It’s crunch time in a lot of leagues with this likely the final week of the regular season. Like we’ve done all season long, we’re going to gain an edge on our opponents by exploiting the matchups on the defensive side of the ball.
Here’s what Week 13 has in store for us. Remember, the following is breakdown of my thoughts on all of the team defenses for the week, but is not my rankings. Instead, it’s best to consider the following as a set of tiers each week, and use them to help you make decisions at team defense.
Editor’s Note: Rotoworld’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $1.75 Million Fantasy Football league for Week 13’s games. It’s only $25 to join and first prize is $175,000. Starts Sunday, November 30th at 1pm ET. Here’s the link.
The Usual Suspects
I caught some flak for downgrading Miami (at NY Jets) last week, but hopefully you didn’t start them on the road in Denver. Avoiding that matchup was a gimme putt. However, the Dolphins get back in our good graces this week against the Geno Smith-led Jets. Giddy up. … The matchup isn’t the best for Buffalo (vs. Cleveland) but I don’t see how you can fade this Bills unit that has produced 18 sacks in their last three games.
Fantasy defenses with a weekly matchup upgrade that are likely owned in your league. There’s no reason to drop these units for a streamer.
1. Indianapolis (vs. Washington) – The Colts are coming off a strong performance against the Jags and get to face a reeling Washington squad that is switching back to Colt McCoy at quarterback. McCoy was decent in his other start this season, but it’s really too little, too late for a Washington team that has yielded 16 sacks over their last three games.
2. Houston (vs. Tennessee) – With Zach Mettenberger as the starter, the Titans are averaging a combined five sacks and turnovers per game. That bodes extremely positively for a Houston defense that boasts arguably the league’s best overall player in J.J. Watt.
3. Seattle (at San Francisco) – Despite the rough start to the season, the surging Seahawks have salvaged a solid season with double-digit fantasy points in three of their last five. Getting MLB Bobby Wagner back on the field really crystalizes this unit. They’re a strong play this week against a 49ers offense that has given up sacks in bunches this season.
They aren’t elite plays, but you’re not likely to find anything better on the wire.
The Seahawks yielded seven sacks to the Cards last week, which means good things for the San Francisco (vs. Seattle) unit with a red-hot Aldon Smith. There’s no need to drop the 49ers, especially considering the fact that they get the Raiders next week. … Likewise, you’re hanging on to Baltimore (vs. San Diego). The Chargers have yielded double-digit fantast points in two of their last three games. … Arizona (at Atlanta) has rattled off 17 sacks over their last three games. The Falcons are tough at home, but there’s no reason to fade the blitz-heavy Cards. … Detroit (vs. Chicago) hasn’t recorded a sack in their last two games, but they’ll right the ship this week against the up and down Bears offense.
You don’t want to rely on these DST streamers on a weekly basis, but their matchup is too juicy to pass up.
1. NY Giants (at Jacksonville) – The Jags have yielded double-digit fantasy points in 9-of-11 games this season.
2. St. Louis (vs. Oakland) – One of the league’s poorest fantasy units in the earlier part of the season, the Rams produced just one sack over their first five games. In the six games since then, St. Louis has racked up 21 sacks. They make for a strong streaming option this week against a Raiders team that currently yields the eighth most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses.
3. Minnesota (vs. Carolina) – The Vikings have struggled over their last two games, with just one sack and a combined negative-one fantasy points. However, they get a nice matchup boost against a Carolina team that has committed 11 turnovers and yielded 18 sacks in their last four games.
4. Cincinnati (at Tampa Bay) – We’re seeing a bit of a resurgence out of the Bengals defense. They’ve allowed 24 points or fewer in each of their last five games. Unfortunately, they’re still not generating much of a pass rush. Still, they’re a fringe streamer this week in leagues with dry waiver wires.
5. Dallas (vs. Philadelphia) – This one is more boom-or-bust, but desperate owners may want to throw a dart at the Cowboys. Philly can certainly put points on the board in bunches, but Mark Sanchez’s propensity for turnovers means the potential for some big plays for Big-D.
