Defenses are hit or miss in fantasy football. The top-10 ranked defenses in the preseason according to ESPN were the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Houston Texans, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers, St. Louis Rams and Green Bay Packers.
Of these 10 teams, only the Seahawks, 49ers, Bears and Bengals are still in the top 10 in fantasy points after five weeks. The Patriots rank 13th, the Texans and Broncos are 17th, the Packers are 25th, the Rams are 26th and the Steelers rank 30th.
The biggest surprise defense is the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 1 (originally ranked 25th). They have 87 fantasy points, 24 more than the Seahawks. However, most of these rising defenses were already picked up early in the season. The Chiefs are now owned in 91.6 percent of ESPN leagues.
If you are own of those owners that stream fantasy defenses based on matchup, then there is a defense worth picking up for Week 6, and possibly the rest of the season — the New Orleans Saints defense.
The Saints came in at 30th during the preseason, a fair ranking based on where they finished last year. The Saints were 32nd in rushing yards and 31st in passing yards allowed per game. They had 30 sacks and 15 interceptions, 25th and 15th in 2012. The New Orleans defense allowed the second-most points per game at 28.4.
This year, however, the Saints are a much-improved defense, currently the ninth-best in fantasy. The team has three sacks in each of the last three games and 15 on the season. They have allowed no more than 18 points per game, a 10-point decrease from just a year ago. The defense is also swarming the ball every chance they get. They have seven interceptions (almost half of their 2012 total), six forced fumbles and four recovered.
The Saints could attribute their success to the roster additions of Keenan Lewis and Parys Haralson, former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan or the return of head coach Sean Payton. Whichever it is, the Saints are not the same defense from 2012. They are not giving up the big pass plays like they did last year. Ryan is also pulling back on the number of blitz plays he calls and has more players in coverage.
In Week 6, they travel north to take on the Patriots. The Patriots scored just six points against the Bengals, their lowest since 2006. Tom Brady has thrown three interceptions and two games with a completion percentage below 50 percent. Despite the possibility of getting Rob Gronkowski back, the Saints could be a difficult matchup for Brady.
The Patriots have a lot of injuries on the offensive side of the ball, and the Saints should be able to take advantage by shutting down Danny Amendola and Gronkowski. Looking ahead, the Saints play the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets in Weeks 8 and 9. They can make for a good three-week play before looking at another defense.
If you are an owner of the Texans or Baltimore Ravens‘ defense, I would pick up the Saints’ defense as soon as possible.