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Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 13 (2023 Fantasy Football)

Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 13 (2023 Fantasy Football)

It happened! On Thanksgiving, Cowboys CB DaRon Bland recorded his NFL record fifth pick-six against the Commanders, and is a serious contender for defensive player of the year. If you have the Cowboys’ defense in fantasy – congratulations. For the rest of us, we’ll have to keep streaming.

Week 13 D/ST Projections

The fun of every team playing Thankgiving week is over, and fantasy football is serious business now. There are only 2 or 3 weeks remaining before the fantasy playoffs, and we have a season-high-tying six teams on bye – BAL, BUF, CHI, LV, MIN and NYG. With a couple good defenses and a couple target-worthy offenses on that list, competition for defenses on the waiver wire will be fierce. Fortunately there are quite a few low-rostership defenses toward the top of my ranks. Rostership numbers are from Yahoo on Tuesday, before waivers clear in most leagues. You can find me on Twitter.

Rank Team Vs. Vs. QB PA Sacks Turnovers FPTS Rost%
The Start Them With Confidence Tier
1 TB CAR Bryce Young 15.75 3.3 1.2 8.12 31%
2 JAC CIN Jake Browning 15 3.0 1.1 7.9 33%
3 LAR CLE Dorian Thompson-Robinson 17.75 3.0 1.2 7.15 7%
The Still a Fince Choice Tier
4 PIT ARI Kyler Murray 17.25 2.6 1.2 7.03 88%
5 MIA @WAS Sam Howell 20.25 3.3 1.2 6.95 89%
6 DAL SEA Geno Smith 18.5 2.8 1.2 6.82 100%
7 ATL @NYJ Tim Boyle 15.75 1.8 1.2 6.55 10%
8 NYJ ATL Desmond Ridder 18.25 2.6 1.1 6.53 68%
9 IND @TEN Will Levis 20.5 2.9 1.2 6.44 13%
10 LAC @NE Bailey Zappe 17.25 2.1 1.2 6.41 16%
11 KC @GB Jordan Love 17.75 2.2 1.2 6.39 91%
The Surely You Can Find Something Better Tier
12 HOU DEN Russell Wilson 21.5 3.0 1.2 6.37 13%
13 CLE @LAR Matthew Stafford 21.75 2.7 1.2 6.23 92%
14 CAR @TB Baker Mayfield 21.25 2.4 1.2 5.93 5%
15 TEN IND Gardner Minshew II 22.5 2.7 1.1 5.85 39%
16 ARI @PIT Kenny Pickett 22.75 2.6 1.2 5.71 1%
17 SF @PHI Jalen Hurts 22 2.5 1.1 5.63 98%
18 DET @NO Derek Carr 21 2.0 1.2 5.49 54%
19 NE LAC Justin Herbert 23.25 2.3 1.2 5.4 44%
20 DEN @HOU C.J. Stroud 25 2.5 1.1 5.21 55%
21 PHI SF Brock Purdy 24.5 2.4 1.1 5.2 75%
22 CIN @JAC Trevor Lawrence 23.5 2.1 1.2 5.14 33%
23 GB KC Patrick Mahomes II 24.25 1.8 1.2 4.71 15%
24 NO DET Jared Goff 25 1.9 1.1 4.66 49%
25 SEA @DAL Dak Prescott 27.5 2.3 1.1 4.54 31%
26 WAS MIA Tua Tagovailoa 29.75 2.1 1.2 3.87 28%


