In Week 5, the Cincinnati Bengals were the top defensive unit, thanks to a quarterback fumble returned for a touchdown and an interception returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter by the Miami Dolphins. A couple of defenses we expected to be good finally had good games: Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. There were a total of eight D/ST touchdowns by seven teams, so there were good choices for everyone in a ten or twelve team league, but did we make the right calls. In my six leagues that use the D/ST position, Jacksonville was my worst start, but it’s hard to carry two defenses or drop a D/ST like Jacksonville, luckily the start didn’t hurt me.
This week there are some teams with great matchups and other teams with matchups that are usable. Someone will always surprise by Sunday night, but my picks for D/ST in Week 6 are below followed by IDP players to target from these same matchups. Good luck in Week 6!
Minnesota Vikings vs Arizona Cardinals ($3,800 – DK / $4,600 – FD)
The Vikings are coming off of a good defensive performance Week 5 on the road against the Eagles which included 3 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries and a touchdown by defensive tackle Linval Joseph. This week the Vikings are at home and welcome the Arizona Cardinals to town. The Cardinals, have three offensive linemen on the injury report, all three getting in limited practices on Friday. This is a less than stellar line when healthy and will struggle to protect rookie quarterback Josh Rosen in only his second start. The Vikings are relatively healthy on defense, but will be without starting safety Andrew Sendejo, and continue to be without defensive end Everson Griffen who is having mental health issues. However the Vikings will have more than enough fire power for a successful fantasy outing against these Cardinals. I would expect multiple sacks and turnovers for the Vikings defense this week.
Houston Texans vs Buffalo Bills ($3,500 – DK / $4,700 – FD)
The Texans have ten sacks over their last three games and Jadeveon Clowney has finally looked healthy over the last two weeks, following a back injury earlier in the season. The Bills are on the road in Houston following their second win, but are turning the ball over on approximately 14% of their drives and struggle to protect their quarterback, Josh Allen. This is not a good thing facing Clowney and J.J. Watt on the road. I would expect both Clowney and Watt to record at least one sack and for the Texans to win the turnover battle this week. A defensive touchdown is a strong possibility if Allen is unable to protect the ball when under pressure and an improving secondary is ripe to intercept Allen at least once this week making Houston my favorite D/ST start in Week 6.
Dallas Cowboys vs Jacksonville Jaguars ($2,300 – DK / $4,100 – FD)
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles is coming off of a four interception performance in Week 5 and while not likely to repeat the performance in back to back weeks, he could be pressing after the Jaguars slow start. I added Jacksonville backup quarterback, Cody Kessler, as a speculative add in my Superflex Dynasty league this week wondering if Jacksonville will make a quarterback change if things don’t turn around soon. I view Dallas as an average floor with upside this week. David Irving returns at defensive tackle for Dallas, and while likely on a snap count, he will be a big boost to Dallas’ defensive line in adding consistent pressure on the opponent’s offense. Linebacker Sean Lee is still out for Dallas, but the young group of linebackers have gotten better each week. I expect this to be a fairly low scoring game with the win going to whichever defense makes the bigger impact. Either team is capable of a defensive touchdown with playmakers on both sides. Dallas defensive end, DeMarcus Lawrence is half a sack behind the league leaders and the Dallas secondary has played well in recent weeks. Dallas is likely not the first choice of D/ST streamers this week, but should be a safe bet to put positive points on the board.
I also like these D/ST as starts this week: Chicago Bears, NY Jets, LA Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens.
Sheldon Richardson (DT/Vikings)
Richardson has played well this season for the Vikings. He only has one sack, but the Cardinals are especially vulnerable up the middle. Their expected starting center is out for the season and rookie third round draft choice Mason Cole was the next man up. Cole has a PFF grade of average thus far this season, and has likely not faced the talent level the Vikings provide in Richardson and Linval Joseph.
Budda Baker (S/Cardinals)
Baker has had both 10 and 16 tackle performances over the last three games. Thus far this season, Minnesota has been a passing heavy team and why not with Thielen and Diggs available to throw to. Baker should benefit with another high tackle performance trying to stop the Vikings receivers this week.
J.J. Watt (DE/Texans)
J.J. Watt is tied with his brother and Geno Atkins for the league lead in sacks with six. He should add to his total this week facing a Buffalo team with few weapons for rookie quarterback Josh Allen to throw to. Allen has also shown the ability to run, but this should play into Watt’s strength if Allen comes to his side and add some extra stats to his totals this week.
Tre’Davious White (CB/Bills)
White should have numerous opportunities with as many targets as Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins gets. This will many times lead to at least a tackle, but expect passes defended to add to White’s stat totals this week as Hopkins is force fed the ball.
Jaylon Smith (LB/Cowboys)
Smith had a bit of a coming out party on Sunday Night Football in Week 5 with 12 tackles and a sack. It seems he is all the way back from the devastating injury he suffered in college that cost him his rookie season in the NFL. The Jaguars don’t run the ball a lot, but they do like to pass the ball to running back T.J. Yeldon and Smith will likely be in coverage. Quarterback Blake Bortles also likes to take off and Smith has the speed to track him down. I expect another good week from Jaylon Smith on his journey to become one of the best middle linebackers in the league.
Yannick Ngakoue (DE/Jaguars)
Ngakoue has gotten off to a slow start this season, but does have a sack in each of the last two games. Dallas left tackle Tyron Smith if vulnerable has been vulnerable to the speed rush, giving up two sacks to Jadeveon Clowney last week. Ngakoue doesn’t provide many other stats, but is a good bet to continue his current sack streak to three games.
Against the Grain
Miami Dolphins vs Chicago Bears
After quarterback Ryan Tannehill gave up back to back touchdowns and the game to the Cincinnati Bengals last week, Chicago owners must have been licking their chops looking ahead to the matchup this week. There is a chance Dolphin left tackle Laremy Tunsil will not make it out of the concussion protocol in time for the game this week, and that makes Chicago an even more inviting option. However, are the Dolphins also worthy of a D/ST start. Outside of a six touchdown aberration from Mitchell Trubisky in Week 4 what do the Bears have the Dolphins would fear. I think the Dolphins secondary lead by Reshad Jones will also make the Dolphins a decent start. Defensive End, Cameron Wake has been ruled out, so the Dolphins may struggle to put pressure on Trubisky this week, but are good enough in coverage to make some plays. The Dolphins defensive coordinator will need to be creative with pressure this week and get Jones and Fitzpatrick involved in rushing the passer. If they can frustrate Trubisky early it may lead to turnovers. While a riskier start, I would choose the Dolphins over a third of the teams in the NFL this week.