At long last, we have reached the finish line of the 2018 fantasy football season. If you’ve been following along with my article, you know that it was a strange season for DEF/ST and Week 15 was no different. Only 4 of the top overall DEF/ST managed to finish in the top 12 for Week 15 but my horrendous streak of telling you to bench the weekly #1 came to a perfect end. Instead, my Week 15 Stream of the Week, the Atlanta Falcons, predictably beat down the Arizona Cardinals and I can breathe easy again. But enough about me, if you’re reading this it’s because you are likely in your league’s championship game and you need to know who to start.

Week 15 Top Performances

Atlanta Falcons: vs Arizona Cardinals
Even when it’s super predictable, I do enjoy being right! The Cardinals offense is a shadow of its former self and the Falcons defense has been steadily improving late this season, mostly as players return from injury. Atlanta managed one of the very few Defensive TDs this week when Deion Jones took an INT back for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter. That was one of 2 INTs for the Falcons, who also posted 7 QB sacks and a fumble recovery.

Week 16 Matchup: @ Carolina Panthers
The Falcons are far from an every week start and the Panthers are most definitely not the “plus” matchup that the Cardinals were last week. Go ahead and cut the Falcons.

Indianapolis Colts: vs Dallas Cowboys
Having scored more than 20 points in 4 of their last 5 games, I would have bet that a shutout was the last thing we would expect in this game but here we are. Dallas was stymied early and often and the Colts were able to keep them from putting any points on the board for the first time this season. Indianapolis added 3 sacks, an INT, a fumble recovery, and a blocked kick in this game on their way to a top 3 finish.

Week 16 Matchup: vs New York Giants
The issue with starting anyone against the Giants is that Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham could go off at any point. Beckham will likely be back for this game, so the Colts are a risky start. Up until their letdown @ Tennessee last week, the Giants hadn’t given up more than 5 fantasy points to a DEF/ST in their last 5 games. That being said, the Cowboys offense was no joke coming into Indy either. Do I expect another shutout? No. Are the Colts viable? Yes, but very risky.

Tennessee Titans: @ New York Giants
The weather didn’t do the Giants any favors in this one and Derrick Henry was able to control the game for the 2nd time in as many weeks. New York could not muster anything on offense in the rain and was shutout for the 1st time this season. This was actually the first time the Giants hadn’t managed double-digit points this season. On top of keeping the Giants off of the scoreboard, the Titans registered 3 sacks and 2 takeaways. Not the greatest performance we’ve seen this season, but it was only the 6th shutout all season.

Week 16 Matchup: vs Washington Redskins
Washington has given up top 10 weeks in each of their last 2 games and hasn’t managed more than 16 points in their last 3. Tennessee has found the top 10 in each of the last 2 games while getting their running game on track. With real-life playoff hopes on the line, expect another solid game from the Titans defense. The Titans are only owned in about 50% of leagues.

Week 16 Starts

Los Angeles Rams: @ Arizona Cardinals
I hate to go super chalk in Week 16 but the Rams are easily the Start of the Week. Arizona has given up top 3 performances in each of the last 2 weeks and gives up the 2nd most points overall to fantasy defenses. The Rams are playing to secure a bye week and have a lot to prove after losing each of their last 2. This game will be lopsided and the Rams defense should come away with a top week in sacks and turnovers.

Minnesota Vikings: @ Detroit Lions
While Minnesota hasn’t been great this season, they have only allowed more than 20 points twice in their last 9 games. The Lions have only managed more than 20 points twice in their last 8 games and haven’t done it once since Week 11. I don’t think Detroit will score much and Minnesota should be able to get after Stafford as they did in Week 9, where they sacked the QB 9 times.

Denver Broncos: @ Oakland Raiders
Oakland continues to be my favorite team to pick on (though the Cardinals are coming close) and why would I change that for the last week of the fantasy season. The Raiders give up the 4th most points to DEF/ST and the Broncos haven’t given up more than 22 points since Week 8.

Stream of the Week

Cleveland Browns: vs Cincinnati Bengals
The Browns are red-hot and the Bengals are just not. Unintentional rhyming skills aside, Cleveland has played pretty solid defense for 5 straight games but only has one top 12 finish to show for it…Week 12 against the Bengals. Cincinnati has found ways to score points in their last 2 games but a rivalry game on the road is going to be a much different environment. Cleveland is owned in fewer than 15% of fantasy leagues.

Week 16 Sits

Chicago Bears: @ San Francisco 49ers
In full risk of reverting back to my streak, I am telling you to bench the #1 DEF/ST in your championship week. The 49ers haven’t given up a top 10 week in either of their last 2 games, both against top 12 defenses. Chicago needs a win but may not play their starters for this entire game either. It’s a west coast road trip that I don’t think will end well for the Bears.

Houston Texans: @ Philadelphia Eagles
Nick Foles is back and all of the sudden Philadelphia is clicking at the right time again. The Eagles haven’t given up top 10 fantasy points to an opposing defense since Week 11 and Houston only has two top 10 finishes since Week 8.

Baltimore Ravens: @ Los Angeles Chargers
Another bad west coast trip for an east coast team. The Chargers give up the 5th fewest points to fantasy DEF/ST and that is not a gamble worth taking with your championship on the line. Outside of 2 good weeks, the Ravens have not been a top 10 fantasy defense since Week 7. They are impossible to trust in Week 16.

Top DEF/ST Year-to-Date

All Stats and Scores from FantasyData.com, your league scoring may differ. Ranks vs Pass/Run are based on Yards per Game allowed.

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 Bears 172 10 258 45 26 9 6 1 0 10 2
2 Texans 126 6 281 39 13 11 4 0 1 26 4
2 Rams 126 8 335 34 15 11 4 2 2 17 21
4 Vikings 117 8 278 47 12 8 3 0 0 4 13
5 Broncos 111 6 299 42 15 8 2 0 4 25 20
5 Redskins 111 7 298 50 14 11 1 0 0 18 18
7 Chiefs 107 8 366 46 13 10 4 0 1 32 26
7 Seahawks 107 6 280 36 12 10 2 0 1 20 15
9 Ravens 106 5 247 39 7 4 3 0 0 3 3
9 Colts 106 7 280 38 12 11 0 0 2 15 8
11 Patriots 102 5 310 26 16 6 3 0 2 23 17
11 Saints 102 8 286 45 12 10 1 0 2 28 1

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