UPDATED Week 11 Fantasy Football Defense (DST) Rankings and Streamers
We got back on track in a big way in Week 10, nailing eight of the top 10 defenses. The biggest misses were ranking New Orleans fourth and Seattle fifth, but all the rest of our defenses hit, including our aggressive ranking for both the Colts and the 49ers.
Last week, I also mentioned that eight of the highest-scoring fantasy defenses also ranked inside the top 10 in BOD, but I had been failing to top 50% in hitting weekly rankings. As a result, I started including the last four week fantasy point total for defenses into the equation, which downgraded defenses like Buffalo that started off the season really hot and then started to falter. I also made the switch to include an offenses fantasy points allowed over the last four weeks, instead of over the entire season. Similarly, this was meant to more accurately reflect who an offense is now, not who they were all season. So, for example, the Bears have given up the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing defenses over the last month, even though they would have given up the third-most if you use full season stats.
Those are meaningful changes and, after one week, they appear to have us moving in the right direction, so we’ll see if we can keep it going into Week 11.
BOD Formula and Philosophy
Just a quick reminder of the BOD formula:
(Pressure Rate) + (Knockdowns) + (Pass Defense Rate) + (%Drives ending in a Turnover)
(% Drives ending in a Score) + (Explosive Plays Allowed Per Game)
It’s important to clarify that the BOD rankings ARE NOT to be treated as weekly rankings. BOD is meant to tell us who the best fantasy defenses are, but depending on the matchup, they might be ranked differently in a given week. That’s why we have this column where I will be breaking down my rankings for each week and an explanation of why I have the defenses ranked the way I do. The rankings will take into account their BOD ranking, opponent, injuries, weather, etc., but I hope my explanation will help make sense of each ranking.
Special shoutout to Arjun Menon, who calculates the explosive plays per game formula. You can check him out on Twitter here.
Throughout the season I’ll keep track of how many top 10 defenses we correctly predicted. I know it’s not quite marking down if I nailed the number one defense each week or the number two, but it’s the most logical way I can think of to keep track of how often a defense I predicted would be a good play actually wound up being a good play. I know we always want the top defense, but I think, more often than not, if we get one of the ten performing defenses of the week, we’re not mad at the result.
SEASON RECORD FOR TOP 10 PREDICTIONS: 51-of-100 (51%)
So how do things stack up for Week 11?
The Cowboys stand alone in tier one for me because, quite frankly, they’re the only defense I have real confidence in for Week 11. They didn’t exactly crush it last week against the Giants, putting up nine points, but the Cowboys took their foot off the gas incredibly early in that game with their starters sitting out the entire fourth quarter. I don’t want to read too much into it, but we might see something similar this week. The Panthers are just 29th in scoring rate, 28th in sacks allowed, and give up the second-most points to opposing fantasy defenses over the last month. They don’t figure to score much against a Cowboys defense that ranks fifth in opponent’s scoring rate, and they should have their hands full with Dallas’ pass rush, which has underperformed a bit but still ranks 16th in pressure rate and 18th in knockdown per game (sacks plus QB hits). Bryce Young has looked totally overmatched so far, and I don’t expect that to get better this week.
There are some defenses that you have to play regardless of matchup, and the Browns are one of those right now. They just put up 13 fantasy points against a Ravens offense that had really been clicking of late, and they did so while having a pretty average performance and allowing 31 points. That’s because this defense ranks first in opponent’s scoring rate, fourth in pressure rate, sixth in knockdowns per game, and 11th in turnover rate. The Browns have averaged 14.8 points per game over the last month, but they didn’t make tier one because the Steelers have actually given up the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing defenses over the last month. They may not be an explosive offense in real football, but they haven’t been an easy target for fantasy defenses. However, neither were the Ravens.
