Even though just two teams are on bye this week, our Week 11 fantasy defense rankings are feeling the effects. The Rams are typically a must-start, while the Broncos can work as a waiver wire streamer. Perhaps just as important, the Broncos are the type of matchup that creates D/ST sleepers, so that’s also thinning things out a bit.
Even with that said, there are still a few matchup-based plays available this week; unfortunately, most aren’t particularly good defenses. The Eagles (vs. Saints) are likely the best widely available defensive unit, but Trevor Siemian and the Saints are still playing fairly efficiently, so the matchup, at least on paper, isn’t overly appealing. The 49ers (@ Jaguars), Dolphins (@ Jets), and Washington (@ Panthers) are also in pretty good spots, but all present risks given their level of play this year.
The Jets (vs. Dolphins) and Falcons (vs. Patriots) also have favorable home matchups, but they are even weaker defensively than those listed above, so you’d be taking a huge risk starting either.
A few owners might need to take some chances this week, as lineup regulars like the Colts (@ Bills), Cardinals (@ Seahawks), and Steelers (@ Chargers) are in tough spots. The Bengals have also been a popular play this year, but a matchup in Vegas won’t be easy.
Ultimately, you might opt to stick with a D/ST that’s been good for you most of the year over a mediocre defense that has a favorable matchup. We tend to favor the matchups, but at this point in the season, it’s important to factor in your record and rest-of-season outlook. If you’re sailing toward the fantasy playoffs, then you can afford to go the “high-floor” route. If you’re in “must-win” mode, then play the matchups, go for the high ceiling, and worry about next week on Tuesday.
It’s also a good idea to look at future matchups and consider carrying multiple D/STs so you’re ahead of the streaming game. For instance, Philadelphia has the Giants, Jets, bye, Washington, Giants, and Washington through Week 17. Even if you don’t want to use the Eagles this week against the Saints, it’s not a bad idea to have them around. Likewise, you might not like the Chargers against the Steelers (or maybe you do), but future matchups against the Denver (Week 12), the Giants (14), and Texans (16) could have the Bolts making an impact down the stretch.
Overall, this isn’t a great week for defenses. Some of the top units have favorable matchups, which is always great for those who own those D/STs, but it’s not a great week if you need a streamer. Of course, any defense can get lucky and get some takeaways or return TDs, so go with your gut and hope for the best.
Note: We’ll be updating these D/ST rankings throughout the week, so check back for the latest analysis and player movement.
|1||Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. NYG|
|2||Tennessee Titans vs. HOU.|
|3||Buffalo Bills vs. IND|
|4||Carolina Panthers vs. WAS|
|5||New England Patriots @ ATL|
|6||Cleveland Browns vs. DET. The Browns massively disappointed in a slightly favorable matchup last week, but the Lions simply don’t score while also allowing a good amount of sacks. Detroit hasn’t topped 19 points since Week 1, and over the past six games, they’ve given up at least four sacks four times. Cleveland has a high floor, and if it manages a couple takeaways, it will have a high ceiling, too.|
|7||Dallas Cowboys @ KC. The Chiefs have gotten back on track after a string of multi-turnover games, but the Cowboys rack up takeaways at a high clip. With at least two INTs in six games this year and multiple sacks in all but three games, Dallas has some major upside despite the likelihood the Chiefs score a good amount of points.|
|8||Baltimore Ravens @ CHI. Chicago seemingly turned a corner prior to its bye, but it still allowed three sacks and turned it over twice. The Ravens haven’t forced many takeaways this year, but they are coming off a four-sack game and tend to keep scores low against mediocre offenses. The Bears certainly qualify, so consider the Ravens a high-ceiling D/ST this week.|
|9||Miami Dolphins @ NYJ. Miami is finally starting to live up to its preseason hype, posting back-to-back monster games. It was one thing for the Dolphins to generate five sacks and four takeaways against Houston, but to follow that up with four sacks, two takeaways, and a D/ST touchdown against Baltimore surely raised some eyebrows. It’s also worth noting that Miami allowed just 19 points in the past two weeks combined. After five turnovers in Week 10, the Jets remain a top-three team in terms of fantasy points per game allowed to D/STs, so the Dolphins are in position to have another big week.|
|10||Philadelphia Eagles vs. NO. Despite a QB switch a couple weeks ago, the Saints offense has remained fairly stable. Still, we have a tough time thinking Trevor Siemian will continuing playing mostly turnover-free football. New Orleans allowed four sacks last week, so perhaps we’re starting to see some cracks in the system. The Eagles are coming off a big Week 10, giving them two impressive performances in their past three games. Consider Phillly a boom-or-bust option that likely merits using in a tough week.|
|11||San Francisco 49ers @ JAX. San Francisco has been one of this season’s biggest disappointments, but virtually every D/ST puts up fantasy points against the Jags. Even when teams don’t get many sacks or takeaways, like Seattle in Week 8 and Buffalo in Week 9, the Jags score so few points that D/STs still have decent fantasy days. In those games, Jacksonville scored seven and nine points, respectively.|
|12||Washington Football Team @ CAR. The Panthers’ first Sam Darnold-less game still ended with two turnovers, but with zero sacks allowed and 34 offensive points scored, the Panthers might not be a “favorable” matchup anymore. That said, no one is scared of P.J. Walker or Cam Newton, and Washington has been decent over the past five games. In that span, Washington is averaging 2.4 sacks and 1.8 takeaways. It’s still allowing a good amount of points, but there’s clearly a decent floor here. Chase Young (knee) figures to be out, though, so that might be enough reason to look elsewhere, but it’s not as if he was putting up big numbers this year, so we still think Washington can have a decent game.|
|13||Arizona Cardinals @ SEA. Even with Russell Wilson back last week, the Seahawks offense sputtering, failing to score while allowing three sacks and two takeaways. Seattle should be better at home, but it will give up sacks (at least two in every game, 16 in the past four games) and likely score only a moderate amount of points. Arizona is top 10 in sacks and top three in takeaways, so it always has a solid floor.|
|14||Green Bay Packers @ MIN. The Packers continue to rack up multiple turnovers and keep scores low. They’ve had at least two takeaways in seven of the past nine games, and after last week’s shutout, they’ve allowed an average of 11.6 points over the past five games. Like Arizona, Green Bay has a relatively high floor and is probably safer than teams like the Eagles, 49ers, and Washington.|
|15||Cincinnati Bengals @ LV. The Raiders have been struggling a bit lately, turning it over four times and scoring just 30 offensive points in their past two games combined. The Bengals have been inconsistent lately, but coming off a bye should put them in a better position to come out strong and take advantage of a declining Raiders offense.|
|16||Indianapolis Colts @ BUF. Buffalo remains a tough offense for defenses to score fantasy points against, but it does have multiple turnovers in each of the past two games against the lowly Jags and Jets. Perhaps Indy’s big-play defense that has multiple takeaways in all but three games this year can take advantage enough to post a solid point total.|
|17||Pittsburgh Steelers @ LAC|
|18||New Orleans Saints @ PHI|
|19||New York Jets vs. MIA|
|20||Atlanta Falcons vs. NE|
|21||Los Angeles Chargers vs. PIT|
|22||Las Vegas Raiders vs. CIN|
|23||Minnesota Vikings vs. GB|
|24||Jacksonville Jaguars vs. SF|
|25||Chicago Bears vs. BAL|
|26||Detroit Lions @ CLE|
|27||Seattle Seahawks vs. ARI|
|28||Kansas City Chiefs vs. DAL|
|29||Houston Texans @ TEN|
|30||New York Giants @ TB|