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Three And Out

Getting Defensive: Week 14

by Jeff Ratcliffe
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

Defense wins championships.


With the fantasy playoffs now upon us, it’s time to put this mantra into action. However, at this point in the season it’s important to remember a few other key fantasy maxims.


When making your roster decisions this week, don’t overthink it. If you were to play this week 100 times, make the lineup choice that would be successful the most frequently, not the one that has a five percent chance of hitting. Don’t get cute with your roster in the fantasy playoffs. Start your studs.


Now, let’s check in on the DST landscape for Week 14. 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. 


As always, feel free to shoot me a tweet if you have any specific questions about start/sit dilemmas that I don’t answer here. If that's not your thing, you can also "like" me on Facebook.


Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $2.25 Million Fantasy Football league for Week 14's games. It's only $25 to join and first prize is $250,000. Starts Sunday, December 7th at 1pm ETHere's the link.



The Usual Suspects

Don’t you love it when the stars align for the fantasy playoffs? Detroit (vs. Tampa Bay) has been one of the best fantasy defenses this season, and they get a cupcake of a matchup in Week 14 against a Bucs team that yields the third-most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses.



Preferred Plays

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. Houston (at Jacksonville) – You knew this one was coming. J.J. Watt against the Jags should be fun.


2. Denver (vs. Buffalo) – The Bills aren’t as strong of a matchup as they were earlier in the season, but Denver’s pass rush is firing on all cylinders. The return of Danny Trevathan should help solidify the middle of this unit. You also have to like this matchup even more if Sammy Watkins doesn’t play.


3. San Francisco (at Oakland) – After what the Rams just did to Oakland, it’s hard not to like San Francisco this week. With rookie LB Chris Borland playing out of his mind and Aldon Smith back in the mix, the 49ers make for a strong start this week.



Still Solid

They aren’t elite plays, but you’re not likely to find anything better on the wire.

Seattle isn’t necessarily the best fantasy matchup, but I don’t see how you can sit Philadelphia (vs. Seattle). The Eagles are fantasy’s top-scoring unit and they’ve topped double-digit fantasy points in three of their last four games. ... Arizona (vs. Kansas City) faces a mid-pack matchup in the Chiefs, but it’s not enough of a downgrade to go away from the Cards. ... While Baltimore (at Miami) gets a neutral matchup against the Dolphins, you’re rolling with them this week. Jacksonville is up next for the Ravens.




You don't want to rely on these DST streamers on a weekly basis, but their matchup is too juicy to pass up.

1. St. Louis (at Washington) – If you grabbed the Rams last week, you were rewarded handsomely. We’re likely to see a reprise this week from St. Louis, as they face a Washington team that has given up at least five sacks in each of their last four games. Get ready for a lot of Robert Quinn and Chris Long in this one.


2. Minnesota (vs. NY Jets) – A recommendation in last week's column, the Vikings returned two blocked punts for scores and posted the second-highest point total of Week 13. You love that if you started them, and you’re going to want to roll with them again this week against the lackluster Jets.


3. Green Bay (vs. Atlanta) – While the Falcons haven’t been the best matchup this season, it’s December and the Packers are at home in Lambeau. That’s a tall task for any opposing offense, especially one that plays their home games in a climate controlled dome.


4. NY Giants (at Tennessee) – The Giants found a way to lose last week, but they still posted a reasonably good fantasy performance. They’re not the best streamer this week, but the matchup offers enough upside to warrant fantasy consideration.


5. New Orleans (Carolina) – This hasn’t been a banner year for the Saints defense, as they currently sit as fantasy’s No. 31 unit. Ordinarily, I’d immediately toss them in the bottom of the barrel tier, but two things stick out – 1) The Panthers have yielded double-digit fantasy points in four of their last five games, including massive point totals to the Eagles and Vikings, and 2) The Saints only double-digit fantasy performance of the season came against Carolina in Week 9. New Orleans isn’t the safest play, but they’re the best bet if your waiver wire is all dried up.



Middle of the Road

These are fantasy option that will be streamers at times, but it’s best to avoid them this week.

