Getting Defensive

Getting Defensive: Week 7

by Gary Davenport
Updated On: October 18, 2022, 11:16 am ET

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I don't mean to alarm fantasy managers (any more than usual, anyway), but we are living in dangerous and frightening times.

The New York Jets might be good—and the main reason why is the defense.

In Week 6, the Jets went into Lambeau Field and spanked the Green Bay Packers. Yes, you read that sentence right—spanked. And the impetus for that beatdown was a stifling defensive effort. Against the Packers, New York allowed just 278 yards of offense and a single touchdown. The Jets sacked Aaron Rodgers four times, notched a takeaway and blocked a field goal and a punt—the latter of which was returned for a touchdown.

Six games into the season, the Jets are ninth in the league in total defense, and star defensive tackle Quinnen Williams told reporters after the game that the Jets intend to show their stout defense of late is the new rule and not the exception.

"As a defense we're trying to chase perfection," Williams said. "I don't think this was a statement game. It was coming in and doing our job, playing football on Sunday as a unit. As a team the biggest thing for us is execution and communication week in and week out. We know our downfall is when we don't communicate. But when we do 100 percent, all 11 on the field we're a great defense."

The Jets were a top-five fantasy defense in most scoring systems last week, and it wasn't a one-week deal—dating back to the team's three-sack, four-interception effort against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 4, there's only one defense in the league with more fantasy points over the last three games than Gang Green.

Now, the Jets head west to face a reeling Denver Broncos offense that has scored 20 points in a game once, is dead last in the league in scoring and has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to defenses this season.

The New York freaking Jets are a no-doubt fantasy start this week.

Hold me. I'm afraid.

 

THE NO-DOUBTERS

New England Patriots (vs. Chicago Bears)

That defense with more fantasy points than the Jets is the Patriots—a fact that should surprise exactly no one given that New England always fields a good defense and that they have outscored their last two opponents 67-15. Bears quarterback Justin Fields has shown some glimmers of improvement in recent weeks, but the Bears are still 28th in total offense, last in the NFC in scoring offense, sixth in the league with 10 giveaways, tied for first in sacks allowed with 23 and seventh in fantasy points allowed to defenses. Other than that though, this matchup is just OK.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at Carolina Panthers)

If you watched last week's Panthers-Rams game, two things are true. The first is that you are at least somewhat masochistic and your eyes probably still hurt a little. The second is that you need no explanation for why the Buccaneers are a no-brainer start against Carolina this week. The Panthers were dead last in the NFL in total offense before last week's debacle in Los Angeles, and they have somehow figured out a way to become that much worse. Pour one out for Christian McCaffrey and get the Buccaneers in your lineup—after Tampa's ugly loss at Pittsburgh, the Buccaneers are certain to be in the mood to take some frustrations on PJ "Dyno-MITE!" Walker on Sunday.

 

Dallas Cowboys (vs. Detroit Lions)

Remember when we thought there for a second the Lions might actually be improving? Those were fun times. But when last we saw Detroit's offense, they were getting shut out by the Patriots in week 5. Yes, the Lions are still first in the NFC in total offense and scoring offense, and Detroit should have running back D'Andre Swift and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown back for this one. But the Cowboys just held the Philadelphia Eagles under 270 yards of offense, and the team will no doubt be all kinds of fired up for the return of Dak Prescott. This feels like a Trevon Diggs pick-six spot. Just saying.

 

Green Bay Packers (at Washington Commanders)

If you know a Packers fan, give them a hug. Better yet, buy them a bottle of bourbon—they can use that even more. However, while getting embarrassed at home by the Jets was a tough pill to swallow, Week 7 should go down a whole lot easier. The Washington Commanders have allowed 23 sacks—tied for the most in the NFL. They rank 24th in the league in total offense and 29th in scoring offense. The Commanders have also allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to defenses—and that was with Carson Wentz under center. Now it's Taylor Heinicke's show again, and with Heinicke starting 15 games last year Washington was a top-10 fantasy matchup for opposing defenses.

 

Denver Broncos (vs. New York Jets)

The New York Jets are playing well. The Denver Broncos are not. But neither of those truths necessarily has anything to do with this fantasy matchup. The Jets are winning with defense and the run game—last week, Zach Wilson threw for 110 yards. The Broncos, on the other hand, are playing excellent defense—Denver is third in total defense and fourth in scoring defense. So far this season, Wilson has largely avoided the mistakes that plagued his rookie campaign. But that's also because he hasn't been forced to throw the ball. Denver has the defensive talent to make him do that.

