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Week 7 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2018 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Below are RotoBaller's Week 7 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 7 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 7. 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 7 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 6 pickup or add. Good luck in Week 7 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: Get any rest-of-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive DFS Tools, Lineup Optimizer and Premium DFS Research through the Super Bowl. Sign Up Now!


Week 7 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Teams on bye: Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders

Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 Los Angeles Rams @ SF 10.55
2 1 Los Angeles Chargers vs. TEN 10.25
3 1 Houston Texans @ JAC 9.75

This Rams DST has been slumping since a trio of early-season double-digit performances, but a visit to C.J. Beathard and the 49ers should be the recipe they need to get right. There simply isn't any chance this game is close, and as Beathard plays from behind the mistakes will likely begin to add up.

I underestimated the Chargers against the Browns last week, as they shredded the previously-stalwart offensive line for five sacks of Baker Mayfield and two interceptions. I won't make the same mistake against the Titans, who are coming off a laughably, historically bad performance against the Ravens, in which they surrendered 11 (!) sacks. The Titans offense is anemic at best and non-existent at worst, so the Chargers DST should be a lock. The only reason I have them listed as #2 instead of #1 is because the Tennessee offensive line was, prior to that debacle on Sunday, probably middle-of-the-pack in allowing sacks. Plus, with the offense not taking shots down the field, turnover potential is limited.

The Texans did not disappoint for those who fired them up against the Bills, but it took a FULL-ON POOTERMAN-ING to get them to the high point total. Fortunately, there is a pretty good chance of a FULL-ON BORTLE-ING when they visit the Jags this week, and with the pressure, they're consistently applying I think a few turnovers are a safe bet.


Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
4 2 Indianapolis Colts vs. BUF 9.3
5 2 Jacksonville Jaguars vs. HOU 9.15
6 2 Arizona Cardinals vs. DEN 8.6
7 2 Denver Broncos @ ARI 8.35
8 2 Minnesota Vikings @ NYJ 7.9

The Indianapolis Colts typically won't sniff the second tier for me, but when the historically terrible Bills offense comes to town, you gotta recognize. This Colts team has yielded 30+ points in three straight games, but they do have 10 takeaways already this season. As of this writing, your guess is as good as mine as to who starts for the Bills at quarterback in Week 7, but it's either a banged-up Josh Allen, a fresh-off-the-street Derek Anderson, or...I don't know, did Peterman even get on the plane home yesterday? No matter who it is, it's a pretty safe bet that the Bills aren't going to be moving the ball up and down the field. The Colts are a solid high-floor streamer with plenty of upside.

Can it be considered a victory to hold the Rams to just 23 points? I'm counting it. While they did hold the Rams passing game in check to some degree, the Broncos got positively gashed by Todd Gurley for 200+ yards on the ground. In fact, they've now yielded 200+ yards to a single runner in back-to-back games (Isaiah Crowell in Week 4), and are averaging 161.3 rushing yards per game for the season, at a stunning 5.6 yards-per-carry clip. Hence, my expectations are tempered with David Johnson on deck and a conservative young QB under center. Arizona is dead last in offensive yards per game though (somehow even behind the Bills), so you can't fade the Broncos entirely. Probably a decent high-floor game, but the ceiling isn't there.

Don't look now, but that uber-talented Vikings DST that I touted early on is showing out. They've had back-to-back double-digit performances, tallying seven sacks and four turnovers in those two games. Sam Darnold has been very impressive, but he is still averaging better than an interception per game, and the Jets offensive line is average at best when it comes to allowing sacks. The Vikings DST probably won't be in the top five this week, but top 10 is certainly a possibility.


Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
9 3 Buffalo Bills @ IND 7.75
10 3 Detroit Lions @ MIA 7.25
11 3 Washington Redskins vs. DAL 6.6
12 3 Chicago Bears vs. NE 5.9
13 3 Atlanta Falcons vs. NYG 5.55

Alright, I've gotten all the Bills-bashing out of my system. Time to say something nice! For however bad the Bills offense has been, the defense has actually been damn-near exceptional the last few weeks. This DST has 13 or more points (ESPN standard scoring) in three of their last four games, and are sixth in the NFL with 12 total takeaways this season--11 of which have come in their last four games. They also have two sacks or more in every game this season, and they're coming off a seven-sack effort against Deshaun Watson and the Texans. The Colts offensive line hasn't been as bad as usual at allowing sacks (just 10 total this season) but that's been due more to Andrew Luck getting the ball out quick rather than any exceptional blocking. The Bills defense is always going to be a victim of field position, but they're making the big plays that fantasy DST scoring is predicated on, plain and simple. They are absolutely worth a look as a streamer this week.

So, uh...about Brock Osweiler. I Tweeted this on Sunday morning when it looked like Ryan Tannehill might be out:

Turns out, joke's on me! Osweiler lit up the previously unstoppable Bears defense for 380 yards and three touchdowns, and I don't know which way is up anymore. I have to believe that this game was a fluke and that Brock Osweiler didn't become a starting-caliber QB overnight, and so whether it's him or Ryan Tannehill out there I'm going to roll out the Lions as a streaming option. The Lions are averaging over three sacks per game, and despite that monster stat line, Osweiler threw two picks and Tannehill averages at least one per game. You can fire up the Lions with cautious optimism this week.

Ah, the completely movable object meets the easy-to-move force--it's Eli Manning vs. the Falcons defense, y'all! To be fair to the Falcons, this is the first "bad" team that they've faced this year (PHI, CAR, NO, CIN, PIT, TB all in the rear view mirror), so I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. The big problem I see is that they have no answer for Saquon Barkley--they're eighth-worst in the NFL in rushing yards per game, and that's in addition to being fourth-worst in passing defense. The Giants offense has explosive pieces that force me to temper my expectations, but if you can't stream a defense at home against a bad team like this, when can you?


Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
14 4 Cleveland Browns @ TB 4.95
15 4 Dallas Cowboys @ WAS 4.5
16 4 Carolina Panthers @ PHI 4.1
17 4 New York Jets vs. MIN 3.75
18 4 New England Patriots @ CHI 3.4
19 4 Tennessee Titans @ LAC 2.75

As talented as the personnel of the Browns defense is, I'm nervous about starting them in a game against the Buccaneers after watching Jameis Winston toss for almost 400 yards and four touchdowns. The Browns DST has had some really bad games this season (like in Week 6), but they still lead the NFL in takeaways (16). Famous Jameis is still mistake-prone despite his explosive potential, so there's some streaming optimism attached to the Browns for Week 7.

The Jets defense definitely has some playmakers and therefore there will always be some fantasy upside, but in a matchup against the Vikings vaunted passing offense that may finally get back a 100%-healthy Dalvin Cook and they're a pretty easy fade for me this week.

The Patriots defense is leaky, to say the least, and I can't advise starting them against the suddenly prolific Mitchell Trubisky-led Bears passing attack. Trubisky has posted back-to-back 300-yard games along with nine total touchdowns, and while I don't expect him to continue to produce at that pace, the Patriots simply don't have the big-play upside to make this a streamable fantasy DST at this point.


Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
20 5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. CLE 2.6
21 5 New Orleans Saints @ BAL 2.25
22 5 Philadelphia Eagles vs. CAR 1.95
23 5 Miami Dolphins vs. DET 1.5
24 5 Baltimore Ravens vs. NO 1.45
25 5 Kansas City Chiefs vs. CIN 1.1

More Weekly Lineup Prep

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