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It's playoff time--hopefully you're still alive in at least a few of your leagues. Below are RotoBaller's Week 14 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 14 of the NFL and fantasy football season.

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 14. 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 14 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 14 pickup or add. Good luck in Week 14 RotoBallers!

New for this year: Confidence Rating - since every league's DST scoring is different, projections don't 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. Initial rankings do not factor in Monday Night Football stats. Ranks may be re-evaluated after that game.

Editor's Note: Get our rest-of-season NFL and DFS Premium Pass for 50% OFF, including the playoffs. Plus, you also get our full-season NBA Premium and DFS Pass for free! Take advantage of our lowest pricing all year, and get an edge on your competition. Sign Up Now!

 

Week 14 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 Denver Broncos @ SF 12.25
2 1 Los Angeles Chargers vs. CIN 11.75
3 1 Pittsburgh Steelers @ OAK 11.5

The Broncos have quietly turned it on over the last few weeks, although you wouldn't know it based on their fantasy scores. Tough matchups at the Chargers and home against the Steelers hide the fact that since their Week 10 bye, the Broncos defense is averaging just 16.33 points allowed per game, along with 2.67 turnovers per game. In a matchup against the cellar-dwelling 49ers, they should be a stone-cold lock, especially given the fact that Nick Mullens has thrown five interceptions since his huge Thursday night debut in Week 9. it was against the Raiders, so does it even really count?

The Chargers have burned up the back half of the season in 2018, posting 8+ fantasy points in six of their last eight games. The return of Joey Bosa has helped an already-strong pass rush take it to the next level, and the Chargers should have an absolute field day against Jeff Driskel and the Bengals, regardless of how "athletic" Andy Dalton's back-up is. The Chargers are seventh in the NFL in points allowed per game (20.8), and I expect that number to improve this week with A.J. Green and Andy Dalton out--with the exception of Joe Mixon, there just isn't much to fear in the Cincy offense.

The Steelers have had back-to-back poor defensive showings, but they're all but certain to right the ship this week against the lowly Raiders, who are 29th in the NFL in points per game coming into this week. Derek Carr actually hasn't thrown an interception since Week 5, but that kind of caution has been a by-product of an offense that takes very few risks and therefore cashes in very few rewards. The Steelers lead the NFL with 41 sacks, and that's where the upside is for this matchup--Oakland is surrendering sacks at the fifth-worst rate in the NFL (39). This one could be over by halftime.

 

Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
4 2 New England Patriots @ MIA 10.65
5 2 Washington Redskins vs. NYG 9.5
6 2 Los Angeles Rams @ CHI 9.15
7 2 Tennessee Titans vs. JAC 8.6
8 2 New Orleans Saints @ TB 8.1

The Patriots defense apparently got right during their Week 11 bye, as they've posted back-to-back strong outings against the Jets and Vikings. I love them this week in a matchup against the Dolphins, especially if Ryan Tannehill will still be without his most reliable receiver in former Patriot Danny Amendola. The Patriots fail to crack the top tier due to their inability to generate much of a meaningful pass rush (30th in sacks), but there is some turnover upside here--the Pats are ninth in the NFL in takeaways entering Week 14.

The Titans DST stumbled into the fantasy playoffs, but I'm here to tell you not to give up on them yet. They'll draw one of the very best schedules of any DST for the fantasy playoffs (vs. JAC, @ NYG, vs. WAS) and it starts in Week 14 in a home matchup against the Jags. Cody Kessler might be better for the offense than Blake Bortles (which is saying absolutely nothing), but he's the type of QB you can target from a defensive standpoint--he's averaged 6.7 yards per pass attempt in his career. That type of conservative play bodes extremely well for keeping points off the board, and as long as the Titans front seven can keep the run game bottled up, they're a great streaming option for this week.

 

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
9 3 Buffalo Bills vs. NYJ 7.8
10 3 Kansas City Chiefs vs. BAL 6.95
11 3 Dallas Cowboys vs. PHI 6.35
12 3 Houston Texans vs. IND 5.55
13 3 New York Giants @ WAS 5.15
14 3 Jacksonville Jaguars @ TEN 4.9
15 4 Detroit Lions @ ARI 4.7

The Bills positively thrashed the Jets in Week 10, and the DST has been pretty productive all season, including 7+ fantasy points in their last three outings. I'm attempting to temper my expectations in this one, although if Sam Darnold does get the starting nod, I will likely move the Bills up into the second tier. Darnold has missed the last three games and STILL leads the NFL in interceptions (14), so there will be plenty of upside for a Bills defense that already has 11 interceptions on the season.

The Texans are behind only the Bears in ESPN standard scoring this year, and with good reason--their vaunted pass rush has led the way to the fourth-most sacks in the NFL, the tenth-most takeaways, and the third-fewest points allowed per game. I have to curb my expectations against Andrew Luck, who is second only to Patrick Mahomes in passing touchdowns. The Jaguars just showed a blueprint for how to stop Luck, but I'm viewing that as more of an outlier than the norm--prior to that Luck had eight straight games of three or more touchdowns. I'm likely not cutting the Texans considering they've got the Jets, Eagles, and Jags to finish out the season, but I might be looking for a safer option in the first round of the playoffs.

Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
16 4 Seattle Seahawks vs. MIN 4.25
17 4 Chicago Bears vs. LAR 3.9
18 4 New York Jets @ BUF 3.4
19 4 Indianapolis Colts @ HOU 3.15
20 5 Carolina Panthers @ CLE 2.75
21 5 Arizona Cardinals vs. DET 2.4

For the most part this season, the Seahawks defense has played to their opponent--they've beaten up on bad offenses, faltered against good ones, and found some sort of middle ground against the mediocre ones. The Vikings are a mediocre offense by just about every metric despite some of their explosive personnel. If Kirk Cousins is on, one or both of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen can torch this Seahawks secondary--if he's off, the Seahawks will eat. I'm betting on Cousins struggling somewhat in Seattle, and that keeps the Seahawks on the fringe of the streaming conversation, but there's still plenty that can go wrong in a hurry against this Minnesota offense.

There was a time in this very season where you could just circle whatever team was playing the Buffalo Bills and stream that defense. That is simply no longer the case, now that Josh Allen has embraced his inner Barry Sanders--in the last two weeks, Allen has posted rushing lines of 13-99-1 and 9-135-0. That kind of mobility is incredibly difficult to counter, and the Jets certainly don't have the personnel to shut it down. In the deepest of leagues, you might still consider the Jets, as Allen rarely is mistake-free through the air, but I'm avoiding them for the fantasy playoffs if I'm able to.

Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
22 5 Philadelphia Eagles @ DAL 2.25
23 5 Minnesota Vikings @ SEA 2.1
24 5 Cleveland Browns vs. CAR 1.9
25 5 Green Bay Packers vs. ATL 1.5
26 5 Baltimore Ravens @ KC 1.25

 

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