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Week 18 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2023 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Joey Bosa - IDP Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Fantasy Football DST Rankings, Defense Streamers

Let's just start by saying that any discussion of football feels weird until we know that Damar Hamlin is okay. Monday night's scene during the Bengals and Bills game was incredibly scary, and I'm hopeful that we'll get good news on Hamlin's health in the next day or so. I think we'll all, including the players, feel the impact of that moment whenever games are played this weekend.

But we do know that games will be played this weekend, and many of you are coming here looking for fantasy advice and not a discussion on the harrowing scene from Monday night, so I'll do my best to provide that for those of you whose leagues are still going into Week 18.

As a reminder of what I said before Week 17, you're now in a scenario where you are just building the best team to beat your opponent for one week. No upside stashes. No "but he was my 5th round pick" hesitation. If you think you have the advantage at a number of positions, choose a DST that may not be sexy but is unlikely to implode. If you think you're the underdog, you may want to roll the dice on a riskier DST that could do horribly but could also net you double digits. It's all about the specific context of your matchup, so keep that in mind as you read below.

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 18 fantasy football defense (DST) rankings. Good luck in Week 18 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) + (%Drives ending in a Turnover x 2)

Minus

 (% 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

87-84 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 18 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 18

Tier One this week is reserved for my top three defenses of the year and three defenses that all have something to play for in Week 18, which is a crucial component of your rankings.

All three of these teams are in contention for the number one seed in the NFC, so you know they are going to try and win. They are also all (likely) to face poor quarterbacks on Sunday since Dallas will be going up against Carson Wentz and the 49ers will be taking on David Blough. It seems logical that the Giants will rest key starters since they've clinched the playoffs and are essentially locked into a first-round game with the Vikings, which means the Eagles will be facing Tyrod Taylor and maybe not have to try and stop Saquon Barkley.

These are all situations we'd want to attack, and I may move these teams around a bit once we get more information on who will be sitting or not.

Tier 2 Defenses - Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 18

Tier Two is a big tier for me, but it might narrow as the week goes on and we start to see what is happening with each team.

The Bills are hard to discuss right now because we have no idea where their minds are, and I'm not going to speculate. If they play the Patriots on Sunday it could be vital for AFC seeding, but we just don't know what to expect right now, so I'll update their ranking and commentary later in the week.

The Texans and Colts have both been fringe top-1o defenses all season, and people just aren't talking about it. These are also the two offenses giving up the most fantasy points to opposing defenses. The Colts have been atrocious with Nick Foles under center and the Texans are playing hard, so I think both of these DSTs are usable this week in what should be an ugly game.

The Jaguars are going to have to face Derrick Henry, which is worrisome, but they will also see Joshua Dobbs at quarterback for the Titans, so it's hard to envision that going super well even though Dobbs was passable last week. With the division title on the line, you know the Jaguars will be playing hard and, as we said above, that's a crucial component to picking your fantasy DST this week, so I think you can attack Tennessee with Jacksonville here.

The Chargers have already clinched a playoff spot, so keep an eye on them because they may rest starters which would mean I drop them down on this list a little; meanwhile, the Seahawks are battling for a playoff spot and facing a bad Rams offense, so even though the Seahawks' defense has been hit-or-miss lately, I think they sneak into the top ten with so much on the line.

 

Tier 3 Defenses - Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 18

The Chiefs are playing for the top seed in the AFC, so you'll know they'll come out motivated against Jarrett Stidham and the Raiders. I know Stidham was great last week against the 49ers, but I just can't bank on that being consistent at this point, and I have to assume he'll have to throw a lot to keep up with the Chiefs' offense, which should open up turnover possibilities.

Minnesota, Carolina, and New Orleans all have nothing to play for this weekend. The Vikings have just an 8% chance to move from the three seed to the two seed, so it's hard to think they really go hard for that; however, the Bears' offense simply isn't good outside of Justin Fields, and there are rumors that Fields might not even play since he's been nursing a shoulder injury, so the Vikings are still likely playable and would be higher if we knew Fields would miss this game.

The Saints and Panthers have both been playing solid defense and are facing eliminated offenses that have been giving up top-ten fantasy points to opposing DSTs, so you have to like those matchups.

The Jets and Browns are both eliminated but will likely be motivated to stop division rivals from making the playoffs since both Miami and Pittsburgh have chances to get in. That should keep both of these games highly motivated, and I think the Jets are in play if Teddy Bridgewater is back at quarterback again.

Both the Browns and Steelers are also playable since Deshaun Watson has really not looked good since coming back and the Steelers' offense, even with an improved Kenny Pickett, isn't too scary.

 

Tier 4 Defenses - Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 18

 

Tier 5 Defenses - Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 18



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