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Three And Out

Getting Defensive: Week 16

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

We’ve arrived at your final destination – the fantasy championship game. I know the nerves are flowing, but take a deep breath and relax.


You got here by making smart decisions and this week is no different. If you’ve been relying on a stud defense all season, this isn't the week to switch things up. But if you’re a streamer, there are some options to consider.


Let’s dive into the matchups for Week 16. Remember that the following is a breakdown of my thoughts on all of the team defenses for the week, but is not my rankings. 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 Million Fantasy Football league for Week 16's games. It's only $25 to join and first prize is $200,000. Starts Sunday, December 21st at 1pm ETHere's the link



The Usual Suspects

Start your studs in the fantasy playoffs. Detroit (at Chicago) has been one of the best fantasy units all season, so don’t get cute and bench them for a streamer. ...  Buffalo (at Oakland) leads all fantasy defenses in scoring this season, and they get an extremely strong matchup against the Raiders this week. Keep rolling with the Bills. ... Seattle (at Arizona) has reeled off four straight games with double-digit fantasy points and get to face Ryan Lindley, who has attempted 181 passes and thrown for zero touchdowns in his career.  


Preferred Plays

Fantasy defenses with a high ownership percentage in a strong matchup. There’s no reason to drop these units for a streamer.

1. Baltimore (at Houston) – The Ravens delivered against the Jags last week, and likely get to face Case Keenum. With 14 sacks over the last two games, Baltimore is one of this week’s top fantasy plays.


2. New England (at NY Jets) – With stud DE Chandler Jones back in the mix, the Pats are primed for a strong week against their divisional foe. New England has held each of their previous two opponents to 14-or-fewer points, so the Jets should have a tough time putting points on the board in this one.


3. Philadelphia (at Washington) – Philly has been the ultimate boom-or-bust fantasy defense this season. I’d place my wager on the Eagles being more of the former this week against a Washington team that has yielded a combined 36 sacks over their last six games.



Still Solid

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

Miami (vs. Minnesota) regressed over the second half of the season, but you could certainly do worse. They’re a startable option if all of your quality streamers are already taken. ... St. Louis (vs. NY Giants) managed just one sack last week, but they've played strong at home this season. The waiver wire likely won't yield a higher floor play than the Rams this week.




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

1. Carolina (vs. Cleveland) – Johnny Manziel’s poor play means good things for the Carolina defense. Despite their struggles this season, the Panthers are a strong streamer in Week 16.


2. Green Bay (at Tampa Bay) – While the Packers have been a mid-pack fantasy option for most of 2014, they’re a interesting play this week against a Bucs team that has yielded nine sacks and six turnovers in their last two games.

3. Jacksonville (vs. Tennessee) Wait, shouldn’t this be reversed? Well, it is, but that’s further down the list. I actually prefer the Jags over the Titans as a streaming option on Thursday night. Tennessee is starting Charlie Whitehurst and could again be without Kendall Wright. The Jags come with risk, but they make for an intriguing play for those in search of upside. 


4. NY Giants (at St. Louis) – The Giants have 22 sacks over their last three games. With Jason Pierre-Paul playing for a contract, expect the sacks to continue to come in bunches this week against a Rams team that gives up the third-most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses.


5. Tennessee (vs. Jacksonville) – It’s rare that the team facing the Jags isn’t my top streamer or preferred play, but the uninspiring Titans are just a borderline streamer this week. This has more to do with Tennessee than it does that Jags. The Titans don’t generate a lot of takeaways and only have a combined three sacks over their last three games. There is upside here, but the risk adverse fantasy owner may want to choose a higher floor option this week.



Pump the Brakes

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

Tampa Bay (vs. Green Bay) is trending in the right direction, but you want nothing to do with them this week against the Packers. ... Dallas (vs. Indianapolis) is coming off a strong performance in Philly, but do you really want to stake your fantasy life on a matchup against Andrew Luck? ... Denver (at Cincinnati) may seem appealing, but the loss of Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan at linebacker is cause for concern. I’d look to fade the Broncos this week. ... Indianapolis (at Dallas) had a string of nice matchups over the last month, but it’s wise to avoid them on the road against a strong Cowboys offense. ... Chris Borland has been the defensive equivalent to Odell Beckham this season (yes, I know that's lofty praise). San Francisco (vs. San Diego) won’t be quite the same without him this week, and they make for a very risky play. ... Minnesota (at Miami) typifies the boom-or-bust fantasy defense this season. Their low floor isn’t desirable with a fantasy championship on the line. ... Despite a strong matchup for San Diego (at San Francisco), this Chargers defense tends to struggle on the road. ... Cleveland (at Carolina) performed well against the Colts, but came back to earth last week against Cincinnati. It’s tough to trust them even with Carolina’s sketchy situation at quarterback.



Matchup Downgrade

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

1. Cincinnati (vs. Denver) – Even with Peyton Manning’s declining numbers the Broncos remain a tough fantasy matchup.


2. Houston (vs. Baltimore) – I love me some J.J. Watt, but I’m fading the Texans against a Ravens team that has yielded a combined negative-one fantasy points over their last five games.


3. Kansas City (at Pittsburgh) – The explosive Steelers have averaged nearly 35 points per game while yielding a combined two sacks over their last three games. Needless to say, avoid the Chiefs this week.


4. Arizona (vs. Seattle)Russell Wilson and company have only given up double-digit fantasy points twice this season. It’s not a good idea to trust the Cards with your fantasy championship likely on the line.



Bottom of the Barrel

The NY Jets (vs. New England) have only topped double-digit fantasy points once this season. ... Atlanta (at New Orleans) has scored a combined total of zero fantasy points over the last three weeks. ... New Orleans (vs. Atlanta) performed well against a putrid Bears offense, but they’re still fantasy’s No. 31 unit. ... I say this every week, but Washington (vs. Philadelphia) has only topped double-digit fantasy points once this season. ... Chicago (vs. Detroit) is trending in the wrong direction on both sides of the ball. ... Even with a pick-six last week, Pittsburgh (vs. Kansas City) still managed just five fantasy points. ... Oakland (vs. Buffalo) brings up the rear in fantasy scoring this season.



Can I Kick it?

Here are my top 12 kickers for Week 16:


1. Stephen Gostkowski (at NYJ)

2. Adam Vinatieri (at DAL)

3. Mason Crosby (at TB)

4. Dan Bailey (vs. IND)

5. Justin Tucker (BAL) at HOU)

6. Cody Parkey (at WAS)

7. Connor Barth (at CIN)

8. Steven Hauschka (at ARI)

9. Matt Bryant (at NO)

10. Shayne Graham (vs. ATL)

11. Dan Carpenter (at OAK)

12. Shaun Suisham (vs. KC)


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.