Sep 20, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers linebackerNate Palmer
(51) and safetyHa Ha Clinton-Dix
(21) breaks up a pass intended for Seattle Seahawks tight endLuke Willson
(82) in the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Last Week: 17 Points Allowed, 2 Sacks, 1 INT, 1 Fumble Recovery; 7.00 fantasy point
I must admit, it is hard to get a read on this defense.
One week, they give up nearly 200 yards on the ground to a Bears offense that had nothing to cause fear in terms of their passing game. The next, they manage to finally shut down Beast Mode.
It’s already hard enough to predict fantasy performances for defenses as it is; even an excellent on-field performance could end up garnering just a few points due to a lack of turnovers or a late score.
When a team’s performance can vary this wildly, it is even harder to make a satisfying judgment as to how they might perform on a given week.
Sep 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Green Bay Packers linebacker Nate Palmer (51) during the second half at Soldier Field. Green Bay Packers defeats the Chicago Bears 31-23. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Here’s the thing though; despite having this same nature last year too, this was the 2nd-best defense in terms of total fantasy points when it was all said and done. That can best be attributed to the ability of Dom Capers’ unit to force turnovers (something that has long been a staple for Capers-led defenses) and grab sacks (at least one in the past 30+ games).
The way I feel is best to go about picking a defense to go with tends to focus most on those two aspects more than others; as long as you think the defense has a good chance at forcing a couple turnovers and collecting a couple sacks, it is probably worth a shot.
In terms of this week, I think Green Bay can do exactly that.
The main threat of the Kansas City offense is always Jamaal Charles; he’s perennially one of the top runners the league has to offer. He has the best yard-per-carry average in league history (5.5; includes having at least a 5.0 ypc average in every season besides this one, which is currently 4.9). His explosive ability makes him a terror to defend, and he’ll surely be looking to make up for his 2 fumble performance that directly caused the Chiefs to lose against Denver last week.
After Charles, there is an underrated passing game that could cause some concern.
Alex Smith is the poster-boy for the “game-manager” label, but that oversimplifies what he provides his team. He doesn’t put the ball at risk often; until his INT against Denver, he had the league’s longest active streak without an interception. He has been blamed for not taking enough risks at times and not attacking defenses deep, but that could speak as much about his receivers over the years as it does his abilities (remember last year, his wideouts caught exactly zero TD passes). With better weapons this season, he’s been a more effective threat to defenses and could do the same this week if given the chance.
In terms of pass-catchers, Travis Kelce at tight end leads the list in KC. He is proving to be one of the better producers not named Rob Gronkowski at his position; if the Packers give him room over the middle, he’ll surely torch them. On the outside, there is new acquisition Jeremy Maclin, who gives the receiving corps not just a deep threat but a capable #1 option at wideout.
To combat these areas, the Packers have some able players that will have to step up again.
Sep 20, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterbackRussell Wilson
(3) is tackled by Green Bay Packers defensive endMike Daniels
(76) after a short gain in the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Charles will likely do well, since he is the focal point of their offense, but guys like Mike Daniels, B.J. Raji and Mike Pennel will need to make plays along the line and shut down his lanes to prevent a big day. Smith is mistake-averse, but keeping up good coverage on his receivers with the bevy of talented defensive backs at their disposal can keep the potential big gains to a minimum. Clay Matthews and Nate Palmer will be counted on to slow the contributions of Travis Kelce.
The biggest reason for possible success to me though is the lackluster Chiefs’ line. They have an assortment of young and experienced guys their, but none are what you would consider elite — or even really all that good — at this point. Eric Fisher may be a former #1 overall pick, but he has never lived up to that lofty status. Ben Grubbs was once elite in his time playing for Baltimore and New Orleans, but has dropped off somewhat with age. Beyond them, everyone is too young or non-descript to give much credence to individually.
If the defense can apply pressure to them and break through on a decent number of occasions, they can hamper the running game and pressure Smith into some mistakes.
I see that happening enough to make this defense a viable start, but beware: even with a bevy of good stats, there could still be enough points eventually scored to subdue the final fantasy output.
If you have an elite defensive matchup available to you — say, the Jets versus whatever Philadelphia is calling an offense right now — that’s likely the better play. If not however, you could do worse than betting on this matchup.
Week 3 Prediction: 23 Points Allowed, 4 Sacks, 1 Forced Turnovers (1 INT); 6.00 fantasy points
Verdict: Upside Potential