Congratulations RotoBallers. You've made it to the Fantasy Football Playoffs! Now it's time for your fake football team to put up or shut up. By now, your face is probably turning blue from (over-)analyzing your weekly lineup decisions. That's why I'm here -- to help spare you of some of that internal agony and strife.
This year, some of my toughest lineup decisions have come down to which fantasy defense (D/ST) I should start and stream on a week-to-week basis. It seems you RotoBallers are experiencing the same tough decisions heading into the playoffs, as our staff has noticed a lot of questions in the RotoBaller Fantasy Football Chat Room asking which D/ST you should start and stream for Week 14 and beyond.
Below, I go a little more in-depth on three defenses you should consider for the fantasy football playoffs. Good luck RotoBallers!
Defenses for the Playoffs - Weeks 14, 15, 16
Arizona Cardinals - Defense/Special Teams
The Cardinals are a fantastic D/ST for the fantasy playoffs, at least for the next two weeks. Arizona ranks 7th in the NFL in total defense (316.3 YPG allowed) and 8th in points allowed (20.6). They've played particularly well at home, where they have scored 14 or more fantasy points four times this season in ESPN standard leagues. In Week 14, a home game against the Rams and their 25th-ranked offense has me salivating, especially since Zac Stacy is averaging a mere 3.8 YPC over his last three games. The Cardinals are fourth in the league against the run (83.3 ypg allowed) and Kellen Clemens shouldn't be a threat to Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and company. I anticipate a big day for the Cardinals defense, as I have them ranked as my #1 D/ST for Week 14.
In Week 15, Arizona draws Tennessee on the road in another favorable matchup. Ryan Fitzpatrick had four turnovers (3 INTs, 1 fumble lost) in Week 13, and could experience similar woes against the opportunistic Arizona secondary. Just be sure to avoid the Arizona D/ST in Week 16 when they play at Seattle, and keep reading on to see which other defenses I recommend instead.
Buffalo Bills - Defense/Special Teams
As I look at the remaining schedules of all 32 teams in the NFL, none stands out more to me than Buffalo's fantasy playoffs schedule. In Weeks 14-16, which is the fantasy playoffs for most leagues, Buffalo will travel to Tampa Bay and Jacksonville before returning home to face Miami. Those three offenses rank 31st, 32nd and 27th respectively in yards per game, and rank 30th, 32nd and 24th in points per game. I realize the Bills rank in the bottom half of the league in points allowed per game (25.6) - in fact, they've given up 21 or more points in every game this season except one (vs. NYJ in Week 11). But this unit makes up for that in other areas. The Bills lead the NFL in sacks with 43 and they're second in the league with 16 interceptions. They've also scored three defensive touchdowns (T-6th). The Bills haven't had much success in the return game this season, but opportunities on that front have been limited with only 15 kick returns.
In Week 14, Buffalo should add to their sack total as Tampa Bay has allowed nine sacks over their past two games. After a breakout performance against the Falcons in Week 11, Tampa Bay running back Bobby Rainey is averaging only 2.8 YPC over the past two weeks. Tampa's inability to run the ball effectively should allow Buffalo to get after rookie QB Mike Glennon. Vincent Jackson has also struggled recently with four duds in his past five games. Still, he's one of the most dynamic wide receivers in the league and should be the Bills' primary focus on defense.
New England Patriots - Defense/Special Teams
I was hesitant to include this injury plagued D/ST on this list of playoff defenses, as the Patriots have yielded 29.3 points per game over their past four. Granted, they've played some elite offenses over that span, but the stat is still a bit concerning. However, looking at New England's fantasy playoff schedule, they have three plus matchups on tap. In Week 14, they play Cleveland at home, followed by two road games at Miami and Baltimore. All three teams are averaging 21 points per game or fewer and have problems running the ball, which is where the Pats are most deficient (138.2 ypg allowed) on defense.
Considering the circumstances, the New England D/ST is a solid bet to rebound during the course of the fantasy playoffs. Although they aren't my first choice, the Patriots should be able to put up plenty of defensive points for you and your teams in Weeks 14, 15, and 16. So if you can't pickup or start any of the above defenses mentioned, then feel confident about these Patriots for your playoff run.
Ryan Rufe booked his first fantasy sports win at eleven years old. He’s a RotoBaller through and through and also contributes as an MLB Beat Writer for RotoWire.com. For more from him, follow him on Twitter @RyanRufe.