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Defenses (DEF) to Start in Week 12: Fantasy Tiers & Rankings

For those of you fantasy owners out there who are streaming defenses, RotoBaller Brad Leibfried has got you covered with around-the-league analysis of the Week 12 matchups.  Week 12 is the beginning of the final stretch of the regular season, so you've got to stay on top of the matchups for that playoff push!

Going into Week 12 we have four teams on a bye, including one of the NFL’s best defenses in the Seahawks.  Where do the rest of the teams rank? Check out the tiers below.


Week 12 Defenses - Tiers & Rankings


Tier 1: Kansas City, Carolina

It should come as no surprise that the first tier includes the top two scoring defenses in the NFL.  The Chiefs and the Panthers have separated themselves on the defensive side of the ball as they are the only two teams to allow fewer than 16 points a game.  Kansas City comes off a game in which they held Denver 14 points under their season average.  They also lead the AFC with 24 takeaways, and they are facing a San Diego team who has a -6 give/take margin this season.  The Panthers have only allowed over 20 points three times this season while forcing at least one turnover in every game and two or more in eight of the ten games.  The team also has at least one sack in every game while also having two plus in eight of the ten games.  This week they face a Miami team that is having offensive line issues which should allow the Panthers to tee off on Ryan Tannehill.


Tier 2: New Orleans, Detroit, St. Louis, Chicago, Baltimore, Tennessee, San Francisco

This group features teams with great matchups going into Week 12.  The Lions, Ravens, Titans and 49ers all face quarterbacks in either their first or second year in the NFL who have been prone to turnovers.  The 49ers play Matt Ryan and a Falcons team that is in disarray having lost four games in a row and struggling on offense without Julio Jones.  The Rams and Bears will match up in a game featuring backup quarterbacks Kellen Clemens and Luke McCown.  Chicago enters the game with 22 takeaways on the season and St. Louis comes in with 19, so expect that trend to continue in this game with the potential for a few to go for touchdowns.  The Rams also lead the NFC in sacks at 32 so they could put pressure on McCown early and often.


Tier 3: Green Bay, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Miami, New York Jets, Texans, Jaguars, Indianapolis, Arizona

Tier 3 features several teams who may be worth a gamble for a low-price pickup off the waiver wire.  The Packers are fourth in the NFC with 31 sacks and they play a Vikings team that is a mess at quarterback, which allows a defense who gives up 24 points a game a chance to shine.  In Cleveland, the Browns and Steelers face off in a game in which both teams give up 24 points a game and both have a negative giveaway takeaway margin.  The Colts and Cardinals also face off in a game with both defenses have surprised teams and come in both top 10 in scoring defense.  Arizona may give Andrew Lucks fits as Patrick Peterson leads a defense that has 14 interceptions on the year.  The remaining teams (Jets, Texans, Jaguars, Chargers, and Dolphins) are all AFC teams that have provided huge games while also being dreadful.  Of this group, the Chargers give up the fewest points per game (22.2), Miami has the most sacks (31), and Jacksonville leads in fumble recoveries (8).  Expect solid performances from this tier with limited upside, but also less fear of a complete bust.


Tier 4: Minnesota, Oakland, New York Giants, Denver

In this group, Denver has the best defense, however they might also face the toughest matchup.  The Broncos head into New England to take on a Patriots team that is finding their rhythm and now appears to have Rob Gronkowski back at full strength.  Also it is worth noting that as teams generally get down big against them, Denver gives up 279 passing yards and 25 points a game.  The Vikings, Raiders and Giants all rank in the bottom third of the league in points allowed with Minnesota at the bottom of the league at 32 points against a game.  What may make the Vikings defense playable this week is Scott Tolzien led Packers team that only scored 13 last week.  The Giants and Raiders do come off solid games in which they punished backup quarterbacks Tolzien and Case Keenum.  The matchups get considerably tougher as the Cowboys face the Giants and the Titans take on the Raiders.  Like the Vikings, both of these teams are sure to give up a ton of points but have the upside to produce turnovers.


Tier 5: Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Dallas, New England

The final tier features four teams that are all capable of giving up huge offensive numbers in week 12.  Atlanta comes off a game in which they gave up 41 points to hapless Tampa Bay, Dallas is on pace to give up the most passing yards in NFL history, Tampa Bay is playing on the road against a red hot Calvin Johnson and New England is playing Denver who has scored over 27 in every game this year.  The Patriots have played solid defense this season but the losses of Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly have decimated the interior of their once powerful defense.  The Bucs come in having won two straight games but allow opponents to throw for 240 yards a game, look for Stafford and Johnson to be licking their chops, even against one time top cornerback Darrelle Revis.  If you are looking to gamble in this last group it may be with the Cowboys who face Eli Manning who has thrown an NFL worst 18 interceptions.



We have compiled all of our weekly waiver wire recommendations on our famous waiver wire pickups list. If you haven’t seen it yet, the waiver wire pickups are categorized by position. Check it out and bookmark the page – we update it every week, throughout the week! Our fantasy football chat room is also here for you, at any time throughout the day. Our communities of writers and readers are always fielding sit/start questions, talking waivers, and giving live fantasy advice. Let’s win some leagues!

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