Fantasy Football: 2011 Defensive Team By Committee (DTBC)

K.Rhodes

By John Paulsen, Contributing Editor
 
The strategy behind Defensive Team By Committee (DTBC) is fairly simple. A fantasy owner can wait until the first several  defenses are off the board before drafting two (or more) under-the-radar DTs who have a favorable combined schedule. This forms a committee that can get the same results as a top notch defense. This approach is best suited for those owners comfortable making a start/sit call at DT each week, and it helps if the roster size is on the big (18+) side. Smaller rosters make it difficult to justify carrying two defenses throughout the season. For smaller rosters, Defensive Team By Waiver Wire (DTBWW, which will be a weekly feature here at 4for4) may be a better strategy.
 
For the purposes of this study, we'll eliminate any of the defenses going in the 13th round or earlier. That means we won't be considering PIT, GB, NYJ, BAL, PHI, CHI, NE and NYG. Later on, I will discuss the Patriots and Giants in case those defenses slip into the 14th round.
 
We'll also eliminate the three worst fantasy defenses (DEN, CIN, JAX) who figure to struggle mightily in 2011 once again.
 
To project DT strength of schedule, I grouped offenses into three different categories: Good, Mediocre, Bad. Keep in mind that we're looking at this from a fantasy DT perspective, so while a team like the Bears have a pretty good offense, they are still a great matchup for fantasy defenses due to Jay Cutler's tendency to take sacks and throw picks. (Over the last two years, he leads the league in combined sacks and interceptions per game.)
 
 
I've also found that mediocre defenses score about 5-10% better at home than they do on the road, so I'll bump a matchup up or down a bit based on location.
 
Crunching the numbers for the 171 remaining combinations, I found that one so-so defense with upside has a terrific schedule that meshes well with several other DTs. 

ARIZONA Cardinals

 
The Cards are by no means a defensive juggernaut, but there are a few reasons to be optimistic about the Arizona DT this season. They were in the middle of the pack in sacks (#18) and interceptions (#11) in 2010, which is a good start. Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes are very solid at safety, and assuming Patrick Peterson can fill the shoes of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, they won't be easy to throw on.
 
The top fantasy defenses often have good offenses as well, and the arrival of Kevin Kolb should help take the Cardinals' offense from poor to somewhat mediocre, which will only help the defense.
 
But the biggest reason to like the Arizona DT this season is the schedule. They have the best projected SOS of any fantasy defense, including a wonderful schedule during the fantasy playoffs (SF, CLE, @CIN).
 
From a pure SOS standpoint, the Cards are a member of five of the top 14 committees, but I want to focus on four in particular: 
DEF W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8 W9 W10 W11 W12 W13 W14 W15 W16 W17
STL
DEF-17
1
PHI
8
@NYG
19
BAL
31
WAS
BYE 4
@GB
9
@DAL
6
NO
23
@ARI
22
@CLE
28
SEA
23
ARI
27
@SF
28
@SEA
32
CIN
10
@PIT
27
SF
ARI
DEF-23
29
CAR
31
@WAS
28
@SEA
8
NYG
24
@MIN
BYE 10
PIT
19
@BAL
18
STL
1
@PHI
27
@SF
18
@STL
9
DAL
27
SF
22
CLE
32
@CIN
28
SEA

Schedule difficulty based on opponent's offensive ranking. Top offense = 1, bottom offense = 32.

The Rams were #7 in sacks in 2010 thanks to DEs James Hall and Chris Long, and they drafted Robert Quinn in the first round, so they are fine from a pass-rushing standpoint. James Laurinaitis is a very good MLB. With a Week 4 matchup against the Redskins (at home), along with a Week 15 matchup against the Bengals (also at home), they combine well with the Cardinals.

Moving on...

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Filed Under: Preseason, 2011