Week 4 DST & K Rankings
Week 4 DST Sleepers
Week 4 Start N' Sit
Week 5 Waiver Wire Tips

defense title bar graphic
Pittsburgh Steelers defense
By Greg Buchphoto of journalist Greg Buch
Greg develops and updates FFSwami's website. He's played in various fantasy football leagues the last 15 years and is a life-long Cincinnati Bengals fan.
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. 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. San Diego Chargers
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers
  3. Detroit Lions
  4. Indianapolis Colts
  5. Washington Redskins
  6. Houston Texans
  7. New England Patriots
  8. Green Bay Packers
  9. Miami Dolphins
  10. Atlanta Falcons
  11. New Orleans Saints
  12. New York Giants
  13. New York Jets
  14. Carolina Panthers
  15. Oakland Raiders
  16. Minnesota Vikings
  17. Chicago Bears
  18. Baltimore Ravens
  19. Buffalo Bills
  20. San Francisco 49ers
  21. Dallas Cowboys
  22. Kansas City Chiefs
  23. Philadelphia Eagles
  24. Tennessee Titans
  25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  26. Teams on a Bye
  27. Jacksonville Jaguars
  1. Nick Novak
  2. Shaun Suisham
  3. Phil Dawson
  4. Dan Bailey
  5. Adam Vinatieri
  6. Kai Forbath
  7. Shayne Graham
  8. Robbie Gould
  9. Alex Henery
  10. Matt Bryant
  11. Cody Parkey
  12. Stephen Gostkowski
  13. Sebastian Janikowski
  14. Blair Walsh
  15. Justin Tucker
  16. Randy Bullock
  17. Mason Crosby
  18. Josh Brown
  19. Ryan Succop
  20. Graham Gano
  21. Caleb Sturgis
  22. Dan Carpenter
  23. Cairo Santos
  24. Nick Folk
  25. Patrick Murray
  26. Josh Scobee
San Diego Chargers defense
Photo of San Diego Chargers defense © Greg Buch
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By Greg Buchphoto of journalist Greg Buch
Greg develops and updates FFSwami's website. He's played in various fantasy football leagues the last 15 years and is a life-long Cincinnati Bengals fan.
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.

San Diego Chargers
San Diego Chargers defense
Photo of San Diego Chargers defense © Greg Buch
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The Chargers have been a mediocre fantasy defense so far this year but their prospects get brighter this week as they host the hapless Jaguars. The kitty cats' inept offense, which has allowed a league-leading 15.0 fantasy points to opposing DSTs, will be making a cross-country road trip and featuring a rookie quarterback. There should be plenty of opportunities for INTs, as Jacksonville falls behind and is forced to throw every down. Start them in confidence this week.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers defense
This one may be a surprise, as the Steelers normally stalwart defense, has struggled so far this year, producing only 17 fantasy points in 3 games. They're also banged up at several key positions and will be missing LBs Jarvis Jones and Ryan Shazier, along with starting CB Ike Taylor (who's been victimized at times anyway). However, they have a home game against one of the league's most incompetent offenses. The Buccaneers are allowing opposing DSTs to pile up 14.3 fantasy points a game. There's a little risk here but the reward could be great.

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers defense
The Niners fantasy DST has been a slight disappointment so far this year, as they're missing key playmakers Aldon Smith and Navorro Bowman. So you can't really count on them being a shut-down fantasy defense. This Sunday they host an Eagles team that is scoring almost 34 points and piling up 419 yards of offense a game. The cross-country trip should be difficult for Philadelphia but I'd err on the side of caution and sit this defense this week.

Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills defense
This recommendation might not be obvious, as the Texans allowed an average of 12 fantasy points a game to opposing DSTs last year. Call it a hunch, if you will, but I think the Texans will play much better this week at home, following their embarassment at the hands of the Giants. They're also a totally different team with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm and a healthy Arian Foster. They're last in the league in pass attempts and have been emphasizing the run, which makes it difficult for your DST to score points. They've allowed just 3.7 fantasy points a game to opposing DSTs so far and I don't see that changing much this week.

Oakland Raiders/ Miami Dolphins
Oakland Raiders defense
The Dolphins play the Raiders this week in London and I'm expecting both teams' offenses to suffer from jet lag. The Raiders' struggling offense scored just 9 points after numerous trips to the red zone last week, which is the perfect recipe for success if you start their opponent. I think Ryan Tannehill will be extra-motivated this week, since his starting job's on the line, but it remains to be seen whether that results in improved production.

If you're not comfortable starting the Fins' DST and you've got the cajones to start the league's 30th-ranked fantasy defense, the Dolphins' offense has allowed opposing defenses to score 10.7 fantasy points a game.

If you're hurting for options this week, you could do worse than pick either one of these defenses up for the week. This should be a boring game with not a lot of scoring and lots of miscues on both sides.

