Getting Defensive: Week 12

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It’s déjà vu all over again.

At the beginning of the 2021 season, the New England Patriots defense was generally viewed as a low-end weekly starter. The Pats finished the 2020 season either just inside or just outside the top-10, depending on scoring settings. That’s right about where the team was drafted in more leagues than not—a “meh” addition by teams in the last round that could be off to the waiver wire if they got off to a slow start.

Sure enough, the Patriots did wind up walking the wire in some leagues—after a big Week 2 the Pats went through a moth-long string of uninspiring performances that saw them rank outside the top 20 fantasy options at the position from Week 3 to Week 6.

C’est la vie. Most fantasy managers just cut them loose and moved on.

Since we’re talking about the Patriots in the intro to this column, you can probably guess what happened next.

Starting with a two-sack, three takeaway performance against the New York Jets in Week 7, the Fighting Darth Hoodies went on a five-week rampage. In each of those contests, the Patriots piled up double-digit fantasy points. The Patriots weren’t just the No. 1 fantasy defense in the league over that span—they were the top defense by a massive margin. After four sacks, four picks and a touchdown in a Week 11 shutout of the Atlanta Falcons, the Patriots now own the title of fantasy football’s No. 1 defense for the season.

The Patriots don’t have a $20 million a season superstar edge-rusher like Myles Garrett—although Matthew Judon is trying to stake a claim as one. They don’t have a huge name in the secondary—although cornerback J.C. Jackson is certainly playing like one.

What the Packers do have is talented players who know their roles in a scheme that is conducted by maybe the greatest defensive maestro in league history.

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And if you have them rostered, you’re set on defense for the…


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