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Week 16 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2018 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

This is what we've been playing for--it's championship week! Below are RotoBaller's Week 16 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 16 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 16. 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 16 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 16 pickup or add. Good luck in Week 16 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.

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Week 16 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 Chicago Bears @ SF 11.5
2 1 Los Angeles Rams @ ARI 10.45
3 1 Minnesota Vikings @ DET 10.25

If you own the Bears at this point in the season, you know why they're my top choice. The matchup makes it an even surer thing--ride the Bears to glory.

The Cardinals were absolutely lambasted by the Falcons defense in Week 15, and now they'll have to deal with the ultra-talented Rams defense. Aqib Talib has been making plays since returning from injury, and Aaron Donald still might be DPOTY. Josh Rosen is still making rookie mistakes every game, so this is a slam dunk. Don't question it.

The Lions have very little to play for now, and it's unlikely they hurry back Kerryon Johnson in what amounts to a meaningless game for them. Kenny Golladay is pretty much the only explosive piece left in this offense, but he's likely going to draw Xavier Rhodes for the entire game. The Vikings should cruise in this one, and at the very least the DST provides a nice, strong floor for the championship round.


Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
4 2 Denver Broncos @ OAK 9.75
5 2 Indianapolis Colts vs. NYG 9.4
6 2 New England Patriots vs. BUF 9.15
7 2 Houston Texans @ PHI 8.85
8 2 Tennessee Titans vs. WAS 8.35
9 2 New York Jets vs. GB 7.8

The Colts have alternated between strong and mediocre performances for those who have given them a chance in the last few weeks, but their shutout of Dallas last week might have been the signature moment for a real-world defense that has been vastly underrated this season. I have faith in them against Eli Manning and the Giants, who are coming off their own shutout at the hands of the Titans defense. If Odell Beckham, Jr. isn't active this week, the Colts have legitimate Tier 1 upside and should make for a fine start in the championship round. Even if Beckham is healthy, I'd feel perfectly comfortable starting them still.

The Patriots have been a usable fantasy option for the last month, posting six or more fantasy points in three of their last four games. This week they'll get a home matchup against the Bills, whose offense has looked downright competent in the latter half of the season. That's due in no small part to Josh Allen's record-breaking rushing numbers, but Allen is still a raw rookie quarterback--mistakes are still happening. Allen has 11 turnovers in nine starts, and the Bills have yielded 40 sacks on the season, so there is considerable upside for the Patriots as a streaming option this week.

My ranking of the Jets is entirely tentative at the moment--it looks like the Packers will be without Aaron Jones, but a more intriguing scenario may play out if the Packers decide that Aaron Rodgers' health isn't worth risking in the final two games of a lost season. As of right now, there are only rumblings and rumors of that being the case, but it does make a certain amount of sense. Should Rodgers sit, the Jets DST immediately jumps into my top five--Deshone Kizer's 11:23 TD-INT ratio should make any DST streamer salivate.


Middle and Lower Tier Defenses

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
10 3 Miami Dolphins vs. JAC 6.95
11 3 Green Bay Packers @ NYJ 6.5
12 3 Jacksonville Jaguars @ MIA 5.8
13 3 Los Angeles Chargers vs. BAL 5.25
14 3 Dallas Cowboys vs. TB 4.9

The Dolphins ranking here is all about the matchup--the Jaguars are coming off a beatdown at the hands of the Redskins in which they allowed six sacks and quarterback Cody Kessler managed just 57 passing yards along with an interception and a lost fumble. Right now the Jaguars are in such dire straits on offense right now, it doesn't matter if it's Kessler or Bortles under center--you can feel good streaming all but the worst DSTs against them.

Those same Jaguars have posted 12+ fantasy points on defense in two of their last three games, and they should be serviceable yet again against the Dolphins offense that ranks 29th in total yards per game. It's a meaningless game between two teams with nothing to play for, and I trust that the Jaguars talent on defense will show up for fantasy owners one last time this week.


Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
15 4 Washington Redskins @ TEN 4.15
16 4 Cincinnati Bengals @ CLE 3.5
17 4 Cleveland Browns vs. CIN 3.1
18 4 Baltimore Ravens @ LAC 2.55

After three horrendous performances against their division rivals in Weeks 12-14, the Redskins bounced back in a huge way against the inept Jacksonville offense in Week 15. Unfortunately, it's difficult to trust them entirely this week given their recent struggles combined with Derrick Henry's late-season breakout. The Redskins probably manage between 3-6 fantasy points here, but the upside is severely limited.

With the talent on this Browns defense, we are probably a year or two away from seeing them become a truly elite unit. As it stands, there is some appeal this week against the Bengals considering that Jeff Driskel isn't going to set the world on fire. The big obstacle here, and their reason for the lower ranking is that they rank 24th in the NFL in rushing defense. Joe Mixon has been a force over the last few weeks, and I don't see the Bengals departing from their game plan which centers around him. The Browns are a desperation play, but in deep leagues, you may not have a choice.


Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
19 5 New Orleans Saints vs. PIT 2.25
20 5 Kansas City Chiefs @ SEA 1.9
21 5 Seattle Seahawks vs. KC 1.5
22 5 Pittsburgh Steelers @ NO 1.1

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