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Defenses (DEF) to Start in Week 11: Fantasy Tiers & Rankings

By Mike Morbeck (originally posted to Flickr as Clay Matthews) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Mike Morbeck (originally posted to Flickr as Clay Matthews) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsFor those of you fantasy football owners out there who are streaming defenses, RotoBaller has got you covered with around-the-league analysis of the Week  NFL matchups. Week 11 has some enticing defensive matchups from teams that aren’t widely owned, and a few top fantasy defenses on bye, so be sure to stay on top of your league’s waiver wire options.

Just like every other week of the fantasy football season, we’re here to give you the insight to help make your defense streaming decisions and Week 11 lineup decisions a bit easier. Some of these defenses may have good matchups, and be sleepers available on your league’s waiver wire, so make sure to take a look at your waiver wire options as well. Good luck in Week 11 RotoBallers!

Teams that have bye weeks in Week 11: Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars & Baltimore Ravens


Week 11 Defenses: Tiers & Rankings

Tier 1: Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, San Diego Chargers

This week's first tier is a bit lacking, but we've got some good defenses with pretty good matchups. That starts off with the Denver Broncos heading to Missouri to take on Austin Davis, Tre Mason, Jared Cook and Kenny Britt. The Broncos defense has racked up 24 sacks to date, and the Rams offensive line will be a juicy matchup for Terrance Knighton, DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller as they've given up 30 sacks so far, including six last week against Arizona. The Broncos are allowing 22 PPG while the offense for St. Louis has looked anemic of late, averaging just 18 PPG on the season. Denver will look to add to their turnover total of 12 against a Rams offense that's turned the ball over 16 times.

The Seahawks take on the other Missouri native franchise as they travel to Kansas City for their game against the Chiefs. Alex Smith has still not completed a single touchdown to Dwayne Bowe or any one of his wide receivers while averaging 24 PPG, making Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis and Travis Kelce Seattle's top priorities. The Seahawks are giving up an average of 21 per game, and the turnovers may be completely in their favor as they've taken the ball away 12 times while Alex Smith and company have only turned it over eight. This could be a big game for Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril to add to their clubs sack total of 13 though as the Chiefs have allowed 19 thus far.

San Diego will be fresh off their bye week at home against the Raiders, in what should be looked at as a game to get the Charger's season back on track. Their defense has been allowing 21 per game and only has nine takeaways, but the lowly Raiders have only been able to put up 16 PPG offensively and have turned the ball over 19 times. The pass rush may not be in line to add to their fantasy points, as San Diego has a mediocre 15 sacks, and Oakland has only given up nine on the year. Derek Carr, James Jones, Darren McFadden, Andre Holmes and Mychal Rivera simply aren't any reason for defensive coordinators to lose sleep, and just like all these teams in the first tier, these are solid defensive starts in all leagues. If any of these teams are sitting out there on your Week 11 waiver wire, go ahead and add them.


Tier 2: Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers

This week's second tier has a couple of games where we'll look at both teams, and a couple of other good defenses with pretty good matchups. Arizona hosts Matthew Stafford, Calvin JohnsonGolden Tate, Joique Bell and Theo Riddick who have only been putting up 20 PPG surprisingly. A large part of this is their lack of a running game at 78 YPG, and while the return of Reggie Bush may help, their O-Line simply isn't doing well in either the running or passing game.

They've given up 27 sacks on the year and the Cardinals will look to take advantage of the matchup and add to their season total of 14 sacks. Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie put on a clinic last week against the Rams, and will be hoping to add to Matt Stafford's 8 interceptions. The Lions defense however has been dominant, allowing 16 PPG, totaling 14 takeaways along with 26 sacks. The Cardinals will be lead by Drew Stanton, replacing the injured Carson Palmer, who has proven that he can perform well with with the help of Andre Ellington, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown. They've been averaging 25 per game, have only turned the ball over seven times, and have given up 16 sacks.

