We're just two weeks away from the fantasy playoffs in most leagues, so let’s dive right into what Week 12 has in store for us on the defensive side of the football. Remember that the following is a 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 12. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the link.
The Usual Suspect
Carolina (at Miami) may not have had their best game of the season against the Pats, but they proved they can hang with the big boys. The Panthers roll over Miami this week.
Your solid fantasy defenses with a weekly matchup upgrade. They're just below the Usual Suspects tier.
1. Baltimore (vs. NY Jets) – The Jets are coming off an absolute stinker where they turned the ball over four times and yielded four sacks and a defensive score to the Bills. Baltimore hasn’t been anything special this season, but it’s going to be hard for them to not put up points against the Geno Smith and the Jets.
2. Tennessee (at Oakland) – Matt McGloin was surprisingly effective last week for the Raiders, but he was by no means a revelation. This Titans unit may not be elite, but they have shown an ability to take advantage of a good matchup (like the aforementioned Jets in Week 4).
3. New Orleans (at Atlanta) – Over the last month, the Falcons have been arguably the best fantasy matchup for opposing defenses, as they have yielded 10 sacks, 12 takeaways, and two scores during that span. The Saints are firing on all cylinders and make for an optimal play this week.
Arizona (vs. Indianapolis) didn’t quite knock it out of the park last week against the Jags, but this is still a strong unit against the sometimes-shaky Colts offense. ... Despite giving up 41 points, Cleveland (vs. Pittsburgh) still managed two picks and a score in Week 11. ... Chicago (at St. Louis) may give up yards in bunches, but they showed us again last week that they’re still a highly opportunistic fantasy unit. ... San Francisco (at Washington) get a much better matchup this week against a struggling Washington team.
You don't want to rely on these D/STs on a weekly basis, but their matchup is too juicy to pass up.
1. Houston (vs. Jacksonville) – This one isn’t as desirable as it may have appeared to be a month ago. The Jags aren’t the pushover they were earlier in the season, and the Texans’ defense is really struggling without Brian Cushing. Still, it’s hard to pass up this matchup that has been so productive for fantasy defenses this season.
2. Green Bay (vs. Minnesota) – The Vikings have been one of the more consistent strong fantasy matchups for defenses, yielding double-digit fantasy points in eight of their ten games this season. You don’t get an extremely high ceiling with this banged up Packers unit, but they do make for a sneaky good play if you’re in a pinch.
Middle of the Road
Pittsburgh (at Cleveland) is tempting against a Browns team that just yielded a combined eight sacks and turnovers and two scores to the Bengals, but you likely have better options than this middling Steelers unit. ... Indianapolis (at Arizona) rebounded, but only slightly against the Titans. It’s tough to trust this unit that has just two takeaways and five sacks combined in their last three games. ... St. Louis (vs. Chicago) straight up dominated the Colts in Week 10, but this Bears team is a slightly more formidable matchup. It might be a good idea to fade the Rams this week. ... Dallas (at NY Giants) takes a huge hit in fantasy value with Sean Lee on the sideline. ... Oakland (vs. Tennessee) has shown some serious fantasy upside, but then again they only managed a meager five fantasy points against Case Keenum and Matt Schaub last week. ... Miami (vs. Carolina) gets another tough matchup this week against the surging Panthers.
They shouldn't be dropped, but a tough matchup limits the fantasy upside of these units.
1. New England (vs. Denver) – It’s going to be extremely difficult for the Pats to do much in this contest given the fact that the Broncos offensive line straight up dominated Kansas City last week and kept Peyton Manning clean. Denver held fantasy’s top defensive unit in check, so don’t expect New England to fare much better.
2. Tampa Bay (at Detroit) – The Bucs are coming off one of their best fantasy performances of the season, but they get an immediate downgrade against a Lions team that currently yields the third-least fantasy points per game to opposing defenses.
3. NY Giants (vs. Dallas) – Despite the Giants posting double-digit fantasy points in each of their last four games, you’re going to want to fade this unit this week. Only the Lions, Saints, and Broncos currently give up less fantasy points per game than the Cowboys do to opposing defenses.
Kansas City (vs. San Diego) gets another tough matchup against a Chargers team that has only turned the ball over three times in their last five games. They also face the Broncos again next week. ... Speaking of Denver (at New England), they get a tough matchup on the road against the Pats.
Bottom of the Barrel
Jacksonville (at Houston) came back to earth last week, and can’t be trusted despite this good matchup. ... The NY Jets (vs. Baltimore) couldn’t get it done last week, and have scored a combined total of negative-four fantasy points in their last three games. ... Outside of the impressive tackle numbers from Paul Worrilow, there’s really not much to get excited about on the defensive side of the ball for Atlanta (vs. New Orleans). ... Minnesota (at Green Bay) has generated just two takeaways in their last four games. ... Not to be outdone, Detroit (vs. Tampa Bay) has just one takeaway and a combined four sacks in their last four games. ... Likewise, Washington (vs. San Francisco) does not create a lot of turnovers. They’ve managed just three in their last three games. ... The Chiefs have yet to yield double-digit fantasy points to an opposing defense this season, and San Diego (at Kansas City) has only scored double-digit fantasy points once this season.
Can I Kick it?
Here are my top 12 kickers for Week 12:
1. Stephen Gostkowski (vs. DEN)
2. Garrett Hartley (at ATL)
3. Matt Prater (at NE)
4. Justin Tucker (vs. NYJ)
5. Dan Bailey (at NYG)
6. Mason Crosby (vs. MIN)
7. Ryan Succop (vs. SD)
8. David Akers (vs. TB)
9. Phil Dawson (at WAS)
10. Adam Vinatieri (at ARI)
11. Robbie Gould (at STL)
12. Nick Folk (at BAL)
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