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Week 5 Defense (DEF) Streamers, Starters & Rankings: 2023 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Buffalo Bills Defense - Fantasy Football DST Rankings, Draft Sleepers

With Week 4 of the NFL season wrapped up, it is now time to focus our attention on Week 5 and determine what fantasy defenses are best to play this week.

Week 4 was a very surprising one. Two out of the top-10 fantasy defenses before the week finished with single-digit fantasy points. This included our two top-ranked defenses for Week 4, the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers. It was undisputed to most that these defenses were must plays, which goes to show that outliers such as these will occur but should not skew us from the way we approach defenses. There are four teams on a bye in Week 5, limiting our options a little more at the position.

The number one defense from this past week was the Dallas Cowboys, scoring 27 fantasy points. To put this into perspective, the Cowboys’ defense outscored all but four quarterbacks in four-point pass TD leagues. This goes to show how important it is to start the right defense weekly as it can improve your chances of winning significantly. 

Be sure to also check our other Week 14 fantasy football waiver wire pickups articles:


How To Determine What Defenses To Start 

When it comes to determining the top fantasy football defenses each week, you should look at which units have the most upside and can change the trajectory of your matchup. Defenses are often overlooked in fantasy, but as stated above, the top ones from each week can outscore some of your opponent's key starters. 

12 defenses scored double-digit fantasy points in Week 4. As always, these defenses had something in common, as 11 of the 12 held their opponent to 20 or fewer points. Six of the 12 scored a defensive touchdown and 10 of them had at least three sacks.

To maximize the upside of your fantasy defense each week, you need to target defenses that can get to the quarterback constantly that game and cause several turnovers. Sacks, turnovers, and defensive touchdowns are what create high ceilings for these fantasy defenses. To determine a somewhat safe start at defense, you should look at low point totals and teams that can hold their opponent to less than 20 points.


 Tier 1 Defenses – Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 5

Rank DST Opponent
1 Baltimore Ravens @PIT 
2 Buffalo Bills vs. JAX

Baltimore Ravens D/ST @PIT  (Yahoo % Rostered: 81%)

Consensus Vegas Odds: BAL favored by 4.5, Total ~38.5, Implied score: 22-17, 17 points against

The Baltimore Ravens' defense has been elite through the first four games of the season, despite missing several key starters. PFF has ranked the Steelers as a bottom-five offensive line and starting quarterback Kenny Pickett’s (knee) status for Sunday is in question. Baltimore’s defense is a must-start regardless of whether Pickett is starting or not, but they have a huge ceiling if he is unable to suit up.

Buffalo Bills D/ST vs. JAX (Yahoo % Rostered: 97%)

Consensus Vegas Odds: BUF favored by 5.5, Total ~48, Implied score: 27-21, 21 points against

Buffalo proved once again that they are a must-start defense regardless of who they play, as they held Miami’s elite offense to just 20 points while forcing two turnovers and racking up four sacks. I expect this defense to be a top-five play every week as they lead the league in takeaways and are tied for the most sacks. 

They now go to London to face a Jaguars offense that is just 20th in points scored and has a bottom-10 offensive line. The Bills’ defense offers one of the safest floors as always and has great upside in Week 5.


Tier 2 Defenses – Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 5

Rank DST Opponent
3 Washington Commanders vs. CHI 
4 Philadelphia Eagles @LAR
5 Miami Dolphins vs. NYG 
6 Houston Texans @ATL
7 Green Bay Packers @LV 
8 New Orleans Saints  @NE

Washington Commanders D/ST vs. CHI (Yahoo % Rostered: 26%)

Consensus Vegas Odds: WAS favored by 7, Total ~44.5, Implied score: 26-19, 19 points against

While Washington's defense is giving up 30 points per game, their line is still elite and can wreak havoc against Chicago. The offense of the Bears did look its best thus far in the season during Week 4, however, they were facing a struggling Denver Broncos defense. 

Justin Fields is currently the third-most sacked quarterback in the NFL and has turned the ball over seven times in four games. Chicago’s offensive line is doing him no favors and will have an extremely difficult time matching up with the elite defensive line that the Commanders possess. Washington’s defense is a must-play in Week 5, as they have an extremely high ceiling.

Philadelphia Eagles D/ST @LAR (Yahoo % Rostered: 99%)

Consensus Vegas Odds: PHI favored by 3.5, Total ~49.5, Implied score: 27-23, 23 points against

Despite being ranked in the first tier last week and finishing with single-digit fantasy points, Philadelphia’s defense is in a great spot to bounce back in Week 5. This unit is the sixth-ranked fantasy defense through four weeks and is now healthier than they’ve been all season.