That being said, I also like the Steelers defense as a play this week too. Yes, I know the Browns just put up 33 points against the Ravens, but I simply don’t buy the consistency of this offense, and now Deshaun Watson is undergoing an MRI on his ankle. The Steelers lost Kwon Alexander, which is a big loss, but they also got Cameron Heyward and should get Minkah Fitzpatrick back this week as well. This defense ranks third in turnover rate, ninth in pressure rate, and 10th in knockdowns per game and remains a fantasy-friendly unit against a Browns offense that has given up the 12th-most fantasy points over the last month. I think both defenses can sneak into the top 10. However, if Watson is cleared of his injury, I may move Pittsburgh down a bit. FRIDAY UPDATE: Pittsburgh moves up to three with the news that Dorian Thompson-Robinson is starting at quarterback for Cleveland.
The issue is that I just can’t see moving Buffalo up over Pittsburgh, even though the BOD formula wants me to. The Bills lost one of the worst games we’ve seen in recent memory on Monday night. They kept inventing ways to give that game away, but the defense actually played pretty well for much of that game. They should also get Micah Hyde and Christian Benford back against the Jets and those are huge additions. The Jets also allow THE MOST fantasy points to opposing defenses over the last month.
The Jaguars did not show up against the 49ers last week. There’s just no way to sugarcoat that. However, the Titans are not the 49ers. With Will Levis at quarterback against a Bucs defense that just got destroyed by the Texans, the Titans were only able to gain 209 yards of total offense. They were also sacked four times. In fact, over the last month, which includes three Will Levis starts, the Titans have given up the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing defenses. Now they face a Jaguars defense that, even after last week, ranks fifth in opponents’ scoring rate, fifth in turnover rate, and 10th in explosive play rate allowed,. The Jaguars pass rush has been fairly average this year, which makes me question their ceiling a bit, but it’s a strong overall defense against a fairly mediocre offense with an inconsistent quarterback.
The Dolphins are a tough defense for me to figure out because they have pushed their way into the back half of the BOD top 10 at times this season and then fallen off. They’re third in pressure rate, fourth in explosive play rate allowed, and fifth in knockdowns but just 23rd in turnover rate. However, they’re also facing Aidan O’Connell, who has won his last two starts but against Jets and Giants offenses that couldn’t move the ball. There will be a lot more pressure on O’Connell to put up points this week, and I don’t think it’s going to go well for him and the Raiders offense.
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Oh, hey, another defense that hasn’t played well lately that could be elevated into the top 10 because of matchup. The Commanders are averaging just 3.5 fantasy points per game over the last month, but this Giants offense is a mess. Daniel Jones is out for the year, Darren Waller is on IR, and Andrew Thomas just got hurt again. The Giants could be down three starting offensive linemen again with Tommy DeVito under center. So, while I don’t love this Commanders defense without Montez Sweat and Chase Young, the Giants have given up the third-most fantasy points to opposing defenses over the last month, and so I think we can run the Commanders out there in Week 11.
The Lions are yet another defense that didn’t perform well this past week that I think we can use confidently in Week 11. Despite their flop against the Chargers, this is a slightly above average fantasy defense that ranks second in explosive play rate allowed, 10th in pressure rate, 13th in opponents’ scoring rate, and 17th in turnover rate. They’re now getting a Bears offense that just gave up double-digit fantasy points to a bad Panthers defense. There’s a chance that the Bears may bring back Justin Fields this week, but at this point it’s clear the Bears are not actively trying to win games, so maybe we get another week of Tyson Bagent, which would make me feel very confident in using the Lions. SUNDAY UPDATE: I moved Washington ahead of Detroit with the news that Justin Fields was starting, but the Bears offense was one we wanted to attack with Fields playing before too, so I don’t want to overreact to the news.
The 49ers came off the bye and made a statement with a huge blowout win over the Jaguars. They had five sacks and four turnovers without their new trade acquisition, Chase Young, being overly involved in the game. This is a defense that figures to get better as the year goes on; however, this Bucs offense is actually LESS giving than the Jaguars offense. The Bucs allow the ninth-fewest fantasy points to opposing defenses. They’re fifth-best in offensive turnover rate and have given up the 4th-fewest sacks in the league. I still think you can play the 49ers defense, but I don’t think this is a smash spot.
