Fantasy Football Week 3: Top 5 defenses to consider starting
By William Bologna
Football season is in full swing heading into Week 3. To our surprise, some unexpected names make up the top 5 fantasy defenses to consider starting.
Ravens, Lions, Rams, Jaguars, and Steelers. Those are the top 5 fantasy defenses heading into Week 3. Surprised? You shouldn’t be.
The “defense and special teams” category in fantasy is the darkest, most mysterious position to fill on your roster. The defensive units of Houston, Denver and Seattle should strike fear into any opposing offense, that’s no secret. Although, in fantasy, don’t let the big names scare you, and certainly don’t jump to start one of these units without first doing your due diligence.
The key takeaway here is that even some of the weaker defenses in the league can ultimately end up scoring the most fantasy points in a given week. When it comes to picking a starting defense in fantasy, considering the matchup is essential.
A true fantasy guru could use this to his/her advantage, as there will almost always be a decent matchup out there on the waiver wire. Without further ado, these five fantasy football defenses will be certain to lead your fantasy team to victory in Week 3.
Next: 5. Dallas Cowboys
5. Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys defense in Week 3 could be a one-week-wonder for your fantasy team. They’re available in 95 percent of ESPN leagues, and rightfully so, as they’re viewed to be one of the weaker defenses in the NFL.
In Week 3, the Cowboys defense will have a favorable matchup against a banged-up Arizona Cardinals offense. The Cardinals will be without weapons in David Johnson and John Brown, as well as starting offensive linemen D.J. Humphries and Mike Iupati.
The losses of Johnson and Brown strips the Cardinals offense of their “spark” whereas the injuries to the linemen will cause them to lose the battles in the trenches. Furthermore, the first two weeks have shown us that this is not the Carson Palmer of old and that his time in Arizona may soon come to an end.
Cowboys’ defensive lineman Demarcus Lawrence has looked impressive in the first two weeks of the season. Lawrence has been successfully getting pressure on the opposing quarterback, making him a player to watch considering the injuries on the Cardinals’ offensive line. Despite not being a top-tier defense, a struggling Cardinals offense makes the Cowboys defense a great start for Week 3.
Next: 4. Pittsburgh Steelers
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
So far this season, the Steelers defense has been impressive, ultimately propelling them to the number four spot in fantasy defense rankings. The Steelers defense appeared stout in Weeks 1 and 2, scoring a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns and holding the Minnesota Vikings to only nine points.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the first two weeks, its that the Steelers defense is BACK! Formerly headlined by names like Troy Polamalu and James Harrison, this young, Steelers defense looks ready to re-emerge as one of the leagues top units.
Now, leading this defense is Ryan Shazier, Bud Dupree, and Artie Burns, along with six other starters on that defense, all originally drafted by the Steelers. To top it all off, they’re an extremely well-coached unit, led by head coach Mike Tomlin.
The Steelers are presented with a great matchup in Week 3 against the Chicago Bears. The Bears offense is severely lacking in weapons. Kevin White, who was projected to be their No. 1 receiver, is injured once again and has been placed on IR. Also, starting running back Jordan Howard is questionable with a shoulder injury. To make matters worse, Mike Glennon is their starting quarterback, a guy who’s had little success in the NFL.
Going up against a weak Bears offense, the up and coming Steelers defense is a great start for Week 3.
Next: 3. Los Angeles Rams
3. Los Angeles Rams
Coming as a surprise to most fantasy owners, the Los Angeles Rams defense is ranked third in fantasy points heading into Week 3. The Rams are coming off of a tough outing against a talented Redskins offense, posting a lone single fantasy point. Unlike in Week 1, when they went for 29 fantasy points against the Colts.
The Rams defense didn’t appear too promising heading into the season, though they are a unit with some talent. Aaron Donald, Trumaine Johnson, Lamarcus Joyner and Robert Quinn headline the unit.
From a fantasy perspective, I wouldn’t recommend relying on the Rams defense week in and week out. Although, for Week 3, they face a favorable matchup against the San Fransisco 49ers. The 49ers offense has struggled immensely, as they’ve yet to score a single touchdown.
In Week 1, we saw how Sean McVeigh and the Rams defense were able to take advantage of a weak, confused offensive unit against the Colts. Heading into Week 3, we’ve seen nothing from the 49ers offense to convince us that better days are to come. The 49ers offense will struggle to move the ball again this week, making the Rams defense a great start in fantasy this week.
Next: 2. Green Bay Packers
2. Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers defense is coming off a Monday night performance in which they took a beating. Posting only one fantasy point, they allowed 28 points against to the reigning NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons. While the Packers are primarily an offensive-minded team, a favorable matchup makes them a good start in Week 3.
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The Packers defense will be facing a struggling Bengals offense that has yet to score a touchdown this season. In addition, Andy Dalton has already thrown four interceptions in only two weeks.
The Bengals lost their two best offensive linemen this past offseason in Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler. These two losses proved to be monumental as Dalton faced tremendous pressure during his first two weeks. Subsequently, this makes Clay Matthews, who is still a premier pass-rusher, a player to watch in Week 3.
If your defense is facing a poor matchup in Week 3, you should consider the Packers defense, as they’re available in 91 percent of ESPN leagues. While the Packers defense may not be a “must-start” every week, a favorable matchup makes them a great start in Week 3.
Next: 1. Denver Broncos
1. Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos defense is coming off of an extremely strong performance last week against the Dallas Cowboys. The Denver defense set the bar high heading into this season. Rightfully so, as they feature some elite defenders such as Aqib Talib, Chris Harris, Von Miller and Brandon Marshall, we all knew what this Broncos defense would be capable of.
The Broncos defense took on a major “stress-test” in Week 2, shutting down the prolific Dallas Cowboys offense. Last week, the Broncos defense did the unthinkable and held Ezekiel Elliott to a career-low eight rushing yards. They intercepted Dak Prescott twice, taking one back to the house, meanwhile, Prescott only threw four interceptions throughout the entirety of last year.
The Broncos are presented with a magnificent matchup in Week 3 against the Buffalo Bills. While the Bills pose a threat in the run-game with LeSean McCoy, we all saw last week just how well this defense can stop an elite run game.
In Week 3, the Bills will be unable to move the ball on the ground, forcing them to become dependent on their subpar quarterback, Tyrod Taylor. The only way the Bills will be able to move the ball against Denver will be through the air.
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Not only is this a weak point for the Bills offense, but with Talib and Harris in the secondary, completing passes will be no easy task. The Bills won’t move the ball, ultimately forcing them to air it out, subsequently leading to turnovers and fantasy points for the Broncos defense, making them the top defensive start of this week.