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Week 14 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2022 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Raiders Defense - Fantasy Football DST, Maxx Crosby IDP, Defense Rankings

We had a bit of a crazy week in DST scoring with poor defenses like the Rams, Raiders, and Texans all finishing inside the top 10. We were able to hit on five of the top 10 though, scoring big with Dallas, Cleveland, and San Francisco, so that feels good. It's important to keep a close eye on injuries and coaching decisions this late in the season because teams that are out of playoff contention may choose to rest players they otherwise wouldn't, which could drastically change defense projections. Sometimes we won't know that until Sunday morning, so always make sure you're checking in before locking your lineups.

We're also far enough into the season that we need to keep in mind season-long rankings but also recent performance. In the writeups below you'll hear me mention season-long stats as well as fantasy performances over the last six weeks to try and create a balance analytical approach.

I also published a rest-of-season article where I looked at defenses that could pair well with one another to give you the best possible performance week in and week out, so check that out if you're gearing up for playoffs.

As a reminder, every week I do a YouTube DST video called Pick 3(DST) where I give you three defenses I like during the week and one that I'm fading. We have some fun with it, but I think it gives a lot of the same reasoning I present here, so check it out for some video fun. And my BOD Leaderboard is available on Public Tableau, where you can see my updated BOD rankings, plus a leaderboard for the individual defensive stats I use for the BOD formula, and some of the offensive stats that I think can help us determine which DST to play or not. Also, make sure to always check back with this article over the weekend because I will my updated rankings as the week goes on when we get injury news or troubling weather information, etc.

 

What is the BOD Ranking Formula?

Last year I introduced my Best Overall Defense (BOD) rankings formula, and I'll be using it again this year. I'll give a quick overview of the formula below, followed by my general strategy for streaming defenses, and then my Week 14 fantasy football defense (DST) rankings. Good luck in Week 14 everyone!

The BOD (Best Overall Defense) formula takes into account my favorite stats for picking the right defenses (both positive and negative) and weighs them in a formula. You can view the RANKINGS AND COMPLETE LEADERBOARD of all the stats I use here. I tweaked the formula as the season went on last year, and I feel like it gives us a pretty good indicator of who has the best defenses for fantasy purposesIf you don't want to click that link, the formula is:

(Pressure Rate x 2) + (Sacks) + (QB Hurry Rate) + (Pass Break-Ups) + (%Drives ending in a Turnover x 2)

Minus

(Missed Tackles)+ (% Drives ending in a Score x 2) + (Yards per play)

It's important to clarify that the BOD rankings ARE NOT to be treated as weekly rankings. BOD is meant to tell us who the best fantasy defenses are, but depending on the matchup, they might be ranked differently in a given week. That's why we have this column where I will be breaking down my rankings for each week and an explanation of why I have the defenses ranked the way I do. The rankings will take into account their BOD ranking, opponent, injuries, weather, etc., but I hope my explanation will help make sense of each ranking.

 

Picking The Right Defenses To Pickup and Start

Just a quick recap of my general philosophy and what we discussed at length last year: when choosing a defense, you want to look for defenses that get consistent pressure and takeaways. Sacks and turnovers are more valuable for fantasy defense than preventing yardage and even, to a certain extent, preventing points. If a defense allows a stingy yards-per-play number, that's great and I'll cite some of those numbers below. However, they better also be able to get into the backfield or force turnovers, or else it won't really matter in the long run.

Essentially, we need to move away from points against as being the most important factor in choosing a fantasy defense. In 2021, NFL offenses gained 343.6 yards per game and scored 23.0 points per game. While that's down from the 24.8 scored in 2020 (most likely because of the deep safety defenses), it's still the third-most in the Super Bowl era.

With offenses putting up video game numbers, it means that we can't continue to judge a defense solely by the number of points they allow or the number of yards they give up. Those numbers will naturally be higher than we're used to. Instead, we need to look for which offensive lines are truly weak points and which defenses will either be blitz-heavy or get consistent pressure with their pass rush. These are all incredibly important pieces of information in determining which defenses to play in any given week.

Starting the right defense every week can be a difference-maker, so remember to check back here during the week as I will make updates once we get more information on some of these injuries and also get a better sense of the weather for the game.

 

Season Record

69-62 correctly predicting top-10 defenses

I want to track how correctly I pick the top 10 this year, so I'll keep track using FantasyPros total points. If anybody has other suggestions, let me know.

 

Week 14 Defenses To Start and Stream: Tiered Rankings

Confidence Ratings (out of 15) - 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 just a point projection. This is the best way to see just how much I like one team over another. Not all one or two-spot differences are the same.

A zero means "do not start," and then the confidence rises from there. Typically the top three tiers will be DSTs you should target, with Tier 4 being options in deep leagues.

