Defenses (DEF) to Start in Week 13: Fantasy Tiers & Rankings

Brad Leibried analyzes which defenses (DEF) to sit or start, and provides his Week 13 rankings and tiers for all of the NFL defenses. Starting the right defense in fantasy football can be game changer week to week.

Brad Leibfried - RotoBaller

An effective strategy in fantasy football is to stream defenses, and pickup those defenses who have favorable matchups each week. Below we take a look at the Week 13 rankings for all fantasy football defenses.  For the first time since week 3, there are no teams on bye so there will be a full slate of defenses to choose from.  We rank them in tiers and also breakdown a few matchups in each tier. Let's win some leagues!


Week 13 Defenses – Tiers & Rankings


Tier 1: New York Jets, Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers

The top set of defenses this week contains three teams who could all be in for banner weeks.  The Jets have struggled recently with only one forced turn over the past two weeks, but Rex Ryan knows his defense needs to step up against the Dolphins.  The team has been much better at home, giving up more 20 points just one time this year.  Also Miami has given up the most sacks in the NFL so Ryan should have his team ready.  The Panthers are becoming a staple in the top tier and last week did nothing to change that.  They have yet to give up more than 24 points in a game and have at least one forced turn over in every game.  The last team in the group, the 49ers are coming off a big game in which they held high scoring Washington to just 6 points while sacking Griffin III four times.  All of these teams will provide value this week, and could easily fight it out for top honors of the Week 13 fantasy defenses.


Tier 2: Detroit Lions, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills

In this tier are two of the leaders in sacks in the NFL in the Bills and Ravens who both have 37 sacks as a team.  The other three teams in this group, the Lions, Dolphins and Browns have matchups with three of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL.  With news that Aaron Rodgers is out for their Thanksgiving matchup, the front line of the Lions should be fired up to face a team that has Matt Flynn at quarterback and has struggled to score without Rodgers in the lineup.  The Dolphins face Geno Smith who has thrown 5 interceptions in his last two games, and only scored 17 points in those two games.  The Ravens defense not only ranks at the top of the sack total, but also only allows 19.5 points a game and plays a Pittsburgh team  that is 30th in the league in rushing.  Overall all of these teams should be a good plays with the potential to be a top 5 fantasy defenses for Week 13.


Tier 3: Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons, St. Louis Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, Seattle Seahawks

The largest group of teams settles in tier three as these 11 teams could provide fantasy value in a lot of different ways.  Teams such as St. Louis, Denver, and Kansas City rely on a heavy pass rush. While other teams like Chicago, Seattle and Philadelphia rely on turnovers to produce fantasy points.  The Falcons have struggled mightily on defense giving up 28 points a game, but a favorable matchup with rookie E.J. Manual could cure those woes.  Another interesting team is Indianapolis, who has given up over 27 points in three straight games but has made some big plays.  The Patriots are another intriguing option as they held Peyton Manning and company to 7 second-half points this weekend.  The Patriots are 31st against the run but 9th against the pass this year, and now face a Texans team without Arian Foster and a dinged up Ben Tate. They could provide big fantasy value.  This group does not feature any defense likely to end up in the top three, however at a low price or as a waiver pickup, these Week 13 defenses could provide a solid one-week proposal.


Tier 4: Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans, San Diego Chargers, New York Giants

This group may be the group features defenses that have been generally bad but have shown glimpses of brilliance.  A perfect example of this is the Giants who have three games of four sacks in the last four games, but has also given up more than 36 points four times.  The Steelers are another defense in this mold as they are coming off a four turnover  and one touchdown game against the Browns, but has also five different games without forcing a turnover and gave up 40 points to the Bears and 55 to the Patriots.  The two best defenses in this group belong to the Cardinals and Titans, however they face the Eagles and Colts respectively who are capable of scoring 30 each week.  If you are playing in a Thursday league, both the Packers and Cowboys have struggled much of the season so look to avoid them if possible even with the Raiders starting Matt McGloin at quarterback.  In general this group will be a gamble at best but so if you are forced to choose, be wary that the potential for a poor outing is more than possible.


Tier 5: Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints

For those of you who have read this column in the past few weeks, you will see a few familiar names in the last tier. The Vikings continue to be one of the worst defenses in the NFL as they gave up 26 points to Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn on Sunday.  Along with that they have not forced a turnover in three weeks.  The Buccaneers are coming off a huge game against the Lions where they forced five turnovers and scored a defensive touchdown.  However, this week they are going to face a tough Carolina team that is rolling behind Cam Newton.   Many will be surprised to see the Saints in the last tier, but they are on the road against a Seahawks team that is unbeaten at home as is averaging 32.4 points a game in those five games.  Unless you are extremely desperate, avoid these defenses at all costs as there is little upside in this group in Week 13.


Week 8 Waiver Wire & FAAB Bids