Matthew Stafford and the offense of the Rams have impressed through four games, especially considering they have been without their All-Pro receiver Cooper Kupp (hamstring). PFF lists the Rams as the seventh-worst offensive line in the league, hence why they haven’t been able to establish a consistent run game. Philadelphia may seem like a risky play factoring in their Week 4 performance, but their defensive line has an opportunity to dominate all game long and get to Stafford constantly.

Miami Dolphins D/ST vs. NYG (Yahoo % Rostered: 48%)

Consensus Vegas Odds: MIA favored by 10.5, Total ~49.5, Implied score: 30-19, 19 points against

The Giants are an absolute dumpster fire right now. The team was sacked a season-high 11 times in their Monday night matchup with the Seattle Seahawks, which is tied for the ninth-most sacks in a single game in history. Additionally, Daniel Jones has thrown six interceptions through the first four games, with two of them resulting in a pick-six.

Miami’s defense got torched by what is arguably the league’s top offense in Week 4, but have a great opportunity to bounce back here. The team may also get their young and explosive linebacker Jaelen Phillips (oblique) back for this game. The Giants are an offense that you should aggressively be targeting when starting defenses, making the Dolphins a must-start here.

Houston Texans D/ST @ATL (Yahoo % Rostered: 4%)

Consensus Vegas Odds: ATL favored by 1.5, Total ~41.5, Implied score: 21-20, 21 points against

Head coach and defensive guru DeMeco Ryans has quietly turned one of the worst defenses in football into a solid one. Despite having just two takeaways on the season, Houston’s defense has managed to allow under 20 points per game and be tied for the 10th-most fantasy points among defenses.

Atlanta’s offense has been struggling like none other over the last two weeks, as they’ve scored just 13 total points during that time. Desmond Ridder has turned the ball over four times in those games and has completed under 58% of his passes. It is evident that Ridder may not be starting for much longer unless he turns it around quickly. Ryans and the Texans’ defense will try to put consistent pressure on Ridder and force him to beat them through the air. Houston is a sneaky great play this week and should immediately be picked up off waivers if available.

Green Bay Packers D/ST @LV (Yahoo % Rostered: 26%)

Consensus Vegas Odds: GB favored by 1.5, Total ~44.5, Implied score: 23-21, 21 points against

The Las Vegas Raiders’ offense has been a disaster to start the season. They are averaging just 15.5 total points per game and have turned the ball over 10 times in four games, which is tied for the second-most in the league. The offensive line plummeted in Week 4 as they allowed Khalil Mack to rack up six sacks and force two fumbles.

While Green Bay has been in the middle of the pack in terms of defenses this season, they have still shown an ability to get to the quarterback when matched up right. The Raiders are an offense that we should be targeting aggressively when starting defenses, regardless of whether or not Jimmy Garoppolo (concussion) is active or not. Fire up the Packers’ defense confidently in Week 5.

New Orleans Saints D/ST @NE (Yahoo % Rostered: 82%)

Consensus Vegas Odds: NE favored by 1.5, Total ~39.5, Implied score: 21-19, 21 points against

The Saints defense gave up more than 20 points for the first time this season in their Week 4 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They could not seem to stop Baker Mayfield and the Bucs’ offense as the team lost 26-9. Despite this performance, New Orleans still has a great defense that should not be overlooked.

They now face the Mac Jones-led Patriots, who have been struggling lately. Jones has completed just 54% of his throws over the last two weeks while putting up just 18 total points through those games. New England has yet to find an identity offensively and this is another offense that I would look to attack when starting defenses. New Orleans’ defense is a great play here and offers a safe floor in Week 5.


Tier 3 Defenses – Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 5

Rank DST Opponent
9 Detroit Lions vs. CAR 
10 Dallas Cowboys @SF
11 San Francisco 49ers vs. DAL
12 Indianapolis Colts vs. TEN 
13 New York Jets @DEN

Detroit Lions D/ST vs. CAR (Yahoo % Rostered: 12%)

Consensus Vegas Odds: DET favored by 8.5, Total ~45, Implied score: 27-18, 18 points against

Detroit has been elite defensively over the last two weeks. They have given up just 26 total points and have totaled 12 sacks during that time. Led by Aidan Hutchinson, this defensive line has been trouble for teams and they will look to continue dominating in the trenches.

The 0-4 Carolina Panthers have been inconsistent offensively all season. First-overall pick Bryce Young is playing well but does not seem to have complete freedom in the offense. I do expect this to change as the season progresses and for Young to have much bigger games. However, PFF has Carolina as the second-worst offensive line in all of football and Detroit will look to take advantage of this. The Lions’ defense is an incredible play and should be scooped off waivers immediately.

