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Week 5 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2022 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Buffalo Bills Defense - Fantasy Football DST Rankings, Draft Sleepers

Week 4 was rough for us, landing on just four of the top 10 defenses. It's only one week, so we don't want to overreact, but we do want to examine the process a bit. I've always been a proponent of not elevating a bad defense too high just because of a good matchup. A truly bad defense will still find a way to record very few sacks or turnovers and get you a modest score. Yet, here in Week 4, we had the Giants, Jets, Cardinals, Raiders, and Titans, all lower-third defenses so far, finishing inside the top-10.

So what do we make of that? Well, perhaps the Bears, Steelers, Panthers, and Colts are must-target offenses, which we can keep an eye on going forward. I think the Raiders-Broncos game was a bit of a fluke with Javonte Williams tearing his ACL and Melvin Gordon also getting hurt in the middle of the game. It's also possible this was just a weird week early in the season, but it's getting to that time of the season where we really want to keep an eye on when truly bad offenses are beginning to show themselves.

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.

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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 5 fantasy football defense (DST) rankings. Good luck in Week 5 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) + (Pass Break-Ups) + (%Drives ending in a Turnover x 2)

Minus

(Missed Tackles)+ (% 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

19-21 correctly predicting top-10 defenses

I want to track how correctly I pick the top-10 this year, so I'll keep track below using FantasyPros total points. If anybody has other suggestions, let me know.

 

Week 5 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 5

This tier is a pretty solid pairing of truly strong defenses against weak offenses. However, we have to keep in mind that weak offenses in real-life football are not always the ones we want to attack for fantasy purposes.  For example, none of the offenses above strike fear into your heart, but here are their rankings in terms of most fantasy points allowed to opposing DSTs, with 1st being worst: CAR (14th), PIT (12th), ATL (18th), and then the Rams come in 1st. So, by those metrics, the Rams should be the offense we are most inclined to attack. 

However, we're starting with the 49ers first because this defense just looks great so far. They are my top-ranked defense in the BOD rankings, and they looked tremendous against those same Rams on Monday night, holding them to 257 yards while racking up seven sacks and two turnovers. They lead the NFL in tackles for a loss and are second in sacks and now will take on this Baker Mayfield-led Panthers offense that just looks anemic.

We then get this Bills defense that is starting to get healthy again. This unit ranks 3rd for me on the season and hasn't played one game at full strength. Sadly, they also won't ever get a chance to since Micah Hyde is already out for the year. Still, with Dane Jackson and Jordan Poyer returning on Sunday, the secondary looked good against the Ravens, and now Ed Oliver and perhaps even Jordan Phillips will return for the showdown against the Steelers. Kenny Pickett is certainly a more dynamic quarterback than Mitchell Trubisky, but he also takes more chances, which leads to more interceptions, as we saw when he threw three against the Jets. This secondary can take advantage.

The Cowboys get a spot in the top tier because we just covered that the Rams give up the most fantasy points to opposing defenses. They've allowed the third-most sacks in the NFL and now face a Cowboys defense that's tied for 2nd in the NFL in sacks and third in pressure rate. They are going to get after Matthew Stafford, and it really doesn't seem like there is anybody on this Rams offense to be afraid of other than Cooper Kupp. We may have to re-evaluate how we view this Rams team.

The Bucs also make tier one even though they had a letdown performance against the Chiefs. Obviously, the Falcons are not the Chiefs. But here's the thing, the Falcons really don't want to throw the football. You know that if you roster Kyle Pitts. The Falcons ran the ball on 14 straight plays last week, which won't work against the Bucs, but also means the Bucs can't get points for sacks or interceptions if the Falcons don't throw. That has me a little bit concerned, but I think the Bucs will totally shut down the run here, especially with Cordarrelle Patterson on the IR, and force Marcus Mariota to throw, which will lead to a top-five finish.

 

Tier 2 Defenses - Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 5

At this point, we have to say the Jaguars are for real. Despite losing to the Eagles on Sunday in some sloppy weather, their defense made some big plays which helps to support their high BOD ranking. They're 5th in the NFL in pressure rate, 12th in tackles for a loss, 1st in passes broken up, and 4th in turnover rate. They now take on a Houston team that's pretty poor on offense despite only giving up the 16th-most fantasy points per game. However, they did turn the ball over twice and allow four sacks against the Chargers, so perhaps the Jaguars can put up a similar performance while not giving up the big plays the Chargers did.

The Packers are likely going to come in much higher in other rankings and that's fine. As of now, Daniel Jones is preparing as if he's going to play on Sunday, so I will rank the Packers as if Jones is playing. His ability to run has helped offset the Giants' poor offensive line, and Saquon Barkley is running like a man possessed. The Giants have actually given up the 15th-most points per game to opposing fantasy teams through the first four weeks, which is why the Packers are tier two. If the Giants are full strength then it's not a smash spot because of the way Brian Daboll schemes his offense.

