Defenses (DEF) to Start in Week 14: Fantasy Tiers & Rankings

Brad Leibfried analyzes which defenses (DEF) to sit or start, and provides his Week 14 playoffs rankings and tiers for all fantasy defenses. Starting the right defense in fantasy football can be game changer week to week.

Brad Leibfried - RotoBaller

Many of us fantasy football managers pickup different defenses off the waiver wire on a week-to-week basis, based on the actual weekly matchups and which opponent a defense will be going up against. With Week 14 being the first week of the fantasy playoffs for most folks, it's imperative that we take a close look at the Week 14 matchups around the NFL and make sure we are properly prepared for the playoffs with a solid defense to play in our fantasy lineups. Below we take a look around the league, and rank each team defense into tiers based on matchups. Good luck this week RotoBallers!


Week 14 Defenses - Tiers & Rankings


Tier 1: Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals

This top tier for this week only contains two teams; however those teams have proven to be elite.  Kansas City has managed to stay in the top five in scoring defense despite playing the Broncos two of the last three weeks.  The last three weeks have been rough as the team has given up 103 points, however prior to that they had not given up more than 17 points in any game.  The Chiefs are also number one in the NFL in takeaways with 26, so look for them to make life rough on Robert Griffin III and company in Week 14.  The Cardinals are also a top flight defense, as they are currently eighth in scoring defense.  Arizona has one of the top rush defenses in the league, which has yet to allow 1,000 total rushing yards to their opponents.  With the Rams depending on Zac Stacy to generate all of their offense, Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu should be able to put up a solid performance against Kellen Clemens.


Tier 2: Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos, St. Louis Rams, New York Jets, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers

With this group featuring 10 team defenses, this could be the group that provides the best surprise of the weekend.  The Ravens could be that team as they face a Vikings team that is in turmoil at quarterback and has turned the ball over 24 times already this year.  Another team that could surprise is the Jets who currently have the top rushing defense in the NFL.  They take on a Raiders team that relies nearly entirely on its run game, and quarterback Matt McGloin looked anything but comfortable against a far worse Dallas defense.  The 49ers come in with an equally impressive run defense but have a much tougher matchup against division rival Seattle.  In their previous matchup, the Seahawks defense got the best of Colin Kaepernick and company as they limited them to just 3 points.  In that game Seattle forced three interceptions and sacked Kaepernick 4 times, however it is worth noting the 49ers also had 3 sacks and forced an interception as well.  If you are the type of fantasy player that likes to play the defensive matchups, then a team like the Patriots or Jets may be your choice. But if you like to take a great defense regardless of matchup, then San Francisco or St. Louis defense might be a better option for Week 14.  Either way the choice should be a solid one.


Tier 3: Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints

Another tier with 10 team defenses, tier three has a large group of teams that may not have been top ranked units coming into the season, but have proven to be playable defenses week in and week out.  The Saints were one of the worst defenses in NFL history last year, however this year they are a top three pass defense.  The Bills may not have the team wins that suggest a great defense, however they get after the quarterback better than anyone in the league.  A team like the Jaguars, who rank 30th in points against, play a Texans team scoring only 19 points a game and, despite a big game from Ben Tate last week, do not appear likely to score a ton of points.  Another intriguing matchup comes as the Raiders play a Jets team who have committed to Geno Smith at quarterback despite him not completing more than 10 passes in a game for over a month.  The Raiders are -3 in the giveaway / takeaway battle this year, but the Jets are a league worst -18 so opportunity awaits in Week 14.  You can choose to be safe and take a team such as the Panthers, who lead the league allowing only 13.1 points a game, but have a horrific matchup at New Orleans this week.  None of these teams are likely to push your team to a win, however none of them are likely to be the reason you lose in Week 14 either.


Tier 4: Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys

In tier four, you have a group of defenses that have struggled but look to take advantage of good matchups to boost their normal value.  The Vikings are a great example of this, the team currently is dead last in points against this year.  However, as a team they have improved recently as they are the best team in the NFL on third downs the past three weeks, and get a Ravens team that has been plagued by inconsistency with Joe Flacco and also ranks 30th in the NFL in rushing.  The Falcons have a bottom three rush defense on the season and face a tough Eddie Lacy-led rushing offense, however Matt Flynn looked less than stellar on Thanksgiving.  If they can replicate what the Lions did, and force 7 sacks and an interception, they could provide some value in Week 14.  Speaking of the Lions, they did have a great game against the Packers, but now are up against Nick Foles who has yet to throw an interception on the year.  To round out the group is a once top-flight Bears defense that has been decimated by injuries to its top players.  They take on the Cowboys this week in what could be one of the highest scoring games of the weekend.  Avoid this group if possible, but there is at least a glimmer of hope that one of these teams could exceed expectations in Week 14.


Tier 5: Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Tennessee Titans, New York Giants

This final group includes the worst pass defense in the league in the Eagles, the second worst scoring defense in the Redskins, the Titans who play the top scoring offense in the league this week, and a Giants team who faces a red-hot Philip Rivers and the high scoring Chargers.  What this means is that any team in the group will be a monster gamble and will more than likely net you negative points in Week 14.  The Eagles are coming off a 3 interception performance against Carson Palmer, however this week Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson come to Philadelphia having scored 40 points against Green Bay.  The Titans face a similar fate as they play a Denver team that score 38.7 points a game, and rarely if ever turns the ball over.  In the Giants matchup with the Chargers, they face a top three passing offense in which Philip Rivers has thrown 23 touchdowns to just 9 interceptions this year.  Most of teams have been near the bottom all year and should continue to perform similarly in Week 14.