins has an advantage over a team with only three, but until you have eight or nine wins, nothing is assured.
You cannot win your league if you do not make the playoffs. And as I said above, wins are huge at this point of the season. Say you are playing the team that is one game ahead of you in your division. If you win, you are now tied. If you lose, you are now two games behind with only three or four games left.
At this point in the season, it will be very difficult to make massive changes to your roster. You can try, but it will be very tough. So you need get every last point out of the players who are available to you. Yep, I am talking about maximizing the points you get from your kicker and defense this week.
Lets say in Week 9 you started Rob Bironas as your kicker and the Chiefs DST as your team defense. In "standard leagues" you got ZERO POINTS from those two. Meanwhile, your opponent started David Akers as his kicker and the Cardinals DST as his team defense. Your opponent got 34 points from his defense and kicker. That is a 34-point swing against you.
Most people get the advice about kickers and defenses wrong. The advice is to ignore kickers and defenses during your DRAFT. That is because it is almost impossible to predict the performance of kickers and defenses. Once we have eight weeks of data to look at, we absolutely can place a higher value on these positions.
Before we go any further, a word on team defenses. Every league tends to have their own scoring systems for DSTs. Here are the basic scoring settings I am talking about for this article:
- You accrue points for sacks, interceptions, fumbles, turnovers, safeties, blocks and touchdowns
- You accrue points for special teams touchdowns
- You can gain or lose points based on points allowed
- Yards allowed are not factored into the scoring
Check your league's scoring settings. You should know this already, but you would be amazed at what you miss sometimes. Pay attention to any thresholds for points or yards allowed. Note the difference between what sacks and interceptions are worth.
If you have one of the top DSTs in your league, you are probably starting them this week. These DSTs include:
- RAVENS (@ SEA)
- 49ERS (vs NYG)
- LIONS (@ CHI)
- COWBOYS (vs BUF)
- TEXANS (@ TB)
If you do not have one of these options, you need to find another way to go. And scoring five points is not going to get it done. We have to swing for the fences. We need to win this week, remember? So here is what I am looking for in a DST this week:
- A team that can pile up sacks against a team that allows a lot of sacks
- A team going up against a turnover-prone QB
- A team with an excellent kick/punt return game
I don't really get hung up on points allowed. I might try to avoid a game that looks to be a shootout. But then again, those games often provide the greatest number of opportunities for sacks and turnovers. Here are some options I like for my DST in Week 10.
- CHARGERS (vs OAK)
- JAGUARS (@ IND)
- EAGLES (vs ARI)
- RAMS (@ CLE)
As a bonus, if your league heavily incorporates points or yards allowed by your DST, consider adding the DOLPHINS (vs WAS). John Beck has been a disaster for the Redskins and they have only scored 11 points combined in their last two games. Beck might not turn the ball over much, but he won't move the ball much either. You've got a good chance for a low-scoring game with a bunch of sacks.
Now for your kicker. Choosing a kicker is not quite an exact science. And that is putting it kindly. Sometimes it seems like every two seconds a kicker is attempting ANOTHER field goal. Then you have kickers who you swear haven't attempted a field goal in weeks.
At the end of the day, you're just going to take your best guess. We are talking about predicting the future here. But there are a few ways that you can try to maximize your chances of selecting the correct kicker each week:
- We are looking for a kicker who kicks for a good offense. You cannot assume that just because a team has a mediocre offense they will kick more field goals because they do not score touchdowns.
- And that good offense should be going up against at least a halfway decent team and/or defense. A blowout for your offense most likely just means a bunch of extra points for your kicker. One 50 yard field goal is the same as FIVE extra points.
- Kicking in a dome is good.
- Based on his statistics so far this year, you would like your kicker to have a strong enough leg to hit from 50+ yards and you would like him to have been very accurate so far this season.
Here are the kickers that have been good enough this season that I start them every week:
- JOHN KASAY
- MASON CROSBY
- DAN BAILEY
- DAVID AKERS
- NEIL RACKERS
- JASON HANSON
- BILLY CUNDIFF
- NICK NOVAK
Beyond those options, who else can we use in Week 10? Here are some kickers I would start this week:
- NICK FOLK (vs NE)
- ROBBIE GOULD (vs DET)
- DAN CARPENTER (vs WAS)
- RYAN SUCCOP (vs DEN)
- ALEX HENERY (vs ARI)
Thanks for reading. Have anything to add to the discussion? Please use the comments feature below. Questions are welcome, but please be as specific and detailed as possible. Good luck to all of your teams this week.
Follow John on Twitter
Check out John on Bleacher Report