Coming into Week 16, many fantasy championships will be won and lost. And sometimes having the right defense can make a world of difference. Here is a look at the Week 16 tiers for which fantasy defenses to consider starting, an important component that can help win your leagues. Good luck RotoBallers!
Week 16 NFL Defenses - Tier Rankings
Tier 1: Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers
The top tier features four defenses which all have the ability to put up big fantasy points in Week 16. The Broncos are likely to be motivated after giving up over 27 points in four straight games. This week they get a Texans team that was only able to score 3 points last week and turned the ball over twice. The Denver pass rush also should be able to improve on its sack total since they are likely to be up big in this game. The Seahawks are at home which means an automatic start as they have yet to give up over 24 points at home all year. They are also coming off of a 5 interception performance against Eli Manning. San Francisco comes into Monday night’s game having not given up more than 17 points in a month and also has an interception in six straight games. They also have a sack in all but one game this year making them a top fantasy option once again in Week 16. The Lions go into next week with a dominant defensive line that is just three weeks removed from a 7 sack performance. They also face a Giants team that has a propensity to turn the ball over in bunches. Don't be afraid to pick them up and start them for your fantasy championship if you are iffy with your defense.
Tier 2: Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans, San Diego Chargers
Of the six teams in this group, three have been near the top of the defensive rankings all year, while three seem like a bit of a surprise to be in this group. The Panthers, 49ers, and Chiefs rank two, three and four in points against this year. Along with that the Panthers have the number two defense in the league against running backs allowing just 85 yards per game on the ground. The number that stands out for the Chiefs is 35, which is the number of takeaways they have forced this year, by far the most in the NFL. The three teams that are not generally ranked up here in this tier are the Bills, Browns and Titans. The Bills currently lead the league in sacks, and face a Miami team that has given up the most sacks this year, which should lead to a solid source of fantasy points. The Browns are coming off of a game in which they gave up 38 points, but were able to force 3 turnovers and return 2 of them for touchdowns. This week they get Geno Smith who is second in the league in interceptions thrown. The Titans face a similar matchup in Jacksonville, a team that is missing their top running back Maurice Jones-Drew and most likely their top wide receiver Cecil Shorts, leaving them without their top two offensive weapons. Any of these defenses should provide a solid source of fantasy points in Week 16.
Tier 3: Cincinnati Bengals, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins
The largest group of teams features a group of defenses that get the job done in a variety of ways. The Steelers have a top five pass defense, the Bengals and Jets have top five rush defenses, and the Ravens have a top seven scoring defense. The story for most of these teams is that they have one strong component of their defense, but also suffer from one painfully bad component. The Patriots are the most glaring team in this case as their rush defense has been awful since the injuries to Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork, however Aqib Talib has been solid in the secondary to limit teams and their top receiving options. The Patriots face a Ravens team that was not able to find the end zone this past week against the Lions. The Jaguars were historically bad through the first eight games of the NFL season, however the last six games have seen their defense force 12 turnovers while also getting to the quarterback 16 times. A home game against Tennessee should not hurt their value. As with most weeks, tier three is the group that features moderately good teams that may be widely available, and could provide the boost needed to end fantasy seasons on a high note.
Tier 4: Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears
The six teams in this group have played solid games on defense, only to be followed by games that leave you scratching your head. There is no greater example of this than the Saints, who in the past four weeks have given up 13 points twice, but also had games of 34 and 27 points against. The Colts are another prime example as last week they only allowed 3 points while forcing two interceptions and sacking Case Keenum 4 times. The Bears and Eagles are both in the bottom half of the league in points allowed, however they have forced 25 and 26 turnovers on the season which means big plays are always possible. The Cardinals have forced 19 interceptions this year and have defensive touchdowns in four of the past six games, however they get a Seahawks team in Week 16 who is devastating opponents at home to the tune of well over 30 points per game. The wild card of this group may be the Packers, who have at least one sack in every game this year, and face a Steelers team that has turned the ball over 20 times this season.
Tier 5: Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Houston Texans, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Falcons
Once again, the final defensive tier includes a set of teams only a true gambling fantasy player would want to take. This group includes a Cowboys team that gave up 34 points in the second half of their game against the Packers, as well as a Raiders team that allowed Jamaal Charles to score 5 touchdowns against them. You may already be accustomed to seeing the Vikings and Redskins in this group, as they continue to have the two worst scoring defenses in the league at 30.4 and 31.0 points allowed per game respectively. The last teams in this group, the Giants, Texans and Falcons, also rank in the bottom third of the NFL in total defense. The Falcons are coming off a 7 turnover performance last weekend against Washington, however will likely find it much tougher this week as they travel to take on San Francisco on Monday night. If you are going to gamble in this group then it may be with Dallas, who again faces a backup quarterback in Kirk Cousins, and as we mentioned the Redskins did turn the ball over 7 times last weekend.