Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 12 (2020 Fantasy Football)
It’s Week 12, so the fantasy playoffs are right around the corner. With bye weeks mostly done (we still have CAR and TB in Week 13), it’s time to plan ahead. You probably don’t need that extra QB or TE, and you mostly know at this point which RBs and WRs have a chance of making it into your lineup. Depending on your bench size, this means there’s probably at least one spot you can devote to stashing a defense for the playoffs.
Here is a calendar of all the teams that have matchups I’m interested in during the fantasy playoffs. This is based on week 14-16 playoffs, but I’ve also included week 17 matchups if you’re stuck in one of those leagues. I’ve grouped the teams by the number of good matchups they have in weeks 14-16, and ordered them by preference within those groups.
|Three Good Week 14-16 Matchups|
|Two Good Week 14-16 Matchups|
|One Good Week 14-16 Matchup|
Arizona is the clear top choice, with excellent matchups in all three weeks and only 15% rostership. Dallas has a similarly good schedule, but I’m much more hesitant about them because their defense is weak overall. If your playoffs are just weeks 15 and 16, Baltimore and Cleveland are both excellent choices. In leagues with three playoff weeks, the two-good-matchup teams have a week you’ll need to fill in with someone else. None of the other teams with good Week 15 matchups have particularly low ownership, so be extra careful if you’re building around Houston or Carolina.
Week 12 Ranks
With no teams on bye this week, there are a lot of good options. Six teams is as big as I think my first tier has ever been, and most of them have middling rostership, meaning your chance of getting a Tier-1 team is pretty high. Rostership numbers are from Yahoo on Tuesday morning, before Week 12 waivers have cleared in most leagues. You can find me on Twitter.
|The Start Them With Confidence Tier|
|The Still a Fine Choice Tier|
|The Surely You Can Find Something Better Tier|
- CLE @ JAC: While 21.25 is a low points allowed projection, it’s actually the highest in the tier, with the rest of my tier-1 teams below 20 points. The difference is that the Jake Luton-led Jaguars get the highest turnover projection of the week. He had a complete meltdown last week with four interceptions, bringing him to six total in three games. It’s possible that Gardner Minshew is able to start this week. If that happens, the Browns drop down to my second tier (ranks 6-10), but at this point it looks more likely that Luton starts again.
- NYG @ CIN: The Bengals are the next in the long line of teams to have their season killed by a major injury to their quarterback. It sucks for football as a whole, but Ryan Finley becoming the starter takes the Bengals from good to great as a DST matchup. The Giants are below average on defense, but I would start anyone but the absolute worst defense (which is New England, by the way) against this Bengals team. At only 17% rostership, the Giants are likely to be the best available team in your league.
- GB vs CHI: The Bears are bad. They have not topped 23 points in seven games with Nick Foles as the starter. It’s unclear if Foles will start this week after suffering a hip injury last week, but Mitch Trubisky replacing him won’t really make a difference from the Packers’ perspective. The two are neck-and-neck in FiveThirtyEight’s quarterback ratings. The fact that this game is in Lambeau Field means this is about as difficult as situations get for the Bears.
- LAR vs SF: Nick Mullens isn’t very good. The 49ers know how to manage not-very-good quarterbacks, so expect them to try and run the ball a lot, thereby limiting Mullens’s opportunities to give away turnovers and sacks. That strategy is hard to stick to when the offense isn’t working, which is exactly what happened in the 49ers’ last two games, where Mullens eclipsed 35 pass attempts while the team failed to score 20 points. With a point projection under 20, Vegas seems to expect that this will happen again.
- NO @ DEN: Drew Lock “bounced back” from his 4-interception performance in Week 10, but you don’t have to go very far to improve on that, and he didn’t. Lock failed to record a passing TD against Miami, but kept it to just one interception and no sacks taken. That game broke a streak for lock of four games with 40+ pass attempts. The Saints have the best run defense in the league (and a pretty good pass defense), so I think it’s likely that Lock is forced to throw a lot again, which gives the Saints’ DST plenty of upside.
- MIA @ NYJ: The Jets’ offense has had two decent games since Joe Flacco took over as starter in Week 9, scoring 27 and 28 points against the Patriots and Chargers. That’s an improvement over his two starts in Week 5 and Week 6, but two solid games is not a pattern. I’m still happy to start Miami this week, but my confidence against Flacco has cracked just enough to knock them to the bottom of my first tier, instead of the top spot that’s usually occupied by whoever faces the Jets.
- CIN vs NYG: It’s not often that a 5.5-point underdog makes it into my top-10 defenses, but Daniel Jones is as reliable as sack targets get. He’s currently on a four-game streak of three or more sacks, and averages 3.1 per game this season. A relatively poor defense like the Bengals is startable here, even if it’s not my top choice.
- SEA @ PHI: Speaking of monster QBs to target, Carson Wentz leads the league in sacks, interceptions and fumbles. That sounds like it would mean his opponent is an A+ target, but one complication is that the Seahawks’ defense is pretty bad. Their season-long metrics have improved quite a bit with solid performances against the Rams and Cardinals over the last two weeks, but that Rams game is the only one where they’ve allowed fewer than 27 points. The sky is the limit here, but the weakness in Seattle’s defense means there’s not really a floor either.
- DAL vs WAS: Despite their overall struggles as a team, Dallas’ defense is average, which is good enough to take advantage of a good-but-not-great matchup against Alex Smith. He’s only had two starts and four games overall, but Smith has yet to have more than one passing touchdown in a game, which is kind of wild considering Terry McLaurin is one of his receivers.
- IND vs TEN: While the rest of this tier consists of average-to-bad defenses in good matchups, the Colts are an excellent defense in an OK matchup. They are great against the run, which matches up well with the Titans’ strength. I don’t totally love this play, but if you want to keep starting the Colts after what they’ve done so far this season, this isn’t the week I’ll tell you to stop.
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