This Eagles-Chiefs game is interesting because we generally would associate this with two big-time offenses, but the defenses are really playing solid football this season. The Chiefs offense ranks eighth in scoring rate but just 12th in touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Eagles are seventh in touchdowns but rank 24th in offensive turnover rate. So we have a Chiefs offense without lots of weapons and having a down year pushing the ball into the end zone and a Eagles offense that is having a problem with turnovers. That could present an opportunity for these defenses, in particular a Chiefs defense that handled the Dolphins before the bye and ranks 10th in turnover rate and second in opponents’ scoring rate. The Eagles offense allows the 21st-most fantasy points to opposing defenses, so it’s not a good matchup, but this Chiefs defense is averaging 10.7 fantasy points per game over the last month. Meanwhile, the Chiefs offense is allowing the 8th-most fantasy points to opposing defenses over the last month, so this is weirdly a solid matchup for the Eagles defense. There’s an obvious scenario in which this game is much lower scoring than we expect and both defenses are in play in deeper leagues.
This Bills-Jets game is another confusing one to pin down. On one hand, we know the talent the Bills offense has and we know that Zach Wilson continues to put the Jets defense in bad situations. We also know that the Jets have handled Josh Allen well of late and that the last few meetings between these teams have been fairly low scoring with only one of their last seven meetings going over 45 total points. The Bills defense is really banged-up, but I still believe they’re the slightly better play against the far inferior quarterback. However, I think both of these teams could be fringe top-10 defenses if we get the type of game we typically do between these two clubs. Over the last month, the Bills have allowed the 20th-most fantasy points to opposing defenses, so they’re still not an offense we want to target, but they are no longer one of the elite units when it comes to preventing fantasy points.
The Chargers absolutely destroyed the Jets two weeks ago and then came back and got manhandled by the Lions. That’s kind of been the story with this defense. They have a good matchup against a Packers offense that allows the 13th-most fantasy points to opposing defenses over the last month, but while the Chargers are ninth in turnover rate and 14th in knockdowns per game they are only 25th in pressure rate, 25th in opponents’ scoring rate, and 27th in explosive plays allowed rate. It’s just too inconsistent of a defense for me to trust any higher than this.
The Vikings defense is admittedly driving me a little crazy. I was in on them two weeks ago against the Falcons and they did basically nothing. Then I was hesitant to play them this past week against the Saints, and they had a huge day. Still, the Vikings are first in the NFL in explosive play rate allowed, 10th in opponent’s scoring rate, and 14th in turnover rate, so the BOD formula likes them; however, Denver has actually allowed the 11th-fewest fantasy points to opposing defenses over the last month, so they’re no longer a great matchup.
Ah, Seattle, the defense that has caused me the most headaches this season. They rank eighth in knockdowns per game, 12th in pressure rate, and 13th in turnover rate but 16th in explosive play rate allowed and 21st in opponents’ scoring rate. Sean McVay has come out and said the plan is for Matthew Stafford to play this weekend, so I’m just not sure this Rams offense is a great matchup. There’s also a chance that Kyren Williams will come back. If either Stafford and Williams can’t play, or if BOTH can’t play, I might move Seattle up, so we need to keep an eye on practice reports.
The Bengals and Ravens game also sees two solid defenses going up against two talented offenses. I’m just a little less confident in these defenses. I know they’ve both stepped up in big situations before, but the Ravens just gave up 373 yards and 33 points to the Browns, while the Bengals allowed an absurd 544 yards and 30 points to the Texans. Yes, this could be a tough, hard fought divisional game where these two defenses stuff the opposing offenses. I just don’t feel good about betting on that.
I would prefer not to play any of these defenses this week if I had my choice. Especially the ones on bye.
As I mentioned above, I will update and repost this article on Sunday morning in case there are any changes with injuries or weather reports, etc. Until then, good luck to all this week!