“Defense wins championships” and if you’re locked into your fantasy league’s playoffs, you should be looking to add these four defenses before week’s end if they’re still available.
12/22 update: Week 16 Defense Streamers
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (68% ROSTERED ON YAHOO!)
The San Francisco 49ers have one of the easiest D/ST schedules for the remainder of the season and currently sit at 13th overall in total points this season. At 6-6, the Niners are in the thick of the NFC playoff race and after an abysmal performance against their division rival Seahawks, they’re looking to get right and sneak their way into the playoffs.
The defense is currently ninth overall in PFF grade and with Nick Bosa anchoring the defensive front with 12 sacks, the team will continue to put pressure on the quarterback.
The Niners kick off their fantasy playoff schedule against the Falcons, who currently sit at dead last in opponent ranking, giving the Niners the best matchup for the first round. The Falcons offensive line is abysmal and Matt Ryan lacks the mobility to scramble away from the likes of Bosa and Arik Armstead. The Niners will potentially see 4-plus sacks in this matchup as long as the secondary can contain Kyle Pitts and Cordarelle Patterson, and new WR1 Russell Gage.
Week 16 presents a slightly tougher matchup against the Titans. However, the team has been struggling on offense since losing Derrick Henry. In the Titans’ last two matchups, they’ve scored a combined 26 points and had an embarrassing showing against the bottom feeder Texans in Week 11. The offense has looked clunky and unless they can right the ship, the Niners can be plugged into your Week 16 matchup.
In Week 17, the heralded championship week, Niners’ owners are gifted with a matchup against the Houston Texans. The Texans have been a laughing stock of the league this year and with Tyrod Taylor dealing with the wrist injury, it appears that Josh Larky look-alike Davis Mills will finish out the season as the team’s starter. In his six starts, Mills has thrown eight interceptions and has been sacked on nine percent of his dropbacks. The Texans currently sit at 27th in the league with an 8.54 percent sack percentage this season.
Although they’re owned in over half of leagues, if you’re able to add the Niners to your playoff roster do it, and do it with confidence. They have my favorite schedule for all three weeks of the fantasy playoffs.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (52%)
The Los Angeles Chargers have been a defense I have picked on for the majority of the season. They don’t force too many turnovers and its run funnel style has allowed for some big yardage games. But, screw the past, and let’s look to the future. The Chargers have one of the juiciest schedules of the highly available defenses in most leagues and with Joey Bosa rushing the quarterback (when healthy), he’s a major problem for any offense.
Not to mention, they just forced four turnovers, recorded six sacks, and even scored a touchdown against the Bengals last week.
If we exclude their Week 15 matchup against the Chiefs, who aren’t an awful matchup, the Chargers get to face the Texans and Broncos in round two and on Championship Sunday. Both matchups will be great for the Chargers’ high-powered offense and its defense.
The Wolf puts it best in one of his many insightful tweets, if you’re locked into a bye or in contention for one, this is the best D/ST stash you’ll find. The Chargers are in playoff contention and defensive-minded Brandon Staley will have this team firing on all cylinders for their final stretch of the season.
MIAMI DOLPHINS (53%)
Since their get-right game against the Houston Texans in Week 9, the Dolphins have rattled off five straight wins and have been one of the most dominant defenses in the NFL. During this five-game stretch, the Dolphins have scored two defensive touchdowns, sacked the quarterback 19 times (four against Lamar Jackson), and forced 11 turnovers. Brian Flores has this team clicking at the right time and with a bye this week, they can rest and prepare for this final playoff stretch against some of the lower-tier offenses.
The Dolphins get the Zach Wilson-led Jets in round one of the playoffs. I think that’s all I need to say for round one.
In round two, the Dolphins get the Saints who lack any sort of skill position playmaker outside of Alvin Kamara. Taysom Hill is dealing with an injured middle finger, the offensive line is without both of its starting tackles, and Mark Ingram is a 31-year-old shell of himself. The Dolphins should be able to continue its defensive dominance against the struggling Saints team.
The hardest matchup comes on Championship Sunday against the Titans, who could potentially see Henry back at this time. However, it’s highly unlikely. As I wrote above, the Titans offense has been struggling as of late and Ryan Tannehill looks like he’s back with Adam Gase without Henry to rely on.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (37% ESPN)
The Seattle Seahawks have struggled for the majority of this season on both sides of the ball, but with a big win against the Niners on Sunday, they have hope of making a push for the final spot in the NFC. If they weren’t picked up this morning when your waivers went through, pick them up immediately. They play the Texans this week and you should stash them for their Week 16 and 17 matchups.
In Week 15, the Seahawks play the Rams who I would avoid starting, but if you’re in a pinch, just hope for a low-scoring divisional affair.
Week 16 and 17 are when the Seahawks are going to help you hoist your league trophy. Matchups against the Bears and Lions in back-to-back weeks sound like heaven for any fantasy manager. The Bears currently sit dead last in sack percentage at 10.23 percent on the season and the Lions sit at 23rd in the same category.
The Seahawks haven’t allowed more than 23 points since Week 5 and are one of the slowest-paced teams in the NFL. With Russell Wilson slowly getting back to form, the Seahawks should be locked into your playoff lineups for Weeks 16 and 17.
BARELY-OWNED DART THROWS
WEEK 15: JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (1%)
Urban Meyer’s Jaguars go up against the Houston Texans in Week 15. If you’re in a deep league and in a pinch, close your eyes and hope for a bullseye.
WEEK 16: ATLANTA FALCONS (2%)
The Atlanta Falcons matchup with the Detroit Lions in Week 16. The Falcons D/ST sits at 30th on the season but has posted four or more fantasy points during its last three matchups. The Lions are the worst team in football and if you have a tough or unsure matchup in Week 16, throw in the Falcons D/ST
WEEK 17: CHICAGO BEARS (18%)
The Chicago Bears get the New York Giants in Week 17. There’s a lot of uncertainty currently surronding the quarterback situation for the Giants with Daniel Jones sitting with a neck injury and Mike Glennon dealing with a concussion. The Bears aren’t the defense of old and don’t have Khalil Mack, but the Bears at home against one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL and a potential third-string quarterback behind center looks to be a league-winning matchup.