The Bills head down to Miami to face off against the divisional foe Dolphins. Ryan Tannehill has been making good use of his weapons in Mike Wallace, Lamar Miller, Charles Clay and Jarvis Landry lately, averaging 25 PPG. They have also given up 15 turnovers and 20 sacks on the year, which makes for a juicy matchup against the Bills front 7 who have a league leading 34 sacks. The Bills defense has also forced 19 turnovers to this point and will look to make life difficult for Lamar Miller, they've been giving up 100 YPG rushing.

On the other side of the ball, The Bills are averaging 21 per game, have turned the ball over 14 times, and have given up 24 sacks. Miami's defense has been pretty stellar too, giving up 19 PPG, forcing 19 turnovers, and racking up 28 sacks. Brent Grimes will be on Sammy Watkins all day, and Kyle Orton to Chris Hogan just doesn't seem that intimidating. The Dolphins pass defense should be able to handle the likes of Fred Jackson, Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown as they too have been giving up less than 100 YPG on the ground.

Kansas City hosts Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and Doug Baldwin this week. The Chiefs will likely concentrate on the ground game, in which they've been giving up 115 YPG, as Russell Wilson has been averaging under 200 YPG in the air. Kansas City has only been giving up 17 PPG so far, and while the turnover battle may not be all that exciting with the Chiefs having 7 takeaways so far, Seattle has let up 16 sacks on the year. This makes for an intriguing matchup of a Seattle offensive line against Dontarie Poe, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.

San Francisco heads to New Jersey to take on the Giants who have been putting up 22 PPG. The Niners have only been giving up 22 per game themselves, and with the Giants giving up 16 turnovers thus far. This makes for a great matchup for a defense who may be getting both Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith back. They've turned the ball over 16 times so far, and have 15 sacks to add to with the Giants offensive line giving up 18 on the season. Even with the emergence of Odell Beckham Jr., replacing Rueben Randle and Larry Donnell as Eli Manning's primary passing target, the Giants offense just isn't scary with Andre Williams and without Victor Cruz and possibly Rashad Jennings. All of these tier two teams are start worthy in 8+ team leagues.


Tier 3: New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers, Washington Redskins, Pittsburgh Steelers

The third tier starts off with three games where we'll be looking at all six teams. This is where the matchups start to get a bit dicey, but these teams have the best chance at the lowest floor and highest ceiling. The New England Patriots travel to Indianapolis to take on Andre Luck, T.Y. Hilton, Trent Richardson, Reggie Wayne and Ahmad Bradshaw. The Patriots have been giving up 22 PPG, while the Colts have been lighting it up with 32 PPG.

New England will be looking to add to their 22 sacks against a pretty good offensive line of the Colts who have only let up 14 sacks. The turnover battle looks to favor the Patriots as it has all season, they have 18 takeaways and only 6 giveaways. The Colts on the other hand have an even turnover record, with 15 of each. This comes into play when we look at the Colt's defense who's been giving up a solid 23 PPG, who face off against a Tom Brady led offense putting up 31 per game.

Brady has certainly made those who spoke of a QB controversy in New England look foolish, getting Rob Gronkowski, Brandon LaFell, Julian Edelman and Shane Vereen involved throughout the game in their dominating winning streak. Indy has racked up 24 sacks on the year, but Sebastian Vollmer and the rest of the Patriots O-Line have only let up 16 sacks so far. With both of these offensive powerhouses coming off of their bye week, I expect this game to be more of a defensive battle than most.

The next game we look at is Houston traveling to Cleveland to take on Brian Hoyer, Taylor Gabriel, Andrew Hawkins, Ben Tate, Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell. Houston has been giving up 22 per game so far, while the Browns have been putting up 23 PPG. The Texans also have a league leading 21 takeaways and will look to add to that total against the Browns who have only turned the ball over eight times. J.J. Watt, Jadaveon Clowney, Brian Cushing and Whitney Merciless may have a fun day in store against a mediocre Cleveland O-Line.

