Week 12 is upon us, meaning we are officially two-thirds of the way through the NFL season. For many, that simply means hoping their team can pull out a tight division race, lock up a wild card spot, or, at the very least, put themselves in a good position to build for 2024. But for us fantasy wolves, we’re gearing up for the fantasy postseason and getting ready to be crowned champions in short order.
No teams are on bye weeks in Week 12, but we do have some top defenses like Washington (79% rostered; @ Dallas), Buffalo (97% rostered; @ Philadelphia), and the Jets (75% rostered; vs. Miami) with less-than-favorable matchups that may have you looking for alternatives in your D/ST spot. Luckily for you, that’s what we do here.
Ready to get those waiver claims in for Week 12 and continue pushing toward a title? Here are your best options.
FANTASY WEEK 12 DST STREAMERS
DENVER BRONCOS (33% ROSTERED ON YAHOO!)
VS CLEVELAND BROWNS | 4:05 PM
If you watched Sunday Night Football from Denver this week, you’ve already heard about this ad nauseam, but in case you missed it — Denver’s had one of the best defenses in football since getting blown out 70-20 in Week 3 in Miami. In seven games since that debacle, they’ve averaged nine fantasy points per game with 18 turnovers in that span.
Vance Joseph’s unit has gotten hot just in the nick of time, and they’ll look to continue their recent run at home against Cleveland.
The Browns won at home last week against the Steelers to improve to 7-3, but it wasn’t particularly pretty. Dorian Thompson-Robinson got the start, throwing for just 165 yards with an interception against a tough Pittsburgh defense. Generally, this type of performance wouldn’t matter much for a Cleveland team that boasts a top three rushing attack, but Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt combined for just 67 yards on less than 2.8 yards per carry.
This lackluster rushing effort came against a Pittsburgh defense that’s 23rd against the run, but Denver’s run stopping is even worse. They’re ranked dead last with 160 yards allowed per game on the ground, which is the only thing that makes me nervous about this selection. But with Cleveland showing no aerial attack to speak of, Denver will be free to load up the box and go all-out to slow down the run. I think they will, and they’re my favorite pick this week.
CINCINNATI BENGALS (29%)
VS PITTSBURGH STEELERS | 1 PM
The Bengals took a crushing blow following their Week 11 Thursday night game, as Joe Burrow was ruled out for the remainder of the season. The entire team seemed to deflate once Burrow was ruled out, getting outscored 27-10 from that point on, which includes a garbage-time TD to Ja’Marr Chase once the game was already well out of reach.
But, with ten days to prepare and a prominent AFC North matchup on the horizon, I’m counting on a bounce back.
Cincinnati didn’t force any turnovers in Week 11, but in their previous three games, they’d generated eight takeaways while averaging seven fantasy points per contest. These numbers also came against San Francisco, Buffalo, and Houston — three of the least generous offenses in football regarding defensive fantasy scoring. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, trots out an offense that’s ranked 28th in total yardage and 28th in scoring behind another disappointing season from Kenny Pickett.
As is customary with AFC North matchups, especially late in the season, I expect a closely-contested, low-scoring affair in Cincinnati on Sunday. Zach Taylor’s squad has had three extra days to prepare for this one, and I think it’ll pay off with a strong performance. Both defenses could be in for big days, but Pittsburgh is owned in 89% of leagues, so Cincy is the streaming option.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (26%)
AT NEW YORK GIANTS | 1 PM
It’s been a train wreck of a season for the New England Patriots, featuring dismal offensive numbers, historic losses, and murmurs of a mid-season coaching change for the first time in over two decades. Even the defense, which they can typically hang their hat on, has struggled with inconsistency and injuries since day one. But coming off a bye week with a home matchup against the equally embarrassing Giants, I like them to rebound here — within reason, of course.
I honestly like both defenses as streamer picks here, as this game projects to be absolutely void of any offense, featuring two of the top three teams in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing defenses. The Giants looked surprisingly competent in Week 11 behind Tommy DeVito‘s three-touchdown performance, but that hasn’t been the norm by any means. New York has the league’s worst-ranked offense in terms of total yards, passing yards, and scoring, with their only saving grace being a slightly above-average rushing attack.
Bill Belichick may be in the final weeks of his historic career and seems to be losing his fastball, but I still can’t ignore the fact that he’s had two weeks to prepare for a home matchup against a team you know he loves to beat whenever possible. It won’t be fun to watch by any means, but the Patriots should be able to put up some respectable numbers in this one.
New York Giants (3%): After picking off Sam Howell three times in last week’s win, the Giants will be in Foxborough to face a dismal Patriots offense.
Tennessee Titans (5%): The Titans got beat up by Jacksonville last week, and look to bounce back against the 1-9 Panthers.
Minnesota Vikings (29%): Minnesota put up just two fantasy points in a loss to Denver in Week 11, but will face an inconsistent Bears offense on Sunday as they fight to remain in the NFC playoff picture.