Fantasy Football: Week 1 Kicker and Defense Rankings

By Alex Butler  |  Sept. 7, 2017 at 2:40 PM
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Sept. 7 (UPI) -- If you took a defense early, you are likely stuck starting them this week. But many fantasy football team owners have started to buy in to the streaming strategy. You can find a starting caliber defense on any given week while using this strategy.

This week, the Houston Texans are my top-ranked defense, but the Pittsburgh Steelers -- a defense undrafted in many leagues -- should also put up a solid effort against the Cleveland Browns.

There are also several kickers in good matchups this week who can help you get that much-needed opening week victory.

Here are my top 20 defense/special teams units and top 15 kickers for Week 1. You can visit other positional rankings in the links below.

TOP SHELF

The Houston Texans are my top-ranked defense this week and that is mostly due to the fact that they are hosting Blake Bortles. Expect a healthy J.J. Watt and the Texans' terrifying defensive line to eat this week in a dominating performance. The Pittsburgh Steelers are my second-ranked defense this week and that ranking is also due to the opposing quarterback. The Steelers have the honor of facing rookie DeShone Kizer and should give him a warm welcome, especially if the Browns fall behind and Kizer is forced to air it out.

Reliable New England Patriots leg Stephen Gostkowski is my No. 1 kicker for Week 1. You know he will get several extra point attempts and he should see a few from range in this one if the Chiefs manage to stifle Tom Brady's offensive unit on third down. Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey should also supply a top-3 performance from the position with an NFC East matchup against the New York Giants. I expect a ton of scoring in this contest and the Giants' stout defense could stifle the Cowboys' offense in the red zone from time-to-time, opening up opportunities for Bailey.

SNEAKY PLAYS

The Los Angeles Rams are my No. 4 defense of Week 1. They are also facing an unproven gunslinger with Indianapolis Colts starter Andrew Luck still in recovery mode. Look for the Rams to put up some sacks in this one and force a couple turnovers. The Jacksonville Jaguars added to their secondary this offseason and you should see it pay off against so-so quarterback play from the Texans. I have the Jaguars penciled in as my No. 6 defensive unit this week.

New Orleans Saints kicker Will Lutz will definitely come into play this week against the Minnesota Vikings. Although Drew Brees typically provides an unstoppable offensive assault, this Vikings defense could limit scoring in the red zone in from of the home crowd. Lutz is my No. 4 kicker for the week. Atlanta Falcons veteran kicker Matt Bryant is my No. 5 kicker and he has a matchup against the Chicago Bears. Again, this offense will score often and should have several successful drives. Look for Bryant to capitalize on all of his opportunities.

Week 1 Kicker Rankings

LONGSHOTS

The Arizona Cardinals come in as my No. 8 defense/special teams unit with a game against the Detroit Lions. This defense is healthy and should showoff its talent in shutting down Lions wide receivers, forcing Matthew Stafford into regrettable throws. The New England Patriots were another team to spend some money on defense this offseason. Although Alex Smith doesn't make a ton of mistakes, I don't see him lighting up this unit either. Kansas City is going to find it hard to score points against this new look defense.

On the kicking front, Washington Redskins leg Dustin Hopkins is my No. 8 kicker this week. He has a good NFC East matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. He should see a handful of opportunities for field goals in this one. Longtime Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh now plays for the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks should be able to move the ball against this Packers secondary, getting Walsh in range for field goal tries. He comes in at kicker No. 10 for me this week.

Week 1 Defense/Special Teams Rankings
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