Bottom of the Barrel Defenses to Target

”Use tight ends (TEs) against Oakland because they are struggling beyond belief.”

“Fade quarterbacks (QBs) versus Tennessee because they are allowing the least amount of passing yards per game of any team.”

Writers always elude to trends such as these, but daily life doesn’t always allow the time needed to extensively research each position. At this point in the season, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a guide for which teams to target for certain positions?

That’s where this article comes in. If all else fails, looking for the absolute best potential matchups is the way to go, as offensive coordinators can identify as easily as you or I where a defense’s holes are. The fact that Owen Daniels put up a goose egg in week five was a borderline travesty considering the juiciness of the matchup. However, Peyton Manning was atrocious, and more often than not the trends do end up coming through. Here are the drastic trends I’ll be taking advantage of not only next week, but nearly every week moving forward:

Quarterbacks

New York Giants – The Giants have only allowed eight passing TDs, which doesn’t compare to Kansas City’s league-leading 13, but here’s the thing: FantasyDraft only awards four points per passing TD. There is a three-point fantasy bonus assigned to a player at the 300-yard plateau. So, while teams haven’t found the end zone against the Giants at an elite clip, opponents have averaged a league-leading 304.2 passing yards per game against them. Opposing QBs are producing an average of 15.17 fantasy points solely based off of passing yardage against the Giants, so simply add in one or two TDs, and it’s a pretty substantial day. Colin Kaepernick had not thrown for over 160 yards passing (or a passing TD whatsoever) in his past two games and he put up 262 yards and two TDs against the Giants secondary. Although Sam Bradford has struggled and flat out looked bad this season, he could find retribution on Monday night against this bottom of the barrel passing defense.

New Orleans Saints – The Saints actually rank third in terms of fantasy points allowed to the QB position, but the top two I am intentionally saving for later in this article in order to discuss more defenses overall. Still, the Saints have been absolutely giving it up: Carson Palmer threw for 307 yards and three TD in week one, Jameis Winston threw for 207 yards and a TD, plus rushed for a TD in week two, Cam Newton threw for 315 yards and a TD, plus rushed for a TD in week three, Brandon Weeden threw for 246 yards and a TD in week four (the exception game mostly, because Weeden is just plain awful) and Sam Bradford threw for 333 yards and two TD in week five. Aside from their game against a QB who may actually get benched this week, every other guy has pretty much put up a career day. With the Saints playing on Thursday night this upcoming week, this could be an opportunity to stack Atlanta’s offense in the Thursday night contests. Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman will certainly contribute in the passing game and should be nice compliments to Matt Ryan. The only thing the Falcons have working against them is the short week and the fact that Thursdays typically bring an awful brand of football.

Running Backs

Miami Dolphins – Adding Ndamukong Suh was surely going to upgrade the team’s rushing defense, right? Wrong. The Miami Dolphins, even with Suh, rank dead last in rushing yards allowed, which obviously was a contributing factor to Joe Philbin’s firing. Instead of promoting a defensive mind to head coach, the team promoted TEs coach Dan Campbell to interim head coach, which is interesting. In my opinion, this isn’t really a move that should spark the defense, but maybe Lamar Miller sees the biggest boost. The defense remains awful and the new coaching situation really shouldn’t scare owners off from opposing running backs (RBs). Instead, the Titans’ committee should probably scare you off from using one of their backs, because Antonio Andrews, Bishop Sankey and Dexter McCluster really vulture each other’s value and limit the upside. Andrews is the goal-line back, but that’s the area where Suh can dominate the most. Week six may be a week to lay off this trend only to return in week seven when Arian Foster gets a shot at them.

Cleveland Browns – San Diego has actually allowed the most fantasy points to opposing RBs, but I actually think the Browns will end up worse over the long haul. The Chargers barely edge out Cleveland due to four more receptions allowed and one more receiving TD. However, a closer look at the numbers reveals Cleveland has allowed almost 23 more yards rushing per game than San Diego. They would be allowing more fantasy points if they weren’t also being torched through the air; through five games, they have also allowed 10 passing TDs. Basically, as London Fletcher eludes to each week on the podcast, they are a defense you want to target in nearly all aspects. The lucky team to play them in week six will be the Broncos, soPeyton Manning may actually prove to be rosterable (doubtful). My bet would be Ronnie Hillman breaks a long one in this game, so he’s the guy to target in tournaments.

Wide Receivers

Kansas City Chiefs – The argument from skeptics was that the Chiefs’ passing defense would greatly improve when top corner Sean Smith returned, as he’s one of the best in the game. He returned in week four and Andy Dalton immediately put up 321 yards and a TD (to receiver Brandon Tate) against them, and likely would have built on that line had Jeremy Hill not scored three TDs. Hell, Jay Cutler was without his top two receivers and still managed 252 yards passing and two TDs (only one of which was to a WR: Marquess Wilson). In fact, Wilson actually beat Smith on the route which he scored and Cutler just threw an absolute pea. The moral of the story is KC has allowed 11 TD to the wide receiver (WR) position; two more than second-place Tampa Bay. Have they improved since their number-one corner came back? Absolutely. Can they still be beaten? Definitely. One man did not fix the whole secondary and number-two WRs actually make a ton of sense, as they get to avoid the one above-average player in the whole secondary.

Baltimore Ravens – 84 receptions (RECs), 1,096 yards and seven TD is the current tally of the damage opposing WRs have done against the Baltimore Ravens. They are allowing the second-most fantasy points to the position behind only Kansas City, but they have faced a true number-one WR every single week besides week five against the Browns (where they lost 33-30 and Josh McCown threw for 457 yards). They have faced (by week): Demaryius Thomas, Amari Cooper, A.J. Green, Antonio Brown and Travis Benjamin (?). San Francisco doesn’t truly have a number-one threat, and will be the Ravens’ opponent in week six, although it will be a “revenge game” for Anquan Boldin, if you believe in that sort of thing. Exploiting this subpar secondary may be a better idea in week seven against Philip Rivers and his pack of useful WRs, including his favorite target Keenan Allen.

Tight Ends

Oakland Raiders – It feels funny mentioning this defense after completely shutting out Owen Daniels this week, but that had more to do with Peyton Manning’s ineffectiveness than anything else. Oakland had not only allowed a top-12 QB output to each QB they had faced heading into week five, but they had been absolutely obliterated by the TE position. This tweet sums up their struggles perfectly:

In fact, it’s even worse than the tweet suggests because Tyler Eifert actually scored twice in week one. Unfortunately, Hall-of-Fame shoo-in Peyton Manning is just over the hump and playing incredibly poor football at this point in time. Do not hold this performance against upcoming TEs versus the Raiders, as Antonio Gates and Heath Miller are two of the next three names to get a shot at these guys. Expect lines closer to the tweet than Daniels’ zero.

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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