Fantasy Defense Rankings Week 16: Who to start, sit at D/ST in fantasy football



No one enjoyed last week’s cavalcade of postponements and inactive players, but if there’s one fantasy football position that potentially benefited, it was D/ST. When key offensive players are out — especially offensive linemen and quarterbacks — suddenly there are more D/ST sleepers. Our Week 16 fantasy defense rankings already features a slew of potential streamers, so this is shaping up to be a week with no shortage of viable options for your start ’em, sit ’em decisions. 

The Eagles (vs. Giants), Chargers (@ Texans), Bengals (vs. Ravens), 49ers (@ Titans), Saints (vs. Dolphins), and Seahawks (vs. Bears) are all owned in about 50 percent of leagues and have solid matchups this week. The Saints are the riskiest, but they always have more upside at home. Even the consistently stellar Colts (@ Cardinals) aren’t widely owned, and despite a tough matchup, they’ve proven they can produce in any matchup. 

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | Kicker

If you really want to trust the stats, you can go with both sides of the Lions-Falcons and Jaguars-Jets games. None of these D/STs have done much of anything this year (though both the Lions and Jets are coming off big weeks), but all have top-10 matchups. If we had to pick one, the Jets have the most upside, but it’s worth noting the Jaguars played a bit better last week without Urban Meyer calling the shots, and Lions have been playing better lately, too. Still, you’d have to be pretty desperate (or in a very deep league) to consider one of these units with so many other potential streamers available.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | Kicker

In addition to being a solid week for streamers, it’s a good week for some of the most reliable defenses. The Cardinals (vs. Colts) have the most worrisome matchup among the top D/STs, but they can still be started because Carson Wentz is prone to mistakes. If Arizona can force Indianapolis into more passing situations than New England did last week, they can still pay off despite how mediocre they looked in a premium matchup against Detroit. The Steelers (@ Chiefs) and Ravens (@ Bengals) are still highly owned but look like stayaways this week.

More D/ST options will likely emerge throughout the week, especially if any QBs wind up on the injured/COVID lists. This can work the other way, too, if a team’s defense is decimated by ailing players. Keep track of all the updates, and be prepared to hit the free agent wire. You might have a solid D/ST, but there also might be a better option available. At this point in the season, every point matters. 

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 16: Who to start, sit at D/ST in fantasy football

Rank Player
1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ CAR
2 Buffalo Bills @ NE
3 Philadelphia Eagles vs. NYG
4 Miami Dolphins @ NO
5 Dallas Cowboys @ PHI
6 Los Angeles Rams @ MIN
7 Green Bay Packers vs. CLE
8 New England Patriots vs. BUF. The Patriots defense got beaten down by a run-heavy Colts attack last week, but we know Buffalo doesn’t have the personnel to do that. If they did, they would have done it during the bad-weather game against New England in Week 13 when the Pats had two sacks, a takeaway, and limited Buffalo to 10 offensive points. As long as Josh Allen drops back to pass his usual amount, New England will make enough plays to pay off as a fantasy starter. Given their overall consistency and big-play upside, the Pats still have a good ceiling, too.
9 Los Angeles Chargers @ HOU. Davis Mills has steadied the ship for the Texans in recent weeks, as the team has scored 43 offensive points while allowing just two sacks and one takeaway. This is where context matters, though: Houston was playing Seattle and Jacksonville. The Chargers aren’t a great fantasy D/ST, but with multiple takeaways in each of the past three games (eight total) to go along with nine sacks, they should be able to bother the rookie QB and have a solid fantasy day. 
10 Kansas City Chiefs vs. PIT. For all the Steelers’ offensive issues, they decidedly middle of the road in terms of giving up fantasy points to defenses. In the past three games, Pittsburgh has allowed nine sacks but just one takeaway while averaging 22.3 offensive points per game. The Chiefs continue torment offenses, though, forcing multiple turnovers in six straight games. The Chargers were able to move the ball on them last week, though, something we hadn’t seen in a while, and they didn’t allow any sacks. Perhaps that was largely because Chris Jones (reserve/COVID) was out, but either way, this could be another game where Kansas City is merely average against an offense that simply goes three-and-out a lot while finding its way to 17 points. Kansas City has a high ceiling and solid floor, so there’s no reason to shy away from it, but just know Pittsburgh can frustrate in multiple ways.
11 Indianapolis Colts @ ARI
12 Arizona Cardinals vs. IND
13 Cincinnati Bengals vs. BAL
14 San Francisco 49ers @ TEN
15 New Orleans Saints vs. MIA
16 Seattle Seahawks vs. CHI
17 Denver Broncos @ LV
18 Pittsburgh Steelers @ KC
19 New York Jets vs. JAX
20 Atlanta Falcons vs. DET
21 Las Vegas Raiders vs. DEN
22 Tennessee Titans vs. SF
23 Jacksonville Jaguars @ NYJ
24 Baltimore Ravens @ CIN
25 Cleveland Browns @ GB
26 Detroit Lions @ ATL
27 Chicago Bears @ SEA
28 New York Giants @ PHI
29 Carolina Panthers vs. TB
30 Minnesota Vikings vs. LAR
31 Washington Football Team @ DAL
32 Houston Texans vs. LAC


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