Week 11 has marched into town and brings the last batch of pesky bye weeks for the 2015 season. The eleventh week of the fantasy regular season also means the fantasy playoffs are just weeks away, which will require some extra preparation from the D/ST end of the spectrum. This week, we will touch on the top Week 11 kicker and D/ST options, but more time will be spent looking ahead at potential D/ST options for future weeks as we move closer to the fantasy postseason.
Before we dive into Week 11 and beyond, the four Week 11 bye week teams can all be dumped to the waiver wire in favor of better options. Cleveland, New Orleans, New York Giants, and Pittsburgh are all lower-end D/ST groups on the season so don’t bother wasting a roster spot on any of those units during the off week. Now, let’s get to work.
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Top Tier Options
All four top Week 11 options are familiar with this tier, as these defenses are performing at a very high level and have reasonable matchups.
Tabbing a D/ST that just allowed 39 points at home to be the top Week 11 option may seem a bit crazy at first glance, but this week’s opponent is a far easier matchup for the (1) Seattle Seahawks (vs San Francisco). Blaine Gabbert and the 49ers travel to Seattle this week, and the Seahawks held San Francisco to just three points in Week 7 when these teams squared off in Santa Clara. Despite Seattle’s win/loss record, their defense is still quality and this home matchup is mouth-watering.
The (2) Denver Broncos (at Chicago) will get CB Aqib Talib back this week from suspension as they look to rebound from an underwhelming Week 10. There may be turmoil on the offensive side of the ball in Denver, but the defense remains a must-start each week in fantasy leagues of all shapes and sizes.
The early-season dominance of the (3) New York Jets (at Houston) D/ST has faded, but this group can still help fantasy owners. The Jets are tied for the NFL lead in sacks over the last five weeks and despite a few hiccups, are allowing just 82.6 rushing yards per game over that same span. This week brings a matchup on the road at Houston, where the Texans may be forced to start T.J. Yates with Brian Hoyer suffering a concussion on Monday night. Yates was 5/11 passing after taking over for Hoyer in Week 10 and threw his first regular season touchdown pass since 2011. Yates makes an excellent target for fantasy folks looking to start the Jets D/ST this week.
The (4) Carolina Panthers (vs Washington) are tied for second among NFL defenses in turnovers and tied for first in interceptions, making them a nice Week 11 fantasy option at home against Washington. The Redskins did drop a healthy 47-point explosion on the New Orleans Saints in Week 10, but the Saints’ defense is buttery soft and Kirk Cousins is not a quarterback to be frightened of from a D/ST perspective.
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Not Great, But Start-Worthy
The following four-pack of D/ST options is a notch below our Week 11 top tier, but these teams are still worth starting this week.
Week 10 was hard on the (5) St. Louis Rams (at Baltimore) as they were dispatched rather easily at home by the Chicago Bears. The rough performance is a bit concerning but the Rams D/ST did accumulate two sacks and two turnovers against the Bears and still have the defensive talent to produce for fantasy owners. A road game at Baltimore isn’t the most enticing spot for a fantasy defense, but the Ravens rely heavily on their passing attack, and the Rams are third in the NFL in sacks and have allowed just 219.0 passing yards per game over the last five weeks. This group is still solid enough to be trusted.
The (6) Arizona Cardinals (vs Cincinnati) D/ST has been a quality group this season, and is a decent play in Week 11 at home against Cincinnati. The Bengals offense boasts some impressive yardage totals on the season, but has scuffled in recent weeks. The Cincinnati offense has scored 16 or fewer points in two of their last three games, with the remaining performance coming at the expense of the forgiving Cleveland defense. Andy Dalton has averaged 220.7 passing yards per game with three touchdowns and three interceptions over the last three weeks, so give the Cardinals D/ST the nod at home this week.
The (7) Tennessee Titans (at Jacksonville) D/ST has quietly been a decent group this season and faces Jacksonville in Week 11. The Jaguars offense moves the ball primarily through the air, and the Titans defense is third in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 213.8 yards per game and is tied with Seattle for fourth among NFL defenses with 16 sacks over the last five weeks. Only three NFL quarterbacks have thrown more interceptions than Blake Bortles in 2015, so the Titans D/ST is worth a look this week.
The Buffalo Bills are second-best rushing team in the NFL at 142.3 yards per game, with 41.5 percent of their offense yards coming on the ground in 2015, the third-highest mark in the league. The rushing success of the Bills will make their Week 11 contest with the (8) New England Patriots (vs Buffalo) awfully interesting, as the Patriots have allowed a ridiculously low 68.4 rushing yards per game over the last five weeks. The success of the Patriots against the run is boosted by opposing teams attempting to move the ball quickly through the air to keep up with the high-scoring New England offense, and that will most likely be the case again on Sunday with Tom Brady’s squad a large home favorite against Buffalo.
The Murky Middle
This tier is where the Week 11 fun starts. With numerous teams suffering quarterback injuries or simply booting their starting quarterback to the bench, the fantasy world is left with a tasty buffet of streaming targets for Week 11. This is a large tier, but these seven teams are grouped together to illustrate the plethora of options that Week 11 presents.
