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Top DST Pairings for Fantasy Football Playoffs: Rest-Of-Season Team Defense Picks

Ravens Defense - Fantasy Football DST Rankings, Draft Sleepers, IDP Targets

It's that time of year in the fantasy football season. Playoff races are heating up or have already been decided and managers are starting to look ahead to the fantasy football postseason. While I have always advocated for taking defenses two to three weeks at a time, we are now in a position where we can start to look at our playoff schedule to ensure we have the best possible defense on our roster. That means not just looking at performance so far but the matchups to come as well.

Personally, I like to keep two defenses on my roster for the playoffs. At this point, almost all of my players have had their bye week, so my bench is filled with "in case of injury" players or one or two "matchup-dependent" spots in my starting lineup. That usually means I have one spot that I can use for a second defense. That allows me to pick my matchups and play the highest upside DST because that can sometimes mean a double-digit day, which is enough to swing a playoff matchup. Every point counts in the postseason.

With that in mind, I've put together this article to look at the best defensive pairing for Weeks 14-17. Below you'll see the top 10 defenses over the last two months based on FantasyPros scoring with my BOD (Best Overall Defense) Ranking listed. I wanted to use a two-month sample to try to take into account recent production but not overweigh a small sample that could be influenced by good matchups. For each of those top 10 defenses, I listed their matchups in Weeks 14-17 with the opponent's ranking in terms of points allowed to fantasy defenses, provided my recommendation for start/sit for that matchup, and gave you some alternate defenses to stash if you have a DST in a tough matchup.

Hopefully this helps you to survive and advance through the postseason. If you want updated information on all of these defenses, make sure you check out my DST leaderboard, which has my BOD rankings as well as a stat leaderboard for the stats I think are most relevant to choosing a fantasy DST.

 

New England Patriots Defense

13.4 points per game since Week 5
BOD RANKING: 6th 

This total includes the Patriots' poor performance against the Vikings but not their recent performance against the Bills. New England has a real issue at cornerback, which you can see from the way Justin Jefferson and Stefon Diggs abused the Patriots' corners the last two weeks. That's a major problem with games coming up against DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, Ja'Marr Chase, and Tyreek Hill.

If you wanted to play the Patriots next week against Arizona, I wouldn't fault you, but I actually think it's OK to move on from them as a defense given their schedule. You can also use the Chiefs in Week 15. They play the Texans but were left out of the graphic below by mistake.

 

Dallas Cowboys Defense

12.1 points per game since Week 5
BOD RANKING: 1st

The Cowboys are an elite defense with a mediocre schedule the rest of the way. I would still recommend holding them, but I don't really love their plays in Week 15 and 16. The Jaguars may seem like a bad team, and they may actually be one, but they allow only 5.2 points to opposing fantasy defenses on average in part because they're 6th in the NFL in sacks allowed and 17th in scoring rate, so they score an average number of points but don't really allow any sacks, which makes them unlikely to give up a big fantasy total.

I would still play Dallas against them because I trust the Cowboys' defense, but I'd sit Dallas versus Philadelphia and look for an alternative that week, like the Titans, Chargers, or Dolphins (but really only if Aaron Rodgers is shut down by then).

You can also use the Chiefs in Week 15. They play the Texans but were left out of the graphic below by mistake.

 

New York Jets Defense

10.3 points per game since Week 5
BOD RANKING: 7th

The Jets are an interesting case because they don't have a single plus-matchup the rest of the way. I know it may seem like it when you look at their schedule, but when you look at how many fantasy points their opponents allow to opposing defenses, there are two pretty bad matchups and two average matchups remaining for the Jets.

I'd still play the Jets in Week 15 against the Lions but I would expect a safe floor matchup and not a high-ceiling one. I might sit them against Jacksonville and Seattle though, depending on New York's playoff hopes. I just have this bad feeling that Geno Smith is going to be out for blood in that game. If you do start them, think of the Jets as a safe option but not a week-winning one, and don't expect massive totals in pretty average matchups.

 

 

Washington Commanders Defense

9.3 points per game since Week 5
BOD RANKING: 8th

Our time with the Commanders may come to an end this week. In addition to an ill-timed bye week, they don't have any really good matchups left. I do think you can use them against the Giants because I would use them against the Giants this Sunday, but I can't advise using them against the 49ers. I know San Francisco's season-long points allowed to fantasy defenses looks bad below, but if this offense is fully healthy, you simply can't feel good starting a defense against them.

In Week 15, I think Pittsburgh is probably the only defense listed below that I would pick over Washington, so you can hold the Commanders for Week 15 if you have another option on your roster for Week 14. You can also use the Chiefs in Week 15. They play the Texans but were left out of the graphic below by mistake.

