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Week 3 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings


A touch late this week, have a brand new baby girl (!) who interferes with the schedule justtttttt a bit. But I certainly still have enough time to crank out those Week 3 defenses!

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. In case you missed it, this is our seventh year now writing this weekly column. 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!

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Week 3 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Typically the top three tiers will be DSTs you should target, with Tier 4 being options in deep leagues and Tier 5 being desperation plays or good defenses in horrendous matchups.

Returning for this year: Confidence Ratings - 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 a straight point projection. A zero means "do not start," then the confidence rises from there. I take a lot of factors into account here--opponent injuries, home field advantage, weather, etc. The first few weeks I obviously have less data to work with, so the defense's personnel and matchups matter more significantly.

 

Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 New England Patriots Defense vs. NYJ 12.2
2 1 Dallas Cowboys Defense vs. MIA 12
3 1 Chicago Bears Defense @ WAS 11.65
4 1 Buffalo Bills Defense vs. CIN 11.2

*skips breakdown of Patriots defense against the Jets' third-string QB*

*skips breakdown of [INSERT TEAM HERE] against the Dolphins*

Case Keenum has proven surprisingly capable through two weeks with an extremely weak group of talent around him, and he's done it against the Eagles and Cowboys--not exactly pushover defenses. The emergence of Terry McLaurin and the lack of a running game has turned the Redskins into a top-10 passing offense through two games, believe it or not. The Redskins have also done a surprisingly great job keeping Keenum upright, as they've allowed just two sacks through two games. I'm still placing my faith in the fearsome Bears defense, who are fourth in the NFL in yards per game (292.5) and third in points allowed per game (12.0).

Just behind the Bears in both categories are the 2-0 Bills, who have looked outstanding on defense through two games against the Jets and Giants. The Bills were notoriously bad against the run in 2018--and while they didn't shut either down completely, they were able to keep Le'Veon Bell and Saquon Barkley from destroying them while the still-excellent pass defense held down the below-average Jets and Giants air attacks. I love them this week against Andy Dalton, Joe Mixon and the Bengals despite Dalton's solid start to 2019.

 

Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
5 2 Seattle Seahawks Defense vs. NO 10.7
6 2 Los Angeles Rams Defense @ CLE 9.95
7 2 Green Bay Packers Defense vs. DEN 9.5
8 2 Los Angeles Chargers Defense vs. HOU 8.6
9 2 San Francisco 49ers Defense vs. PIT 8.4
10 2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense vs. NYG 8.15
11 2 Minnesota Vikings Defense vs. OAK 7.6

My ranking of the Seahawks is (obviously) heavily influenced by the home matchup and of course the absence of Drew Brees. Let's be clear--it's former Pro Bowler Teddy Bridgewater backing him up, not Nathan Peterman. In his first full game in on the road in Seattle though? Last Sunday was just his seventh appearance (one start) since that Pro Bowl 2015 season, and he's going to be thrown directly into the fire. Give me an impactful Seahawks defense in this one all day.

The Rams defense has tallied the counting stats that you need from a fantasy DST with four turnovers and five sacks through two games. Led by the incomparable Aaron Donald, the Rams defense is still talented at every level and they should have a solid showing against a Browns offense that has come up a bit short of expectations in the early goings. Any roster with Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr. and Nick Chubb leading the way is going to win games, but even on the road I trust this defense to make their lives miserable for the afternoon.

Many waved off the Packers' strong Week 1 performance against the Bears as a result of Mitch Trubisky and the offense underperforming, not the Packers defense stepping up. But then they went out and did the same thing to the Vikings in Week 2. Sure Dalvin Cook gashed them for well over 100 yards on the ground, but they forced four turnovers in the game, and added on a sack and a blocked kick. This week they draw Joe Flacco and the bottom-five-scoring Broncos offense at home, and I expect this one to be firmly in hand from kickoff.

The Chargers' talented pass rush has underwhelmed through two games, mustering just two sacks against the Colts and Lions. The Texans' offensive line is the cure for what ails ya, it seems--they've already allowed 10 sacks through two games. Deshaun Watson was just shut down by the Jags secondary, but with the Chargers still missing Derwin James I don't see them containing the passing game entirely. I don't want to say at least three sacks are guaranteed, but this is as safe a bet as you can make.

We can talk about the 49ers and Buccaneers defenses in the same sentence here, as they're both facing similar situations. The've both been surprisingly viable fantasy DSTs through two weeks, and they'll both draw a quarterback that nobody has ever seen before in any meaningful capacity. I'm certainly not going to sit here and declare that Mason Rudolph is better than Ben Roethlisberger, but Daniel Jones certainly could be an upgrade over Eli Manning. The edge here goes to the Bucs for the matchup against the far inferior offense, despite the 49ers likely having a better overall defensive roster. There are weapons on the Steelers for the promising Rudolph to work with, whereas Daniel Jones has to essentially hope that Saquon Barkley doesn't have SEVERAL defenders waiting for him.

 

Middle and Lower Tier Defenses

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
12 3 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense vs. TEN 7.25
13 3 Tennessee Titans Defense @ JAC 6.95
14 3 Houston Texans Defense @ LAC 6.6
15 3 Washington Redskins Defense vs. CHI 5.65

After getting blasted by the Chiefs in Week 1, the Jaguars bounced back in Week 2 with four sacks through the sieve-like Texans offensive line. The Titans' offensive line is similarly porous--they've allowed eight sacks in two games. However, the Jaguars still haven't forced a single turnover, so it's tough to pump them into the top two tiers just yet. They're still a top-12 defense for me, but temper your expectations.

Wasn't the defense supposed to be the only bright spot for Washington this season? Through two games the Skins have proven to be an abysmal fantasy DST. They yielded 30+ points in both games, managed just two sacks and forced a single turnover. This week they'll get the similarly incompetent Bears offense, and something has gotta give. That keeps the Redskins in the top three tiers, but just barely.

 

Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
16 4 Philadelphia Eagles Defense vs. DET 5.45
17 4 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense @ SF 5.1
18 4 Carolina Panthers Defense @ ARI 4.6
19 4 Cincinnati Bengals Defense @ BUF 4.15
20 4 Indianapolis Colts Defense vs. ATL 3.85

After looking passable against the Seahawks in Week 1, the Bengals got their teeth kicked in by the 49ers in Week 2. That leaves them in an interesting spot for Week 3 on the road against the 2-0 Bills. Personally I think the Bengals possess one of the worst defensive rosters in football, and I doubt there are many who would disagree. However, Josh Allen is still decidedly not careful and the Bills may be without their dynamic rookie Devin Singletary in the backfield, so the door is slightly ajar for some fantasy value from the Bengals DST.

The Colts front-seven has been very impressive thus far, notching four sacks in each of their first two games. I'd love to show them a bit more respect here, but I'm still wary about the Falcons offense despite their sub-par start. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley can bust a game wide open in minutes, and while the Colts boast the NFL's 10th-best pass defense in 2019 I'm not ready to christen them a consistent top-three-tier defense. Prove me wrong, Colts.

 

Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
21 5 New Orleans Saints Defense @ SEA 3.5
22 5 Arizona Cardinals Defense vs. CAR 3.1
23 5 Atlanta Falcons Defense @ IND 2.75
24 5 Detroit Lions Defense @ PHI 2.5
25 5 Cleveland Browns Defense vs. LAR 2.25
26 5 Kansas City Chiefs Defense vs. BAL 1.95
27 5 Denver Broncos Defense @ GB 1.7
28 5 Baltimore Ravens Defense @ KC 1.1

More Fantasy Football Analysis


Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




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