Week 15 Fantasy Football DEF/ST Strategy
When we talk about the 2019 season from a fantasy DEF standpoint, the 1st, last, and possibly only team we will be talking about is the New England Patriots. The Pats are still on pace to break the fantasy DEF scoring record and I’m not taking anything away from them. But something worth noting happened this week.
With their 10th top-12 finish, the Pittsburgh Steelers D/ST passed the Patriots from a consistency standpoint. The Steelers have scored 10+ fantasy points in 10 of the last 11 weeks while New England hasn’t cracked 10 fantasy points in any of their last three games. Pittsburgh is the #1 fantasy DEF since Week 9 and the Patriots rank 21st over that same span. That could all change this week with New England playing Cincinnatti, but for now, the Steelers are the D/ST to own for the fantasy playoffs.
Week 14 Top Performances
Pittsburgh Steelers @ ARI
Since I heaped all the praise on Pittsburgh in the intro, I’ll keep it simple here. They sacked Kyler Murray five times and intercepted him thrice on the day. Diontae Johnson took a 1st quarter punt back for a TD and that was all she wrote. This is Pittsburgh’s 2nd time finishing as the #1 fantasy DEF this season.
Week 15 Matchup: vs BUF
Buffalo’s offense is not bad but there is no way you can bench Pittsburgh here. I doubt they are #1 again this week but, based on their track record, top-10 is a safe bet.
Denver Broncos @ HOU
Coming into Week 14, I would have told anyone that would listen to stay far away from the Broncos DEF. This is why the games aren’t played on paper. Denver jumped out to an early lead and rode that to a pretty solid fantasy day. They sacked Deshaun Watson three times and forced three turnovers. On their fumble recovery, they took the ball back for that all-important DEF/ST TD and that propelled them to #2 for the week.
Week 15 Matchup: @ KC
Week 14 was a fluke and there is no chance I’m putting my playoff hopes on that happening twice.
Atlanta Falcons vs CAR
It’s been an interesting season for the Atlanta Falcons defense. They have only managed to score 10+ fantasy points four times this season but three of those four have been in the last five weeks. They have more weeks with zero or negative fantasy points than they have top-10 finishes. This is what the right matchup can do for you. Five sacks and four takeaways brought the Atlanta D/ST back from fantasy purgatory for yet another week but that will likely be short-lived.
Week 15 Matchup: @ SF
San Francisco’s offense scored the most points in Week 14 and there is no way you are thinking of starting Atlanta’s DEF/ST.
Los Angeles Rams vs SEA
Did not see this coming. The Rams slowed down Russell Wilson and held the Seahawks offense to just six points scored. They sacked Wilson five times and picked him off once. While it doesn’t exactly fill up the stat sheet, it was still an excellent performance against a great offense and good enough to tie for the #3 spot for fantasy D/ST.
Week 15 Matchup: @ DAL
This would have been an easy Sit play just three weeks ago but Dallas’ offense has sputtered and the Rams DEF has improved. I don’t love any part of this, but if there are no Stream of the Weeks options available (see below), you could do worse.
Week 15 Starts
Baltimore Ravens vs NYJ
The Jets offense certainly has it’s moments but their DEF will not even be able to slow down Lamar Jackson. That is going to put their offense in many tough situations and, with this being a Thursday game, they may not even have Le’Veon Bell back in their lineup. All signs point to a Baltimore blowout and the Ravens DEF/ST is my Start of the Week.
New England Patriots @ CIN
“Insert joke about the Patriots getting back to their cheating ways here” No matter what you may think of the Pats, the film shows that the Bengals are certainly a “get right” game. Cincinnati gives up the 4th most points to fantasy defenses and just gave up 11 fantasy points to the Cleveland DEF/ST last week.
Buffalo Bills @ PIT
Pittsburgh’s offense has played better lately but hasn’t faced a defense as good as Buffalo in the last month either. The Bills DEF had scored 10+ fantasy points in three straight games before getting “Lamar Jackson-ed” last week. If this game were in Buffalo, it would be my Start of the Week but it is still a good road matchup for the Bills.
Stream of the Week
Seattle Seahawks @ CAR
Seattle has been in a malaise the last couple of weeks but Carolina’s offense is the right matchup to turn things around. Even when they were bad last week, they still scored 12 fantasy points against the Rams. The Panthers allow the 7th most points to fantasy DEF and have given up top-10 weeks in three of their last four games. Seattle is available in 58% of fantasy leagues.
Other Streaming Options: KC, TB, NYG, DET
Week 15 Sits
Philadelphia Eagles @ WAS
This should be a great matchup for the Philadelphia DEF but the Eagles seem to a better job of making bad offenses look good. Philly’s DEF has 4 total fantasy points over the last two weeks and that was facing MIA and NYG. Tell me again why we should trust them against WAS? The Redskins do give 6th most points to fantasy D/ST but I’m not starting the Eagles DEF this week with my playoff life on the line. Not gonna happen.
Chicago Bears @ GB
The Bears D/ST hasn’t scored 10+ fantasy points since September and yet they are owned in 87% of leagues. If you have somehow made it the semi-finals with them on your roster, cut them now before it’s too late. Green Bay gives up the 5th fewest fantasy points to D/ST.
Minnesota Vikings @ LAC
The Vikings are coming off of a beatdown of the Detroit Lions but should find the going tougher playing the Chargers. Los Angeles gives up the 13th fewest points to fantasy defenses and just destroyed the Jaguars defense. In that game, they only gave up one sack and did not turn the ball over.