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Week 4 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

The main story of Week 3 was the fill-in quarterbacks...and how effective some of them were. That's going to throw a lot of our analysis of defenses into turmoil, and we've gotta be ready for Week 4.

Below are RotoBaller's Week 4 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 4 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 4.

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 4 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 4 pickup or add. Good luck in Week 4 RotoBallers!

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Week 4 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.

On bye this week: San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets


Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 Los Angeles Chargers Defense @ MIA 12.75
2 1 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense @ DEN 11.6
3 1 Baltimore Ravens Defense vs. CLE 11.2
4 1 Minnesota Vikings Defense @ CHI 10.6

For all the weapons and the hype, the Browns are the 26th-ranked scoring offense in the NFL. Baker Mayfield has played poorly so far, with a 3:5 TD-INT ratio and some brutal completion numbers. Put simply, I don't fear them this week, especially when they're on the road against a Ravens defense that was shredded by Patrick Mahomes in Week 3. In an intra-divisional early-season matchup, I'll take the defense here and bet against Baker figuring things out.

I have to include the Vikings in this tier despite Mitch Trubisky showing he still knows how to play football on Monday night. That was the Redskins Defense--he BETTER be able to step up against them. I don't see him having anywhere near as much luck against the fearsome Vikings D. Matt Nagy's play-calling is brutal from what we've seen through three weeks, and despite the offense scoring on Monday he didn't dissuade that opinion. The Vikings are tied for fifth in sacks (10), sixth in takeaways (6) and are averaging just over 15 points per game allowed. This should be a fruitful outing for Minnesota.


Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
5 2 New England Patriots Defense @ BUF 10.15
6 2 Los Angeles Rams Defense vs. TB 9.9
7 2 Chicago Bears Defense vs. MIN 9.15
8 2 Carolina Panthers Defense @ HOU 8.75

The Patriots are far and away the best fantasy DST so far, which is a big reason why I still have them in my top five. The reason they're not in Tier 1 is because we haven't seen them step up against a "good" team yet. They beat up on an incredibly out-of-sync Steelers offense in Week 1, had the Dolphins debacle in Week 2 and then got handed Jets' third-string QB Luke Falk on a silver platter in Week 3. Not to take away from what they've done, but if that's what your opponents have looked like, you BETTER come away with big outings. They now have to travel to Orchard Park, where they will find a hot and hungry Bills team that is not going to be a pushover. This is the first real test for the Patriots, and while I think they'll still come out of it with a W and some fantasy points given that Josh Allen will play hero ball from time-to-time, I don't think another monster game is in store here.

The Panthers have yielded at least 20 points in each of their first three games, but last week they impressed with a whopping eight sacks against the Arizona Cardinals. They generated an effective pass rush on a mobile quarterback, a feat which they'll need to replicate in Week 4 against Deshaun Watson and the Texans. Fortunately, the Texans have yielded 12 sacks already this season, and therefore the Panthers can be started with confidence given that their floor is going to be high.


Middle and Lower Tier Defenses

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
9 3 Green Bay Packers Defense vs. PHI 8.1
10 3 Atlanta Falcons Defense vs. TEN 7.55
11 3 Indianapolis Colts Defense vs. OAK 7.2
12 3 Seattle Seahawks Defense @ ARI 6.8
13 3 Kansas City Chiefs Defense @ DET 6.45
14 3 Houston Texans Defense vs. CAR 6.1

The Green Bay Packers are 3-0, but it has very little to do with Aaron Rodgers. This defense has been outstanding through three weeks, and it's yielding some really juicy returns from a fantasy perspective. They're allowing just over 11 points per game, and while two of their opponents have been the Bears and the Broncos, their win over Minnesota in Week 2 was legitimately dominant. The Packers are tied for third in the NFL in sacks (12) and have forced an NFL-best eight turnovers through three games, and I'll continue to trust them until I see any signs that this breakout isn't real. They're still in my top 10, but given that their opponent is Carson Wentz and the ninth-ranked Eagles offense, my expectations are mildly tempered.

I had the Colts in my top 10 facing the Raiders' bottom-five offense, but with Malik Hooker now on the shelf for an extended period and Darius Leonard currently in the concussion protocol, I bumped them down a spot. This is a talented defense, but they haven't put it all together for a full game yet. In Week 1 they had four sacks and two turnovers, but yielded 30 points; Week 2 was four sacks and only 17 points allowed, but no turnovers, etc. They should find some success here against the weak Raiders offense, but my expectations are tempered given Derek Carr's conservative play and the Raiders' average offensive line.

I admit I struggled to rank the Seahawks for this road matchup against Arizona. From a fantasy perspective, there hasn't been much of anything to talk about for the Seahawks defense--just six total sacks (five of which came in Week 1), one interception, and at least 20 points allowed in every game. Kyler Murray has been impressive in the early goings, but he has thrown three picks already. The big factor at play here is the Cardinals' abysmal offensive line--they're second in the NFL for most sacks allowed (16). The Seahawks just barely make it into "startable" range, but they are in fact there thanks to the high sack floor.


Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
15 4 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense vs. CIN 5.95
16 4 Cincinnati Bengals Defense @ PIT 5.5
17 4 New Orleans Saints Defense vs. DAL 4.7
18 4 Buffalo Bills Defense vs. NE 4.25
19 4 New York Giants Defense vs. WAS 3.8
20 4 Denver Broncos Defense vs. JAC 3.4

This Bengals/Steelers matchup has that "9-6 Final" stink all over it. Mason Rudolph didn't impress anybody filling in for Ben Roethlisberger last week, and the 0-3 Bengals have only brief flashes of competence. I think you can start either DST in a deeper league, but I also don't think there are a ton of turnovers or sacks--just a lot of futile offensive drives.

The Bills defense has been playing extremely well, and should find themselves in the top three tiers in many upcoming weeks. With Tom Brady and company coming to town though, you'd have to be a fool to think you're going to get a useful fantasy day out of them. Somebody screenshot that, because now it'll definitely happen.

It's insane to think that a defense with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb can have zero sacks and zero turnovers through three games, but here we are. The Broncos will host the ascendant Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars in Week 4, and it's incredibly difficult to trust them in any capacity right now.


Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
21 5 Tennessee Titans Defense @ ATL 2.65
22 5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense @ LAR 2.1
23 5 Dallas Cowboys Defense @ NO 1.9
24 5 Philadelphia Eagles Defense @ GB 1.55
25 5 Cleveland Browns Defense @ BAL 1.2

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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