Dallas Cowboys D/ST @SF (Yahoo % Rostered: 100%)

Consensus Vegas Odds: SF favored by 3.5, Total ~45, Implied score: 24-21, 24 points against

Dallas continues to dominate defensively and win fantasy players their matchups. The Cowboys’ defense now has over 20 more fantasy points than any other defense, which is largely the case because of their four D/ST touchdowns on the season, while no other defense has more than two.

However, they now face one of the most dangerous offenses in the entire league. The 49ers have scored the third-most points in the league behind the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills. Christian McCaffrey and company look unstoppable at all times, making this start a major risk. The Cowboys must force Brock Purdy to beat them rather than allow the playmakers of the 49ers to dominate, as they’ve done all season long. Dallas’ defense is a major risk in Week 5, but still poses the upside considering their tendency to force turnovers and score on defense.

San Francisco 49ers D/ST vs. DAL (Yahoo % Rostered: 100%)

Consensus Vegas Odds: SF favored by 3.5, Total ~45, Implied score: 24-21, 21 points against

This is another defense that is undoubtedly one of the best in the league but struggled in Week 4. Arizona’s offense proved us wrong once again and has taken themselves out of the “offenses to attack” list when starting defenses in fantasy. The 49ers have allowed 14.5 points per game but have lacked the sacks and takeaways that the other elite defenses possess right now.

They now have their toughest challenge so far in the season as they face the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. Dallas has proved to be able to dominate through the air and on the ground. While this is a difficult matchup and poses a risk, the 49ers are still in the category of every-week starts. You should confidently be playing San Francisco’s defense unless you have one listed above.

Indianapolis Colts D/ST vs. TEN (Yahoo % Rostered: 13%)

Consensus Vegas Odds: IND favored by 1.5, Total ~42.5, Implied score: 22-20, 20 points against

Despite a bad Week 4 performance against the Rams, the Colts' defense has been solid through the first month of the season. The unit has 14 sacks and has forced six turnovers during the four games played. They now face a Titans team coming off their best game of the year. While this is a risky play considering what Derrick Henry is capable of, Ryan Tannehill and Tennessee’s offensive line are worth betting against in Week 5. 

New York Jets D/ST @DEN (Yahoo % Rostered: 61%)

Consensus Vegas Odds: DEN favored by 2.5, Total ~43.5, Implied score: 23-21, 23 points against

The New York Jets defense is still elite and they proved that in their Sunday night matchup against the Chiefs. However, they continue to lack a consistent pass rush with just two sacks in their past three games. This is a case of a great defense that just doesn’t do enough to be considered elite in fantasy. However, Denver is still an offense that I would like to bet against. While the Jets’ defense isn’t quite a top-12 play here, they are a defense worth looking at for Week 5.


Tier 4 Defenses – Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 5

Rank DST Opponent
14 Tennessee Titans @IND
15 New England Patriots vs. NO
16 Kansas City Chiefs @MIN 
17 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. BAL
18 Denver Broncos vs. NYJ
19 Arizona Cardinals vs. CIN

Tennessee Titans D/ST @IND (Yahoo % Rostered: 2%)

Consensus Vegas Odds: IND favored by 1.5, Total ~42.5, Implied score: 22-20, 22 points against 

Tennessee’s defense shut Joe Burrow and the Bengals down in Week 4, giving up just a field goal for the entirety of the game. The Titans have been consistent defensively as they have yet to give up a 30-point game and have at least three sacks in each of their first four games. As we’ve seen over the past few seasons, Tennessee’s run defense is as elite as it can get. They are allowing just 2.9 yards per carry through the first four weeks, which is the lowest in the league.

They now face fourth-overall pick Anthony Richardson and the Indianapolis Colts. Richardson and the Colts’ offensive line have been great to start the season. However, they will have to heavily rely on the rookie throwing the ball as running it will be difficult against this stout defensive line. This isn’t my favorite start of the week, but one that is intriguing and worth looking at if you don’t have a defense in the top three tiers.

New England Patriots D/ST vs. NO (Yahoo % Rostered: 62%)

Consensus Vegas Odds: NE favored by 1.5, Total ~39.5, Implied score: 21-19, 19 points against

New England would be much higher on this list if not for the injuries their defense sustained in Week 4. Rising star and rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez (shoulder) and linebacker Matthew Judon (bicep) are both out indefinitely and likely to miss Sunday’s game against the Saints.

