Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 12 (Fantasy Football)
I really hope you got the chance to watch the Chiefs-Rams game on Monday. It was easily the best football game this year. Due to the violent nature of football, not very many games are played, and as a result, I sometimes feel like nobody is good at it. Baseball teams play 10 times as many games in a season as football teams. This was not one of those games. Even with all the scoring, there was some excellent defensive play, especially from Aaron Donald and Samson Ebukam. The difference ended up being the Rams’ two defensive touchdowns to just one for the Chiefs. This was a great illustration of what defenses have to try to be in this year of unprecedented scoring. You’re not going to consistently make stops on downs against good passing offenses like either of these teams. To contribute to a win, your defense has to go for the big plays – the strip sacks and interceptions. This is also what translates into fantasy – despite giving up the two highest real-football scores of the week, the Rams were the #1 fantasy defense, and the Chiefs tied for 5th with the Giants. If you didn’t get to see the game, I strongly encourage you to watch it with a free 7-day trial of NFL Game Pass. If you’re going to watch one football game all season, that should be it (or the rematch in February).
This really feels like a great week for defenses, with two of the best offenses (KC and LAR) on bye. I typically have about 3 teams in the top tier, this week there are 7. Only one of those teams is widely available, but with 12 teams ranked as starters, you should be able to find someone.
|The Start Them With Confidence Tier|
|The Still a Fine Choice Tier|
|The Surely You Can Find Something Better Tier|
Tell Me About the Top Picks
- LAC vs ARI: As usual, the opponents of Arizona, Buffalo and Oakland appear at the top of the list. The Chargers’ defense is legit, and they get to be heavily favored at home this week.
- BAL vs OAK: Oakland has the lowest implied point total in the league, and Baltimore is one of the best defenses. This is a week to get rewarded if you’ve been holding on to them.
- JAC @ BUF: Jacksonville was extremely impressive for 3 quarters of football against Pittsburgh last week. The Bills don’t have the ability to come back like the Steelers did, so the Jags should dominate for four quarters this week.
- DAL vs WAS: So far this year, Washington has been a much better real-football matchup than fantasy target, largely due to Alex Smith’s aversion to turnovers. With Smith’s gruesome broken leg, Colt McCoy is taking over, making Washington a great team to target.
- NE @ NYJ: Would you believe that there’s only one good team in the AFC East? Crazy, I know. Even on the road, the Patriots are 9.5-point favorites and Sam Darnold is the most interception-prone QB in the league. Though if you combined the Buccaneers’ QB-by-committee into one player, they would lead the league in interceptions by a long shot.
- HOU vs TEN: Tennessee has been tough to figure out this year. Sometimes they play like garbage, and sometimes their play-calling is inspired and they play like the team all us Corey Davis owners want them to be. Marcus Mariota got hurt again last week, giving way to Blaine Gabbert. If Mariots doesn’t play then this is a smash spot for Houston, but even if he does, they should be able to handle the Titans well.
- CHI @ DET: Chicago has been the best fantasy defense by a long shot. If you have them, you’re starting them against everyone except the Rams in week 14.
- BUF vs JAC: Despite their defense playing well, the Jacksonville offense has been one of the best matchups for opposing defenses, thanks in equal parts to Blake Bortles being bad, and the team’s fear of letting him throw the ball. Like Jacksonville, Buffalo has one of the best defenses in the league despite a horrible offense. The return of Leonard Fournette is nothing for the Bills to fear.
- IND vs MIA: The Colts crushed the Titans last week, and the Brock Osweiler-led Dolphins aren’t better. There is a chance Ryan Tannehill plays. In that event, the Colts will probably drop out of the ranks of startable defenses, but that says more about the wealth of other options than how much worse a matchup the Dolphins become.
- PHI vs NYG: The Eagles got rolled by the Saints last week, but the Giants’ offense could not be more different. This is a great opportunity for the Eagles to get back on track.
- PIT @ DEN: If you streamed Pittsburgh last week, you were nicely rewarded thanks to 6 sacks and a fumble. They’re plenty startable against a dismal Denver offense if you don’t feel like dropping them. If you use The Steelers this week and hold them through their week 13 meeting with the Chargers, they get the Raiders in the first week of the fantasy playoffs.
- CIN vs CLE: Cleveland has been better since ditching Hue Jackson and Todd Haley, but they’re still a team to target, thanks largely to their affinity for letting Baker Mayfield get sacked.
How Did We Do Last Week?
For the second time this year, Tier 2 out-performed Tier 1, thanks to the Chargers busting, and everyone in Tier 2 doing well. The non-starter tier actually outperformed Tier 3 slightly, thanks to defensive TDs from the Giants, Rams, and Chiefs.
|Rank||Team||Opponent||O/U||Spread||Proj. FPTS||Act. FPTS|
|The Start Them With Confidence Tier||4.3|
|The Still a Fine Choice Tier||11.6|
|The Maybe You Can’t Find Something Better Tier||5.7|
|The Surely You Can Find Something Better Tier||5.9|
Jacob Herlin is a Senior Data Analyst for FantasyPros. For more from Jacob, follow him @jacoblawherlin.