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Defenses (DEF) to Start in Week 2: Fantasy Tiers & Rankings

For those of you fantasy football owners out there who are streaming defenses, or looking for help deciding which defenses to start, RotoBaller has got you covered with around-the-league analysis of the Week 2 NFL matchups. Week 2 has some enticing defensive matchups, so be sure to stay on top of your league’s waiver wire options.

Just like we will be 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 2 lineup decisions a bit easier.

Some of these defenses have good matchups, representing sleeper opportunity available in your league, so make sure to take a look at your waiver wire options, as well. Good luck in Week 2 RotoBallers!


Week 2 Defenses: Tiers & Rankings

Tier 1: Houston Texans, St. Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens

These are three solid defenses with great match-ups, which is all you can ask for when ranking defenses. The Texans fearsome pass rush goes up against a wide receiver-less Cam Newton and the lackluster Panthers offense. I don't see how J.J. Watt and company come away with less than three sacks, and with hands in his face all day Newton will definitely struggle to put points on the board.

The Rams are coming off an impressive upset of the Seahawks, and with Kirk Cousins coming to town they should impress again. With Desean Jackson injured (again) there are no big-play threats for Washington, and as long as the Rams can stop Alfred Morris they should coast to a victory. I expect plenty of sacks and at least an interception or two.

The Dolphins beat up that very Redskins offense on Sunday, and even returned a kick for a touchdown. While you can't count on the special teams play, you should be able to count on a couple interceptions and sacks again Blake Bortles. The Jaguars are definitely improving as an offense, but when I say improvement I mean like...28th-best versus dead last. Dolphins defense could have double-digit fantasy points again in this juicy matchup.

The Ravens held Peyton Manning's offense to a handful of field goals on Sunday afternoon, and while it remains to be seen if that had more to do with Peyton Manning's lackluster play than excellent defense, there's no denying the Ravens made life difficult for him. This week they'll get a crack at the Raiders, and with Derek Carr possibly being hindered by a hand injury there is nothing not to like here.


Tier 2:  Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers

The Cardinals held the Saints offense under 20 points in Week 1, and I expect they'll be able to repeat the feat against Jay Cutler and the Bears in Week 2. The Bears looked halfway decent against the Packers, but that is not an elite defense by any means. The Cardinals will be able to get to Cutler, and three or four sacks and a pair of picks is more than likely.

For as much hell as the Ravens gave Peyton Manning in Week 1, the Broncos made it even harder on Joe Flacco. They were in his face literally all afternoon, leading to two interceptions (one of which was returned for a touchdown). This week they'll face Alex Smith and the Chiefs offense, and I don't foresee him putting up another three scores. The key here will be whether or not they can stop Jamaal Charles and Travis Kelce in the short passing game.

The Panthers did not disappoint against the hapless Jaguars in Week 1, and I expect they'll be equally reliable in Week 2 against the Texans. Your guess is as good as mine as to who will be starting at quarterback for Houston, and with Arian Foster expected to be out at least another week, that offense doesn't have much to work with. Carolina will get their fair share of sacks, and shouldn't yield more than 17 points.


Tier 3: Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans, Philadelphia Eagles

The Bengals were only okay against the Raiders in Week 1, and with Phillip Rivers coming to town I'm not a huge fan of them in Week 2. He put up 400 passing yards against the Lions, and while I don't think he'll do that again he should throw a lot against the Bengals secondary. This should lead to a few careless throws, and if the Bengals can capitalize they might eke out fantasy relevance in Week 2.

Those same Lions travel to Minnesota for a date with the Vikings in Week 2, and the game plan will be simple--stop Adrian Peterson. Even without N'damukong Suh, the Lions run defense is fierce, and with any luck they'll be able to keep Peterson in check. That means Teddy Bridgewater will need to beat them, and while he's a star on the rise that might be too much to ask. A few sacks and at least one turnover should be enough to warrant a fantasy start if you're streaming.

The Vikings might also be startable if Matthew Stafford looks as mediocre as he did in Week 1. Ameer Abdullah should already begin to supplant Joique Bell as the primary back in Detroit, and it will be important for the Vikings front to shut him down. The big issue will be Calvin Johnson, as I'm not sure the Minnesota secondary has enough to stop him. This matchup will come down to whether or not "good Matt Stafford" shows up.

The Titans warrant a start simply because they're going against a bad, bad, bad offense. They made the Buccaneers looks like garbage in Week 1, they should have no trouble doing the same to the Cleveland Poo...I mean, Browns.

The Eagles are startable because they'll be facing a Dez Bryant-less Cowboys team. I was less than impressed with the Cowboys run game in Week 1, and if the Cowboys rely on Romo to throw the ball the Eagles secondary will have some opportunities for takeaways. Here's hoping, right?


Tier 4: New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs

The Patriots/Bills matchup is going to be the one to watch in Week 1. I personally am a believer in Tyrod Taylor and the Bills offense as a whole, so I don't expect much from the Patriots in the way of fantasy points. Likewise, the Bills should be able to get to Brady several times and will not allow much in the run game, but they don't have anyone that can stop Rob Gronkowski. All of this aside, this should be a low-scoring fist-fight of a game, making both defenses worth a look.

The Jaguars held the Panthers relatively in-check in Week 1, and they have a decent chance of doing so in Week 2 against the Dolphins. The Miami run game was really bad against the Redskins, a combination of lack of volume and a stout Washington front seven. I expect similar conditions in Week 2, meaning Ryan Tannehill will need to beat the Jags. A few sacks and a pick perhaps, but I'm looking elsewhere.

The Saints only make the list because they're going up against Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers. Winston looked really bad in his first game, and the rookie learning curve looks like it'll be a real concern in the early stages of the 2015 season. Expect the Saints to take advantage, getting to Winston a few times and likely forcing an interception or two.

The Kansas City Chiefs are my desperation pick for Week 2--they play the Broncos, after all. However, watching Peyton Manning in Week 1 gave me the willies. He had plenty of lame-duck passes, adn didn't respond well at all to the pressure that the Ravens brought. The Kansas City pass-rush will likely follow the same plan, and Lord knows Peyton Manning isn't going to scramble to avoid sacks. The Broncos don't scare me right now, so stream the Chiefs if you're feeling bold.


Check out RotoBaller's famous fantasy football draft sleepers and waiver wire pickups list, updated regularly!

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.

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