If there’s one thing fantasy football owners don’t need the week before the fantasy playoffs, it’s four good D/STs on bye. Our Week 14 fantasy defense rankings are definitely feeling the losses of the Patriots, Colts, Dolphins, and Eagles, and they’re further weakened by some of the tough matchups for highly owned defenses. That opens the door for several legit sleepers and waiver wire streamers, but it’s still a tough week overall.
First, let’s look at the unfavorable matchups. The Rams (@ Cardinals), Cardinals (vs. Rams), Buccaneers (vs. Bills), and Bills (@ Buccaneers) are in a little group of death, at least for fantasy owners. The Rams and Bills have had some turnover issues lately, so the Cardinals and Bucs are still very much in play, but it’s reasonable to expect fewer points than usual. The Steelers (@ Vikings) and Ravens (@ Browns) are also in relatively tough spots on the road, at least according to the matchup stats. Given some of their recent struggles, it’s reasonable to keep them on the bench, but we all know both defenses have big-play potential.
WEEK 14 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | Kicker
The Packers (vs. Bears), Panthers (vs. Falcons), Titans (vs. Jaguars), Broncos (vs. Lions), Saints (@ Jets), Seahawks (@ Texans), and Chargers (vs. Giants) are all under 50-percent owned in Yahoo leagues, and all have starting potential this week. The matchup numbers all say “yes” even if the season-long numbers say “no” for some of those defenses.
WEEK 14 PPR RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | Kicker
The decision to trust one of these defenses or stick with your usual starting unit comes down to whether you think you’ll need big points or just a solid floor. A team like the Seahawks or Chargers could easily bust despite the favorable matchups, while the Rams and Bills will almost certainly get some sacks and a turnover or two. We generally recommend playing the matchups, but clearly this is the type of week that will put that strategy to the ultimate test.
As tough of a week as this shapes up to be, it’s good to know there are options. Big plays will ultimately rule the day, so evaluate your team needs and available D/STs and go from there.
Note: We’ll be updating these D/ST rankings throughout the week, so check back for the latest analysis and player movement.
Fantasy Defense Rankings Week 14: Who to start, sit at D/ST in fantasy football
|1||Green Bay Packers vs. CHI. The Packers will have the occasional down game, but they’ve produced multiple takeaways in eight out of 12 games this year. Combine that with a healthy sack total, and you have a defense that’s primed to take advantage of a struggling offense in a home prime-time game. It doesn’t matter who the Bears start in this one.|
|2||Carolina Panthers vs. ATL. Atlanta entered Week 13 in the top three for most fantasy points per game (FPPG) allowed to D/STs, then promptly gave up five sacks and a takeaway while scoring just 11 offensive points against the Bucs. The Panthers are rested and ready for this home matchup and should get back to the high-scoring ways they showed earlier in the season.|
|3||Dallas Cowboys @ WAS. Washington has allowed just two sacks and two takeaways the past two games combined, but the Cowboys are one of the premier turnover defenses in the NFL. They’re fresh off a four-takeaway game in New Orleans, and with 14 sacks in their past five games, they can pressure the quarterback, too.|
|4||Tennessee Titans vs. JAX. We keep waiting for Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars’ offense to figure it out, but it’s not happening. Over their past six games, the Jags have managed just 64 total offensive points while allowing 12 sacks and nine takeaways. Tennessee certainly has its issues on defense, but after a week of rest, this high-pressured unit should be able to force several mistakes and keep the score low.|
|5||Denver Broncos vs. DET. The Lions finally showed signs of life on offense last week, but they still turned it over twice and allowed three sacks. The Broncos are well equipped to take advantage of a sloppy offense. Over their past five games, they’ve allowed an average of 15.8 offensive points per game while racking up 12 sacks and eight takeaways.|
|6||New Orleans Saints @ NYJ. With Zach Wilson back under center, the Jets offense looked more efficient last week…at least at the start of the game. It still scored just 18 offensive points. The Saints are a similar defense to Philadelphia’s, so there’s risk for a similar mediocre performance (two sacks, one takeaway), but if the Jets don’t start as fast (likely), then the Saints should be in position for a better day.|
|7||Arizona Cardinals vs. LAR. The Rams had allowed seven takeaways and three defensive TDs before tearing up the Jaguars in Week 13. We’re not going to say all of their offensive issues are fixed, but we also aren’t going to say they’ll continue struggling as much as they did in Weeks 9-12. The Cardinals have been one of the top fantasy defenses all season, and they’re coming off a three-sack, four-takeaway game of their own. Their output in this matchup could be similar to their Week 4 showing against in the Rams when they had no sacks and two takeaways while allowing 20 offensive points, but based on how each team has been playing, we think their floor and ceiling are at least a little higher.|
|8||Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. BUF. In the four games prior to Week 13, Buffalo allowed nine sacks and 11 takeaways. Clearly, an opportunistic defense like Tampa’s can take advantage of those types of numbers. The Bucs will give up yards and points, as they often do, but with 15 sacks and 10 takeaways in their past four games, they figure to once again a decent floor and sky-high ceiling.|
|9||Seattle Seahawks @ HOU. Seattle’s defense has been poor all year, but it’s been trending in the right direction the past two weeks. The Seahawks have allowed just 40 points while amassing two sacks and four takeaways. Those numbers aren’t great, but they’re solid enough to put them in starting lineups ahead of a matchup against Houston. The Texans are a mess and will start either a banged-up Tyrod Taylor (wrist) or Davis Mills at QB.|
|10||Buffalo Bills @ TB. It’s strength on strength, as Buffalo’s top-tier defense takes on a Tampa’s seemingly unstoppable offense. For what it’s worth, the Bucs have thrown at least one INT in five straight games (seven overall) and have allowed a few other big plays in that span. Buffalo has the playmakers to post decent numbers here, but its ceiling is significantly lower than usual.|
|11||Los Angeles Rams @ ARI. Even when Colt McCoy was starting, the Cardinals’ offense didn’t allow many fantasy points to D/STs, so with Kyler Murray back, this is a daunting matchup for the Rams. L.A. had been in a slump before shutting down the Jaguars, but you can argue it should be ranked lower than this, but it has the talent to come through in any matchup.|
|12||Los Angeles Chargers vs. NYG. New York might be starting third-straight QB Jake Fromm this week, but even in a “best-case scenario,” turnover-prone Daniel Jones (neck) will be under center. Even the Chargers defense, which has been as uninspiring as virtually any prior to last week, can come through in a big way in that matchup.|
|13||Minnesota Vikings vs. PIT|
|14||Kansas City Chiefs vs. LV|
|15||Cleveland Browns vs. BAL|
|16||Baltimore Ravens @ CLE|
|17||Pittsburgh Steelers @ MIN|
|18||Las Vegas Raiders @ KC|
|19||Atlanta Falcons @ CAR|
|20||New York Jets vs. NO|
|21||San Francisco 49ers @ CIN|
|22||New York Giants @ LAC|
|23||Cincinnati Bengals vs. SF|
|24||Detroit Lions @ DEN|
|25||Chicago Bears @ GB|
|26||Washington Football Team vs. DAL|
|27||Jacksonville Jaguars @ TEN|
|28||Houston Texans vs. SEA|