With the fantasy playoffs just three weeks away in most leagues, every victory is crucial. As we’ve seen all season, a quality fantasy defense can be the difference that puts your squad over the top. Week 11 presents us with some very tricky matchups, but there is some fantasy gold to be mined.
Here’s what Week 11 has in store for us. Remember that the following is breakdown of my thoughts on all of the team defenses for the week, but is not my rankings. Feel free to shoot me a tweet if you have any specific questions about start/sit dilemmas that I don’t answer here.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $300,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 11. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the link.
The Usual Suspects
Seattle (vs. Minnesota) faces a Vikings team that has given up double-digit fantasy points in 7-of-9 games this season. ... Carolina (vs. New England) has earned their way into the elite tier with double-digit fantasy points in each of their last seven games. I realize it’s the Patriots, but this Panthers unit is very good, and we've seen New England put up a few subpar offensive performances this season.
Your solid fantasy defenses with a weekly matchup upgrade. They're just below the Usual Suspects tier.
1. Arizona (at Jacksonville) – While the Titans weren’t a lights out play last week against the Jags, they still managed two picks and three sacks. Arizona is a better defensive unit that Tennessee, so they should have no problem taking it to Jacksonville in this one. They’re the preferred play of the week.
2. Houston (vs. Oakland) – The Texans aren’t the stud defensive unit they were in recent seasons, but they still have J.J. Watt and a capable supporting cast. Houston makes for a very interesting spot play this week with Terrelle Pryor banged up and the Raiders giving up fantasy points in bunches. The Texans also get the Jags in two of their next three games.
3. Cincinnati (vs. Cleveland) – Despite losing Geno Atkins, the Bengals put up a game effort against the Ravens last week, posting three takeaways and five sacks. Cleveland isn’t a pushover, but it’s hard to fade the Bengals with the way they’ve been playing.
New Orleans (vs. San Francisco) played well against the Cowboys on Sunday night and get to face a struggling 49ers offense at home. ... Cleveland (at Cincinnati) gets a plus matchup against a Bengals team that has turned the ball over seven times and yielded ten sacks in their last two games. ... The Panthers offense came back to earth last week and could have their hands full against a New England (at Carolina) unit that has put up a combined 17 sacks and takeaways in their last two games.
You don't want to rely on these D/STs on a weekly basis, but their matchup is too juicy to pass up.
1. Green Bay (at. NY Giants) – Eli Manning and company remain a top matchup for fantasy defenses after yielding another double-digit day in Week 10. The Giants have now given up a combined 11 defensive and special teams scores on the season. Green Bay is this week’s top plug-and-play.
2. Buffalo (vs. NY Jets) – This is perhaps the biggest risk/reward play in Week 11. The Bills are an up and down unit, but they’re extremely opportunistic, especially with Jairus Byrd back in an every-down role at free safety. Buffalo offers a lot of fantasy upside against the sometimes-shaky play of Geno Smith. For those who are looking ahead to the fantasy playoffs, the Bills have one of the best schedules. Starting in Week 13 they get Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, and Miami.
3. NY Jets (at Buffalo) – Turning to the other side of this matchup, the Bills have turned the ball over seven times and given up two defensive scores in their last three games. This play isn’t for the faint of heart, as the Jets have put up some clunkers this season, but they get a plus matchup against a divisional foe.
If you missed out on the three options above, Tampa Bay (vs. Atlanta) makes for an intriguing play against the floundering Falcons. Atlanta held the Seahawks defense in check, but Matt Ryan threw a combined seven interceptions in Weeks 8 and 9. ... I’d also take a long look at the NY Giants (vs. Green Bay), who have put up double-digit fantasy points in each of their last three games and get to face the Packers with Scott Tolzien under center.