The (9) Atlanta Falcons (vs Indianapolis) don’t have the most impressive secondary, but a matchup against Indianapolis quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is worth noting when scouring through Week 11 D/ST options. Hasselbeck didn’t throw any interceptions in his first two starts of 2015, but the Falcons have been decent at home and should be able to handle the Colts this week without Andrew Luck. The recent letdown at San Francisco makes this group a bit scary, but I think they’re worth a shot at home.
The (10) Cincinnati Bengals (at Arizona) lead NFL defenses in scoring, but face the second-highest scoring NFL offense in Week 11 on the road in the Arizona Cardinals. The matchup is rough, but the Bengals have not allowed more than 10 points in a single game since October 18th.
Mark Sanchez will likely get the start at quarterback in Philadelphia this week, making the (11) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at Philadelphia) a fine D/ST option. The Bucs have been stout against the run recently, allowing just 76.8 rushing yards per game over the last five weeks, the second-best mark among NFL defenses in that span. If the Eagles struggle to run the ball, Mark Sanchez will be forced to throw, and that should make Bucs D/ST owners cackle with glee. Sanchez has thrown 30 interceptions in his last 25 NFL games.
The (12) Baltimore Ravens (vs St. Louis) are looking at a matchup with quarterback Case Keenum in Week 11, as Nick Foles was sent to the bench by coach Jeff Fisher. Keenum won’t be asked the throw the ball too much this week, but he has a 55.2 percent completion rate in his career and is a good bet for turnovers in his first start of the season.
The opportunistic (13) Philadelphia Eagles (vs Tampa Bay) are in the top-10 among NFL defenses in sacks, interceptions, and fumble recoveries this season and will look to continue their aggressive ways in Week 11 against Tampa Bay. Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston threw two interceptions in Week 10, and has thrown only one touchdown since Week 7. Winston has been an effective red zone runner recently however, scoring a touchdown at the goal line in each of the last three weeks.
The defense of the (14) Oakland Raiders (at Detroit) is uninspiring, but the Detroit offense scores just 18.6 points per game and leads the league in turnovers. If you play the Raiders D/ST this week, you’ll be on the prowl for turnovers with the hope that Matthew Stafford doesn’t expose the weak Oakland secondary.
The Green Bay offense isn’t striking fear into opponents right now, and the defense of the (15) Minnesota Vikings (vs Green Bay) has been respectable this season. The Vikings are second in scoring defense in 2015, allowing over 20 points just once in nine games. The Vikings D/ST has not excelled at creating turnovers so far this season, which has put a lid on their fantasy impact thus far, although they are a decent bet in leagues that award points for yardage allowed.
(16) Chicago Bears (vs Denver), (17) Jacksonville Jaguars (vs Tennessee), (18) Green Bay Packers (at Minnesota), (19) Houston Texans (vs NY Jets), (20) Dallas Cowboys (at Miami), (21) Kansas City Chiefs (at San Diego), (22) Miami Dolphins (vs Dallas)
Waiver Wire Scraps
(23) San Diego Chargers (vs Kansas City), (24) Buffalo Bills (at New England), (25) Washington Redskins (at Carolina), (26) San Francisco 49ers (at Seattle), (27) Indianapolis Colts (at Atlanta), (28) Detroit Lions (vs Oakland)
We will take a different approach in this section as preparation for the fantasy home stretch begins. First is a list of the top D/ST options and potential streaming/lesser-owned options for Week 12. Next is a breakdown of the top D/ST options with the best fantasy playoff outlook in Weeks 14-16.
Top Week 12 D/ST Options
Arizona (Wk 12 at SF)
NY Jets (Wk 12 vs MIA)
Cincinnati (Wk 12 vs STL)
Philadelphia (Wk 12 at DET)
Potential Week 12 Streaming Options
Baltimore (43% owned in Yahoo leagues, Wk 12 at CLE)
Tampa Bay (9% owned in Yahoo leagues, Wk 12 at IND)
San Diego (4% owned in Yahoo leagues, Wk 12 at JAX)
Fantasy Playoff Target List (Weeks 14-16)
Seattle (@BAL, vs CLE, vs STL)
St. Louis (vs DET, vs TB, @SEA)
Philadelphia (vs BUF, vs ARI, vs WSH)
Denver (vs OAK, @PIT, vs CIN)
Arizona (vs MIN, @PHI, vs GB)
Carolina (vs ATL, @NYG, @ATL)
New England (@HOU, vs TEN, @NYJ)
Cincinnati (vs PIT, @SF, @DEN)
Kickers Are People Too
1. Stephen Gostkowski (vs BUF)
2. Steven Hauschka (vs SF)
3. Dan Bailey (at MIA)
4. Sebastian Janikowski (at DET)
5. Matt Bryant (vs IND)
6. Josh Lambo (vs KC)
8. Cairo Santos (at SD)
9. Graham Gano (vs WAS)
10. Blair Walsh (vs GB)
11. Robbie Gould (vs DEN)
12. Dan Carpenter (at NE)
13. Chandler Catanzaro (vs CIN)
14. Brandon McManus (at CHI)
15. Connor Barth (at PHI)