 

Tier 1 Defenses - Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 14

Back to just two defenses in tier one, but we have a bit of a weird week where a lot of offenses we've been targeting, like the Colts, Saints, and Bears are all on a bye, so the true plus matchups are limited. The Cowboys and Eagles have been two of the best fantasy defenses all year long, and you have no issues running them out there for these games.

 

Tier 2 Defenses - Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 14

The Ravens are the 6th-ranked defense over the last six weeks, averaging 8.6 points per game, so they are always worth consideration for the top 10. While the Steelers offense has been improving lately, they are still not an offense to fear. Kenny Pickett is making more than his fair share of turnover-worthy plays, and the Ravens are 2nd in the NFL in turnover rate and 5th in sacks.

The one thing working against the Ravens is that it looks like Tyler Huntley could be starting in place of Lamar Jackson. That could put this Ravens' defense in some bad spots, but it also makes the Steelers' defense a potential top-10 play as well. While Huntley did have some big moments last year, he also turned the ball over eight times in four starts, so a Steelers defense that now has T.J. Watt back should be able to force him into mistakes.

The Broncos give up the 6th-most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses at 11.8 per game, which puts the Chiefs in play even though they're the 11th-ranked defense over the last month, averaging 6.8 points per game. With Courtland Sutton suffering an injury last week and Jerry Jeudy still working his way back from his, this already-weak Broncos offense could be even more inept.

The Bills' defense is starting to get healthier and we saw that pay off last week against the Patriots. Playing without Von Miller will take some bite out of this pass rush, but having Jordan Poyer, Tremaine Edmunds, and Tre'Davious White back will help the secondary tremendously. The Bills are currently 4th in the NFL in opponent's scoring rate, 5th in turnover rate, and 4th in tackles for a loss and will be playing a young and inexperienced Jets team at home in a crucial matchup for playoff seeding. I expect this defense to show up this weekend.

The 49ers are the number-one defense over the last month, averaging 12.5 points per game, so they are going to remain in the top 10 conversation regardless of the matchup. However, this one isn't terrible. The Bucs simply don't look like the same dynamic offense despite having tons of talent. The Bucs also don't give up a lot of sacks or turn the ball over a bunch, so it's unlikely that the 49ers put up a massive total here, but I think they're safe enough to get into the top ten.

The Seahawks had a really uneven performance last week against a beat-up Rams offense, so it's hard to trust them again, but we have to entertain playing them against a Panthers team that gives up the 4th-most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses at 12 per game. They have been a little better of late with Sam Darnold under center, but this Seahawks defense is 4th in the NFL in turnover rate and 13th in sacks so they can earn fantasy points in a few ways.

 

Tier 3 Defenses - Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 14

The Bucs inch into the top ten because the 49ers will likely start untested Brock Purdy at quarterback on Sunday. The Bucs are also 4th in the NFL in sacks, 5th in tackles for a loss, and 2nd in opponents scoring rate, which gives them a pretty safe weekly floor.

The Raiders have been one of the worst fantasy defenses this season, but they had a solid day against the Chargers on Sunday and now get to face the Rams, who give up the 2nd-most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses at 14.6 per game. I'm not sure I can trust the Raiders to put up a huge number, but they need this game for their playoff races, so I think they should be safe enough to land inside the top ten. UPDATE: Baker Mayfield may start for the Rams but that changes nothing for me. 

People like to hate on the Panthers, but their defense has continued to play hard this season and they are the number five defense over the last month, averaging 10 points per game. They'll now get a Seahawks team that has been solid but showed some cracks against a Rams defense without Aaron Donald on Sunday. If Kenneth Walker isn't able to play, it will put a lot of pressure on Geno Smith against a defense that is 7th in the NFL in tackles for a loss and 9th in quarterback hurry rate.

Both the Cardinals and Patriots are in play here since the Patriots are the 2nd-ranked defense over the last six weeks, averaging 11.6 points per game, but they also give up the 9th-most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses at 10.7 per game. New England probably has the better overall defense, but they have really the last two weeks against the Vikings and Bills. This Cardinals team comes in with both DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Brown healthy, and that's a concern given the way Stefon Diggs abused the Patriots' cornerbacks.

Lastly, we have to mention the Jets since they are the 9th-ranked defense over the last six weeks, averaging 7.6 points per game, and they also handled the Bills pretty well in their first meeting. I don't really want to play defenses against the Bills, but if you're desperate or in a deep league, you can at least take solace in the fact that this is a good defense, and Buffalo has some offensive line issues.

 

Tier 4 Defenses - Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 14

The Titans give up the 8th-most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses at 11 per game.

 

Tier 5 Defenses - Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 14

There are a lot of defenses I just don't want to play this week.



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