If you’re reading this. it’s very likely that you survived Week 14, or at least had a bye. It was an interesting week for DEF/ST. Of the top 10 finishers, only 4 were previously ranked in the top 10 overall. We saw a shutout, a team with 8 sacks, a team with 5 takeaways, and a garbage time DEF/ST that took the Eagles from bottom 10 to top 12 for the week. To make matters worse, 5 of the worst 10 fantasy defenses in Week 14 were ranked in the top 12 overall. There was plenty of let down (looking at you, Cincinnati) but also great performances. Let’s recognize the teams that helped you get here and try to guess who will take you to the championship.

Week 14 Top Performances

Denver Broncos: vs NYJ
The Broncos are finally rewarding those owners patient enough to have held them for this long. After the high-scoring game with Kansas City, the Jets looked like a bad matchup for fantasy defense, but the Broncos shut them down. Denver ended this game with 4 sacks, 2 takeaways and no points allowed. It was the first shutout in the league since Week 11.

Week 15 Matchup: @ IND
If you held onto the Broncos this long, this is the matchup you were waiting for. Coming off a #1 finish and facing one of the worst offenses in the league, you can start the Broncos with confidence in Week 15.

Detroit Lions: @ TB
Coming in, I thought this would have been one of the highest scoring games of the week and I was right. I just didn’t expect 5 takeaways from the Detroit defense. The Lions harassed Jameis Winston all game long. They sacked him 3 times, stripped him once for a fumble lost, and intercepted the ball twice. They added 2 more fumble recoveries and had the most takeaways in the league this week.

Week 15 Matchup: vs CHI
After what the Bears did to the Bengals last week, this prediction got a whole lot harder. I still like the Lions defense in this one. The Bears offense is still one of the worst in the league and the Lions should be able to again force some turnovers.

Carolina Panthers: vs MIN
The Panthers played a solid game against a surging Minnesota offense. They shut down the previously solid Vikings run game, holding them under 100 yards and kept Case Keenum in check most of the game. The ended up sacking Keenum 6 times, second-most in the league for the week and forcing 3 turnovers.

Week 15 Matchup: vs GB
The last thing you want in your semi-final matchup is a wild card. If Aaron Rodgers is cleared, you cannot start the Panthers. He’s just too much of a game-changer. If it’s Hundley, I’d start the Panthers with confidence.

Honorable Mention: The Tennessee Titans had 8 sacks against the Cardinals and held them to just 4 field goals for the game. Unfortunately, their own offense did nothing and they still lost. No way you can start them against the 49ers and a rising star in Jimmy Garoppolo.

Week 15 Starts

New Orleans Saints: vs NYJ
After the hearing the news of McCown’s broken hand I was immediately asked on Twitter if that made New Orleans the best start of Week 15…short answer: Yes. The Jets just gave up Week 15’s top score and face a Saints defense that is getting back on track. New Orleans has improved in each of their last 4 games and should make that 5 straight with the Jets in town.

Jacksonville Jaguars: vs HOU
The fantasy gods have thrown us a bone this week as 3 of the best defenses face 3 bad offenses. Don’t get cute with the Jags here, Russell Wilson may have made them look beatable, but he tends to do that. The Texans are going to have TJ Yates under center and the Jaguars may end up breaking a scoring record.

Baltimore Ravens: @ CLE
The Ravens got predictably smacked by Pittsburgh and will be without Jimmy Smith. Normally, that’s how I begin a “Sit” recommendation…but it’s the Browns. Cleveland still gives up the most points to fantasy defenses and that hasn’t changed much since the return of Josh Gordon.

Stream of the Week

Washington Redskins: vs ARI
The Cardinals just gave up 8 sacks to the Titans and have given up top 10 performances in 4 of their last 5 games. The Redskins should find the same kind of success as Tennessee and find themselves in the top 10 after Week 15. Washington is only owned in 11% of leagues.

Week 15 Sits

Seattle Seahawks: vs LAR
Seattle hasn’t looked great as of late and gets one of the best offenses in the league in Week 15. The Rams give up the 3rd fewest points to fantasy defenses and have something to prove in this one after losing to Seattle in Week 5. Los Angeles has been the highest scoring team in the league since that matchup.

Kansas City Chiefs: vs LAC
The Chargers offense is red hot and giving up the 6th fewest points to fantasy defenses. I expect a high scoring game here and the way the LA wide receivers have played as of late, I don’t think the Chiefs can slow them down.

New England Patriots @ Pittsburgh Steelers
With 2 of the top 12 defenses facing each other, you may be tempted…don’t be. This is going to be the highest scoring game of the week and defense will be hard to find. Stay away from both DEF/ST in this one.

Top DEF/ST Year-to-Date

The table is arranged by YTD fantasy points but all categories are sortable. Also, I have ranked teams on a Yards-per-Game basis in Passing/Rushing.

Team Fantasy Points Weeks in Top 12 Points Allowed Sacks Int Fum Rec Def/Ret TD Safety Blocked Kick Rank vs Pass Rank vs Run
1 Jaguars 180 10 202 47 19 11 7 0 0 1 22
2 Ravens 159 8 246 36 20 9 6 0 0 12 13
3 Rams 136 7 265 40 15 7 6 1 5 11 28
4 Chargers 135 8 225 37 16 6 4 0 1 3 29
5 Eagles 125 8 250 35 16 7 4 0 2 13 1
6 Lions 120 8 329 26 13 11 7 0 3 27 20
7 Saints 115 7 263 34 14 4 4 0 1 10 19
8 Bears 107 5 274 35 6 12 4 1 1 9 14
8 Seahawks 107 9 252 32 10 8 3 2 1 16 8
10 Panthers 105 7 262 40 7 7 2 0 1 7 3
11 Steelers 97 7 251 41 13 4 1 1 2 4 9
12 Patriots 92 5 250 30 11 5 1 1 3 29 24

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