New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints defense
Believe it or not, the much-hyped Saints defense is currently sitting in last place among fantasy DSTs this year, despite the off-season addition of playmaker Jairus Byrd. They've produced just 7 fantasy points thus far but I'm betting they score more points this week than in their previous three games combined. The Saints should come ready to play after falling to 1-2 this year and I'm expecting a high-scoring shoot-out where Romo will more than likely throw up a few wounded ducks for the Saints seondary to pick off. Dallas was a tough offense to face last year but with Romo being so mistake-prone, they're allowing oppenents to averge 11.0 fantasy points a game. Consider picking the Saints up off waivers and starting them if you're DST1 is on a bye week.

Eagles DST
By Greg Buchphoto of journalist Greg Buch
Greg develops and updates FFSwami's website. He's played in various fantasy football leagues the last 15 years and is a life-long Cincinnati Bengals fan.
Don't get too discouraged if your draft didn't work out as you planned. Fantasy success isn't the exclusive result of a solid draft - often it's the in-season waiver wire moves that determines who makes it to the post-season. We've got some hot tips for you that should help you improve your roster and catch up to those lucky sons-of-guns who always seem to draft the right players:

Defenses to Add

Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles scored 2 defensive TDs and Darren Sproles returned a punt 82 yards for a score last Sunday. They were the top-scoring DST in Week 4 and are worth picking up off waivers. This week they've got a juicy match-up at home against a putrid Rams offense that's allowing 13.0 fantasy points a game to opponents, the second-most in the league. Philly should be fired up for this contest after a disappointing last-minute defeat at the hands of the Niners so pick them up and start them if you're in need of a defense.

Pittsburgh Steelers
I'm almost reluctant to tout this defense after last Sunday's meltdown but the Steelers have an awesome match-up in Week 5 against a toothless Jaguars offense that's allowed more points to opposing defenses than any other offense in the league. Jacksonville is allowing 13.8 fantasy points a game to defenses and it doesn't look like that will change anytime soon with the rookie Blake Bortles under center. Last week a middle-of-the-road Chargers defense scored 10 fantasy points on them with Bortles helping the cause with 2 INTs. I think the Steel Curtain rebounds this week and makes up for the embarassing performance against Tampa Bay.

Defenses to Drop

Houston Texans
The Texans DST managed to salvage their performance in Week 4, thanks to an INT-return for a TD by J.J. Watt. They're talented enough to warrant a space on your bench if you can afford to keep two defenses on your roster, but if you can't, you might consider dropping them, since they play a high-powered Dallas offense on the road this week. Although the Cowboys have allowed 7.5 fantasy points a game to defenses, Romo's back doesn't seem to be hampering him like it did in Week 1 when he gift-wrapped 3 INTS so I'm not thrilled with this match-up. The schedule also doesn't get any easier as their following two games are against the Colts and Steelers.

St. Louis Rams
If you didn't listen to us last week and drop this DST heading into their bye, an impending match-up with one of the NFL's most explosive offenses should be all the encouragement you need to give up on this defense. Their Week 5 opponent, the Eagles, have been allowing just 4.8 points a game to opposing defenses. Due to their quarterback situation, the Rams defense is likely to spend a lot of time on the field and be in many unfavorable situations where their opponent is just running out the clock. There are better options out there on your waiver wire, so it's time to cut your losses with this DST.

Kickers to Add

I don't have any new kickers this week to add or drop, so am just repeating my recommendations from last week in case you didn't see them:

Cody Parkey
Parkey didn't do much this week, as the Eagles' offense was stuck in neutral all day but he should get back on track against the pathetic Rams. He's 8-of-9 on field goal attempts so far this year and plays for one of the NFL's highest-scoring offenses, so really what's not to like? He's still available in 71% of ESPN.com leagues.

Alex Henery
Henery's the new starting kicker for a dynamic Lions offense and should receive plenty of scoring opportunities. He had a nice day against the Jets this past Sunday, scoring 8 points on 3 PATs and a 50+ yard field goal. He's one of the more accurate kickers in the league, with an 86% conversion rate in 3 seasons with Philadelphia. Amazingly, he's still available in 99% of ESPN.com leagues so you can safely make him your lowest waiver priority and still have a very good chance of nabbing him.

Chandler Catanzaro
Don't look now but the rookie Catanzaro's a perfect 9-for-9 on field goal attempts and is the third-leading fantasy kicker in the league. The Cardinals, who play in the defense-heavy NFC West, should provide plenty of field goal opportunities for the rookie when drives stall. He's worth picking up if you're in need of a kicker and has a favorable match-up in Denver's mile-high altitude, which is conducive to 50+ yard field goals.

Kickers to Drop

Sebastian Janikowski/ Caleb Sturgis
Both these kickers are on bye this week and neither is worth reserving a roster spot for. Drop them this week and replace them with one of the kickers from our add list.

Nate Freese
In case you're from the planet Claire and didn't get the news: just as we predicted, the Lions grew weary of Freese's inaccuracy and waived him last week. Drop him safely, if you haven't already done so, as he'll be seeing the rest of the Lions' games from the comfort of his couch.