Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Week 5: Deciding Which Defenses to Deploy This Weekend

Like or not, defenses are a vital part of fantasy football that could win or lose a matchup. 

Defenses are the overlooked aspect of fantasy football. The standard leagues don’t even care enough about players enough to utilize them individually.

While owners were right to cast defenses aside on draft day and direct their attention to skill players, that doesn’t mean they should keep ignoring the slot. Defenses are interchangeable, but that only works for those willing to seek out the right scenario.

Which units are worth streaming this Sunday? How should owners handle a top-flight defense going against an equally stout offense? I’m glad you asked.

Top Fantasy Defenses for Week 5
Rank Team Opponent
1 Kansas City Chiefs Tennessee Titans
2 Seattle Seahawks Indianapolis Colts
3 Carolina Panthers Arizona Cardinals
4 St. Louis Rams Jacksonville Jagurs
5 Atlanta Falcons New York Jets
6 San Francisco 49ers Houston Texans
7 Houston Texans San Francisco 49ers
8 New England Patriots Cincinnati Bengals
9 Baltimore Ravens Miami Dolphins
10 Denver Broncos Dallas Cowboys

Andrew Gould’s rankings

Start: St. Louis Rams (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars)

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

They play the Jacksonville Jaguars. Isn’t that enough?

Under ESPN’s scoring, St. Louis’ defense has scored a measly 10 fantasy points this season. So this is a pure matchup play for a team that has been beaten up badly in the past weeks.

To be fair, the Rams have faced a tough slate lately in the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers. The unit looked poised to make some noise with Robert Quinn and Chris Long rushing the quarterback, so now is finally its chance.

Defenses average 16.8 points per game when facing Jacksonville, which is 0.7 less than LeSean McCoy’s weakly output.

More importantly, the Jaguars are, for reasons unfathomable to any rational human being, sticking by Blaine Gabbert’s side. According to The Florida-Times Union’s Hays Carylon, head coach Gus Bradley sees something in the footage that’s invisible in his 5.6-yards-per-passing-attempt, three-interception line.

“I would say stronger now after watching the tape,” Bradley said. “I saw him scramble around and make a play to Clay Harbor. I saw him scramble around and throw it to Ace on an explosive play. I saw him do some things.”

Use Bradley’s delusion to your advantage and scoop up St. Louis’ defense for the weekend.

Sit: Cincinnati Bengals (vs. New England Patriots)

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

In a similar position to this week’s dilemma, most prudent managers probably benched Cincinnati during its Week 3 clash with the Green Bay Packers. It collected four turnovers, four sacks and a defensive touchdown.

So it should seemingly get the benefit of the doubt against New England, but then it allowed 269 passing yards and two touchdowns to Brian Hoyer.

If this game had come a few weeks ago, it would have made sense to roll with it against a Patriots offense still struggling to find its footing. After scoring 30 points on the Atlanta Falcons, that ship has sailed.

Tom Brady posted a season-high 316 passing yards on Monday night, and NESN is reporting that Danny Amendola feels good about his chances of playing.

Danny Amendola Says He’s ‘Looking Forward to Sunday’ As Questions Surround Receiver’s Return From Groin Injury

— NESN (@NESN) October 4, 2013

Don’t bank on the Bengals stopping Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady in a three-week stretch.

Start: Carolina Panthers (at Arizona Cardinals)

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The last time we saw the Carolina Panthers, they compiled six first-half sacks in a shutout over the New York Giants. The last time we saw the Arizona Cardinals, they gained just 240 offensive yards and surrendered three turnovers.

Carolina has only allowed 12 points per game this season, nearly topping the Seattle Seahawks in a low-scoring Week 1 affair. Yet the club is receiving little buzz since its 38-0 blowout over the Giants was immediately followed with a bye week.

Carson Palmer is nice when juxtaposed with John Skelton, but he has still thrown six interceptions this season for the Cardinals. Combine Carolina’s supreme rush defense with Arizona’s complete inability to run the ball, and the veteran quarterback will be forced to pass in bulk, which leads to mistakes.

The Panthers should collect some takeaways while limiting the Cardinals to a low point total.

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