New Orleans’ offense looked awful against Tampa Bay as they totaled 197 yards and averaged just 3.2 yards per play. Despite having running back Alvin Kamara back, they looked sluggish and Derek Carr did not seem completely healthy. While this is a risky play considering the injuries on the Patriots' defense, they offer some upside as the Saints have not been consistent offensively.

Kansas City Chiefs D/ST @MIN (Yahoo % Rostered: 94%)

Consensus Vegas Odds: KC favored by 5.5, Total ~52.5, Implied score: 29-23, 23 points against

The Chiefs’ defense has yet to give up 20 points in a game this season. While this very well may change in Week 5, it is worth noting how great they have been. Zach Wilson and the New York Jets were shredding this defense at times and exposed how weak the secondary can be. While the Minnesota Vikings have had their struggles, they have proven to be able to score at will against anyone. Kansas City is a defense that I would avoid for the most part in Week 5.

Pittsburgh Steelers D/ST vs. BAL (Yahoo % Rostered: 88%)

Consensus Vegas Odds: BAL favored by 4.5, Total ~38.5, Implied score: 22-17, 22 points against

Pittsburgh’s defense was atrocious in their Week 4 matchup with the Houston Texans. The team had no sacks despite facing a depleted offensive line and forced no turnovers while allowing 30 points. This performance set them back as they showed how easily they can be picked apart.

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens have been incredible, especially considering the number of injuries they’ve sustained. Jackson just played a perfect game against one of the league’s top defenses, the Cleveland Browns. Despite the injuries to Baltimore’s offensive line, the Steelers are not a defense that I would be playing in Week 5.

Denver Broncos D/ST vs. NYJ (Yahoo % Rostered: 40%)

Consensus Vegas Odds: DEN favored by 2.5, Total ~43.5, Implied score: 23-21, 21 points against

While Denver has given up the most points by far through the first four games, they do have a defensive/special teams touchdown in each of the last two games. Cornerback Patrick Surtain and the occasional pass rush of the defense seem to be the only positives. Zach Wilson showed what he can do in Week 4 and will look to build on that. This should not be a defense that you play in Week 5, as they offer a very low floor. 

Arizona Cardinals D/ST vs. CIN (Yahoo % Rostered: 2%)

Consensus Vegas Odds: CIN favored by 3, Total ~44.5, Implied score: 24-21, 24 points against

The defense of the Arizona Cardinals is what has stopped them from winning more games this season, as they’ve given up over 25 points per game. 

Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals have looked awful through four games. With wide receiver Tee Higgins (rib) now injured and in question for Week 5, this is an offense that I would start targeting when starting defenses. However, Arizona isn’t one I would put trust into just yet, as you should be playing all of the defenses listed above ahead of them. 


Tier 5 Defenses – Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 5

Rank DST Opponent
20 Cincinnati Bengals @ARI
21 Atlanta Falcons vs. HOU
22 Jacksonville Jaguars @BUF
23 Chicago Bears @WAS
24 Carolina Panthers  @DET
25 Las Vegas Raiders vs. GB
26 Los Angeles Rams vs. PHI
27 Minnesota Vikings vs. KC 
28 New York Giants @MIA

These are the defenses that I would not be playing in Week 5 under any circumstances. These units are either going up against a top offense in the league, aren’t a good defense in general, or both. They offer low ceilings and significantly low floors that can hurt your chances of winning your fantasy matchup. Avoid all these choices entirely and try to get a defense in the top two to three tiers for Week 5. Thanks for reading, and good luck RotoBallers! 

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Heading into the final week of the fantasy football regular season, there are a ton of tight ends to check in on. Injuries are likely to complicate start-or-sit decisions at the position during the all-important Week 14 slate. Our fantasy football injury reports for tight ends for Week 14 as of Thursday, December 7 will... Read More

Diontae Johnson - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Week 14 NFL DFS Prop Picks for TNF - Over/Under Prop Picks on Sleeper.com

Welcome to our Sleeper NFL DFS prop picks for Week 14 Thursday Night Football: Patriots vs. Steelers. Last week was my first covering TNF picks for Sleeper DFS this season, going 2-1 with our inaugural top picks (66-56 overall on Sleeper DFS prop picks in 2023). Let’s start Week 14 off right with three more... Read More

Derek Carr - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Fantasy Football Injury Reports for Quarterbacks - Updates for Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Trevor Lawrence, Derek Carr, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, C.J. Beathard

Heading into the final week of the fantasy football regular season, there is no shortage of quarterbacks in the injury headlines. Especially in two-QB and Superflex formats, this could cause major issues for fantasy managers. Our fantasy football injury reports for quarterbacks as of Thursday, December 7 will give you the latest news on the... Read More