Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

Week 1 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings


Ohhhhh it is good to be back, RotoBallers! I'm getting this bad boy kicked off a little earlier this year since I've got a wife at home who's ready to go into labor anyyy minute now. The nerve of that kid, coming right before football season.

Below are RotoBaller's Week 1 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 1 of the NFL and fantasy football season. In case you missed it, this is our seventh year now writing this weekly column. Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver wire pickups to improve your lineups, and to decide which defenses to start, sit, target, avoid or stream for Week 1.

Starting the right defense every week can be a difference-maker. Below we have broken out our defense rankings into tiers with analysis on each matchup. Some of these Week 11 defenses have good matchups and are not widely-owned, representing fantasy scoring opportunities if they are available on your league's waiver wire for a Week 1 pickup or add. Good luck in Week 1 RotoBallers!

Editor's Note: Get any rest-of-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive DFS Tools, Lineup Optimizer and Premium DFS Research through the Super Bowl. Sign Up Now!

 

Week 1 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Typically the top three tiers will be DSTs you should target, with Tier 4 being options in deep leagues and Tier 5 being desperation plays or good defenses in horrendous matchups.

Returning for this year: Confidence Ratings - since every league's DST scoring is different, projections don't always make a ton of sense. The confidence rating is a guideline for how much more I like one team over another instead of a straight point projection. A zero means "do not start," then the confidence rises from there. I take a lot of factors into account here--opponent injuries, home field advantage, weather, etc. The first few weeks I obviously have less data to work with, so the defense's personnel and matchups matter more significantly.

 

Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 Baltimore Ravens Defense @ MIA 12.5
2 1 Philadelphia Eagles Defense vs. WAS 11.15
3 1 Los Angeles Chargers Defense vs. IND 10.75

With so much turmoil in the Dolphins locker room and, frankly, a lack of talent, the Ravens are the surest thing for me in Week 1 despite being on the road. While the Ravens did finish as a top-five fantasy DST in 2018, they took some major hits to their roster in the offseason, including C.J. Mosely, Terrell Suggs and Eric Weddle. They did add Earl Thomas in free agency, and the addition of third-round linebacker Jaylon Ferguson should help plug some of the holes up the middle. Ultimately the Ravens are likely a worse team than last year, but it's still a strong overall unit with a great match-up in Week 1. The Dolphins aren't even sure if they're starting Josh Rosen or Ryan Fitzpatrick and we're 10 days from kickoff.

Like the Ravens, the Eagles suffered some major losses on defense in the off-season. Jordan Hicks, Michael Bennett AND Chris Long are now no longer in Philly, but they were able to add Malik Jackson and Zach Brown to replace them. This is still a talented roster despite the losses, but it's unlikely that they'll find themselves in my top five in most weeks. However, with a home matchup against the Redskins in Week 1 they are pretty much a gimme for me. Case Keenum has nobody of note to throw to besides the oft-injured Jordan Reed, and an aging Adrian Peterson leading the charge on the ground. The Eagles could pay major dividends in this one.

I'm very interested to see what happens with the Colts offense now that Andrew Luck is permanently out of the picture. Jacoby Brissett started 15 games in 2017, and his numbers were anything but inspiring (13:7 TD-INT, 41.5 QBR). He led the league in sacks taken, which is proof of just how putrid the Colts' offensive line was. That line is now anchored by talented stalwarts Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly and Braden Smith (among others), and they allowed a league-low 18 sacks in 2018. Unfortunately, they'll be tasked with stopping Joey Bosa, Thomas Davis and first-round pick Jerry Tillery in Week 1, and Brissett brings the entire offense down simply by not having the gun-slinging firepower of Andrew Luck. In his first start on the road, I'll bet on the defense all day, especially one as talented as the Chargers.

 

Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
4 2 Seattle Seahawks Defense vs. CIN 9.6
5 2 Cleveland Browns Defense vs. TEN 9.3
6 2 Dallas Cowboys Defense vs. NYG 8.65
7 2 Denver Broncos Defense @ OAK 8.2

The Browns' roster improved in just about every facet over the last two years, and their defense is no exception. They finished second in the NFL in takeaways in 2018, and although the 14 fumble recoveries are unlikely to be repeated, they also scored ZERO defensive touchdowns. By sheer probability they should be able to add enough to make up for the regression in fumble recoveries. The addition of Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson should be huge for their sack totals, and the game plan is for second-rounder Greedy Williams to fill the hole left by Jabrill Peppers' departure. Toss in a home matchup against Marcus Mariota and the Titans' bottom-six offense from last year (they didn't improve much in the off-season) and you've got a recipe for fantasy success.

