Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 9 Defense & Special teams

What D/ST do you stream when no one is playing the Browns this week? There are a few other options in Week 9.

With some big defenses on bye this week, who else can you trust to put up worthy streaming fantasy numbers in Week 9? The answers might surprise you. 

Start these guys: San Francisco 49ers (vs AZ)

Arizona starts Drew Stanton this week. With the bye week to prepare, the Cardinals have surely tweaked their offense to cover for some of his deficiencies and give Adrian Peterson more room to run. It might not make a difference against a motivated 49ers team who sees this week’s home game as their best opportunity to win a game. And remember, they only lost their first five games by one score or less.

The 49ers defense goes all out to stop the run and force Stanton to throw. In what could be Mitchell Trubisky’s last start for a while, the offense fights just as hard to stay on the field. This is a true coin-flip game, with projections ranging from a shootout to a field-goal battle to routs for either side. I am betting on the San Francisco defense to rise up and hand the Niners their first victory of 2017.

Sit these guys: Houston Texans (vs IND)

Houston’s D/ST is no longer a fantasy lock. Injuries and their own offensive success have knocked the Texans off the top of the D/ST rankings. The Indianapolis Colts and Jacoby Brissett are not the Russell Wilson-led Seattle Seahawks, but their desperate attempt to keep up with Deshaun Watson’s offense will provide plenty of garbage time yards and points for the Colts. 41-28 or 45-35 scores could become the new norm in Houston, at least until some of their big D/ST names return. 

Start these guys: Philadelphia Eagles (vs DEN)

The Eagles’ defense was already excited about facing Denver’s weak offensive line and a young quarterback. Now there may be an immobile Brock Osweiler for them to get after in Week 9. Throw in the excitement about their new running back, Jay Ajayi, and this would be a difficult week for just about any offense to face the Eagles. Denver is not likely to find any answers to their woes in the City of Brotherly Love. The only question is whether the Eagles can top the 20 NFL fantasy D/ST points the Chiefs tallied against the Broncos Monday night.

Sit these guys: Oakland Raiders (at MIA)

There are a few things at play here. First off, losing Jay Ajayi will improve the Miami Dolphins. Ajayi has been a horrible person in the locker room all season, complaining after wins that he didn’t get the ball enough while continuing to miss holes and blocking assignments. His 3.6 yards per carry will be covered nicely by Kenyan Drake. Damien Williams remains the third-down back. Jay Cutler won’t miss Ajayi in the least. He also feels pretty good about being the firmly established best hope for Miami after Matt Moore’s implosion last Thursday. Jarvis Landry is still unhappy, but he’s playing for a contract, which is amenable to winning. Put it together and I predict the Dolphins come out firing on all cylinders for the first time this season at the expense of the Oakland Raiders’ defense. Sit em. 

Start these guys: Buffalo Bills (at NYJ)

Buffalo is tired of being asked if they are for real. Their defense will make Josh McCown and the Jets look like the Josh McCown and the Jets we expected back in Week 1. LeSean McCoy and the Bills new controlled passing game will keep the Jets’ offense off the field for too much of the game to expect the Bills’ D/ST to falter. It won’t be a huge game as the Jets don’t give the ball up much, but it will be close to a shutout in the Jersey Meadowlands this Thursday.

Sit these guys: Denver Broncos (at PHI)

Denver’s defense has kept the Broncos in more games than their offense deserves this season, ranking as one of the top units in real life and NFL fantasy. This week, they get worn down. Carson Wentz has proven un-phased by good defenses and the running game will keep pounding the Broncos until something gives. Denver’s only defensive weakness is tight ends and they face one of the best in Zach Ertz. Wentz is adept at taking what he is given. Tight ends and backs might have bigger days than any wide receiver, but it still adds up to a big point total against an exhausted Denver unit.

Bonus Week 9 sleeper D/ST: Washington Redskins at SEA

One week after Russell Wilson worked his magic without an offensive line or running backs, the Redskins come to town. Washington can stop mobile quarterbacks and will make life even harder than usual for the Seahawks passer. Both sides will have their moments, but the Redskins will come up with enough sacks and turnovers to rack up a top-eight D/ST score against last week’s QB-1 in Seattle.

About last week: almost perfect

Last week, I gave nine picks for D/STs, offering you either team in two games, plus a bonus pick. eight out of nine hit, with Miami being my only mistake. Overall, my start ‘ems wound up as the D/ST #1, #3, #4, and #8, while my sit ‘ems came in at #14, #18, #19, and #24. Not a bad day’s work. This week’s choices are a little more… “out there”, but I think you can still trust them. 

Got questions? Send them to us at [email protected] and we’ll answer them 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.