 

Baltimore Ravens (vs. Cleveland Browns)

Both the Browns and the team that used to be the Browns had games to forget last week—Cleveland got pounded at home by the New England Patriots, while the Ravens fell on the road to the surprising New York Giants. Of the two teams, the Ravens have a much better shot at rebounding in Week 7. The Browns are starting to unravel on both sides of the ball, with a defense that couldn't stop a Sun Bely\t team putting all kinds of pressure on Jacoby Brissett and the offense to keep up. This isn't a great matchup, but if you've been t\rolling out Baltimore as a low-end weekly starter, this also isn't a matchup to be feared.

Fantasy football guru Matthew Berry has joined the team and his two shows have you covered all season long. Spend weekdays at noon with the Fantasy Football Happy Hour and then, every Sunday at 11am getting ready for kickoff with the Fantasy Football Pregame. Watch both shows live on Peacock and catch replays for the weekday show on the NFL on NBC YouTube channel.

 

STREAMERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!

Indianapolis Colts (at Tennessee Titans)

We've actually already seen this movie once. In the long-ago days of Week 4, the Titans went into Indianapolis and emerged with a 24-17 win. In that game, the Titans got to Matt Ryan three times, picked him off once and recovered a pair of fumbles—numbers that landed Tennessee fifth in fantasy points for the week. For the season, there isn't a team in the AFC that has surrendered more fantasy points per game to defenses than the Titans, and with Tennessee also coming off the bye the team will have had extra time to prepare for a key divisional showdown.

 

Arizona Cardinals (vs. New Orleans Saints)

The Cardinals are struggling as a team, but defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has done a quietly solid job with the team in 2022—Arizona is 12th on the NFL in total offense and seventh against the run. However, this recommendation is a lot less about the Redbirds than the team they are playing. In 2022 the Saints have allowed 15 sacks, turned the ball over 13 times (tied for the most in the NFL) and have surrendered the sixth most fantasy points per game to defenses. That Jameis Winston is expected to be back is probably a good thing—he has reverted to his turnover-prone ways in 2022.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. New York Giants)

This isn't an easy recommendation to make. Last week against the Colts, the Jaguars laid a big fat fantasy egg, allowing 34 points while failing to record any sacks or turnovers—a performance that landed the team in the red in many fantasy scoring systems. But while the Giants are 5-1 and arguably the biggest surprise in the entire NFL this year, they have had that success not because of their 25th-ranked offense but in spite of it. The Jaguars are quietly fielding the third-best run defense in the NFL—if they can force the Giants to the air, a good fantasy stat line should follow.

 

Miami Dolphins (at Pittsburgh Steelers)

Given all that has happened over the past few weeks, it's hard to believe that the Miami Dolphins were the last undefeated team in the AFC—after winning three straight to open the campaign, injuries under center have sent the Dolphins into a three-game skid. However, Tua Tagovailoa is expected back Sunday night, which should take some pressure off Miami's defense. The Dolphins also draw a Pittsburgh Steelers team in week 7 that has given up the fourth-most fantasy points to defenses, turned the ball over nine times and allowed 13 sacks.

 

Kansas City Chiefs (at San Francisco 49ers)

When last we saw the Kansas City defense, they were struggling mightily to contain Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills. When last we saw the San Francisco 49ers offense, they were turning the ball over three times and scoring just 14 points on the way to making the Atlanta Falcons a top-three fantasy defense in Week 6. This isn't to say that the Chiefs will have that sort of day. Or that Kansas City will score a defensive touchdown. But the Chiefs have a tendency to dictate game script, and the Niners just aren't a team built to air it out and compete in shootouts.

 

CAVEAT EMPTOR, FOLKS

San Francisco 49ers (vs. Kansas City Chiefs)

The 49ers are a great defensive football team—San Francisco ranks first in total defense, second against the pass, second against the run, second in points allowed, second in the NFL with 23 sacks and first among all team defenses in fantasy points. But last week against the Falcons, that defense sprung a leak or two—largely because of injuries to players like edge-rusher Nick Bosa and cornerback Emmanuel Moseley. Now that shorthanded defense has to try to shut down the NFL's highest-scoring offense. A down Week 7 appears a lot more likely than a big one.

 

Have a question about a team defense not listed here? Hit me up on Twitter at @IDPSharks and I'll make like a Magic 8-Ball.

Gary Davenport

Gary Davenport is a Senior Staff Writer at Fantasy Sharks, an NFL and Fantasy Football Analyst at Bleacher Report and a contributing author and Associate Editor at Football Diehards. A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Gary was the winner of the 2017 and 2019 FSWA awards for Football Writer of the Year. You can follow Gary on Twitter @IDPSharks.