With the defensively-minded Vic Fangio at the helm of the Broncos, I expect big things from this DST this year. They lost Bradley Roby and Darien Stewart in the secondary, which will likely be felt, but Kareem Jackson was added to hopefully ease the blow. They also have probably the best one-two punch as far as pass-rushing is concerned in Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, so you can expect the sacks to come early and often. They'll face a Raiders line that improved in the off-season thanks to the addition of Trent Brown, and we'll see what Richie Incognito has left in the tank. The Broncos may rank higher as the year goes on, but the Raiders offense SHOULD be improved with the additions of Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams and rookie running back Josh Jacobs. The Broncos are still in the top two tiers and should be a fine play this week, simply not as a top-five option.

 

Middle and Lower Tier Defenses

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
8 3 Chicago Bears Defense vs. GB 7.5
9 3 Arizona Cardinals Defense vs. DET 7.35
10 3 Los Angeles Rams Defense @ CAR 6.9
11 3 Buffalo Bills Defense @ NYJ 6.5
12 3 Detroit Lions Defense @ ARI 6.1

I don't think I need to go into too much detail on the Bears. Khalil Mack leads a defense that is stacked with talent, almost all of which is returning from last year. They were third in the NFL in sacks, and first in picks, touchdowns and total takeaways. The only reason they're in Tier 3 is the matchup against the Packers. They look like they're going to unleash Aaron Jones finally, Aaron Rodgers is healthy and has a potent trio of wide receivers to throw to (Davante Adams, Marques Valdez-Scantling, Geronimo Allison). The Bears are startable still but their upside is limited.

The Bills are going to be under-ranked just about everywhere this year, and I swear I don't think that just because I live in Buffalo. The Bills led the NFL in passing yards allowed per game in 2018 (179.2), but their middling defense against the run brought their overall numbers down pretty significantly. Still, they allowed fewer than five yards per play, one of only three teams in the NFL to do so. This is a talented overall defense, and they've got some legit playmakers in Jerry Hughes, Tremaine Edmunds, Jordan Poyer and Lorenzo Alexander. Top-10 overall pick Ed Oliver should help the Bills step up against the run, and they've got a pretty easy schedule to start the season. This is a DST I'm particularly interested in adding since they'll be useful for more than just Week 1. My expectations are tempered given that the Jets will test that run defense with a fully-functional Le'Veon Bell, but this is still a very under-rated unit that should give Sam Darnold fits.

 

Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
13 4 New York Jets Defense vs. BUF 5.7
14 4 New England Patriots Defense vs. PIT 5.45
15 4 Kansas City Chiefs Defense @ JAC 5.2
16 4 New Orleans Saints Defense vs. HOU 4.8
17 4 Minnesota Vikings Defense vs. ATL 4.35
18 4 Oakland Raiders Defense vs. DEN 3.5

The Chiefs are an absolute question mark for me heading into Week 1. They hemorrhaged yards last year (405.5 yards per game), but still finished as a capable fantasy DST thanks to an NFL-best 53 sacks and 27 takeaways. They turned over their defense almost entirely, trading Dee Ford, Justin Houston and Steven Hunter (among others) for Frank Clark, Alex Okafor and Tyrann Mathieu (among others). There is talent to be found here, but the complete overhaul has me scratching my head on how to project them. I've got them dead-center of my rankings on the road against the Jaguars, who have a theoretically healthy Leonard Fournette and Nick Foles now under center.

The Vikings Defense bounced back in a big way last year, ranking fourth in the NFL in yards allowed per game (309.7) and tied for third in sacks (50). They'll have to deal with the departure of Sheldon Richardson, but they've got studs at every line of the defense. Linval Joseph anchors the run-stopping unit, a hopefully rejuvenated Everson Griffen and Anthony Barr lead the pass rush and Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith should provide stability in the secondary. This team will be a top-10 option for me most weeks, but on the road against the Falcons it's tough to rank them as such. Matt Ryan's got a lethal tandem of weapons in Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, and Devonta Freeman looks fully healthy and ready to do damage.