 

Tennessee Titans Defense

9.3 points per game since Week 5
BOD RANKING: 9th

The Titans have been a great story this year and are an incredibly well-coached team under Mike Vrabel, but they are just a Week 16 fill-in for me from here on out. Their schedule just has far too much red in it. Now, could they be solid against the Jaguars and Chargers? Sure, but I just don't think the ceiling is high enough for me to plan to play them. It's more of a "best of the mediocre options" scenario in those weeks. Then there's the matchup against the Cowboys that I desperately want to avoid.

Keep them on your radar for Week 16 though, which means they could be a great pairing with the Cowboys DST and I also like to pair the Titans and the Chiefs because you get to face DEN, HOU, HOU, and DEN.

 

Baltimore Ravens Defense

8.7 points per game since Week 5
BOD RANKING: 11th 

If you just go from the last month, Baltimore is the 4th-ranked defense, so they are trending in the right direction. They also get two plus matchups against the Steelers and one fine matchup against the Falcons. I know that the Steelers have looked a little better of late, but they're still giving up a fair amount of points to opposing fantasy defenses and Kenny Pickett has a lot of turnover-worthy plays. I have no issue playing the Ravens in those two games.

I would also play Baltimore against Atlanta, even though it's not a great matchup. The Falcons are incredibly run-heavy so it speeds up games and limits the number of sacks and turnovers defenses can rack up. However, I also think there's a chance we see Desmond Ridder by Week 16, and I'd like to take advantage of that.

I do want to sit Baltimore against Cleveland if I can, so if any of the three defenses below are on your wire, I'd rather go there. Green Bay hasn't been great, but Matthew Stafford is now on the IR, and that Rams offense is atrocious.

 

Philadelphia Eagles Defense

7.6 points per game since Week 5
BOD RANKING: 2nd

The Eagles haven't quite lived up to their early season performance on defense, in part because of the injury to Jordan Davis. However, the signing of Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh has been helpful, and they have a pretty enticing schedule to end the season.

You're going to start them against the Giants even though the stats say it's an average matchup, and then you get true plus matchups in Week 15 and 17. You just need to find another option for Week 16, and you know the Titans remain my favorite likely waiver wire option for that week. I don't love the Chargers' defense this year, but they're in play against the Colts and if you need a deeper league option, you can even look at the Broncos and Rams versus one another, but I'd probably rather just play the Eagles.

 

Buffalo Bills Defense

7.6 points per game since Week 5
BOD RANKING: 4th

The Bills' defense is finally getting healthy. Well, kind of. Tre'Davious White, Jordan Poyer, Gregory Rousseau, A.J. Epenesa, and Tremaine Edmunds all returned this week against the Patriots. Those are big additions, but Von Miller will be out for the next three games, which is a huge loss.

However, Miller was put on the IR before the Patriots game, which means he'll only miss the next three weeks. I would still lean towards playing Buffalo against both the Jets and Bears in Weeks 14 and 16. Then Miller could/should come back in time for a Week 17 game against a Bengals offensive line that has trouble protecting Joe Burrow.

That means I really only want to sit the Bills in Week 15 against Miami; however, that game is in Buffalo in the middle of December so keep an eye on the weather. This Dolphins offense is built for speed, so if they find themselves in a cold, snowy, messy game in front of a packed stadium, you may not want to bench the Bills. You can also use the Chiefs in Week 15. They play the Texans but were left out of the graphic below by mistake.

 

Minnesota Vikings Defense

7.6 points per game since Week 5
BOD RANKING: 14th

After the way Minnesota looks against the Patriots, I really don't feel comfortable recommending them to anybody. Allowing almost 400 yards passing to Mac Jones is terrible. However, they have been a solid unit for most of the season, so we need to discuss them.

Another reason we need to talk about the Vikings is because of their schedule. They don't have any poor matchups to end the season. I'd rather not play them against the Lions given how Jones abused the Vikings in the air, but I would happily play Minnesota in each of the last three games. In particular, Aaron Rodgers has said he may shut it down when Green Bay is eliminated, which should definitely happen by Week 17, so I think you're getting Jordan Love in that spot. I'll attack that.

I don't think you want to hang your hat on using the Vikings DST, but their schedule makes them a great second option.

 

San Francisco 49ers Defense

7.4 points per game since Week 5
BOD RANKING: 3rd

The 49ers' defensive line is healthy again, which is helping to keep their BOD ranking high, but I have some concerns about this secondary without Emmanuel Moseley and Jason Verrett in some of these matchups. Tampa Bay and Las Vegas are both among the six worst matchups for fantasy DSTs and both have wide receivers in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Davante Adams who could do damage against this secondary. I'd likely be trying to avoid those weeks but would be OK using San Fransico as a safe floor defense if I needed to.

I also know that Seattle isn't a "good" matchup, but it's not a bad one, and I don't feel the need to bench the 49ers in that matchup or against Washington.



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