While Cincinnati (vs. Pittsburgh) hasn’t been allowing a lot of points, their inability to create turnovers and sacks limits their fantasy potential. ... Pittsburgh (at Cincinnati) has much of the same problem with just one sack and one takeaway in their last two games. ... The Chargers have only yielded double-digit fantasy points twice this season, so it may not be the best week to trust New England (at San Diego). ... Indianapolis (at Cleveland) has posted strong fantasy numbers in each of their last two games, but the Browns have proven to be a tough matchup this season even with Brian Hoyer at quarterback. ... Jacksonville (vs. Houston) is a unit on the rise, but it’s tough to like them against a Texans team that has given up double-digit fantasy points just once in 2014. ... Kansas City (at Arizona) has really floundered since their Week 7 outbreak. Their limited ceiling isn’t ideal for the fantasy playoffs. ... Despite being without Lavonte David over the last two weeks, Tampa Bay (at Detroit) has posted respectable fantasy numbers. Still, I’d prefer safer options if I’m in a single-elimination playoff game. ... Likewise, it’s tough to have faith Chicago (vs. Dallas) with the playoffs on the line. 



Matchup Downgrade

They shouldn't be dropped, but a tough matchup limits the fantasy upside of these units.

1. Buffalo (at Denver) – The Bills have been one of the best fantasy defenses this season, but the schedule is not in Buffalo’s favor for Weeks 14 and 15. They go on the road to face Peyton Manning this week and have to deal with Aaron Rodgers next week. I actually dropped the Bills in multiple leagues this week.


2. San Diego (vs. New England) – Run. Seriously, just run away from this matchup if you own the Chargers. The Pats don’t give up sacks and rarely turn the ball over.


3. Cleveland (vs. Indianapolis) – With the most yards and points per game, the Colts are a nightmare matchup. Fade the Browns this week.


4. Miami (vs. Baltimore) – Only the Broncos, Patriots, and Colts yield fewer fantasy points per game to opposing defenses. I know some of you may complain in the Facebook comments, but the last time I suggested we downgrade the Dolphins, they posted negative-five fantasy points.


5. Seattle (at Philadelphia) – The Seahawks have topped double-digit fantasy points in four of their last six games, but this is a less than ideal matchup. Seattle is going West Coast to East Coast to face an Eagles offense that has held three of their last four opponents to negative fantasy points.



Bottom of the Barrel

It’s just not happening for Oakland (vs. San Francisco). ... Atlanta (at Green Bay) has improved this season, but this is an absolutely terrible matchup that you’re avoiding at all costs. ... What a difference a year makes for Carolina (at New Orleans). ... Dallas (at Chicago) has topped double-digit fantasy points just once this season. That performance came against the Jags. ... Washington (vs. St. Louis) also only topped double-digits once this season, and it too was against Jacksonville. ... You want no piece of the NY Jets (at Minnesota) this week, as Rex Ryan’s squad has also only topped 10 fantasy points once this season. ... Despite a plus matchup for Tennessee (vs. NY Giants), I’d avoid fantasy’s No. 30 scoring unit.



Streaming Ahead

Here are some potential streamers with good matchups in the coming weeks.

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 14:


1. Stephen Gostkowski (at SD)

2. Dan Bailey (at CHI)

3. Adam Vinatieri (at CLE)

4. Mason Crosby (vs. ATL)

5. Cody Parkey (vs. SEA)

6. Justin Tucker (at MIA)

7. Steven Hauschka (at PHI)

8. Phil Dawson (at OAK)

9. Connor Barth (vs. BUF)

10. Nick Novak (vs. NE)

11. Shayne Graham (vs. CAR)

12. Matt Prater (vs. TB)



D/ST Standard Scoring System

Any Touchdown

6 pts


0 points allowed

5 pts


Under 100 yards allowed

5 pts


2 pts


1-6 points allowed

4 pts


101 to 199 yards allowed

3 pts

Fumble Recovery

2 pts


7-13 points allowed

3 pts


200 to 299 yards allowed

2 pts

Blocked Kick

2 pts


14-17 points allowed

1 pt


300 to 349 yards allowed

0 pts


2 pts


18-27 points allowed

0 pts


350 to 399 yards allowed

 -1 pts


1 pt


28-34 points allowed

 -1 pts


400 to 449 yards allowed

 -3 pts


35-45 points allowed

 -3 pts


450 to 499 yards allowed

 -5 pts


46+ points allowed

 -5 pts


500- 549 yards allowed

 -6 pts


550+ yards allowed

 -7 pts

Jeff Ratcliffe
Jeff Ratcliffe is a football writer and IDP analyst for Rotoworld as well as the Assistant Managing Editor of Pro Football Focus Fantasy. He can be found on Twitter.