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Below are RotoBaller's Week 8 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 8 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 8. 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 8 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 8 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.

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Week 8 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

New for this week: I typically don't recommend rostering two DSTs, but due to popular demand, at the end of the article, I list a few DSTs that will be my top streaming options (i.e. widely available) for NEXT week, so they may be worth adding now before they become hot pickups.

 

Teams on bye: Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Chargers, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons

Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 Houston Texans vs. MIA 11.15
2 1 New England Patriots @ BUF 10.95
3 1 Chicago Bears vs. NYJ 10.4

The Texans are home against Brock Osweiler on Thursday night. They're averaging 13.25 fantasy PPG (ESPN Standard scoring) over their last four games and Brock Osweiler is starting for Miami. They're eighth in the NFL in sacks, seventh in takeaways, and the Dolphins have Brock Osweiler under center. I do not believe Brock Osweiler has magically reinvented himself, and he'll be without both Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson. Start the Texans DST this week.

I'm a Bills fan, and I'm going to humbly request you not make me list all the stats/records the Bills are breaking as far as offensive incompetence goes. Just...just start the Patriots this week and be happy, okay? It's either Derek Anderson or Nathan POOTERMAN. You're gonna be fine.

The Bears have now yielded 30+ points in back-to-back weeks, and while you certainly have to cut them a break against the Patriots, the fact that they combined for one total sack in the last two games is enough to raise the eyebrows a bit. I expect the Bears to right the ship against Sam Darnold and the Jets, especially considering that the rookie is coming off the worst performance of his young career. To be fair, two of his three interceptions banged off his receivers' hands, and there are plenty of health issues throughout the Jets offense right now. Still, Darnold turned the ball over four times against the Vikings and is averaging well over an interception per game. If you held on through the Pats game, now is the time to fire the Bears back up.

Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
4 2 Philadelphia Eagles @ JAC 9.8
5 2 Arizona Cardinals vs. SF 9.25
6 2 Washington Redskins @ NYG 8.65
7 2 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. CLE 8.5
8 2 Indianapolis Colts @ OAK 8.15

The Eagles have been disappointingly average so far in 2018, but I have a ton of confidence in any defense facing the Jaguars right now. Blake Bortles was benched for Cody Kessler mid-game last week, and while it looks like Bortles will get another crack at it next week, you have to feel good about any defense facing this offense right now. The Jaguars are currently second in the NFL in turnovers, and that should be a total the Eagles can add to this week.

The Cardinals were embarrassed by the Broncos offense on Thursday night, and while I'm not dismissing that game outright, I don't believe that was a true reflection of this defensive unit. In the four games prior to that, they averaged 9.25 fantasy PPG on the strength of nine takeaways and 13 sacks, so there's certainly talent and upside enough on this team. A home matchup against C.J. Beathard and the 49ers is ideal, as they've been hemorrhaging fantasy points to opposing DSTs in recent weeks. The Cardinals will be one of the top streaming options this week for me.

The Colts did NOT disappoint against the Bills on Sunday, and they find themselves in another favorable matchup this week against a rebuilding Raiders team that just traded away it's top vertical threat in Amari Cooper. Derek Carr has been positively terrible this year, and the Raiders are also without Marshawn Lynch for at least this week. Believe it or not (I didn't until I checked), the Colts are tied for fourth in the NFL in sacks as of this writing (21) and third in takeaways (15), and are suddenly a regular streaming option (depending on the matchup, of course).

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
9 3 Baltimore Ravens @ CAR 7.45
10 3 San Francisco 49ers @ ARI 7.1
11 3 Kansas City Chiefs vs. DEN 6.65
12 3 Miami Dolphins @ HOU 6.2
13 3 Seattle Seahawks @ DET 5.95

A week after the Ravens demolished Marcus Mariota and the Titans with 11 sacks, they matched up against one of the NFL's top offenses and did...exactly what I figured they'd do. One sack, one fumble recovery, 24 points allowed. It's a great reminder that although a defense might be rolling/talented, this is an offense-heavy league, and thinking a DST is going to somehow magically stop run-and-gun offenses like the Chiefs, Saints, and Patriots are foolish.  This week is NOT one of those weeks, however, and the Ravens have some legit fantasy potential against Cam Newton and the Panthers, who are 26th in the NFL in total offense.

The Chiefs DST has two great outings (Week 5 vs. JAC, Week 7 vs. CIN) sandwiching a TERRIBLE outing (Week 6 at NE) in their rearview mirror. They are significantly better home than away, and as I mentioned earlier, I'm chalking that Denver offensive explosion up to Thursday Night Football Shenanigans™. The Chiefs should be able to harass Case Keenum enough to force at least one turnover, and the offense will certainly provide them with excellent field position all night. The Chiefs should act as an excellent deep-league streamer this week.

The last time we saw the Seahawks, they were abusing Derek Carr and the Raiders in London. They'll return from the bye against Matt Stafford and the middling Lions offense in a game that has me holding out hope for a decent DST fantasy day. The Lions are 12th in the NFL in both total yards per game and points per game, and they've certainly got play-makers all over the field (looking at you, Kerryon Johnson and Kenny Golladay). The bigger issue here is that Stafford has been extremely careful with the ball this season. Not including his Week 1 meltdown against the Jets, Stafford only has one other interception on the season and hasn't thrown any in his last three games. His line has held up this year, allowing just 10 total sacks through six games. The Seahawks will need to force turnovers if they're going to score fantasy points, and I simply don't trust them to do that--especially on the road. They're just outside the streaming conversation for me this week.

 

Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
14 4 Carolina Panthers vs. BAL 5.2
15 4 Jacksonville Jaguars vs. PHI 4.65
16 4 New York Jets @ CHI 4.2
17 4 Cincinnati Bengals vs. TB 3.5

The Jaguars disappointed the hell out of me last week, notching just one sack and zero turnovers against a banged-up Deshaun Watson. Their offense certainly did them no favors, but this defensive unit simply isn't the fantasy juggernaut they were last year. Still plenty of talent, but they are far from a "set-it-and-forget-it" DST. Despite being second in the NFL in yards allowed per game, they're tied for 29th (!) in the NFL in takeaways and 13th in sacks, and that simply won't do when considering fantasy DSTs. In a matchup against a red-hot Carson Wentz and the Eagles, I'm looking elsewhere.

The Jets matchup represents an interesting conundrum--on the one hand, Mitch Trubisky turns the ball over pretty often. He's still a young QB, mistakes happen, and the Jets are one of the most prolific defenses in the NFL at FORCING turnovers (15). However, they're also 20th in the NFL in yards allowed per game and 17th in points per game, and Trubisky has been putting the ball in the end zone. Therefore, the upside here is pretty low IMO. If I can put on my projection hat for a minute, I'm picturing a game in which the Jets get two turnovers but also allow 28+ points, ultimately leaving them on the waiver wire for me this week.

 

Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
18 5 Detroit Lions vs. SEA 2.95
19 5 Los Angeles Rams vs. GB 2.7
20 5 New York Giants vs. WAS 2.25
21 5 Cleveland Browns @ PIT 1.95
22 5 Oakland Raiders vs. IND 1.4
23 5 Minnesota Vikings vs. NO 1.1

 

Looking Ahead to Week 9...

  • Dolphins (vs. NYJ)
  • Cowboys (vs. TEN)
  • Broncos (vs. HOU)
  • Raiders (@ SF)

More Weekly Lineup Prep


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