You hear that? That’s the sound of the fantasy playoffs rapidly approaching. The dance begins in just two short weeks, and the real fantasy wolves separate themselves from the pack.
Some of you may still be fighting for those last couple of playoff spots, and if that describes you, it doesn’t get more crucial than this week. Every roster spot needs to be evaluated — yes, even the defense. A few top units like Buffalo and Baltimore have Week 13 byes. At the same time, San Francisco and Philadelphia will cannibalize each other in a matchup with one of the week’s highest over/unders.
So how do you sift through the Week 13 waiver wire and find the best available defense to lead your team to victory? I thought you’d never ask.
FANTASY WEEK 13 DST STREAMERS
ATLANTA FALCONS (10% ROSTERED ON YAHOO!)
AT NEW YORK JETS | 1 PM
The Falcons took down Derek Carr and the Saints last week, and in doing so, took over the No. 1 spot in the NFC South for the time being. But with only one game separating the top three teams in the division, every game counts, and Atlanta benefits from a gift of a matchup against the sputtering Jets.
The Jets finally decided to bench Zach Wilson this past week, and if anything, the move made them worse offensively. New York has given up over 17 fantasy points per game to opposing defenses over the past five weeks, the highest mark in the league over that span, and only the Patriots and Giants have scored fewer points per game this season than Robert Saleh’s squad.
Atlanta, meanwhile, has scored seven fantasy points per game on defense over their last four, including 12 against the Saints last week via two turnovers, including a 99-yard pick-six off Carr. The Falcons have an average unit overall, but are top ten against the pass and should have no problem shutting down Tim Boyle — or whatever bum of a QB they face on Sunday.
The Falcons also had just one sack in Week 12 and just 22 on the year, but should be able to pump those numbers up against New York’s injury-riddled line that’s ranked dead last in the league by PFF. Fading the Jets has been a lucrative strategy so far in 2023, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (16%)
AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS | 1 PM
Speaking of fading bad offenses, here come the 2-9 New England Patriots. If they were truly in tank mode against the Giants last week, it was one of the most masterful examples of tanking my eyes have ever seen. If they weren’t, then… yikes. Mac Jones was benched in favor of Bailey Zappe (again). Still, it didn’t make much of a difference as the Patriots ended up with just seven points on the day- five fewer than the 12 fantasy points the Giants’ defense ended up with due to two sacks and three interceptions.
Nobody would classify the Chargers defense as “good” — they’re dead last in total yardage and passing yards and have just two combined fantasy points over their past three games — but they are half-decent against the run, which is all New England can really do offensively these days. Los Angeles also put up an insane 27 fantasy points in Week 9 against the Jets, racking up eight sacks and three turnovers, so we know they can beat up on bad offenses when given the chance.
At 4-7 and quickly slipping out of contention in the AFC Playoff picture, the Chargers need to take advantage of every plus matchup they get. This one definitely fits that bill, and I like them to put up some solid numbers in Foxborough on Sunday.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (31%)
VS CAROLINA PANTHERS | 4:05 PM
Frank Reich is officially out after less than a full season in Carolina, and the team promoted special teams coordinator Chris Tabor to interim head coach. They also announced that Jim Caldwell will be advising the offensive game planning moving forward, which… doesn’t give me a lot of hope that they’ll turn things around on that side of the ball.
Carolina had high hopes when trading up to take Bryce Young number one overall and spending big on offensive free agents, but the results have been disastrous. They’re 30th in total offense and 29th in scoring, and tanking from here on out doesn’t even benefit them, since Chicago owns their first-round selection.
The Bucs have averaged seven fantasy points per game on defense over the past three weeks, although almost two-thirds of those points came in a Week 10 win over Tennessee when they had four sacks and two interceptions, allowing just six points on the day. But Carolina’s offense is much worse than Tennessee’s, as well as San Francisco and Indianapolis, Tampa’s last two matchups, so I have faith in them to put up a solid day defensively.
Tampa boasts a top 10 run defense and is right around the league average with 31 sacks, and they continue to work to get healthy on defense. Snatch them up if you can heading into a home matchup with one of the league’s least finest.
Jacksonville Jaguars (33%): Jacksonville squeaked out a win over Houston to take over first place in the AFC South, and now hope to pad that lead as they host the struggling, Burrow-less Bengals on Monday Night Football.
Los Angeles Rams (7%): The Rams beat up on Arizona last week as they push to stay in playoff contention, and host the Browns and their bevy of QB concerns in Week 13.
Houston Texans (13%): After losing a heartbreaker to Jacksonville, Houston looks to get right as they host Denver, who’s turned things around as of late but still has plenty of question marks on offense.