DEFENSIVE TRENDS TO TARGET/AVOID THROUGH THE FIRST QUARTER OF THE SEASON
This NFL season has been one of the least predictable ones to date. Two Dolphins receivers place in the top five at the position, Christian McCaffrey has failed to hit 17 PPR points in 75% of his games so far and Tyler Higbee leads all tight ends in targets. Hardly any of the guys drafted in the first three rounds have seen real consistency and start/sit decisions have become harder than ever. However, looking forward to the second quarter of the season, and beyond, we can start to put together some information regarding defenses that can help with some of your fantasy dilemmas.
Dolphins Pass Defense:
It has now been three weeks in a row where the Miami secondary has let up at least 287 pass yards. The only time they prevented a quarterback from hitting this mark this year was week one against Mac Jones, and he even went for over 200 yards. According to the NFL website, the Dolphins have given up the second most pass yards in the league and are tied fifth in passing touchdowns given up. In addition to this, Tua Tagovailoa is dealing with injury problems which will likely cause the average length of Miami’s offensive drives to fall, meaning more opportunities for the opposing offense. Unless the Dolphins make some major tactical adjustments to their secondary, I can see them continuing to give up a lot of production through the air. This bodes well for streaming options such as Kirk Cousins and Jared Goff over the coming weeks. Zach Wilson and Kenny Pickett also have the opportunity to kick start their seasons against this Dolphins secondary and could be cheap, high upside DFS options in weeks five and seven respectively.
Bears Run Defense:
Although I wrote about this in the first article of this series, after week one, I think it’s important we discuss it again a few weeks later. Simply put, the Bears run defense has been horrendous. Week one they gave up 115 rushing yards to 49ers running backs and have not improved since then. Week two Aaron Jones ran all over them on his way to 132 yards on the ground. Not just that, but he did it on just 15 carries which translates to 8.8 yards per carry. In week three, Dameon Pierce went for 80 yards, and most recently, in week four Saquon Barkley sliced the Bears defense up for 146. According to the NFL, the Bears have given up the most rushing yards (45 more than any other team), the tied-third most YPC and the tied-fifth most rushing touchdowns. To add on to all of this, I really don’t expect the Bears to be leading many games going forward, meaning the opposing team will be more inclined to run the ball. In the next few weeks I encourage starting running backs who play against Chicago – including Dalvin Cook, Rhamondre Stevenson, Damien Harris, Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.
Bills Pass Defense:
It seems there is a no fly zone over the city of Buffalo this year, as the Bills have given up the least amount of passing yards in the league (42 less than any other team), the tied-second least passing touchdowns and have secured the tied-most interceptions. Even crazier than these stats is that they’ve given up less than ten points per game to quarterbacks so far this year, which includes games against Tua Tagovailoa and Lamar Jackson. The Bills pass defense has held Lamar, Tua and Ryan Tannehill to their worst performances of the season and intercepted Matt Stafford three times in one game. This should come as no surprise as the Bills defense is stacked with talent, despite losing Tre White and Micah Hyde to injury. You’re obviously starting Patrick Mahomes every week (despite him playing the Bills in week six), however there is no world where you should be starting Pickett this upcoming week against this defense and I would probably avoid starting Rodgers in week eight against them as well. I would also be wary of wide receivers from these teams, such as Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Juju Smith-Schuster, MVS, Romeo Doubs and Allen Lazard (most of whom are sit-able), in upcoming matchups against the Bills.