The Raiders were pretty darn bad last year, but I've got some faith in them to rise up the ranks in 2019. LaMarcus Joyner will be a big asset when it comes to stabilizing rookies Jonathan Abram and Trayvon Mullen in the secondary, which will hopefully lead to an improvement over last year's middling pass defense. First-round pick Clelin Ferrell is going to have to help support the Raiders run defense, which was bottom-three in the NFL in 2018. They'll rarely find themselves any higher than Tier 4 for me, but a home matchup against the Joe Flacco-led Broncos offense leaves the door open for them as a desperation play this week.

 

Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
19 5 San Francisco 49ers Defense @ TB 2.9
20 5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense vs. SF 2.5
21 5 Green Bay Packers Defense @ CHI 2.25
22 5 Houston Texans Defense @ NO 1.8
23 5 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense @ NE 1.5
24 5 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense vs. KC 1.15

More Fantasy Football Analysis


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.




More Recent Articles

 

ADP Cost Analysis – Robbie Ray vs Trevor Bauer

With fantasy baseball draft season in full swing, those of us who partake in this joyous game are now looking through as much draft data as possible in a bid to find players we love who have lower average draft positions (ADP) than we believe they should. All this to eke out as much draft... Read More


2020 Keeper Value Rankings - Second Base

Keeper Value Rankings are intended for Keeper Leagues in which a fantasy owner must forfeit a designated draft pick in order to keep a player into the upcoming season. These rankings are based on Keeper "Values". In the marketing world, Value can be defined as "the extent to which a good or service (player) is... Read More


2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers – C.J. Cron

As another fantasy baseball season approaches, we once again have the chance to discuss C.J. Cron as a fantasy sleeper. Cron will be playing for his third team in three seasons. It is tough to wrap one's head around the idea that a player of Cron's talent continues to be undervalued by professional and fantasy... Read More


2020 Starting Pitcher Rankings - H2H Points Leagues

Points leagues may seem like a slight variation from traditional 5x5 category scoring leagues but you must approach draft day with a very different strategy if you wish to truly compete. All preseason long, RotoBaller has you covered with the latest rankings for all fantasy baseball league types. Here we present our points league rankings... Read More


Second-Half Improvements: Buy Into These Starting Pitchers

The second half of the season is always put under a microscope for starting pitchers. Fantasy players have a love for the second half of the season, as the belief is that pitchers who take a step forward could carry over that success the next season and perhaps even build upon it. But, as we... Read More


How to Attack RP in SV+HLD Leagues

No position has seen as much evolution in recent seasons as the relief pitcher. Gone are the days where starters were expected to go seven innings as most teams have embraced the idea of "super-bullpening" and try to fit as many pitchers that can throw 95+ MPH into their bullpen as they can. Many fantasy... Read More


Using Sabermetrics for Fantasy Baseball: Pitch Info

One of the most fundamental questions in fantasy sports is if a player's current performance is sustainable. More than any other sport, baseball has a slew of statistical measures that can be dissected in numerous ways to analyze player performance. Pitch Info is a publicly-available pitch tracking system that provides a lot of different data to... Read More


2020 Fantasy Baseball Staff Rankings

Below you will find RotoBaller's 2020 fantasy baseball rankings, tiers and auction dollar values for the 2020 MLB season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Mixed, Head-to-Head, Points, AL/NL Only, Two-Catcher Top 2020 prospects, Dynasty leagues, Keeper values Export the rankings easily... Read More


Mock Draft Review: Best Late-Round Targets

Last week, some members of the RotoBaller staff completed a 12-team mock draft for standard 5x5 format. After the draft, we each broke down our strategy and some of our favorite picks, which can be found here. However, I want to take a closer look at one portion of the draft in particular. Since we know that... Read More


Faster and Furious: Pitchers with Rising Velocity/Performance

Welcome fantasy baseball players! I’m sure that you, like me, are anxiously counting down the days until your drafts and Opening Day. While the fantasy season may not start for several weeks, there are plenty of things we can do to start preparing for a successful season. One of those things is to take a good... Read More


James Karinchak Is A Relief Pitcher To Know in 2020

One of the lesser-known players that intrigues me for the 2020 MLB season is Indians relief pitcher James Karinchak. The former Bryant Bulldog was drafted by Cleveland in the ninth round in the 2017 draft and went on to have one of the most outrageous statistical seasons in minor league baseball history. As someone who... Read More


2020 Relief Pitcher Rankings - H2H Points Leagues

Often regarded as an inferior fantasy baseball format, points leagues offer a different style of boasting over your friends or coworkers similar to that of fantasy football. These setups are typically head-to-head formats for a one-week stretch where the player with the most points gets a win. Easy right? While it's true that roster construction... Read More


