Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 12 (2021 Fantasy Football)
It’s Thanksgiving week, which means you’re either planning for the fantasy playoffs, or getting into basketball. It’s still too early to generate real projections for the playoff weeks, but I thought it might be helpful to run through the teams I would be hesitant about dropping. I don’t endorse hoarding defenses exactly, but I think it can be worth carrying a second one leading into the playoffs in reasonably deep leagues. Assuming that most leagues have playoffs in Weeks 16-17, with some including Week 15 and a few including Week 18, these are the teams with good looking schedules:
- BUF – This one is kind of obvious, at 97% rostership you probably don’t need me to tell you not to drop them. They have great matchups in Week 15 (CAR), 17 (ATL) and 18 (NYJ), and I wouldn’t feel terrible against NE in Week 16 either.
- TB – The Buccaneers have a great playoff schedule, with NO, CAR, NYJ and CAR again in that order for the last four weeks of the season.
- TEN – The Titans should also be usable for all of the last four weeks of the season, with PIT, SF, MIA and HOU.
- MIN – If your league has a full four-week playoff, the Vikings get to play the Bears (who might fire their coach) in Weeks 15 and 18.
- SF – The 49ers get great matchups vs ATL in Week 15 and HOU in Week 17, and a decent one vs TEN in between.
- PHI – The Eagles have a beautiful schedule, and should be usable every week for the rest of the season, with the exception of their Week 14 bye, and Week 18 game against Dallas. They’re also only 18% rostered right now.
- LAC – The Chargers are perfect for a league with a simple two-week playoff, with Houston in Week 16 and Denver in Week 17.
I’ll have a full projection calendar as we get closer to the playoffs, but this should be a good starting point if you’re looking to spend an extra roster spot on a second defense.
The list of defenses I feel good about is shorter than it was last week, despite only two teams (ARI and KC) being on bye. Sometimes the schedule just shakes out that way. To compensate, my top two teams have quite low rostership, so it’s unlikely you’ll need to reach for a team outside my Top 7. Rostership numbers are from yahoo. You can find me on Twitter.
|The Start Them With Confidence Tier|
|The Still a Fine Choice Tier|
|The Maybe You Can’t Find Something Better Tier|
|The Surely You Can Find Something Better Tier|
- CHI @ DET: Jared Goff missed starting for the Lions last week with an oblique injury, but I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t notice. It’s hard for the lions to get much worse, and the quarterback isn’t the whole problem. We don’t know if Goff will be back this week. Given that it’s a Thursday game, I’m operating under the assumption that Tim Boyle will start again. It doesn’t make a huge difference though – it’s hard to imagine any quarterback succeeding in this offense. If Goff starts the Bears might drop a spot or two in my rankings, but they’ll stay solidly in Tier 1.
- PHI @ NYG: The Eagles are making a quiet case for the best value among fantasy defenses. They’re nothing special in real football terms, but against DET, DEN and NO over the past few weeks they’ve proven that they can take advantage of a good matchup, and their remaining schedule is excellent. Not only are they a great choice this week, and probably available in your league, but if you can afford to keep them on your bench through their Week 14 bye, I would be holding on to Philly for the rest of the season.
- NE @ TEN: Titans QB Ryan Tannehill fell apart last week, throwing four interception to Houston of all teams. Despite their overall success this season, Vegas seems to think the Titans will struggle again against New England. I don’t expect another turnover-fest (though it’s always a possibility), but Tannehill comes with a lot of sack potential as well.
- BUF @ NO: Trevor Siemian has actually been OK since taking over for the Saints, though it hasn’t really translated into wins. I don’t expect him to fare as well this week against the best defense in the league.
- WAS vs SEA: It feels weird to rank a team facing Russell Wilson as a starter, but he’s struggled mightily in the two weeks since he returned from injury, and it’s looking like a lost season for the 3-7 Seahawks. If their scoring struggles – and Wilson’s wonderfully consistent sack habit – continue, this should be a good spot for the Football Team.
- LAC @ DEN: Speaking of lost seasons, that’s every season for the Broncos. Teddy Bridgewater isn’t a total disaster from a turnover perspective – he has just one multi-interception game this season. But he takes plenty of sacks, and the Chargers are one of only a handful of AFC teams that feel like they actually belong in the NFL.
- GB vs LAR: Before the Lions’ bye, Matthew Stafford had back-to-back two-interception games, which is somewhat out of character. Visiting Green Bay isn’t exactly the easiest place to right the ship. Starting the Packers is a bet that the Rams will continue to slide, and that’s a bet I feel decent about taking.
- CIN vs PIT: Ben Roethlisberger had a good game against the Chargers in his return from the Covid list, even if it wasn’t better than the game Justin Herbert had. If the projected 20.75 points seems low for the Steelers that’s because it is, but it’s not without precedent. The Steelers scored below that line for six straight weeks (2-8) earlier in the season, including losing 24-10 the last time they played the Bengals. Last week’s 37 points was their best performance by a significant margin. If you don’t think they can repeat that – which is pretty reasonable – the Bengals are a good start.
- PIT vs CIN: It’s a sign that this is a tough week when a 24-point team makes it into my top 10, but Joe Burrow loves to get sacked. That, combined with an above-average turnover rate, pushes the Steelers above teams like Houston and Miami that have lower points allowed projections. This is a risky play – it’s called the Maybe-You-Can’t-Find-Something-Better Tier for a reason – but the upside is there.
- HOU vs NYJ: This is the backup plan. I don’t feel great about Houston, but they are facing the Jets, and are almost certainly available in your league. Joe Flacco didn’t do a whole lot in his first start for New York. His personal stats don’t look bad – 2 TDs, almost 300 yards, only one turnover and two sacks. But that still only translated into 17 points against the Dolphins. For all Houston’s struggles as an offense, their defense is fine, and not the kind of liability you would expect from a team with such a bad reputation overall.