Jets’ run defense falling; Cowboys on the rise

It’s championship week in fantasy football, so keeping tabs on the strengths and weakness of defenses is more important than ever. Injuries occur, positional depth shrinks and players break down physically as the grueling NFL season rolls forward.

As a result, even some of the best defenses have fallen back to earth in recent weeks.

In an effort to help you reach the top of the fantasy mountain, here are five teams that have seen the greatest change in effectiveness:

Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys have held their last three opponents to an average of 12.7 points. They”ve allowed just one offensive touchdown in the last 12 quarters. Dallas has been especially tough on opposing quarterbacks, surrendering just one touchdown pass since Week 13. They’ve also produced three interceptions and 20 sacks during that span.

Green Bay Packers: Playing the Packers was a statistical death sentence for opposing passing attacks earlier this season, but that’s changed in recent weeks. This unit has allowed a combined 652 passing yards and four passing touchdowns in the last two weeks. The Packers have also surrendered two 100-yard, one-touchdown receivers since Week 14.

New York Jets: Once ranked third overall in run defense, the Jets have now fallen to sixth. They’ve allowed an average of 138 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in their last three games. Peyton Hillis and Marshawn Lynch both rushed for over 120 yards in that stretch, and Frank Gore might have had similar success in Week 14 had he not been injured.

Oakland Raiders: The Silver and Black remain a top-10 pass defense, but this unit has been slammed in the last two weeks in losses to the Chargers and Patriots. Philip Rivers and Matt Cassel combined to produce 432 passing yards and seven touchdowns in those games. That’s good news for Matt Schaub’s value heading into fantasy’s championship week.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs have been dreadful against the run the last two weeks, allowing a combined 474 yards and five touchdowns. That includes a 186-yard game from DeAngelo Williams, a 152-yard game from Michael Turner and a 115-yard game from Jonathan Stewart. These numbers make LaDainian Tomlinson more attractive this week.

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