Last week the Steelers looked like the clear No. 1 D/ST playing on a short week against sack-prone/turnover-prone Baker Mayfield, but they didn't do much of anything. Instead, Atlanta's defense dominated for the second straight game. We could be in for another strange week full of waiver wire surprises, and our Week 12 fantasy defense rankings do their best to keep up.
We're starting with the Steelers (@ Bengals) at No. 1 again -- they're simply too good to be held down in a favorable matchup two weeks in a row. The disappointing Bears (vs. Bears) are also in a good spot against turnover-machine Daniel Jones. After that, things start getting tricky, but when in doubt, we keep picking on shaky quarterbacks.
We have several potential streamers in the top 15, including the Raiders (@ Jets), Lions (@ Redskins), Browns (vs. Dolphins), Redskins (vs. Lions), and Falcons (vs. Buccaneers). None are particularly reliable, but their matchups generally are. That puts them in better positions than, say, the Panthers (@ Saints), Rams (vs. Ravens) and even the 49ers (vs. Packers) and Patriots (vs. Cowboys). We still suggest starting the latter two because of how good they've been this season, but there's a case to be made for sitting them.
Ultimately, this looks like it's going to be a tough week for a lot of fantasy owners, so don't be afraid to take chances with your D/ST, especially if you're on the outside looking in at a postseason spot.
Reminder: These rankings will be adjusted throughout week, so check back often for updates and analysis!
WEEK 12 DFS: Lineup Builder
Week 12 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense
9Washington Redskins vs. Lions. Like Brandon Allen, Jeff Driskel has played well in his two starts, taking five sacks and turning it over once. That included a game in Chicago. The Redskins have generally played decently in favorable matchups, posting a pair of takeaways and sacks last week against the Jets, for instance. Their ceiling isn't all that high, but they should have a decent floor against a one-dimensional Lions offense with a backup QB.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Bengals. In two starts, Ryan Finley has led the Bengals to 23 total points while taking seven sacks and throwing two INTs. Throw in three lost fumbles by the Bengals, and you have a highly favorable matchup for a Steelers defense that had been absolutely rolling before surprisingly flopping against Cleveland last Thursday. Even after Thursday, Pittsburgh has multiple takeaways in all but two games this year, and it's has at least four sacks in six of 10 games this season.
Chicago Bears vs. Giants. The Bears managed to get two takeaways and keep the score low against the Rams last week, but with zero sacks, it was once again a mediocre game for this once-vaunted defense. This is a classic get-right spot for Chicago, though, as New York has allowed 22 sacks, nine takeaways, and three defensive TDs over the past four games -- and that was against mediocre defenses Arizona, Detroit, Dallas, and the Jets. Some of that is due to bad fumble luck that will even out eventually, but Daniel Jones is still a sack-prone, INT-prone QB who will gift Chicago more than a few fantasy points.
New Orleans Saints vs. Panthers. The league has officially solved Kyle Allen. The Panthers fill-in QB threw four INTs last week, giving him nine picks over the past four games. He's also taken 18 sacks while leading the Panthers to an average of 15 offensive points per game in that span. New Orleans has been somewhat up and down this year, but after a four-INT game last week, it should be ready to swarm at home against Allen and the Panthers.
Buffalo Bills vs. Broncos. We might be overrating Buffalo here, as it continues to disappoint in the takeaway department (two in the past four games) and Brandon Allen has more than held his own in his first two starts (five sacks, one turnover, 23.5 ppg). That included a tough road game in Minnesota last week. Still, Buffalo recorded an impressive seven sacks last week, as there's always the potential for weather being an issue in Buffalo in late November. Two straight road games, including a long trip out East, could catch up with Allen and the Broncos.
Oakland Raiders @ Jets. The Raiders have taken advantage of neutral-to-favorable matchups the past three weeks (Lions, Chargers, Bengals), totaling 12 sacks, seven takeaways, a defensive TD, and 19.3 offensive points per game allowed. The Jets have done well the past two weeks against two of the worse defenses in the league (Giants, Dolphins), but even then they've still given up a pair of sacks each game and two turnovers last time out. The Raiders can take advantage of a turnover-prone QB, even on the road.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Buccaneers. Something has gotten into the Falcons over the past two games. In that span against the Saints and Panthers (both on the road), the Falcons have posted 11 sacks and four takeaways while allowing just 12 total points. Few teams offer as high of a ceiling for fantasy D/STs as Tampa does. Over the past five games, Tampa has allowed 18 sacks and 19 takeaways. The Bucs will score points, but Atlanta will be get plenty of chances to get them back.
