Fantasy Football: Week 15 Team Defense Recap

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If you’re reading this I can only assume one thing: you won your semi-final matchup and have made the league championship! Congratulations! Hopefully, my advice helped in some way. It was a crazy season for fantasy defenses. The Jaguars dominated pretty much all season long and last year’s best fantasy defense, the Vikings, never even cracked the top 12. In fact, only half of last year’s top 12 units repeated the feat in 2017. Consistency is hard to come by in fantasy defense. On a week-to-week basis, even the Jaguars only made the top 12 ten times out of 15 weeks, and they were the best of the year. Fantasy defense seems to be 50% the team you are and 50% the team you’re playing. As you prep for a championship you will hear many times “Play your studs” and while I agree with that advice for position players, with DEF/ST take the extra step and research who they are playing, it matters a lot more than we’d like to think. Let’s look at who got you here last week and who is going to help you bring it home in Week 16. Good luck and see you next season.

Week 15 Top Performances

Baltimore Ravens: @ CLE
As predictable as they come. When good defenses face the Browns, top 3 performances ensue. Baltimore looked a little shaky to start but ended up with 2 sacks and 4 takeaways. They cemented their top spot with a strip-sack-fumble recovered in the end zone for a TD in the 4th quarter.

Week 16 Matchup: vs IND
This is what dreams are made of. Ravens’ owners go from facing the team giving up the most points to fantasy defenses to the team giving up the 3rd most. Start with confidence.

Minnesota Vikings: vs CIN
When your head coach announces that he is leaving the team just hours before game time one of two things typically happen: you rally around him or you give up. Cincinnati gave up. The Vikings pitched a shut-out for 54 minutes before giving up a TD after they got Andy Dalton benched. Those were the only 7 points they allowed in this one. They took a pick back for a TD early in the game and finished with 3 sacks and 2 interceptions.

Week 16 Matchup: @ GB
While Aaron Rodgers did turn the ball over 3 times last week, there is no way I’m putting my championship on the line against him.

Los Angeles Rams: @ SEA
Did not see this one coming. The Rams went into Seattle and held the Seahawks to only 7 points in a thorough beatdown. Los Angeles sacked Russell Wilson 7 times in this game, the most in the league this week and forced 2 turnovers. They got a safety in the 4th quarter on an intentional grounding in the end zone call. It was a great performance that not many got to take advantage of as the Rams were only started in about 40% of leagues.

Week 16 Matchup: @ TEN
The Rams are hot at the right time and Tennessee isn’t scaring anyone. This is a great championship matchup for Rams’ owners.

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Week 16 Starts

Los Angeles Chargers: @ NYJ
The Jets have only managed 19 total points in the last 2 weeks combined and face a Chargers defense that was only allowing 13 points per game over their last 5 games coming into Week 15. Yes, they got buzz-sawed by Kansas City last week but there are no weapons like Hunt-Hill-Kelce on this Jets team and Bryce Petty is not Alex Smith.

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Kansas City Chiefs: vs MIA
The Chiefs are getting hot again. Their defense is benefiting from the resurging offense and has scored 10+ fantasy points in each of their last 2 games. Jay Cutler still likes turnovers and the Chiefs are a tough matchup at home.

Jacksonville Jaguars: @ SF
I don’t normally include such obvious choices but the emergence of Jimmy Garoppolo might have you worried. I’m not. The Jaguars have scored double-digit fantasy points in 4 of their last 5 and should be able to contain this Niners offense.

New England Patriots: vs BUF
The Patriots have been down the last 2 weeks but held the Bills to 3 points in Buffalo just 3 weeks ago. They are still fighting for home-field advantage and should own the Bills in Week 16.

Week 16 Streams

Chicago Bears: vs CLE
Only owned in 25% of leagues and facing the turnover machine that is Deshone Kizer. Sounds like championship starter material. If you’ve been streaming defenses all year, you know the first place you should look is “Who is playing the Browns?”

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Washington Redskins: @ DEN
They were my Stream-of-the-Week last week and if you took that advice, you can run them out again in Week 16. Denver has turned it on a little as of late but they still give up the 2nd most points to fantasy defenses. If the Bears aren’t available, I’ll be streaming the Redskins in my championship matchups.

Detroit Lions: @ CIN
The Lions are only owned in about 50% of leagues and face a Bengals team that appears to be mailing it in to end the year. Cincinnati has given up 11 and 17 fantasy points in their last 2 matchups.

Week 16 Sits

Pittsburgh Steelers: @ HOU
Pittsburgh is trending in the wrong direction as of late. They’ve scored fewer than 4 fantasy points in 4 consecutive weeks. Some might look at Houston as a “get right” game but I don’t think so. Houston hasn’t given up more than 9 fantasy points to an opposing defense in their last 4 home games. DeAndre Hopkins looks uncoverable and could make this a championship week nightmare for Steelers’ owners.

New Orleans Saints: vs ATL
The Falcons offense hasn’t given up a top fantasy defense week since facing New England in Week 7. They looked pretty solid against Tampa Bay and I’m not as confident in New Orleans as I once was.

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Seattle Seahawks: @ DAL
The Seahawks just got boat-raced at home and face a re-emerging Dallas offense with a returning Ezekiel Elliott. No thank you.

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 190 11 209 51 20 11 7 0 0 1 19
2 Ravens 179 9 256 38 22 11 7 0 0 9 14
3 Rams 153 8 272 47 15 9 6 2 5 6 24
4 Chargers 135 8 255 38 16 6 4 0 1 4 30
5 Lions 132 9 339 28 16 11 7 0 3 28 16
6 Eagles 127 9 279 36 17 7 4 0 5 22 1
7 Saints 121 7 282 35 16 4 4 0 1 7 18
8 Panthers 116 8 286 43 10 8 2 0 1 11 5
9 Bears 114 6 294 39 6 13 4 1 1 10 11
10 Seahawks 107 9 294 34 11 8 3 2 1 13 17
11 Steelers 101 7 278 43 14 4 1 1 2 5 8
12 Chiefs 97 7 302 26 14 7 3 0 1 26 27