Fantasy Football DEF/ST Strategy for Week 8
Well, it finally happened. The Steelers had a down week against a good offense and missed the top-12 for the first time this season. That leaves two “perfect” teams in two very different senses of the word. On the good side: We have the Baltimore Ravens. They’ve played six games, they’ve been a top-12 fantasy D/ST in all six. On the other side: We have the Las Vegas Raiders. They have also played six games and not once have they finished as a top-12 fantasy D/ST. In fact, the Raiders have just five fantasy points this year…TOTAL. That’s fewer than 16 DEF are averaging on a per-game basis. I do think one of these streaks ends this week, read on to find out which.
Week 7 Top Performance
Kansas City Chiefs @ DEN
There were only four DEF/ST touchdowns scored in Week 7 and two of them were scored by Kansas City, both in the 2nd quarter. With about 10 minutes left in the 2nd, they picked off Drew Lock, one of two INTs in the game, and took it back for six. Then, after Denver kicked a field goal, they took the kickoff back for another TD. Two TDs are usually enough to take 1st place but they added three sacks and four total takeaways for good measure.
Week 8 Matchup: vs NYJ
Let’s see: What do you get when Week 7’s best D/ST plays the team that gives up the most fantasy points to D/ST on the season? Week 8’s Start of the Week! If you had them last week, enjoy similar success this week.
Washington Football Team vs DAL
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that no one saw this coming, it was just a surprise that Washington’s offense got out of their own way to allow this kind of game. Washington’s DEF held Dallas to just three points scored and actually added two points of their own with a safety. They put Andy Dalton out with one of the dirtier hits we’ve seen in the NFL in a while and just beat up on rookie QB Ben DiNucci. They ended the day with six sacks, one INT, and that safety. Good enough to end Week 7 in a tie for the DEF2 spot.
Week 8 Matchup: BYE
San Francisco 49ers @ NE
After the game against Miami a few weeks ago, it wasn’t clear if we would see good football from this defense again this year. They answered that question resoundingly and finished tied for the 2nd best DEF in Week 7. The 49ers held New England out of the endzone for this entire game, limiting them to just six points scored on two field goals. They picked Cam Newton off three times and added a 4th on Jarrett Stidham after Newton was benched. They only registered two QB sacks but four takeaways will typically get the job done for a top-3 finish.
Week 8 Matchup: @ SEA
The 49ers have looked good since their embarrassment at the hands of Miami a couple of weeks back…you still want nothing to do with them here. Russ is cooking and that does not usually bode well for opposing fantasy DEF.
Week 8 Starts
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ NYG
Life has been hard for Daniel Jones and it gets no easier this week. Jones is already one of the league “leaders” in turnovers and the Bucs D/ST is one of the best in the league at taking the ball away and sacking the QB. To make matters worse, the Giants’ own defense is likely to get carved up by Tom Brady, keeping the Bucs in attack mode all game long.
Indianapolis Colts @ DET
The Colts are one of the best fantasy DEF in 2020 and had an extra week to prep for this game. The Lions actually give up the 12 fewest points to D/ST but have allowed 4+ fantasy points in half their games this season. The Colts will be healthier than they have been in weeks and should be able to control the clock with their own running game, keeping this a low-scoring affair.
LA Rams @ MIA
You’ve heard about it for two weeks now: Tua Tagovailoa’s first start but against Aaron Donald. It’s not gonna be pretty. The Rams had four QB sacks last week against Chicago and could double that number up in Week 8.
Stream of the Week
Tennessee Titans @ CIN
There is a ton of hype around Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense, and deservedly so, but they still give up 6th most fantasy points to D/ST. In fact, the Bengals haven’t given up fewer than four fantasy points to a DEF in any of their last three games. The Titans had a rough Week 6 against Houston but bounced back well against Pittsburgh last week, picking Ben Roethlisberger off three times. All due respect to the Bengals, but if you can play well against Pittsburgh, you can play well against Cincinnati. The Titans are available in 72% of Yahoo fantasy leagues.
Other Options: Packers, Browns, Bengals, Broncos
Week 8 Sits
Both Teams: Chicago Bears vs New Orleans Saints
The Saints are a team you don’t typically want to start your D/ST against, as they give up the 3rd fewest points to DEF on the season. So even though the Bears have played well, you cannot play them this week. On the other side of the ball, the Bears offense hasn’t looked great but neither has the Saints DEF, so it kind of balances out. Plus, I have a feeling this may be a Jimmy Graham revenge game.
Both Teams: Baltimore Ravens vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Both of these teams have great DEF/ST but also have great offenses and this game could devolve into a shoot-out with very few turnovers. The Steelers offense gives up the 5th fewest points to fantasy defenses and the Ravens offense gives up the 8th fewest. Basically, it would be too much of a gamble to start them if you need a win in Week 8. However, you also can’t cut either of them, so if you don’t have a free bench spot, start them and cross your fingers that they are able to get after the QB like they normally do. Just temper your expectations.
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.