Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.
You may not pay a ton of attention to which defense you're playing every week, but identifying the right matchups and capitalizing on them in your starting lineup could win you a matchup
So that's where we come in by ranking the top 20 defense/special teams units in the NFL before Week 12 games begin.
2021 FANTASY FOOTBALL D/ST RANKINGS: WEEK 12
1. Chicago Bears (vs. Lions)
The Bears' playoff hopes are all but gone at this point in the year, but you never want to be the team that loses to the only winless squad left in the league. Expect the Bears to feast on Detroit's offense on Thanksgiving Day.
2. Buffalo Bills (vs. Saints)
The last time the Bills were more or less embarrassed in a loss to an inferior team, they took their frustrations out on a worse team the following week. The Saints aren't a bad team, but they certainly don't pose the same threat as Jonathan Taylor.
3. New England Patriots (vs. Titans)
The Patriots have quickly turned into one of the best defenses in the league, and they'll face off against a Titans team trying to bounce back from a loss to Houston in Week 11. Ryan Tannehill has long struggled to move the ball without a consistent running game. Last week was the first hint of those struggles this season, so it'll be interesting to see what Bill Belichick draws up to give Tannehill a hard time in Week 12.
4. Miami Dolphins (vs. Panthers)
The Dolphins aren't a home-run pick this week since Cam Newton's greatest strength aligns with Miami's biggest weakness on defense, but at some point, the film is going to catch up to Newton, right? If it does this week, you're going to wish you started the Dolphins.
5. Baltimore Ravens (vs. Browns)
They may have won against a bad Lions team this past week, but the Browns' offense has looked rough for two-straight games now. The Ravens know Baker Mayfield well at this point, and his left shoulder injury won't make life any easier. Baltimore's defense has had its ups and downs this year, but they can still put together good performances against flawed opponents.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Colts)
If the Buccaneers can do what the Bills couldn't, and stop Jonathan Taylor from running all over them, they should be able to limit the Colts' offense given their lack of playmakers at wide receiver. Still, stopping Taylor is easier said than done.
7. Philadelphia Eagles (vs. Giants)
The Eagles finally decided to shake up their personnel groupings on defense last week against the Saints. They deployed more dime and nickel coverages and blitzed off of those looks, creating confusion for Trevor Siemian in the secondary. Daniel Jones is probably better than Siemian, but Philadelphia may have found something that works for them on defense, at least against the non-elite quarterbacks in the league.
8. Houston Texans (vs. Jets)
It doesn't necessarily take a good defense to stop the Jets.
9. Dallas Cowboys (vs. Raiders)
The Cowboys are going through a bit of a rough patch in their schedule, but the defense is still getting enough takeaways to warrant a start on a short week.
10. Tennessee Titans (vs. Patriots)
Hidden by the absolute dominance of their defense, the Patriots offense hasn't been all that explosive. They lean on the run to set up their down-field passing game and if those plays aren't there, they simply focus on ball security. Whoever stops the run against New England should be in store for a good day fantasy-wise.
11. Carolina Panthers (vs. Dolphins)
12. Detroit Lions (vs. Bears)
13. Minnesota Vikings (vs. 49ers)
14. Indianapolis Colts (vs. Buccaneers)
15. Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Steelers)
16. Los Angeles Chargers (vs. Broncos)
17. San Francisco 49ers (vs. Vikings)
18. Cleveland Browns (vs. Ravens)
19. Atlanta Falcons (vs. Jaguars)
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. Falcons)