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Below are RotoBaller's Week 3 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 3 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 3. 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 3 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 3 pickup or add. Good luck in Week 3 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: Try our exclusive Premium Lineup Tools for free! Our proprietary Matchup Rating projections, Lineup Optimizer, DFS value picks, waiver wire rankings and more. Sign Up Now!

 

Week 3 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 Minnesota Vikings vs. BUF 14.15
2 1 Jacksonville Jaguars vs. TEN 11.85

Vikings are very good, Bills are (better with Josh Allen than Nathan Peterman, but still) incredibly bad. 0-16 is a real possibility, and with one of the top defenses taking them on at home? Easy choice here.

The Jaguars held Tom Brady and friends to just 20 points, and that's no coincidence. This unit is remarkably talented up and down the roster, and regardless of whether it's Blaine Gabbert or Marcus Mariota who starts for the Titans this week, the Jags at home is a slam dunk for me, even though the Titans have only yielded one sack through two games.

 

Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
3 2 Chicago Bears @ ARI 9.8
4 2 Los Angeles Rams vs. LAC 9.45
5 2 Cleveland Browns vs. NYJ 8.9
6 2 Philadelphia Eagles vs. IND 8.65
7 2 Seattle Seahawks vs. DAL 8.15

The Rams haven't had to face a top offense so far, but there's absolutely something to be said for delivering against the teams you're supposed to stomp. The Rams looked positively impenetrable against the Cardinals in Week 2, and while some of that is certainly Sam Bradford's ineptitude, the pressure that the Rams are able to generate is no accident. While that pressure has only resulted in two total sacks through two games, more are coming. The Chargers are coming off a cakewalk in Buffalo, but Melvin Gordon and Philip Rivers will have to bring everything they've got to put points on the board against the Rams.

The Browns may be 0-1-1, but their defense is nothing to joke about. They've tallied seven sacks through two games and held the Steelers and Saints, two of the top offenses in football, to just 21 points each. They've also notched seven turnovers through two games, and while five came in the wind and rain against the Steelers in Week 1, rookie Sam Darnold provides the turnover upside you look for when trying to choose a fantasy DST. I like the Browns a lot in this one, and they should be a solid streamer in Week 3.

The Eagles fell victim to the sexy, bearded might of Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 2, but I'm ready to finally turn them up in Week 3. They'll head back home for a tilt against the Colts, and with Carson Wentz finally ready to return the entire team gets a boost. I'm not here to suggest that a team's offense impacts its defensive output, but if Carson Wentz is healthy then the Eagles should find themselves in better field position more often than they have been with Nick Foles leading an offense. This DST is averaging three sacks and a pick through two games, and they should have no trouble matching that against the Colts underwhelming offensive line.

 

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
8 3 Baltimore Ravens vs. DEN 7.8
9 3 New York Jets @ CLE 7.65
10 3 Miami Dolphins vs. OAK 7.45
11 3 Cincinnati Bengals @ CAR 7.1
12 3 Denver Broncos @ BAL 6.7

Soooo which Ravens defense is the real deal? The team that decimated the Bills in Week 1 or the team that made Andy Dalton look like a Hall-of-Famer on Thursday night? My guess is that the real deal is somewhere in the middle. Case Keenum doesn't scare me--he's thrown four interceptions through two games and just went a full four quarters without a passing touchdown against the Raiders. I think you can fire the Ravens up confidently in Week 3.

The Jets followed up their Monday night explosion against the Lions with an unspectacular yet effective outing against the Dolphins in Week 2. They sacked Ryan Tannehill four times and added two fumble recoveries, and now travel to Cleveland to face Tyrod Taylor and the Browns offense. Tyrod is certainly careful with the football, but their offensive line has yielded 10 sacks through two games, meaning the Jets pass rush carries some legitimate streaming upside for those in deeper leagues.

Call me crazy, but the Bengals are fun to watch this year on both sides of the ball. On defense, they've notched five turnovers and six sacks through two games, and they've certainly got potential for more of both against the Panthers in Week 3. Carolina still has enough weapons (most notably the lethal tandem of Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey) to temper your expectations for the Bengals, but there's some outside streaming appeal here.

 

Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
13 4 Houston Texans vs. NYG 6.15
14 4 Dallas Cowboys @ SEA 5.95
15 4 Tennessee Titans @ JAC 5.85
16 4 Carolina Panthers vs. CIN 5.1
17 4 Washington Redskins vs. GB 4.25
18 4 Green Bay Packers @ WAS 4.1
19 4 Arizona Cardinals vs. CHI 3.8

The Texans definitely disappointed me in Week 2 against the Blaine Gabbert-led Titans in Week 2, but I moved them up a bit after watching that Giants debacle on Sunday night. Eli Manning and his check-down jamboree has me high on just about anybody the Giants play, and the Texans have the pass rush to give Eli fits all night. Saquon Barkley can only do so much. If Jadaveon Clowney is healthy enough to go, I might move them up a spot or two still.

I would love to move the Cardinals up a bit, as their pass rush was impressive in Week 1. Their Week 2 loss to the Rams got out of hand quickly, and the defense was back on their heels for most of the afternoon thanks to the offense's struggles, so it's tough to take too much stock in that. Unfortunately, until the offense turns around at all it's tough to think that the defense won't be in the same position every week. They're a fade for me this week and moving forward, although if you're desperate you could do worse than a defense facing Mitch Trubisky.

 

Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
20 5 Indianapolis Colts @ PHI 3.65
21 5 New Orleans Saints @ ATL 3.5
22 5 New York Giants @ HOU 2.95
23 5 New England Patriots @ DET 2.2
24 5 Kansas City Chiefs vs. SF 1.4
25 5 Pittsburgh Steelers @ TB 1.1

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