The Vikings are so tough to figure out on defense. One week they can look great and another they can almost lose to a Saints team that was missing Jameis Winston, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas. However, this Bears offense is a disaster and allowed the Giants to finish as a top-five defense last week. They allow the 2nd-most sacks in the league and have seven turnovers in four games. I usually don't want to play bad defenses just because of a good matchup, but Minnesota is 15th in turnover rate and15th in sacks, so there's a chance they're a "fine" defense, which could make them a top-10 option against this Bears offense.

The Eagles are my number-one-ranked defense by BOD so far this season. They're 1st in the league in pressure rate, 14th in tackles for a loss, 1st in sacks, 1st in turnover rate, 3rd in pass breakups, and 2nd in percentage of opponent's drives that end in a score. They're basically a top-10 lock, but Arizona is just 22nd in points given up to opposing fantasy defenses because they've given up only two turnovers in four games and have allowed seven total sacks. It's not a great matchup, but I think the Eagles are good enough to remain a top-10 defense.

The Broncos and Titans are two enigmatic defenses that have plus matchups, which helps to elevate them into the top-10. The Colts give up the 3rd-most points to opposing fantasy defenses, and the Commanders give up the 4th-most. The Commanders have allowed the most sacks in the NFL, but the Colts are just two sacks behind them, giving up the 5th-most. The Colts have also turned the ball over nine times in four games, while the Commanders have turned it over seven times. Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan are both currently below-average quarterbacks, so I think we want to attack them, even though both the Titans and Broncos are middle-of-the-pack in terms of pressure rate, sacks, and turnover rate. If Jonathan Taylor doesn't play, I might even bump the Broncos up above the Eagles. Maybe.

 

Tier 3 Defenses - Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 5

I don't really trust this Colts defense and think they're a better real-life defense than fantasy defense, but I also think the Broncos are just bad. Nathaniel Hackett looks in over his head, and this offense is just sputtering. Russell Wilson may be cooked, and the loss of Javonte Williams could be too much to overcome on a short week. I'm just not 100% sure about it.

I don't know what to make of Baltimore. They play part of a great football game and then collapse down the stretch. Still, the early part of those games counts, and they have decent defensive numbers on the year. Plus, they get to face a Cincinnati team with a poor offensive line and questionable playcalling, which has led the Bengals to give up the 7th-most fantasy points to opposing defenses. Despite Cincinnati being ranked higher in my BOD rankings, I prefer the Baltimore DST this week because I'm just not sure the Bengals can defend Lamar Jackson, especially if JK Dobbins continues to look healthy. The Ravens just need to avoid another collapse.

The Panthers are a fine but not great defense, and the 49ers are allowing the 8th-most points to opposing fantasy defenses. It all lines up for a borderline top-12 play in Week 5. The Panthers are 6th in tackles for a loss but don't get many sacks or turnovers. However, they are allowing the 7th-fewest yards per play, have the 8th-fewest missed tackles in the league, and allow the 16th-most drives to end in an opponent's score. They are fundamentally sound, but not overly exciting. That makes them more of a deep league play against a 49ers team that has a banged-up offensive line.

Everybody wants to play the Dolphins here against the Jets, but what if the Jets are the better play? They rank better in my BOD rankings, and the Dolphins are going to be playing Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback which is a downgrade to this passing attack since he won't push the ball downfield nearly as much as Tua Tagovailoa did. This Jets defense is 12th in turnover rate, 13th in yards allowed per play, and 8th in pass breakups, so they're not a pushover unit. The Dolphins meanwhile have not been good on defense. They allow the 5th-most yards per play, are 31st in the league in pressure rate, 20th in turnover rate and have just seven sacks through four games. I know the Jets are not a tremendous offense, but Zach Wilson's mobility should help reduce the number of sacks they give up, and he has real weapons in Breece Hall, Elijah Moore, and Garrett Wilson. The Dolphins are certainly playable but maybe not a top-10 option.

The Chiefs are in an interesting spot here. Kansas City is 6th in pressure rate, 10th in sacks, and tied for 7th in yards allowed per play, but they also haven't been getting turnovers and they play a Raiders team that has some talented playmakers who could go off at any moment. I don't love the play, but I don't have it in deeper leagues.

However, I just can't play the Rams right now. I know they'll face Cooper Rush, but this Rams team just looks bad. They're dead last in pressure rate, 28th in sacks, 30th in tackles for a loss, and 17th in yards allowed per play. Their only saving grace right now is that they're 6th in turnover rate. They certainly have the talent on defense to jump back into a strong fantasy unit, but I just can't play them this week against a Cowboys team that allows the 26th-most fantasy points to opposing defenses (that's the 7th-fewest).

 

Tier 4 Defenses - Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 5

The Colts might be playable since Javonte Williams is done for the year, but maybe the Broncos just let Russell Wilson throw constantly to Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy? The Lions and Seahawks both have great matchups, but did you see the way both teams played defense on Sunday? I'll let Robert Griffin explain my thoughts:

 

Tier 5 Defenses - Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 5



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