On the other side, Cleveland has been giving up 19 PPG and have the corners to handle DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson. Arian Foster may be the bigger concern for the Browns as they've let up 134 YPG on the ground. They do have 20 sacks and can easily add to that against another mediocre offensive line in Houston's that has let up 20 sacks so far as well. Cleveland's defense has been aggressive in the turnover department as well, with 17 takeaways including 13 interceptions. This may not bode well for Ryan Mallett and the Texans offense that has already turned the ball over 15 times on the year.

The final matchup with both defenses is the Eagles heading up north to the Packers to try and contain the red hot Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Eddie Lacy. They've been putting up 31 PPG while Philadelphia has only been allowing 22 per game. Green Bay hasn't turned the ball over too much with only 8 giveaways on the year, but Philly has forced 12 turnovers. They've also accrued 23 sacks so far, and will be up against a Packer O-Line that has given up 21 sacks.

For the Packers, they will be gearing up to face Mark Sanchez, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and Zach Ertz. Philly has been putting up 29 PPG prior to their game Monday night against the Panthers, and have turned the ball over 21 times. This makes for a juicy matchup going up against a Packers D that's been giving up 23 per game and has 18 takeaways. They also have 22 sacks but are going up against a now healthy Philadelphia O-Line that's only given up 11 sacks.

The other part of Monday night's game was the Panthers, they head back home to take on the division foe Falcons. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Steven Jackson have been leading their offense to an average of 24 PPG, and have given up 17 sacks on the year. This could lead to a long day for their offensive linemen against a Panthers front seven starting to find their pass rush with 20 sacks before their game against the Eagles. Atlanta has turned the ball over 14 times so far including nine interceptions, while Carolina has forced 16 turnovers with nine interceptions themselves.

Washington is at home against the Buccaneers with Luke McCown at the helm. They'be been putting up 19 PPG, have 19 giveaways so far, and have given up 25 sacks. So while the Redskins defense hasn't been dominant, giving up 25 PPG with only 8 takeaways, they will have ample opportunity to add to their 23 sacks against a terrible Tampa O-Line. Even with the basketball team of offensive weapons they have in Vincent Jackson, Mike Evan and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, neither QB has been able to run this offense very well. And the backfield has been a mess between Bobby Rainey, Charles Sims and Doug Martin.

Rounding out the third tier we have Pittsburgh who heads down to Tennessee to take on Zach Mettenberger, Delanie Walker, Justin Hunter, Kendall Wright and Bishop Sankey. The Steelers will be geared up for a rebound from last weeks embarrassing loss to the Jets, and will have a great opportunity to here against an inept Titans offense averaging 16 PPG. Pittsburgh already has 20 sacks, and will look to repeat the Ravens 5 sack performance on a O-Line that has now given up 25 on the year. Troy Polamalu and James Harrison sure know how to make a rookie QB's day miserable. All of these defenses are worthy of starting and streaming consideration in all 10+ team leagues.


Tier 4: Cincinnati Bengals, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants

The fourth tier is where things start to get a bit dicey, starting off with 2 games in which all four teams have been disappointing so far. Cincinnati travels to New Orleans in the hopes of containing Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, Brandin Cooks, Marques Colston and Mark Ingram. While they've only been giving up 23 PPG, they're a shell of their former selves with 14 takeaways and only 13 sacks on the year.

Not to mention Drew Brees and Co. have been putting up 28 PPG, and while they have turned the ball over 18 times, they've only given up 14 sacks and the numbers just aren't their to justify giving Cincy a starting spot. Their defense hasn't been the only disappointment either, they've been averaging 22 PPG offensively, have turned it over 14 times including 9 interceptions, but have only allowed 12 sacks on the year. Andy Dalton needs to prove his worth now that his pockets are so deep, with A.J. Green, Giovani Bernard, Mohamed Sanu and Jeremy Hill he can't say that the weapons aren't there.

That being said, this offense is capable of putting up 40+ any given half and New Orleans defense hasn't given me any reason to trust them against that. They've been letting up 25 per game, and only have 10 takeaways. While they do have 21 sacks, the Bengals have one of the better offensive lines in the league the numbers aren't there to consider starting either of these teams.

