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Big Boards: Kickers & D/STs

Preseason Matchup Analysis

By Doug Orth | 9/3/21 |
PPR | Half PPR | Non-PPR | Superflex | FFPC

Let’s pay our respects to the folks who don’t get a lot of respect - the kickers and defense/special teams units that help decide our fantasy fates every week.

Rk Player Tm Age
1 Justin Tucker BAL 31
2 Tyler Bass BUF 24
3 Harrison Butker KC 26
4 Jason Sanders MIA 25
5 Greg Zuerlein DAL 33
6 Ryan Succop TB 34
7 Matt Gay LAR 27
8 Matt Prater ARI 37
9 Robbie Gould SF 38
10 Younghoe Koo ATL 27
11 Rodrigo Blankenship IND 24
12 Brandon McManus DEN 30

And now the defenses…

Let’s revisit the color-coding system before we start:

Red – For a second-tier D/ST, this is generally a bad option to start that week (high-powered offense, low-turnover offense or both). For elite D/STs, expect them to struggle to create sacks/turnovers.

Yellow – For a second-tier D/ST, this is a questionable start at best. For the elite D/STs, expect average production.

White – This one can go either way, but I favor the D/ST over the matchup. For the elite D/STs, expect above-average production.

Green – For non-elite D/STs, the stage is set for a productive day. For the elite D/ST, this matchup is about as good as it gets.

“SD” refers to schedule difficulty. (The bigger the number, the more favorable the schedule.) In short, here is how I scored each matchup:

Green - two points
White - one point
Yellow – minus-1
Red – minus-2

As you can tell, the defenses were not ranked based entirely on schedule difficulty, but it was the primary factor after I completed my matchup analysis - which takes into account a host of variables, including each defense's aggressiveness and the offense's propensity for allowing sacks and committing turnovers.

 Defense/Special Teams
Rk Team SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
1 Buccaneers 6
2 Broncos 4
3 Washington 2
4 Ravens 1
5 Browns 1
6 49ers -1
7 Rams -4
8 Colts -6
9 Dolphins -8
10 Steelers -8
11 Patriots -7
12 Vikings -5
13 Packers -7
14 Chargers -7
15 Panthers -8
16 Cardinals -9

The first four defenses should not need to be streamed very often, if at all. The Browns boast a ton of talent on defense now, although I'm not overly confident DC Joe Woods is the man to make it all work. The 49ers should be significantly better this year with better injury luck, although they will miss Richard Sherman. While new Rams DC Raheem Morris is a proven defensive coach, it is always a bit scary when a new guy comes into a situation and hopes to keep the defense of his predecessor intact - those are rarely seamless transitions. The Dolphins and Steelers are aggressive enough to pay off some weeks, but they should not be expected to be the consistent forces they were at times in 2021.

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Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured in USA TODAY's Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He is also a high-stakes player who often appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, such as Sirius XM's "Fantasy Drive." Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.