Start ‘em, sit ‘em: Week 1 D/ST

Some teams seem primed for a great week… and some not so much. Check and see if your D/ST should start or sit.

So, you drafted last year’s top defense and are feeling pretty good about it. Well, maybe you should consider streaming someone else this week. Keep reading to see why we would even think of such a thing.

START THESE GUYS: Atlanta Falcons (at Chicago)

Atlanta has been the talk of a lot of NFL fantasy shows as a potential sleeper D/ST. What better way to keep that conversation going than by starting the season against a one-dimensional team in disarray? The Falcons will sell out against Chicago’s Jordan Howard and still make life miserable for Mike Glennon.

Atlanta defense: 13 points allowed, 285 total yards, no sacks, three interceptions, one fumble recovery, DST-touchdown (kick return)  

SIT THESE GUYS: Minnesota Vikings (vs. New Orleans)

Minnesota came out of the gate strong last season and then hung on over the last few weeks to finish as the top-ranked NFL fantasy D/ST. This group looked a bit suspect in the preseason, picking up where they left off at the end of last year instead of regrouping. New Orleans has too many weapons to consider this a good play. 

Minnesota defense: 38 points allowed, 452 total yards, one sack.

START THESE GUYS: Carolina Panthers (at San Francisco)

With a couple of key acquisitions (Julius Peppers, Mike Adams) and a healthy Luke Kuechly, Carolina is back among the best NFL fantasy D/STs. This week they go against Mike Shanahan’s new offense. Carolina will confuse the 49ers younger players and hit their slower players. Hoyer will be rushed all day and that will lead to mistakes.  

Carolina defense: 13 points allowed, 279 total yards, three sacks, one INT, one fumble recovery

SIT THESE GUYS: Kansas City Chiefs (at New England)

Kansas City was the aggregate D/ST2 in NFL fantasy drafts this weekend, but it’s not their fault they start the season in New England. No one on the Patriots’ team is allowed to talk about it, but ten years after they just missed perfection, New England is determined to do it again. A big showing against a top defense is as good a way to start things off as any. Bill Belichick will devise a way to over-extend the Chiefs backfield and Tom Brady will pick it apart. 

Kansas City defense: 31 points allowed, 369 total yards, no sacks, no INT, one fumble recovery 

START THESE GUYS: Cincinnati Bengals (vs Ravens)

The Bengals’ defense is chomping at the bit to get their swagger back. Even without Vontaze Burfict, they will take advantage of a stiff-backed quarterback and an unimpressive rushing attack and take it to the Ravens. If the Ravens’ defense can’t keep it from becoming a rout, there is a risk of garbage time, but we’ll take it. 

Cincinnati defense: six points allowed, 232 total yards, three sacks, two INT, one fumble recovery

SIT THESE GUYS: Arizona Cardinals (at Detroit)

That’s right. We’re suggesting you sit the number one, number two and number four NFL fantasy D/ST’s from 2016. And we mean it. Arizona is traditionally one of the steadiest D/STs out there with a good pass rush to counter Matt Stafford’s costly passing attack. But Detroit is one of the stingiest offenses when it comes to D/ST points allowed, so we have a conflict. I think the Cardinals rush defense only allows the Lions’ backs to take more check downs on the way to a big day in Detroit. 

Arizona defense: 27 points allowed, 402 total yards, one sack

Too-easy-to-write-about top three

Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Pittsburgh Steelers

Week 1 flash in the pan prediction

Miami completely stymies the Tampa Bay passing game with multiple interceptions and a defensive score. (13 points, 301 yards, three sacks, three INT, Def TD)

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Pat Opperman


Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.