Week 10’s D/ST scoring saw Pittsburgh lead the way followed closely by Green Bay, Buffalo, Chicago and Kansas City. There were no real surprises among this group, but the biggest surprise of the week had to be the NY Jets finishing third from the bottom against a Matt Barkley, who had been with the Bills less than two weeks, led Buffalo team. Seven D/ST’s scored in double digits in ESPN’s basic defensive scoring. In Week 11, the number will be smaller.
Week 11, outside of unexpected defensive or special team’s touchdowns, doesn’t have many great matchups on paper. It definitely brings tough choices to those who have been streaming and haven’t settled on a defense or two for the stretch run. Among my picks, two are probably owned in the majority of leagues and the other was probably one of the top pickups of the current week. There are a few others I have some confidence in this week and they will be listed below. Also, if you are looking for an IDP add this week keep scrolling and best of luck in the playoff push to solidify or keep your fantasy season alive.
Houston Texans @ Washington Redskins ($2,600 – DK / $4,700 – FD)
The Texans arrive in Week 11 with the sixth best defense against the run. Washington arrives one spot better with the fifth best defense against the run. If these stats hold up, the teams should turn to the pass where the Texans should have the advantage. Washington has already ruled out left tackle Trent Williams which will benefit Jadeveon Clowney. Washington is also down two other starters from the unit who started the season, and though quarterback Alex Smith doesn’t give up many negative plays, he will be dealing with a lot of pressure from the Texans’ defensive unit this week. Washington is also thinking about giving a start to “Mr. Irrelevant” Trey Quinn at the slot receiver position and moving another recent starter, Maurice Harris, from the slot to the outside. With all of these uncertainties and injuries for Washington the Houston Texans should be a quality start this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Jacksonville Jaguars ($2,900 – DK / $3,800 – FD)
I haven’t looked back to 2017 to see how the Steelers D/ST fared points wise in fantasy leagues, but on the field they didn’t fare well in either game against the Jaguars. Times have changed for Jacksonville though they may have a little more hope with Leonard Fournette back in the lineup. I’d still bet on the Steelers defense to have another quality D/ST start among many this season. The Steelers are fourth against the run and should limit Fournette. They are only nineteenth against the pass however, and could give up some garbage time yards to quarterback Blake Bortles this week. I think the Steelers will do enough early in the game to warrant the start as they look to assert themselves as the second best team in the AFC behind the Kansas City Chiefs.
Arizona Cardinals vs Oakland Raiders ($3,100 – DK / $4,000 – FD)
All D/STs playing the Raiders have performed well since the Amari Cooper trade and this week will be no different. Despite the Cardinals record sitting at 2-7 their defense has played well in an impossible situation this season as the offense has struggled mightily. The Raiders have given up eleven sacks over these last two games and the Cardinals should add to that total. Another interesting statistic is the Cardinals are dead last in the NFL in offensive plays per game at 55.7, but 23rd in defensive plays per game which means they are getting off the field despite having to defend more often than other teams and their pass defense ranks fifth best in the league. The Raiders who are leading the race for the number one pick in next spring’s draft should continue to lead after another solid performance from the Arizona defense.
I also have some confidence in the Carolina Panthers (with Marvin Jones ruled out for Detroit and Golden Tate having been traded away), Washington Redskins, LA Chargers, Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints.
Kareem Jackson (S/Texans)
Houston is good against the run and should be able to force Washington to have to throw for the majority of the game this week and Kareem Jackson is Houston’s best IDP player whether he is playing corner or safety. Alex Smith is relatively safe with the ball, so I wouldn’t expect an interception on Jackson’s part, but his tackles in the secondary should put him near the team lead this week.
HaHa Clinton-Dix (S/Redskins)
HaHa’s trade to Washington has made him a more relevant IDP player in fantasy. His tackle numbers have gone up and he should lead Washington’s secondary this week in tackles. The Texans are a good matchup for him this week because Houston should also be forced to throw with Washington’s defense bottling up the running game.
Jon Bostic (LB/Steelers)
In Leonard Fournette’s return to action last week, he averaged only 2.2 yards per carry, yet still carried the ball 24 times and added 5 receptions. Jon Bostic is Pittsburgh’s best tackle producer against the run this year and with Jacksonville’s willingness to stick with Fournette regardless of production, Bostic should have many opportunities this week to stand out in IDP formats.
Jalen Ramsey (C/Jaguars)
Ramsey has been quieter this season as the Jaguars have struggled to a 3-6 record. His PFF grade has suffered with the overall downturn of the defense — moving from “elite” to “above average”. Fortunately, PFF grades have little to do with Fantasy IDP production. The Steelers throw often every week and Ramsey is likely to cover Antonio Brown a lot this week, which will give him many opportunities to accumulate fantasy stats.
Chandler Jones (DE/Cardinals)
The Oakland Raiders offense has given up eleven sacks over the last two games and Chandler Jones is Arizona’s best pass rusher. This means he is likely to at least achieve one sack this week if not more and he will also be active on the end if Oakland’s running backs should look to run outside.
Maurice Hurst Jr. (DT/Raiders)
Hurst was once expected to be a high draft pick in the 2018 draft, but medical concerns dropped him all the way to the 5th round where the Raiders pulled the trigger and took a chance on him. He had a slow start to the season, but of late has possibly been the Raiders best defensive lineman. The Arizona Cardinals offensive line currently grades out as the worst line in the NFL by PFF, and Hurst will be lining up across from one of the worst of the bunch which should allow him to get into the backfield and make plays often.
Against the Grain
I’ll go against my own grain this week and look ahead to Week 12. There should be available teams on your waiver wires with excellent matchups. Baltimore perhaps has the best matchup outside of the Chicago Bears, but there are others. Cleveland, New England, San Francisco and Miami (only if Ryan Tannehill returns) are all teams that may be available.