Middle of the Road
These are fantasy option that will be streamers at times, but it’s best to avoid in this matchup.
Pittsburgh (vs. New Orleans) returns from bye and get a tough matchup against the streaky Saints. … Tampa Bay (vs. Cincinnati) is improving as a unit, but it’s still way too risky to start them against a Bengals offense that rarely yields sacks and has only turned the ball over once in the last two games. … Denver (at Kansas City) has just seven sacks over their last five games. The Broncos also have a difficult matchup on the road against a Chiefs team that rarely turns the ball over. … The NY Jets (vs. Miami) are really struggling on both sides of the ball. You want no piece of them this week. … Chicago (at Detroit) ended up being a sneaky play last week against the Bucs, but it’s a good idea to fade this underachieving unit for other options this week. … The Bills have yielded just four sacks and two turnovers over their last three games, so this isn’t the week to roll with Cleveland (at Buffalo).
They shouldn’t be dropped, but a tough matchup limits the fantasy upside of these units.
1. Kansas City (vs. Denver) – The Chiefs have recorded just three takeaways and four sacks over their last three games. Oh, and they have to face Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense. That too.
2. Green Bay (vs. New England) – Since their Week 4 debacle in Kansas City, the Pats have yielded a combined negative-26 fantasy points. That’s over a span of seven games, and it means you want nothing to do with the Packers this week.
3. New England (at Green Bay) – Likewise, you want no part of the other side of this matchup as well. The Packers haven’t given up double-digit fantasy points to an opposing defense since Week 3.
4. San Diego (at Baltimore) – And thus begins the absolutely brutal stretch run for the Chargers where they face the Ravens, Patriots, and Broncos in consecutive weeks. We’re not relying on the Chargers any time soon.
5. Philadelphia (at Dallas) – The explosive Eagles defense may find it difficult to produce big plays against a run-heavy Dallas offense that likes to control the game. The Cowboys have also yielded two-or-fewer sacks in eight of their last nine games.
Bottom of the Barrel
Oakland (vs. Kansas City) hasn’t produced more than two sacks in a single game this season. It’s extremely tough to trust them despite the plus matchup. … Washington (at Indianapolis) is a bottom tier fantasy unit facing a top tier offense on the road. … New Orleans (at Pittsburgh) have posted a combined negative-three fantasy points and have to go on the road an face an explosive Steelers offense. … Atlanta (vs. Arizona) is the league’s No. 32 overall defense. … Tennessee (at Houston) hasn’t topped double-digit fantasy points since Week 6 when they faced the Jags. … Jacksonville (vs. NY Giants) posted a surprising five sacks last weeks against the Colts, but we need to see more out of the Jags before we can trust them for fantasy purposes. … Carolina (at Minnesota) has scored a combined nine fantasy points over their last six games.
Here are some potential streamers with good matchups in the coming weeks.
Week 14 – Houston at Jacksonville, Washington vs. St. Louis, New Orleans vs. Carolina, Minnesota vs. NY Jets, St. Louis at Washington
Week 15 – Baltimore vs. Jacksonville, Carolina vs. Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay at Carolina, Tennessee vs. NY Jets, NY Giants vs. Washington
Week 16 – Tennessee at Jacksonville, NY Giants at St. Louis, Green Bay at Tampa Bay, Cleveland at Carolina, Jacksonville vs. Tennessee
Can I Kick it?
Here are my top 12 kickers for Week 13:
1. Stephen Gostkowski (at GB)
2. Adam Vinatieri (vs. WAS)
3. Dan Bailey (vs. PHI)
4. Cody Parkey (at DAL)
6. Mason Crosby (vs. NE)
7. Steven Hauschka (at SF)
8. Phil Dawson (vs. SEA)
9. Connor Barth (at KC)
10. Shaun Suisham (vs. NO)
11. Matt Bryant (vs. ARI)
12. Nick Novak (at BAL)
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