Finding right defenses to play for stretch run



With Week 13 of the NFL season upon us, it is important to remember that time is running out for you to make the fantasy football playoffs.

With the new 18-week season, most fantasy leagues have shifted their playoffs to start in Week 15, which means you have just two weeks left in your regular season. Whether you are on the bubble trying to get in or simply jockeying for position and a better seeding, every point counts. Wins are of the utmost of importance, and points-scored should remain a focus, especially if your league uses them for tiebreakers. That means, even the defense you are using should be optimized to the best of your ability.

The trick to streaming the right defense isn’t just about looking at who is playing a worse team. Depending on your scoring, points and yards allowed can be an important factor, but where you really want to look is the turnovers. That’s your bread and butter. Quarterback sacks are also big, because they lead to turnovers, but interceptions, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries are where you need to pay the most attention.

The Steelers defense could be an option this week for playoff-hunting fantasy football owners.
The Steelers defense could be an option this week for playoff-hunting fantasy football owners.

Most of the top defensive units like the Colts, Bills, Patriots and Buccaneers are likely on someone’s roster already. If not, those are your premier targets. They are four of the top five teams in takeaways and, regardless of opponent, should be used for their continued ball-hawking efforts. But there are a number of other teams that thrive on takeaways and could be sneaky adds for this week.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have just 10 takeaways on the season, but they will tangle Sunday with the Ravens, a team that has the seventh-most giveaways this season thanks to Lamar Jackson’s seven interceptions over his past three games. Most people are just assuming a Ravens victory, but that is irrelevant to the turnover battle. If Jackson gets careless, the Steelers will capitalize on his mistakes.

The Denver Broncos’ defense was left for dead on the waiver wire after they traded away Von Miller, but that may not matter much against a Chiefs team that has the second-most giveaways this season with 11 interceptions and 11 fumbles lost. Divisional games tend to be tough battles, and Denver’s secondary has 10 interceptions on the year.

The Dolphins’ defense has improved dramatically over the past few weeks and will face Mike Glennon under center for the Giants. Arizona should be extremely opportunistic against the Bears. These two, plus the aforementioned Steelers and Broncos, could be the difference-makers you need to push your way into the fantasy playoffs.

Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to for all your fantasy football advice.


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