2019 Barrel Breakouts: Who's For Real and Who's Next?

As pitchers and catchers get even closer to reporting and most fantasy leagues prepare for their drafts, everybody is looking for a leg up on the competition - a way to get in on a guy before everybody else does. In this article, we're going to look for a way to identify hitters who improved... Read More


Using Sabermetrics for Fantasy Baseball: Pitcher BABIP

While FIP is a useful tool to predict a pitcher's future ERA performance, fantasy owners should remember that ERA, not FIP, is what really matters in most formats. This means that we are interested in the "luck" that separates the two statistics. While some of this luck is unpredictable, we can and should predict some... Read More


Second Year Player Preview: Fantasy Baseball 2020 ADP Analysis

Host Anthony Aniano of RotoBaller Radio discuss the 2020 fantasy baseball season and keeps you updated with all the latest news and analysis Be sure to tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210, XM 87) - every weekday morning between 6-7 AM ET, every weekday afternoon from 1-2 PM ET, Saturday nights from 9-11 PM ET... Read More


More Recent Articles

 

NFL Draft Combine Preview: Quarterbacks

With the Super Bowl now behind us, it is officially NFL Draft season! It's time to speculate on draft picks for teams, who should land where, and which players should be valued over others. This also marks the unofficial start to the 2020 fantasy football season. Getting in the early preparation can give owners a... Read More


RB Opportunity Share and Impact (AFC South & West): 2019 Review

We roll on with coverage of each of the eight NFL divisions, discussing the teams that are part of them and the running backs that were part of those teams in 2019. To present those teams and players I use a set of easy-to-read charts: treemaps. The graphics will hold all of the players of... Read More


Dynasty Price Check - Anthony Miller

Many of you have already begun planning and building your 2020 rosters. This includes best-ball owners who have assembled teams in that popular format. A number of owners in redraft leagues are inspecting the early rankings, while those of you who are involved in dynasty leagues have continued your process of relentless roster evaluation. As the... Read More


Is Lamar Jackson Worth a First Round Pick?

RotoBaller fantasy football analysts Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano discuss the idea of taking Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson in the first round of 2020 fantasy football redraft leagues. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure... Read More


Why Lamar Jackson Should Be a First-Round Pick in 2020

Sometimes I like to make noise and some headlines if I can. That is why I host shows six days a week on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio representing RotoBaller. If I can get people buzzing about a topic, calling in or responding on social media with passion and vigor, I am having fun. But whenever I... Read More


Dynasty Price Check - Darren Waller

Many of you have already launched into the planning process for your 2020 rosters. This includes best-ball owners who have embraced the opportunity to draft in that popular format. A number of owners in redraft leagues are also monitoring the early rankings, while those of you who are involved in dynasty leagues have continued a pace of... Read More


Biggest Breakouts of 2019: Tight End

There were a lot of fantasy football busts at the tight end position in 2019, but there were also a lot of breakout stars. The 2018 season saw Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz break the NFL record for most receptions in a season by a tight end, while San Francisco’s George Kittle broke the record for most... Read More


Dynasty Price Check - Courtland Sutton

With the conclusion of Super Bowl LIV, football season is over for many people. But for anyone that plays in a dynasty fantasy football league, the season is never over. For the fantasy addicts out there, now is the time to start preparing. In today's column, we will take a look at wide receiver Courtland... Read More


Dynasty Price Check - Josh Allen

The NFL offseason has arrived, which means that it's time for us to go all-in on dynasty mode. The time between the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft is the time for dynasty players to make some moves and try to make their team better -- or worse, if you're rebuilding and looking for draft... Read More


RB Opportunity Share and Impact (NFC East & North)

With the season over and real-life free agency and April's NFL draft ahead of us, it's time to look at how each team split their targets and carries (both of them combined in what is called opportunities; sometimes it's receptions instead of targets, but I wanted to look at the overall volume and total chances instead)... Read More


Odell Beckham - Dynasty Buy or Sell?

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano discuss the dynasty value of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.. Will he bounce back in 2020 to return WR1 fantasy football value or is he no longer an elite receiver? Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us... Read More


David Johnson - Dynasty Buy or Sell?

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano discuss the fantasy football value of Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson in dynasty leagues. Is it best to get something in return for him while you can or try to buy-low in hopes of a rebound season? Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all... Read More