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Week 12 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Almost out of time to make that last push for the playoffs--no time like the present to squeak out a win because you picked the right defense.

Below are RotoBaller's Week 12 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 12 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 12. Starting the right defense every week can be a difference-maker.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!

Below we have broken out our defense rankings into tiers with analysis on each matchup. Some of these Week 12 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 12 pickup or add. Good luck in Week 12 RotoBallers!


Week 12 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. We've got four weeks of data to work with now, so we're going to be able to be a bit more precise basing our ratings on hard numbers.

On bye this week: Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals


Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense @ CIN 13.2
2 1 Buffalo Bills Defense vs. DEN 12.65
3 1 New Orleans Saints Defense vs. CAR 12.1

The Steelers swung and missed against the Browns on Thursday, but it's hard to take a Thursday game into account when projecting for the future--they're always kinda wonky. This week we have a top-three fantasy scoring DST going up against a bottom-five offense that's still starting Ryan Finley, who is averaging 141 passing yards a game and has a sexy 1:4 TD-turnover ratio through two starts.

Brandon Allen has played capably since taking over for Joe Flacco, but the Denver offense as a whole is still just 25th in the NFL in total yards per game. An underwhelming receiving corps comprised almost entirely of terrific Courtland Sutton play handicaps the upside of this offense, and they're find tough sledding against the Bills at home in Orchard Park. The Broncos have allowed the ninth-most sacks (32) in the NFL while the Bills pass rush has stepped up recently with 13 sacks across their last three games.


Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
4 2 Baltimore Ravens Defense @ LAR 11.5
5 2 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense @ TEN 11
6 2 San Francisco 49ers Defense vs. GB 10.5
7 2 Chicago Bears Defense vs. NYG 9.85
8 2 Cleveland Browns Defense vs. MIA 9.2
9 2 New England Patriots Defense vs. DAL 8.35

The Jaguars feasted on the Marcus Mariota-led Titans in Week 3, racking up nine sacks while holding the Tennessee offense to just seven points. They may not find as much success against Ryan Tannehill and the rest of the surging Titans, who have won three of their last four games while averaging over 26 points scored per game. Tannehill's 8:4 TD-INT ratio isn't groundbreaking, but between his ability to push the ball down the field and a rejuvenated Derrick Henry running wild, the Titans should be able to keep the Jags on their heels a bit. Don't get it twisted though--this is still the 26th-best offense in football right now, even if they are weighed down by Mariota's awful start to the season. The Jags are firmly in starting territory and have upside, but if there's one trap game for a top DST this week, this is my pick.

Many referred to the Ravens as the "first real test" for the Patriots defense, and sure enough they melted under the blazing heat of God Mode Lamar Jackson. The Pats bounced back nicely in Week 11, holding the Philly offense to just 10 points while tallying five sacks and a fumble recovery. This week's matchup will present an interesting measuring stick--did they simply run into Lamar Jackson on the wrong day, or can they really not hang with elite offenses like Baltimore or Dallas? Dak Prescott is riding an unbelievable stretch right now, and it'll be up to the Patriots to figure out how to contain him if they're going to hold onto their claim as an elite fantasy DST, and not merely a good team with a laughable schedule.


Middle and Lower Tier Defenses

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
10 3 Atlanta Falcons Defense vs. TB 7.9
11 3 New York Jets Defense vs. OAK 7.2
12 3 Houston Texans Defense vs. IND 6.45
13 3 Detroit Lions Defense @ WAS 6.15
14 3 Tennessee Titans Defense vs. JAC 5.55
15 3 Oakland Raiders Defense @ NYJ 5.1

Just when you thought the Falcons defense might be the worst in the NFL...they turn around and post two dominant performances. In Week 10 they beat up on Drew Brees and the Saints offensive line, notching six sacks and holding the powerful Saints offense to just nine total points. They followed that up with a beatdown of the Carolina Panthers, adding another five sacks while picking off Kyle Allen four times--and even added a special teams touchdown. I'm still wary of their LONG track record of being torn up by middling and elite offenses (averaging over 26 points allowed per game), but given they have a date with pick machine Jameis Winston up next, they deserve a spot in my top 10. They should be widely available as well, making them a terrific streaming option in Week 12.

The Raiders present a similar opportunity this week. They've been gashed all season by the pass (262.2 passing yards per game) but over their last two games they've put up ten total sacks and five total turnovers. Granted, those two games were against Philip Rivers, who is literally disintegrating in front of our eyes, and a Ryan Finley-led Bengals offense. There is some optimism here given the overall futility of the Jets offensive line (third-most sacks allowed with 41), but with Sam Darnold averaging a 65% completion rate and and 6:2 passing touchdown ratio over his last four games I am playing it safe. The Raiders are a streamable option this week, but temper your expectations.


Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
16 4 Washington Redskins Defense vs. DET 4.65
17 4 Indianapolis Colts Defense @ HOU 4.2
18 4 Denver Broncos Defense @ BUF 3.75
19 4 New York Giants Defense @ CHI 3.1

The Colts DST has been modestly productive over their last three games, posting five turnovers and averaging just over 16 points allowed per game, but those stats came against the Steelers, Dolphins and Jaguars. They'll truly be tested by Deshaun Watson and the Texans this week, but I'm interested to see how that offense bounces back after getting absolutely thrashed by the Ravens in Week 11. They managed just a single touchdown in garbage time, and yielded seven total sacks. This is a Thursday night game, which typically feature some outlying performances on both sides of the ball, and with the return of Will Fuller a possibility, I'm probably skipping on the Colts DST.

The Giants DST has been brutal for fantasy purposes all season, but there is the possibility that they'll be usable this week given that Matt Nagy has once again committed to Mitch Trubisky as the starter--assuming his hip injury clears up in time. The Bears offense simply struggles under Trubisky--they're 30th in total yards per game--which gives some optimism for the Giants defense. I expect this to be a low-scoring affair, but I'd be much more optimistic if the Giants hadn't yielded 25 or more points in each of their last six games. If you are desperate, and I mean DESPERATE, you can consider the Giants in Week 12.


Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
20 5 Philadelphia Eagles Defense vs. SEA 2.65
21 5 Dallas Cowboys Defense @ NE 2.2
22 5 Los Angeles Rams Defense vs. BAL 2.15
23 5 Carolina Panthers Defense @ NO 1.7
24 5 Green Bay Packers Defense @ SF 1.2

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.

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