Despite their ranking as a top-seven fantasy defense in most formats, considering the match-up, you would be wise to make the New England Patriots D/ST your “sit” of the week.
In most fantasy draft rankings, the Patriots D/ST was listed as one of the top seven defenses to choose from. Last year, they finished as a top-10 defense and is project to do the same this year. However, it is worth noting that New England gives up a ton of yards to opposing offenses. They finished the 2012 season as the 29th-ranked team in terms of opponents’ passing offense.
And while the Patriots did fare much better in stopping the run (ninth), this squad will be no match for the E.J. Manuel-C.J. Spiller tandem for the Bills.
It is worth noting that New England has forced 24 turnovers in their last six games against the Bills, which makes this argument completely worthless. An average of four turnovers a game is great for a fantasy defense, so why not start New England?
First off, 19 of those 24 turnovers came courtesy of Ryan Fitzpatrick interceptions. Of the remaining five, three belonged to Spiller and two to Fred Jackson. But the main stat here is that 19 of those turnovers no longer have a spot on the team.
Of course, it being his first start, Manuel might be prone to rookie mistakes. It isn’t expected, however, that he is going to suddenly turn into a turnover machine. In his two years in college as a full time starter, Manuel did a pretty decent job of taking care of the ball with just 18 interceptions in 27 games.
Beyond the turnover factor, one major the reason not to start New England’s defense is the fact that in its past six games against the Bills, all of which were played without the speedy Manuel, this squad has given up a lot of points.
In the past three years, the Bills have managed to average 24.5 points a game in their last six against New England. This includes a game in which Buffalo scored just three points. If you exclude this game, the Bills have averaged 28.8 points in five contests against the Patriots. If you are keeping track, allowing 28 points for a fantasy defense results in a score of either zero or negative one in most standard league settings.
So while your fantasy defense probably won’t win you a weekly game or a championship, those few precious points lost could cost you. So in the end, despite New England being a top-five fantasy defense this year, your best bet is to try your luck with the free agent defensive pool.
Who knows, maybe you can even snag the St. Louis Rams defense as they do open the season against the Cardinals.