Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 7 defense and special teams

New Orleans beat Detroit 52-38 last week, but both D/STs finished among the top ten NFL fantasy units. Does that mean we should start ‘em in Week 7?

NFL defenses scored 88 points last week, which translated into some big NFL fantasy D/ST point totals. New Orleans made it three games in a row they finished as a top-three unit, taking the top spot with a fantasy league-best 32-points. It marks the second time this season that a D/ST scored more points than any offensive player. Houston scored a 7th best 22 points, while the Giants, Rams, and Ravens tied for the 11th-highest NFL fantasy score with 20 points each. 

Will that force me to start any of ‘em? Let’s see: 

Start these guys: New Orleans at GB 

It’s one big party in New Orleans as they look to extend their winning streak to four games. Sacks and turnovers have helped the Saints during their outstanding run of D/ST top-three finishes. With a young quarterback making his first start behind an injured offensive line, look for the party to continue at least one more week. 

Sit these guys: Los Angeles Rams vs ARI 

Adrian Peterson creates enough bedlam in the running game to open things up again for fellow elder statesmen Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald. The savvy veterans teach the young Rams defense a thing or two in what is shaping up to be an offensive contest in California. 

Start these guys: New York Giants vs SEA 

Inspired by their revamped offense and happy about the return of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Giants continue their return to 2016 form against the suspect offensive line of Seattle and their pack of rushers. The Giants are using the ‘no one believes in us’ mantra to great effect and will shut down the Seahawks in New Jersey Sunday. 

Sit these guys: Cincinnati Bengals at PIT 

Cincinnati has played strong defense all season. They rank among the top ten D/ST units in fantasy points allowed to running backs, wide receivers, and quarterbacks. But they are about to run into a buzz saw in Pittsburgh. Antonio Brown’s 51-yard touchdown catch and run toward the end of last week’s game served notice that Ben Roethlisberger and Brown are about ready to join Le’Veon Bell in a reprise of some unstoppable offensive efforts. It has not been too common to have all three players on the field but when it happens, no defense can stop them. Not even the Bengals’ top ten unit coming off a bye week. 

Start these guys: Miami Dolphins vs NYJ 

Jets players are still talking about the overturned touchdown play that may or may not have cost them a victory over New England last week. Miami just upset the Atlanta Falcons, shutting down another high-powered offense along the way. Miami owns a top ten fantasy defense against quarterbacks, wide receivers, and running backs. It won’t be as easy to move the ball against the Dolphins as it was against the Patriots, and to be honest, the Jets didn’t move it very well when they had to against New England. The Jets will have to be on top of their game to score in Miami. If they are distracted, the Dolphins will assuredly be a top-five D/ST this week. 

Sit these guys: Kansas City Chiefs vs OAK

This is just a hunch and because crazy things happen on Thursday nights. Derek Carr got past his first game with broken bones in his back all right. He will be looser and more in form against Kansas City. This will be the breakout game for Amari Cooper as the Oakland offense attacks all game in a bid for the upset. The Chiefs might win the game, but they get no turnovers, no sacks, and not enough points to make me start ‘em. 

Week 7 flash in the pan prediction

Chicago’s defense finally came up with a multi-turnover game last week… and they liked it. The Mitchell Trubisky effect continues as the defense shocks Cam Newton and the Panthers with four turnovers and three sacks while containing Newton to the tune of 17 points. Whether Trubisky and the offense can score more than that is to be determined, but the Bears’ D/ST total of 15 points makes them a top-five unit in Week 7. 

Full disclosure: about last week:

I don’t want to talk about it. How can two teams score 90 points and wind up as the #1 and #6 D/ST? That’s just crazy. Overall, that made me good on only 2-of-6 predictions last week, with Chicago’s #7 finish and Kansas City’s #22 proving correct.  

While I try to heal my ego after last week’s D/ST predictions, why don’t you send any NFL fantasy questions you have to [email protected] we’ll post the answer in our weekly NFL fantasy Mailbag each Wednesday.

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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.