With just three weeks left in NFL season, we break down the defensive matchups for Week 15. If you're looking to pickup a defense off the waiver wire, or are deciding between defenses for this week's playoff matchup, then our tiers below may help you make your decision. Good luck RotoBallers!
Week 15 Defenses – Tiers & Rankings
Tier 1: Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers
Tier one features the top four scoring defenses in the NFL. Carolina leads the league at 14.5 points per game allowed, followed by Seattle at 15.8, San Francisco at 16.5 and Kansas City at 17.2. The Panthers are likely to be smiling from ear to ear this week as they go from playing in New Orleans against Drew Brees, to playing at home against the Jets. Geno Smith did manage to have a decent game last week but still has thrown 20 interceptions on the year. The Seahawks have an equally appealing matchup against Eli Manning and his 20 interceptions. The Chiefs were the best defense last week as they put up an interception, fumble recovery and 6 sacks. The final team is the 49ers, who face rookie Mike Glennon and the Buccaneers. Any of these defense should continue their stellar play this week against weak competition.
Tier 2: Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints, Cincinnati Bengals
This tier is a small group that has a few things in common; they have all been good most of the year, all have decent matchups, but all play on the road. The Cardinals come off a dominant performance in which they only gave up 10 points and picked off the Rams twice. As they are one of the top rushing defenses in the league, the Titans will find it tough to score on them. The Saints looked equally dominant this past week, holding a red hot Cam Newton to just 13 points. The Bengals are coming off a rough week against the Colts, however they have put up some monster games. They have 5 touchdowns on the year to go along with 13 interceptions and 36 sacks. Despite these teams all playing road games, they should be solid plays that have some upside for a big week.
Tier 3: Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions
The middle of the pack includes a wide variety of defenses. Miami and New England are both top 10 in scoring defense, while Buffalo and Jacksonville are in the bottom half on the year. This group also includes Tampa Bay who most would be surprised to find out they lead the NFC in takeaway margin at +13 and have forced 29 turnovers. The Bucs are at home this week but face a tough task in stopping a now fully healthy 49ers attack. Despite getting blown out on Sunday, the Titans have played well through the year as Altron Verner and the pass defense have given up only 226 pass yards per game. In the Patriots and Dolphins game, it may be Miami with the advantage as they have only given up 229 pass yards a game this year and the Patriots will be without Rob Gronkowski. The last team we look at is the Lions who have used a tremendous front four to slow down opposing running games, however they've struggled to force turnovers. Detroit is currently a putrid -10 in the giveaway takeaway battle having only forced 18 turnovers in their 13 games. All of these defenses are likely to be available via the waiver wire in standard leagues or in the middle of the pack as far as price tag in weekly leagues.
Tier 4: Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, Saint Louis Rams, Baltimore Ravens
This group can be broken down into two groups. The group that gives up yards in bunches includes the Redskins, Cowboys, Texans, Bears and Jets and then the group that can make big plays but also likes to give them up, which is the Broncos, Rams, Ravens and Browns. The first group includes the worst pass defense in the league in the Cowboys and the worst rush defense in the league in the Bears. Washington has been equally awful having allowed 45 points to Kansas City last week. The Jets do have one of the best rush defenses in the league, but that was gashed last week by third string running back Marcel Reece for 123 yards. For teams in the second group last week was a great comparison for all season. The Ravens played solid for 57 minutes but then gave up huge plays to Cordarrelle Patterson and Toby Gerhart to let the Vikings back in their game. The Browns defense also played great for about 58 minutes, only to give up two touchdowns in the final 1:04 of the game against New England. All of this adds up to very little confidence in this weekend’s matchups for any of these teams. However, if you are at the bottom of the barrel a team such as the Browns or Ravens could provide some decent value.
Tier 5: San Diego Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers
The final tier includes teams who have struggled to stop teams and the poor defense that has to face Peyton Manning and the high powered Broncos. The Chargers get to test their defense against Denver this week, and it should be noted that in their last meeting the Chargers held the Broncos to just 28 points. The bad news is that Manning is coming off a huge game in which they put up 51 points and look to be running on all cylinders. The Vikings and Raiders continued to prove why they are continually in the bottom tier as they game up 29 and 37 points respectively. The Giants also struggled mightily against the Chargers, as they gave up 37 points and forced no turnovers. Perhaps the best bet in this group is the Packers, however they have to travel to Dallas to face a great Cowboys pass offense. The good news for Green Bay is that they only gave up 14 points on defense and picked off Matt Ryan once. As always, any team in this tier is a monster gamble and unlikely to provide anything in the way of a good performance.
Good luck, and if you have any sit/start questions or have a tough time deciding between defenses in the same tier, hit us up for some live advice in the RotoBaller chat room.