Fantasy Football DEF/ST Strategy for Week 13
Week 12 was one for the books…especially when you consider that as I am writing this, it’s not even officially over yet. We have a Wednesday game (hopefully) between two of the best fantasy DEF/ST in the league, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. While COVID wreaked havoc on the NFL offenses this week, D/STs seem to have taken full advantage. Most weeks so far in 2020, we have been lucky to see two or three DEF TDs. Up to this week, there had only been 35 total defensive TDs scored in 11 weeks. This week alone there were 10! Almost 25% of all DEF/ST touchdowns for the season were scored in Week 12. And the week isn’t even over yet! Let’s recap who benefited most from a crazy Thanksgiving weekend and who we might be talking about after the last week of the fantasy regular season.
Note: This article is written on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, thus the stats and rankings mentioned will not include the Pittsburgh vs Baltimore game.
Week 12 Top Performances
Atlanta Falcons vs LV
At one point this season, the Falcons were one of the last teams to not have a top-12 finish. Now, they have a top-1 finish after they demolished the Raiders. The Falcons defense scored a TD on a Derek Carr interception in the 3rd quarter and only allowed the Raiders to score two field goals. That means Atlanta’s DEF had more TDs and the same amount of points as the Raiders’ offense. Add on five QB sacks and four fumble recoveries and you have your top fantasy DEF for Week 12.
Week 13 Matchup: vs NO
Putting it plainly, you’re not starting ATL here. They were only rostered in 1% of fantasy leagues last week and they managed just five fantasy points against New Orleans just a week ago.
Carolina Panthers @ MIN
This is two straight weeks as the #2 fantasy defense for Carolina. I shied away from them in this matchup thinking that Dalvin Cook would be too much for them. The Panthers held him in check but got pretty well torched by Kirk Cousins. However, when you score a DEF/ST touchdown on back-to-back plays, it tends to propel you up the ranks. In the 3rd quarter, Kirk Cousins fumbled the ball and it was returned for a TD by Steve Atwater’s nephew, Jeremy Chinn. Then on the next play of the next drive, Dalvin Cook fumbled and it was returned for a TD…by Jeremy Chinn. That means that Jeremy Chinn scored more TDs in Week 12 than nine offenses did…including the Panthers. Carolina added two sacks and another fumble recovery, for three total in the game, and landed themselves at DEF2 for the 2nd straight week.
Week 13 Matchup: Bye
San Francisco 49ers @ LAR
Despite all of their injury woes, the 49ers’ DEF still has some fight. They allowed just 14 points scored against them this week and even scored a TD of their own when rookie DT Javon Kinlaw snagged an INT and took it back 27 yards for a TD. They only sacked Jared Goff twice but forced four turnovers. Those takeaways and that TD are good enough to land them in the top-3 this week.
Week 13 Matchup: vs BUF
I don’t love the matchup but Josh Allen is no stranger to turnovers, so a repeat performance is possible. This is also not a true home game, as the 49ers will have to play in Arizona for the month of December. Overall, the Bills give up the 8th fewest points to DEF/ST and you should consider the 49ers a deep-stream with a low ceiling.
Week 13 Starts
Miami Dolphins vs CIN
The Miami D/ST bounced back great against the Jets last week and gets another depleted offense in Week 13. Brandon Allen looked pretty bad for the Bengals last week and the offense only managed one TD. The Bengals give up the 5th most fantasy points to D/ST, so you can fire up Miami with confidence this week again.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs WAS
Unless something crazy happens in this Wednesday night game vs Baltimore, Pittsburgh will be one of the safest starts at D/ST in Week 13…just as they have been all season long. Washington gives up the 7th most points to fantasy DEF and Pittsburgh is the best fantasy DEF in the league.
Green Bay Packers vs PHI
The Eagles offense is a mess and gives up the 4th most points to fantasy defenses on the year. They are one of only two teams that average 2+ turnovers-per-game. It’s not good. The Packers haven’t been great this season but they have scored 4+ fantasy points in each of their last four games and average 7+ fantasy points on DEF at home this year.
Stream of the Week
Las Vegas Raiders @ NYJ
Will I ever stop picking on the Jets? Probably not. They sure make things easy for the streaming crowd. I’m sure you’re tired of reading this every week but here we go: The Jets give up the most fantasy points to DEF/ST and have allowed 5+ fantasy points in every game but one this season. The Raiders are coming off of a thrashing from Atlanta but this is the best possible rebound game. The Raiders are available in 91% of leagues on Yahoo right now.
Other Options: Chargers, Bears, Bills, 49ers
Week 13 Sits
New York Giants @ SEA
The Giants are a top-10 fantasy defense and Seattle hasn’t exactly set the world on fire as of late but we’ve seen too much good from Russell Wilson to gamble here. Seattle gives up the 24th fewest points to fantasy DEF and hasn’t allowed more than three fantasy points in either of their last two games.
Cleveland Browns @ TEN
This might be the game where all the injuries and COVID issues take their toll on Cleveland. They scored zero fantasy points against Mike Glennon and Jacksonville last week and Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, and AJ Brown will prove to be much too much for them to handle in Week 13. The Titans give up the 5th fewest points to fantasy D/ST.
Minnesota Vikings vs JAX
The Jaguars did not allow a single stat for the Cleveland defense last week. No sacks, no interceptions, no fumbles. While they give up the 10th most points to fantasy defenses, they can still hold their own against bad defenses. Cleveland isn’t necessarily bad, they were just missing many parts on defense. Minnesota is bad. They scored more than five fantasy points just three times this season and have managed to score zero or negative points twice. The matchup looks good, but there are safer options out there.
Top DEF/ST Year-to-Date
*All Stats and Scores from FantasyData.com, your league scoring may differ. Rank vs Pass/Run based on yards allowed.