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NFL Fantasy Week 1: Start ‘em, sit ‘em – Defense/ST

Atlanta’s defense quietly finished the 2017 NFL season as a top ten unit by yardage and points allowed. But they were a lousy NFL Fantasy D/ST. Why? Not enough turnovers.

New England’s defense gave up mega-yards to opposing offenses but was up a top-ten NFL Fantasy D/ST over the last three quarters. Why? Sacks and turnovers.

Therein lies the clue as to what NFL teams you want to put on your NFL Fantasy roster each week. Some are obvious. If you have Baltimore (vs Buffalo) or Jacksonville (at NY Giants), there is no need to read on. But here are some other options for fans streaming D/STs or just wondering about their roster choice.

Start these guys: Detroit Lions (vs NY Jets)

Matt Patricia hasn’t had enough time to transform the Lions’ defense into his vision. In fact, Detroit looked downright unimpressive at times in the preseason. But sometimes, the ability of a D/ST is only part of the equation.

Sam Darnold didn’t beat out Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown for the starting quarterback job as much as he showed enough positives to prompt the Jets to kick off the Darnold Era. He is a rookie making his debut in front of a national television audience on the road inside a loud dome. Also, Darius Slay.

Sit these guys: Chicago Bears (at Packers)

Chicago’s defense is going to be fun to watch. They are also going to be an NFL Fantasy D/ST worth playing. They come off a D/ST-9 season a year ago and added Khalil Mack to their roster.

But Aaron Rodgers is on a mission to take advantage of his third-place schedule and bring the Packers to a Super Bowl. He is also deceptively elusive, which should offset the sack-potential of the Bears. There are no D/ST points awarded for quarterback hits.

Start these guys: Los Angeles Chargers (vs Chiefs)

To some astute NFL Fantasy owners, this may seem like an obvious start. However, there are quite a few people sitting the Chargers defense against the explosive offense of the Kansas City Chiefs.

That would be the offense led by Patrick Mahomes, another young quarterback who can be pushed into mistakes by the right defense. The Chargers have such a defense. They finished with the sixth-highest total of sacks and interceptions last season. Expect them to pick right up where they left off in 2018.

Sit these guys: Houston Texans (at Patriots)

Despite my master plan to draft the Vikings and Chargers in every draft, I somehow wound up with Houston in two of my ten leagues. Thus, I have to stream another team against Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Houston is a good defense. I will run them out there most other weeks. But I fully expect Tom Brady to put any concerns about wide receiver depth to rest and rack up the higher score in an offensive slug fest.

Start these guys: Denver Broncos (vs Seattle)

Denver finished 2017 as the 20th-ranked D/ST in NFL Fantasy. In the offseason, they added a running back and wide receiver in the draft and signed a free agent quarterback to help. Make sense? There is only so much a defense can do when the offense keeps going three-and-out on the wrong side of the field.

The Broncos’ defense is as energized by the new Broncos offense as anybody else. I expect them to return to form against a Seattle team still putting an offensive line together. Denver’s D/ST makes a statement and rewards the NFL Fantasy owners who drafted them as a top-ten unit.

Sit these guys: Tennessee Titans (at Dolphins)

In all my preseason previews and prediction articles, I explained how the Miami Dolphins would come out on fire to start the season, raising worst-to-first discussions galore, before crushing their fans souls with a total fade in the winter months.

Ryan Tannehill looks good. It helps that he has great protection up front (at least in the preseason). Kenny Stills, Danny Amendola, and Albert Wilson are an underrated receiver group. I am not completely sold on Kenyon Drake, but that’s okay. Miami rolls it up against what is supposed to be an improved Tennessee defense.

Bonus points

Every NFL team thinks they have a better defense than last season. Even Cincinnati beat writers think the Bengals could surprise some folks. Andrew Luck will get yards, but I find the Bengals interesting against a weak offensive line and a rookie running back.

Arizona set a record for preseason forced-turnovers, but Alex Smith doesn’t throw interceptions and Adrian Peterson doesn’t fumble. Hold off on streaming the Cardinals against the Redskins this week.

Speaking of questionable offensive lines, can the 49ers harass Kirk Cousins enough to make them worth a play? Sounds like a good sleeper D/ST to me.

Got questions about who else to sit or start? Write them in the comments below or post them to my Facebook page. I’ll answer them as soon as I see them.