Chicago hosts Minnesota in a divisional matchup that's not nearly as meaningful as a lot of people thought it would be to start the season. The Vikings offense has been bleak at best, averaging 19 PPG and giving up 30 sacks, but they do have some weapons for Teddy Bridgewater to use in Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings and Jerick McKinnon. The Bears have been giving up 31 per game and have 20 sacks and 13 takeaways on the year.

They will have trouble winning the turnover battle as they've given up 18 on the year, and the Vikings have only turned it over 12 time while forcing 12 on defense. Somehow with Jay Cutler at the helm and Brandon Marshall, Martellus Bennett, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte for weapons, the Bears have only been averaging 22 PPG. They've also given up 25 sacks and will be going up against a Vikings defense that has posted 30 sacks so far. This is a boom/bust matchup that I want nothing to do with.

Another divisional matchup is the Falcons heading to Carolina to face off against Cam Newton, Kelvin Benjamin, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Greg Olson. Atlanta's defense has been letting up 26 PPG, and would be in the fifth tier if the Panthers weren't under performing on offense. They've been averaging just 20 PPG, and have let up 22 sacks prior to Monday nights game. Their O-Line won't have to be to be too fearful of the pass rush though, as the Falcons have only generated 11 sacks on the season. Atlanta has racked up some turnovers with 16 on the year, but the Panthers have done a good job of keeping the ball with 12 giveaways so far.

Rounding out the fourth tier are the New York Giants who go across the country to take on San Francisco. The Giants have been better than I expected them to be with the amount of injuries they've had. They've been giving up 22 per game, and while the 49ers offense hasn't been all that great with 22 PPG, they're another offense that is capable of 40+ in a half.

San Francisco's offensive line play has been atrocious, giving up 31 sacks including four this past week against the Saints, but the Giants pass rush has been somewhat absent with 16 sacks on the year. Colin Kaepernick, Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Frank Gore, Carlos Hyde and Vernon Davis have been careful about turnovers, only giving up 10 on the year. All of these numbers point to a boom/bust matchup that I'd rather steer clear of if avoidable, that goes for all these fourth tier teams.


Tier 5: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans

Not much to say here for this week's "don't touch list". The Redskin's offense isn't anything to be scared of, but Tampa's defense has just been that bad. They've given up 30 PPG, only have 12 takeaways and 14 sacks on the year, and with Robert Griffin III still shaking off the rust, I wouldn't want to be instilling faith in the Buccaneer defense this week. The Redskins have given the ball up 17 times, and have let up 22 sacks, but with DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed and Alfred Morris on offense, they're still a formidable bunch.

St. Louis hosting Peyton Manning and company doesn't bode well for their defense either. With Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Emmanuel SandersRonnie Hillman, Montee Ball and breakout running back Anderson at Manning's command, they've been putting upu 32 per game. Not to mention they just don't make mistakes with only 8 turnovers and 9 sacks given up. With the Rams giving up 28 per game as is, Denver makes this matchup about as scary as they get.

The Raiders travel to San Diego, and with them giving up 28 per game defensively on the season.... Philip Rivers, Keenan Allen, Ryan Mathews, Branden Oliver and Antonio Gates are poised for a bounce back game to get their season back on track. The Chargers don't turn the ball over much either, only giving up 9 so far, and with the Raiders only having 8 takeaways and 8 sacks on the season, this is a matchup to avoid at all costs.

While the Steelers went and laid an egg last week against the New York Jets, I'm not counting out Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Bryant, Le'Veon Bell, Heath Miller, Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant as one of the leagues more potent offenses. With the Titans giving up 25 PPG, and only having 11 takeaways, this matchup is easily passed over with the Steelers averaging 26 per game, and turning the ball over 15 times. Tennessee's pass rush has a chance for a big game against a Steeler's O-Line that's given up 24 sacks on the year, but that's not enough of a reason for me to consider trusting this defense, or any other teams in the fifth tier, this week.


Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.