This is the best time of year. In most leagues, the playoffs will be decided this week. If you need a win this week, then you’re in luck – three of my top four defenses are owned in less than 30% of leagues, and the other one is owned in only 41%. If you’re already locked for the playoffs, or have some extra room on your bench, you should be thinking about who you’re starting in the playoffs. With that in mind:
- If you have Chicago, hold on for dear life. You’ll need someone else for week 14 (PIT@OAK should be available).
- Houston also has a tough week 14 against the Colts, but an otherwise nice playoff schedule.
- The Rams, Denver, Tennessee, Detroit, and Washington, in the order I’d prefer to have them, all look like they’ll be usable through the duration of the playoffs.
- If you’re in one of those weird leagues where the first playoff period is week 14-15 and the second period is weeks 16-17, the Bills and Lions both look good for the first period, and the Rams, Patriots, Packers, and Dolphins look good for the second period.
Show Me Your Ranks
This is a great week for streaming for three reasons:
- There are no more byes, so every team is on the board.
- The top four teams are all widely available, so you likely won’t need to dip into Tier 2 if you don’t want to.
- A nice chunk of your fantasy league is already eliminated from playoff contention, so there will be less competition on the waiver wire from teams with nothing to play for.
As always, I’m happy to answer questions on Twitter.
|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
- GB vs ARI: Last week, Arizona proved yet again that they’re a team to target, giving 8 fantasy points to the slightly-above-average Chargers defense. The similarly-slightly-above-average Green Bay defense has a good shot at being available in your league, and are a great start this week.
- TEN vs NYJ: The Jets continued to show us what the AFC East is made of, scoring just 13 points against New England. Tennessee has similar upside against Sam Darnold, who leads the league in interceptions.
- SEA vs SF: The Nick Mullens experiment came crashing back to earth, scoring only 9 points against one of the worst defenses in the league in Tampa Bay. Now, the 49ers have to face a much better Seattle defense on the road.
- MIA vs BUF: This game has the lowest over-under of the week, thanks to the fact that both teams are better on defense than on offense. Miami is favored by 5 points at home, and are owned in only 11% of leagues. This is a great week for streaming.
- CHI @ NYG: I’m a big advocate of streaming, but every year there is one defense that makes it unnecessary if you own them. Last year it was Jacksonville. This year it’s Chicago. They don’t project quite as high as the rest of Tier 1, but they have the highest floor of the bunch. There is no way you don’t start the Bears if you have the opportunity.
- KC @ OAK: In case you haven’t heard, Oakland is garbage. Actually, that’s not fair. Oakland is the most passionate fan base in football and is getting abandoned by their team. The Raiders are garbage. They made Baltimore the highest-scoring fantasy defense last week, and give Kansas City huge turnover upside this week. #TankForTua
- HOU vs CLE: Since the firing of Hue Jackson and Todd Haley, the Browns are 2-0 and on fire. (For those keeping score, Jackson’s new team, the Bengals, are 0-2. He’s like a curse.) However, Houston is the 3rd-best real football defense in the league (behind Chicago and Buffalo). Both Vegas and my model think this is unsustainable. With J.J. Watt playing like himself again, the Browns should return to sack-happy form.
- PHI vs WAS: Despite how bad the Eagles have been lately, they are still 6.5-point favorites, which tells you just how bad Washingon is. Washington has just been riddled with injuries for two years now. Maybe they’re the team that’s cursed.
- LAR @ DET: The Lions receiving core just got a lot more manageable with the loss of Marvin Jones. The Rams are probably not available in your league, but if you have them, there’s no reason to bench them now.
- IND @ JAC: The Jaguars finally did it. They benched Blake Bortles and fired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Cody Kessler is certainly a better quarterback than Bortles, and a possum rolling dice would be a better play caller. Still, with these changes and the suspension of Leonard Fournette (that is, the entire offense), the Jags are in exactly the kind of turmoil we want to target in fantasy, and the Colts are in the midst of a 5-game winning streak where they’ve allowed an average of less than 20 points per game.
How Was Last Week?
Last week’s top tier performed very well, with the notable exception of a complete dud from Jacksonville, who failed to record any sacks or turnovers. Every other Tier-1 team scored at least 8 fantasy points, for an average of 9.3 for the tier. Tier-2 only had one team who performed – Buffalo at 7 points. The rest of the tier was mediocre, with Cincinnati collapsing to the tune of 35 points allowed with no sacks or turnovers. Tier 2’s average of 2.1 points was below the 5.1-point average for the bottom tier. That was supported largely by big days from Tampa Bay, who held San Francisco to 9 points, and New Orleans, who recorded 6 sacks and 4 turnovers.
|Rank||Team||Opponent||O/U||Spread||Proj. FPTs||Act FPTS|
|The Start Them With Confidence Tier||9.3|
|The Still a Fine Choice Tier||2.2|
|The Surely You Can Find Something Better Tier||5.1|
Jacob Herlin is a Senior Data Analyst for FantasyPros. For more from Jacob, follow him @jacoblawherlin.
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