Cleveland Browns vs. Dolphins. Ryan Fitzpatrick has brought some life and stability back to the Miami offense, but we know he can still turn it over with the best of them. He also can't avoid sacks, as Miami has allowed 14 over the past three games. Cleveland has stepped up its defense, recording at least three sacks in four of the past five games and picking off Mason Rudolph four times last Thursday. There's certainly a worry about how Cleveland's pass rush will fare without the suspended Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi, so the Browns definitely qualify as a boom-or-bust play, but we expect them to play hard after last week's end-of-game fiasco, and the Dolphins can self-destruct at any time.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Titans. The Titans have allowed 11 sacks and five takeaways over the past three games, while the Jaguars have stepped up with multiple takeaways in three of the past four games (10 total). They also posted an eight-sack game in that span. We'd like them better if this was a home, but the Jags are still a solid option this week.
Washington Redskins vs. Lions. Like Brandon Allen, Jeff Driskel has played well in his two starts, taking five sacks and turning it over once. That included a game in Chicago. The Redskins have generally played decently in favorable matchups, posting a pair of takeaways and sacks last week against the Jets, for instance. Their ceiling isn't all that high, but they should have a decent floor against a one-dimensional Lions offense with a backup QB.
Tennessee Titans vs. Jaguars. Tennessee has quietly been a solid fantasy D/ST most of the season, but it's taken a step back in the past two games, giving up 62 total points while recording just two takeaways. Nick Foles didn't look right last week leading the Jags last week even though he took just two sacks and turned it over once. Tennessee is another medium-ceiling unit that should at least be decent this week, but there are higher-upside boom-or-bust defenses lower on this list.
Baltimore Ravens @ Rams. Baltimore has been hot lately, racking up multiple takeaways in each of the past four games and recording seven sacks last week. It's also scored a whopping five defensive TDs in that span. Meanwhile, the Rams turned to a ball-control, run-heavy offense last week, thus limiting defensive fantasy points. They've still turned it over six times the past two weeks, so Baltimore is startable.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Packers. San Francisco has been mostly dominant on defense this year, while the Packers offense simply doesn't turn the ball over, coughing the ball up just seven times all season. Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 10 times over the past three games, so that's something for 49ers' owners to grasp onto, as is the fact this is a prime-time home game. But obviously the ceiling here is lower than usual.
Denver Broncos @ Bills. The Broncos have a better real-life defense than a fantasy defense, and the once turnover-prone Josh Allen has given it away just twice since Week 5. Denver can rack up sacks (11 in the past three games), but it will need to generate more takeaways to really pay off this ranking.
New England Patriots vs. Cowboys. Dallas is the stingiest teams against fantasy defenses while New England has been the highest-scoring fantasy defense all year. Something's gotta give here. New England has faced two solid offenses (Ravens, Eagles) and produced mediocre results (six sacks, three takeaways, 41 total points allowed). They can still pay off with a big play, but Dallas has allowed more than one sack in a game just twice all year. Perhaps even more important, it's allowed just three multi-takeaway games all year. It's tough to bench New England, but it might be ever tougher to start them.
Detroit Lions @ Redskins. The Lions have been among the worst defenses in the league this year, but Washington gives up a ton of sacks (14 in the past three games) and Dwayne Haskins showed earlier this year he's INT prone. Moreoever, the Redskins simply can't score, totaling 35 points over the past four games. The Lions will likely allow 20-plus points, but they should be able to get some sacks and takeaways in the process.
Green Bay Packers @ 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo has proven to be turnover-prone the past two games, and the 49ers as a team have allowed seven sacks and turned it over five times the past two weeks. Green Bay has been mostly mediocre after a hot start, but multiple sacks and a takeaway or two figure to be in store for this week.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Ravens. The Ravens give up next to nothing to fantasy defenses, as they've allowed just five sacks and four takeaways since the start of Week 6. The Rams have a knack for big plays (16 sacks, two defensive TDs over the past four games), so you can still take a chance on L.A. in this prime-time home matchup if you're willing to play the boom-or-bust game.
Carolina Panthers @ Saints
Miami Dolphins @ Browns
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Steelers
New York Giants @ Bears
Houston Texans vs. Colts
Seattle Seahawks @ Eagles
Indianapolis Colts @ Texans
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Seahawks
New York Jets vs. Raiders
Dallas Cowboys @ Patriots
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Falcons