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Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 10 defense & special teams

New Orleans was the top NFL fantasy D/ST this week and have been a top-five unit since Week 3. Does that mean I’ll start ‘em in Week 10?


Defenses have been hit as hard by injuries this season as any offense. As we pass the midway mark, we see how some defenses have adjusted and how others have failed to adjust. Let’s see how that affects which D/STs we will start and sit in Week 10. 

Start these guys: New England at DEN

You had to know New England would not sit pat on the worst defense in football. Matt Patricia and Bill Belichick adjusted to personnel and gameplans. Their latest scheme is a revisit to a 2014 strategy involving rushing linebackers to support their limited defensive line options. Over their last four games, the Patriots moved from the worst NFL fantasy defense to a mid-range D/ST-16. Coming off a bye week against an offense that suddenly can’t run and is looking for answers at quarterback seems like a great opportunity for the Patriots to take the next step.  

Sit these guys: Cincinnati at TEN

Cincinnati’s defense has had a couple of good fantasy performances against weaker offenses. Many fantasy sites are recommending the Bengals as a sleeper against the Tennessee Titans. They feel the Titans running issues make them one-dimensional and a good matchup for Cincinnati. I don’t see it. Marcus Mariota is feeling good and has his full complement of receivers back on the field. The addition of Corey Davis’ long threat makes life easier on the Titans’ other receivers. Tennessee will adjust by passing to open the running game instead of vice versa. Cincinnati will pay the price. 

Start these guys: Buffalo Bills vs NO 

The only thing worse for a dome team than a cold and snowy day is a cold and rainy day. That is what the weather people predict will greet New Orleans in Buffalo in a rare outdoor cold-weather game for the Saints. Drew Brees is 6-11 in temperatures under 50 degrees. On top of that, the Bills’ defense wants to bounce back from their Thursday night performance against the Jets in Week 9. They have ten days to figure things out how to extend their home winning streak. The weather will help Buffalo make the Saints powerful offense look rather pedestrian. 

Sit these guys: Dallas at ATL

Dallas is another defense that has been climbing the charts after a woeful start to the season. They are a top-ten NFL fantasy D/ST over the past four weeks, but they could hit a wall in Week 10. The Falcons see this as a must-win game. Matt Ryan looks like a shell of last year’s MVP quarterback, but he would look better if Julio Jones did not drop the touchdown pass. That won’t happen again. We’re still waiting for the injury report on Devonta Freeman who has an “undisclosed injury” according to the Falcons’ website. But with or without him, the Falcons will be in full attack mode in a probable shootout this Sunday. 

Start these guys: Los Angeles Chargers vs JAC 

Gus Bradley is saying kind things about how happy he is for his former team and the players who are doing well and being rewarded for their hard work. On Sunday, he will direct his Chargers defense to throw everything but the kitchen sink at them. The Chargers’ pass rushers should have their way with the Jaguars’ offensive line. Bortles cannot be trusted at all this week. The volume for Leonard Fournette will allow him to put up numbers, but don’t be surprised if the Chargers shut out the Jaguars. 

Sit these guys: Houston Texans vs LAR 

Houston’s defense who they want to get after first, Jared Goff or Tom Savage. The Houston offense will try to run the ball to keep their defense fresh, but it won’t matter much. The Texans’ suspect secondary will be exposed by Jared Goff and the Rams’ big-play offense. The Rams are not making mistakes and are playing without fear right now. It will be a long day for Houston fans and their D/ST. 

Bonus thoughts

I’m also feeling good about Denver, the Giants, and Chicago. Do not start the Jets against Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buccaneers this week.

Week 10 flash in the pan prediction

Cleveland remains winless after Week 10, but their defense puts up three turnovers and a bunch of sacks to grab a top-ten D/ST ranking.

About last week: mixed pot

I followed up my perfect Week 8 with less-than-stellar choices in Week 9. Half were right, half were wrong. But Week 10 will be back to perfection. Trust me! 

So, there you go. Look for more news and advice every day at RealSport; and if you have questions about NFL fantasy football, send them to us at [email protected] so we can print the answers in Wednesday’s NFL Fantasy Mailbag. 

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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.

Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 10 defense & special teams

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