Fantasy Football DEF/ST Strategy for Week 17

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It is the final installment of the DEF/ST strategy for 2020. You’re here for one of two reasons:

  1. You have a Week 17 championship
  2. You’re curious as to what I could even be writing about in Week 17.

If you’re a part of the first group, I’m here to help you win…but vote for a rule change or leave that league at the end of this season. If you’re one of the 2nd group, we talk DEF/ST, it’s right in the title! Without further ado, because I’m out of intro material, here is who won fantasy championships last week and who should end 2020 with a bang.

Week 16 Top Performances

Carolina Panthers @ WAS
Talk about ending the season with a bang. The Panthers’ D/ST has not been good for fantasy this season but a date with Dwayne Haskins fixed that right up. The Football Team turned the ball over four times in this game, three by Haskins, and the Panthers took a punt back for a TD in the game as well. Without Terry McLaurin, Washington only managed 13 points scored and their only TD came in garbage time after Haskins was benched. It was Carolina’s best fantasy performance of the season on DEF and helped them capture their first DEF1 finish of 2020.

Week 17 Matchup: vs NO
The Saints are still playing for a shot at the #1 seed and the Panthers’ DEF isn’t nearly as good as they looked last week. Plus, it’s Drew Brees, not Dwayne Haskins.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ DET
This game was just plain ugly for Detroit. Tom Brady was throwing TD passes at will and Detroit’s defense put their own offense in bad spots from the very beginning. To make matters worse, Matt Stafford was injured early and the Detroit offense was led by Chase Daniel. The only points the Detroit team managed was on a punt return for a TD. Tampa Bay ended the day with four QB sacks, an INT, and a fumble recovery. Those stats combined with just seven points allowed was good enough for the DEF2 slot in Week 16.

Week 17 Matchup: vs ATL
Normally, I’d say Tampa is another great start this week, close to Stream of the Week territory, but there is too much unknown here. The Bucs aren’t really playing for much, outside of which wildcard seed they receive, and Atlanta has to want this win. This could end up a high-scoring game and Tampa Bay may not want to risk their guys just to keep up.

San Francisco 49ers @ ARZ
The most impressive feat by the Niners in this game was holding the Cardinals to just 12 points scored. They didn’t fill up the stat sheet, ending the game with three QB sacks and two takeaways, but letting Arizona score just one TD and two FGs is a great effort. It was a quiet week for D/ST, so that effort was rewarded with a top-3 finish.

Week 17 Matchup: vs SEA
Seattle has clinched a playoff spot but still has an outside chance at the #1 seed, so they will be playing to win this game. The 49ers performed far better than expected last week and it would be tough to expect that two weeks in a row. Russell Wilson has been beatable as of late but we could see some cooking in this game.

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Week 17 Starts

Indianapolis Colts vs JAX
The Colts may win this game and still miss the playoffs but they still need to win. They have been one of the best fantasy DEFs we’ve seen this season and Jacksonville gives up the 10th most points to DEF/ST. Jacksonville will also be without James Robinson for a 2nd straight game. There is no weapon that Jags have that Indy can’t stop, this game should get ugly.

Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens vs CIN
Another team playing for their playoff lives against a bad opponent. Baltimore is in a “win and in” scenario and while the Bengals would love to play spoiler, they just don’t have the team to beat the Ravens. The Bengals have played well in their last two games but they still give up the 6th most fantasy points to fantasy DEF.

Cleveland Browns vs PIT
There is a lot on the line for Cleveland in this game and it could be very fun to watch. They need a win to secure their playoff bid and they are playing against a Pittsburgh offense without Ben Roethlisberger. Instead, they face Mason Rudolph in a rematch from one of the ugliest incidents in NFL history. Tension will be high as Myles Garrett and Co take the field against Rudolph again and you expect plenty of QB pressure. Do you remember how bad Pittsburgh looked without Ben last year?

Stream of the Week

Arizona Cardinals @ LAR
The Cardinals meet all of the criteria of a team DEF that you want to start late in the year. They are playing for their playoff lives. They have played good defense lately, and they are playing an injured opponent. If Jared Goff plays this week, it will be with a broken thumb. If he doesn’t, they will be facing John Wolford. Arizona is currently available in 57% of Yahoo fantasy leagues.
Other Options: Packers, Seahawks, Washington, Eagles

Week 17 Sits

Kansas City Chiefs vs LAC -Buffalo Bills vs MIA -Pittsburgh Steelers @ CLE
Kansas City, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh have almost nothing to play for and their opponents do. The Chargers are playing for pride, Miami and Cleveland are playing for a playoff spot. Stay far away from teams that have nothing to play for.

Tennesse Titans @ HOU
Putting it bluntly, this Tennessee DEF is suspect, got exposed by Green Bay last week, and is not going to be up to the task in this important game against Houston. This is the Super Bowl for the Texans and they put up 36 points against the Titans back in Week 6. The Titans D/St scored -2 fantasy points in that game. You cannot play a DEF that has the possibility of losing your team fantasy points this late in the season.

Chicago Bears vs GB
This should go without saying but you don’t start DEFs against Aaron Rodgers this season. The Packers give up the fewest fantasy points to D/ST this season and haven’t had a fantasy DEF score 10+ since Week 10. Chicago’s DEF scored -4 against them just a month ago. The Bears’ defense has been solid this year, just not playable in Week 17.

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.

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Rank Team Fantasy
Points
Weeks in
Top-12
Points
Allowed
Sacks INTs Fumbles
Recovered
DEF/ST
TDs
Safety Block
Kicked
Rank vs
Run
Rank vs
Pass
1 Steelers 146 10 282 52 18 10 3 1 0 8 2
2 Colts 142 11 334 34 15 10 7 3 1 2 18
3 Dolphins 138 9 280 40 16 10 3 0 1 17 19
4 Ravens 132 9 288 39 8 13 4 2 0 9 14
5 Rams 131 10 271 49 13 8 3 0 0 3 1
6 Washington 117 7 303 44 14 6 3 1 0 12 3
7 Buccaneers 112 8 316 47 15 8 1 1 1 1 22
8 Chiefs 111 8 324 29 16 7 4 2 1 18 15
9 Saints 105 6 328 42 13 8 1 0 1 4 5
9 Seahawks 98 10 342 43 14 8 0 3 2 5 32
11 Bills 97 8 349 37 12 10 2 0 0 20 8
11 Cardinals 97 6 335 46 10 9 0 1 2 23 10

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