  1. TB vs CAR: In the preseason, we would have rated Bryce Young as the rookie QB with the lowest likelihood of being a premier fantasy defense target. But here we are – defenses facing the panthers have scored 7 or more fantasy points in 9 out of 11 games. The team hasn’t had multiple offensive touchdowns in a game since Week 6. The Panthers just fired head coach Frank Reich, and while it’s not unusual for teams to bounce back the week after a coach firing, that doesn’t scare me away from what looks like a home-run fantasy matchup for the Buccaneers at home.
  2. JAC vs CIN: Last week, Bengals QB Jake Browning had his first full start against the Steelers, as Joe Burrow had surgery for his season-ending wrist injury. Browning did not impress, leading the team to just 10 points while taking four sacks. He only threw one interception, but got a bit lucky in that regard – two different passes were deflected off of defenders’ hands and into the arms of Ja’Marr Chase. This version of the Bengals should be no match for a pretty good Jaguars defense.
  3. LAR vs CLE: Browns QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson left last week’s game in Denver with a concussion. It remains to be seen how quickly he moves through the protocol and if he’ll play this week. If he doesn’t, that will likely mean P.J. Walker gets the start (though there is an outside chance of Joe Flacco). DTR and Walker are both great matchups for the Rams, but Walker is a bit more fantasy-friendly due to a stronger tendency to take sacks. Last week Walker took four sacks while playing just 21 snaps.
  4. PIT vs ARI: We are now three weeks in to the return of Kyler Murray for the Cardinals, and he hasn’t really impressed, taking 9 total sacks and leading the team to an average of just 18.3 points. I expect Murray to get better over time as he gets acclimated to playing again, but that will take time. I don’t think we’ll see a big step forward on the road against a Steelers defense that has been able to capitalize on a lot of similarly good matchups this year.
  5. MIA @ WAS: Sam Howell did Sam Howell things against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, which is to say he threw for 300 yards in a game where the Commanders only scored 10 points. There’s always a bit of risk facing Howell becuase he is such a gunslinger, but the upside is massive. A big part of what makes him such a great matchup is the fact that the Commanders throw on a league-leading 68% of plays. Pass play percentage is strongly correlated with fantasy defense scoring, because all sacks and interceptions, as well as more than half of fumbles, happen when the offense is passing.
  6. DAL vs SEA: Geno Smith and the Seahawks have struggled against good defenses lately, including a 6-sack performance against the 49ers last week. That won’t let up, as Seattle gets Dallas, the 49ers again, then the Eagles over their next three weeks. The Cowboys are a locked-and-loaded stud of a fantasy defense in an above-average matchup like this.
  7. ATL @ NYJ: Tim Boyle made his first full start for the Jets last week, in place of the benched Zach Wilson. We knew Boyle would be interception-prone. Last week I questioned if he would have the sack-based floor that Wilson had, and the answer is an unequivocal yes. The Dolphins got to him a league-leading 7 times. The Falcons defense isn’t exactly good, but I’m still willing to run them out there in a 5-star matchup like this one.
  8. NYJ vs ATL: The Falcons offense has been a medium-good defense matchup this year. Desmond Ridder‘s offense has been consistently underwhelming, but it’s been hit or miss whether that comes with the sacks and turnovers needed for a good fantasy defense performance. For all the Jets’ offensive struggles, they still have one of the best defenses in the league and and this is a very good matchup at home.
  9. IND @ TEN: The Colts defense has been hot lately, capitalizing on three good matchups in a row. The Titans aren’t as juicy a team to target as the Panthers and Patriots were, but they’re still a good one. Titans QB Will Levis had a good season debut with four TDs in Week 8, but this offense has struggled to do much of anything in the four games since.
  10. LAC @ NE: The Patriots benched Mac Jones for Bailey Zappe at halftime, in a game where neither QB was able to do much against the New York Giants, of all teams. The Chargers and Giants are both among the weakest defenses in the league, but neither defense is as bad as this disaster of a Patriots offense.
  11. KC @ GB: The Packers and Jordan Love pulled of an impressive upset against the Lions on Thanksgiving, and appear to be in the process of turning their season around. The 5-6 Packers could end up with 8 to 10 Wins by the end of the season thanks to a favorable schedule, but the Chiefs this week are a big exception. The Defense has been Kansas City’s better half this year, and if they can hold high-powered offenses like the Eagles and Dolphins to moderate scores, they can do it against the Packers too.

Stashes/Holds for Week 14+

Depending on your league, there are only 2 or 3 weeks left before the fantasy playoffs. I’ve been offering suggestions for teams to stash all season, but this is the point where it starts to be worth the bench spot in typical leagues. Do you really need that 6th wide receiver? Here are some teams that could be worth stashing on the bench or holding on to after starting this week:

  • Atlanta Falcons (@ NYJ this week, @ CAR Week 15) – The Jets and Panthers matchups are both too good to pass up for most defenses. While the Falcons’ defense isn’t good by any stretch, it’s not bad enough for me to sit against either of these teams. So if you use them against the Jets this week, they’re worth a bench spot in Week 14 to get to the Panthers matchup.
  • Buffalo Bills (on bye this week, vs NE Week 17) – The Bills have a bye and then three straight tough matchups against the Chiefs, Cowboys and Chargers. Keep an eye out for any team that might drop them during that stretch, because they could be league winners against a tasty Patriots matchup in the fantasy finals.
  • Chicago Bears (on bye this week, @ CLE Week 15, vs ARI Week 16, vs ATL Week 17). The Bears aren’t playable for the next two weeks with their bye and a Lions matchup, but they follow that up with three nice matchups in Weeks 15-17.
  • Cleveland Browns (@LAR this week, vs CHI Week 15, vs NYJ Week 17). The excellent Browns defense is worth holding on to through their tough matchups, because they have two great ones in Weeks 15 and 17. They also get the Jake Browning-led Bengals in Week 18, if you’re in one of those leagues.
  • Green Bay Packers (vs KC this week, then @ NYG Week 14, vs TB Week 15, @ CAR Week 16). The Packers are absolutely not playable against the Chiefs this week, but they have great matchups against the Giants and Panthers in Week 14 and 16. They could also be useful against the Buccaneers in between, if you don’t have other options.
  • Houston Texans (vs DEN this week, then @ NYJ Week 14, @ TEN Week 15 and vs TEN Week 17). I’m not really interested in starting the Texans against the Broncos this week, but they have an excellent Jets matchup next week, and should be viable in both of their Titans games as well.
  • Indianapolis Colts (@ TEN this week, then @ CIN Week 14, vs PIT Week 15, @ ATL Week 16). The Colts should be a good but not great start for four straight weeks, starting with the Titans this week.
  • Los Angeles Rams (vs CLE this week, vs WAS Week 15, @ NYG Week 17). The Rams are one of a handful of teams with great matchups in Weeks 15 and 17.
  • New Orleans Saints (vs DET this week, then vs CAR Week 14 and vs NYG Week 15). After this week, the Saints get two back-to-back good matchups at home to close out the fantasy regular season.
  • Philadelphia Eagles (vs SF this week, @ SEA Week 15, vs CIN Week 16, vs ARI). The Eagles have the first of two non-starter matchups this week, but starting Week 15 they have a very kind schedule for the rest of the season afterwards.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs CAR this week, @ ATL Week 14). The Bucs have two good matchups starting this week, and become droppable from Week 15 onward.

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