Week 1 DST & K Rankings, Projections and Analysis
Week 1 Sleepers
Week 1 Start N' Sit
Fantasy Football Advice from NFL players

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Vikings DST
If you keep more than one DST on your roster, it's important not just to look at how each unit performed last year but also how stingy their opponent was toward opposing defenses. If you've got one of the elite units, you probably won't want to risk exposing them to waivers. However, if one of your DSTs are just so-so, you may want to consider picking up one of the units that are high on our list. Since most fantasy players keep just one kicker on the roster, it's usually a good strategy to just roll with who you have regardless of the match-up. But if you don't have one of the elite kickers, playing the waiver wire each week based on the match-up can be a rewarding strategy. Just click on the links to read our rationale behind each ranking. The DST rankings are based on a standard league where fumble recoveries and interceptions count for 2 points each and sacks count for 1 point with a typical sliding scale for points and yardage allowed, while the K rankings are based on field goals counting for 3 points (with 5 points awarded for 50+ yard FGs) and extra points counting for 1 point.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Detroit Lions
  3. Philadelphia Eagles
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  5. St. Louis Rams
  6. New England Patriots
  7. Houston Texans
  8. Seattle Seahawks
  9. Kansas City Chiefs
  10. Minnesota Vikings
  11. Baltimore Ravens
  12. Carolina Panthers
  13. Cincinnati Bengals
  14. New Orleans Saints
  15. Buffalo Bills
  16. Chicago Bears
  17. Washington Redskins
  18. Arizona Cardinals
  19. Denver Broncos
  20. San Francisco 49ers
Buccaneers DST
If you own one of the top-ranked DSTs, you're not going to expose them to waivers just because of a bad match-up, but if you keep two DSTs on your roster or own just one borderline one, it can sometimes be worthwhile to scour the waiver wire and pick up a less-highly regarded team defense with a better match-up. This week a lot of the premier DSTs face high-powered offenses, so there are some options on waivers that may be worth considering.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Steelers DST
The Steelers have a home match-up against an anemic Browns offense that lacks any threats at WR. DSTs who played the Browns last year averaged a healthy 10.1 fantasy points a game last year. This year the Browns should get more production from their run game with Ben Tate but without Josh Gordon it won't matter, as they'll be playing from behind most of the contest. Don't be afraid to start the Steelers as a DST1 if your top defense has a poor match-up.

Philadelphia Eagles
Eagles DST
The Eagles were an average fantasy DST last year but that really doesn't matter since they play host to a toothless Jaguars offense that allowed opposing DSTs to score 10.8 points a game. The Jags are in rebuilding mode with journeyman Chad Henne keeping the seat warm for rookie Blake Bortles and are without stud wideout Justin Blackmon. The Eagles should cruise in this contest and build up a lead that will create opportunities for turnovers from the mistake-prone Jacksonville QB.

San Francisco 49ers
49ers DST
The Niners play on the road against a high-flying Dallas offense that held opposing fantasy DSTs to just over 4.5 points a game. As if that's not cause enough for concern, their defense is missing many key parts and has looked like a shadow of its self this pre-season. They'll be without the services of LBs Aldon Smith and Navorro Bowman and starting DT Glenn Dorsey is out with a bicep injury. Forget about last year - this 49ers defense has some real issues. Avoid them this week at all costs.

Denver Broncos
Broncos DST
There's a lot of hype about the Broncos DST this year due to the arrival of big name players like Demarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, and T.J. Ward but this is not a good week to rely on this unit. The Broncos host the Colts this Sunday and opposing fantasy DSTs have scored an average of just 5.3 points a game against their top-ranked offense, which led the league in yardage. Sit them in favor of a DST with a more favorable match-up.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Buccaneers DST
The Buccaneers DST, which ranked 13th last season in fantasy scoring, may be the most improved unit in the league. They've made several key additions to their D-line and secondary and host a Panthers team whose receiving corps was depleted in the off-season. The Panthers did draft rookie Kelvin Benjamin and he may prove to be a difference-maker in time but for the moment QB Cam Newton has relatively few options to throw to. We like the Bucs' chances in this one and think they'll be able to play single coverage on the receivers and bottle up the run game. They make a nice add off the waiver wire if you're DST1 has a tough match-up.

Detroit Lions
Lions DST
The Lions defense didn't fare that well in fantasy football last year, as they recorded only 33 sacks and didn't force a lot of turnovers. We think they'll improve their sack production now that Ziggy Ansah has a year of experience under his belt and like the match-up against a mistake-prone Giants offense that allowed the most points in the league to opposing DSTs. The G-Men have had to replace several starters on their O-line and have had protection issues all pre-season. They've had a rough time transitioning to their new West Coast offense and QB Eli Manning has been a turnover away from becoming a cheese Danish. There worth picking up off the waiver wire if you're DST1 has a tough opponent this week.

Cairo Santos
Chiefs K Cairo Santos
Santos beat out Ryan Succop for the Chiefs job. The Brazilian may not be the scoring machine Ronaldo is but he's a safe bet to get some field goal opportunities against a Titans defense that allowed 8.7 fantasy points a game last year to kickers. With both teams likely to focus on the running game there's a good chance some drives stall out and end with field goals. He's not a bad option off the waiver wire if you don't own one of the premier kickers.

Dan Carpenter
Bills K Dan Carpenter
We've got to root for a kicker who's the splitting image of the laid-back hippie, Boiler, in the cult classic film "Dark Star". Just like "Boiler" who spends all day on an inter-galactic trash collecting vessel, Carpenter should be busy salvaging points this week against a Bears team that allowed 8.8 fantasy points a contest to kickers. Since Buffalo's likely to focus on attacking Chicago's very suspect run defense, there should be plenty of stalled drives that lead to field goals. "Boiler"'s a great pick-up off the "refuse pile" this week if you don't have an elite kicker.

New Orleans Saints Kicker TBD
We're not sure who this will be since New Orleans cut both of the kickers who were competing for the job. Whoever they end up signing off the street will inherit one of the league's most high-powered offenses and a very attractive match-up against a weak Falcons defense that allowed 9.7 fantasy points a game to kickers, the 2nd-highest average in the league. If you want to get a jump-start on the rest of the league, we're guessing they've got Garrett Hartley on speed dial.

Lions RB Reggie Bush
There's no better source of advice on fantasy defenses than the players who play the game. We're very grateful to the following NFL players and retired players who were kind enough to answer our questions and provide our readers with advice:

Darius Butler
CB Indianapolis Colts
Colts CB Darius Butler Colts QB Andrew Luck Tweet

Clinton Portis
Retired NFL Running Back
Retired RB Clinton Portis

Rich Gannon
Retired NFL Quarterback
Former NFL QB Rich Gannon

Tank Johnson
Retired NFL Defensive Tackle
Former NFL DT Tank Johnson

Shaun Smith
Retired NFL Defensive Tackle
Retired DT Shaun Smith