Middle of the Road
Baltimore (at Chicago) posted a combined eight sacks and takeaways last week, but they’re not an ideal play against the Bears, who are a more than capable offense with Josh McCown at the helm. ... San Diego (at Miami) is in a plus matchup, but it’s tough to trust a defense that has yet to generate more than one takeaway in a game this season. ... Likewise, it’s hard to start Detroit (at Pittsburgh) despite their strong matchup. The Lions have a combined four takeaways and sacks in their last three games. ... While I like the matchup for Chicago (vs. Baltimore), the loss of Charles Tillman is a significant one for this unit. Their fantasy stock continues to trend downward. ... Atlanta (at Tampa Bay) gets Sean Weatherspoon back this week, but not much is likely to change for fantasy’s No. 30 defensive unit. ... Philadelphia (vs. Washington) has certainly turned a corner on defense, but we could say the same about their opponent’s offense. ... Miami (vs. San Diego) is a potential Week 13 plug-and-play, but you don’t want to roll the dice on them this week against the stingy Chargers offense. ... Tennessee (vs. Indianapolis) is tempting against a Colts team that just got ravaged by the Rams, but keep in mind that the Titans are one of only two defenses that weren’t able to post double-digit fantasy points against the Jags. ... Oakland (vs. Houston) was able to capitalize against the Giants, but this is much tougher matchup against a Texans team that has surprisingly held it together despite losing Arian Foster and having to turn to Case Keenum at quarterback.
They shouldn't be dropped, but a tough matchup limits the fantasy upside of these units.
1. Kansas City (at Denver) – This is the start of a brutal stretch for the Chiefs where they face the Broncos, Chargers, and Broncos. Denver currently yields the least fantasy points per game to opposing defenses. I know it’s a crazy thought, but you may want to bench the Chiefs this week.
2. San Francisco (at New Orleans) – In five games at home this season, the Saints have given up a combined negative-10 fantasy points to opposing defenses. Like the Chiefs, you may be best served sitting the 49ers for another option this week.
Indianapolis (at Tennessee) fooled me twice in plus matchups over the last two weeks. While this is another good matchup, it’s almost impossible to start a Colts defense that has given up 62 points and generated a combined four sacks and takeaways in their last two games. ... Denver (vs. Kansas City) produced no takeaways last week against the Chargers, and the Chiefs have not turned the ball over in their last two games.
Bottom of the Barrel
Jacksonville (vs. Arizona) scored more fantasy points last week than they had all season, but I’m not buying this fluky performance. ... Pittsburgh (vs. Detroit) has posted double-digit fantasy days in two of their last three, but they sandwich a thumping from the Pats in Week 9. You don’t want to trust Pittsburgh this week against the third-worst fantasy matchup. ... The Eagles continue to be a tough matchup with Nick Foles under center, so it’s a good idea to avoid Washington (at Philadelphia). ... Minnesota (at Seattle) has been able to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but this has only resulted in four takeaways in their last five games. Avoid them like the plague on the road in Seattle.
Can I Kick it?
Here are my top 12 kickers for Week 11:
1. Matt Prater (vs. KC)
2. Steven Hauschka (vs. MIN)
3. Stephen Gostkowski (at CAR)
4. Robbie Gould (vs. BAL)
5. Nick Folk (at BUF)
6. Justin Tucker (at CHI)
7. Phil Dawson (at NO)
8. Garrett Hartley (vs. SF)
9. Shaun Suisham (vs. DET)
10. Adam Vinatieri (at TEN)
11. Mason Crosby (at NYG)
12. Alex Henery (vs. WAS)
D/ST Standard Scoring System
0 points allowed
Under 100 yards allowed
1-6 points allowed
101 to 199 yards allowed
7-13 points allowed
200 to 299 yards allowed
14-17 points allowed
300 to 349 yards allowed
18-27 points allowed
350 to 399 yards allowed
28-34 points allowed
400 to 449 yards allowed
35-45 points allowed
450 to 499 yards allowed
46+ points allowed
500- 549 yards allowed
550+ yards allowed