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Week 8 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

This was a REALLY difficult week to rank, because there are so many usable DSTs this week. There are usable options all the way down to Tier 4 this week, and you're going to have something available to you on the waiver wire in even the deepest of leagues.

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. 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 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 8 pickup or add. Good luck in Week 8 RotoBallers!

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Week 8 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. We've got four weeks of data to work with now, so we're going to be able to be a bit more precise basing our ratings on hard numbers.

On bye this week: Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys


Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 New England Patriots Defense vs. CLE 12.75
2 1 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense vs. MIA 12.15
3 1 San Francisco 49ers Defense vs. CAR 11.5

Patriots DST. Rinse and repeat.

The Steelers have been tremendous for most of the season both in generating pressure and forcing turnovers. As of this writing they sit tied for third in interceptions (eight), second in fumble recoveries (seven) and tied for fifth in sacks (20). In a home matchup against the tanking Dolphins, this is an absolute slam-dunk, even with Ryan Fitzpatrick back there instead of Josh Rosen.

Guess who leads the NFL in total yards allowed per game (Monday Night Football pending)? WRONG. It's the 49ers with just 223.5 total yards allowed to opposing offenses. They also have at least three sacks in each of their last three games, and on the season they're tied for fourth in takeaways (13). They're an every-week option these days, and the Panthers on the road don't scare me enough to take the 49ers out of Tier 1.


Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
4 2 Minnesota Vikings Defense vs. WAS 11
5 2 Chicago Bears Defense vs. LAC 10.65
6 2 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense vs. NYJ 10.5
7 2 Carolina Panthers Defense @ SF 10.35
8 2 Indianapolis Colts Defense vs. DEN 9.7
9 2 Los Angeles Rams Defense vs. CIN 9.4
10 2 Los Angeles Chargers Defense @ CHI 8.6

As I mentioned above, there are a ton of great DSTs this week. There is a lot less separation than usual between the top and bottom teams in this tier, as any of them will be a great option for you in Week 8. I'm going to highlight the Vikings here, who are notoriously a better real-life defense than a fantasy one. I think they're going to be in good shape against the Redskins offense, which is 29th in the NFL in yards per game and 30th in points per game. The Vikings are starting with a high floor at home, and when you consider that they're tied for seventh in the NFL in INTs, they make for one of the safest bets of the week.

The Bears are coming off a pair of unimpressive outings, but Khalil Mack and company should have a field day against the free-falling Chargers, who just suffered ANOTHER loss in their offensive line. Guard Forrest Lamp broke his ankle and won't be back for the remainder of the season, leaving Philip Rivers even more unprotected than he has been. Melvin Gordon isn't running well at all since his return, averaging a brutal 2.3 yards per carry, so if the Bears contain Austin Ekeler, this one could be a bloodbath.

On the other side of the field, the Bears offense has been even more brutal. They're 30th behind only the Dolphins and Jets in yards per game, which is astonishing, frankly. Mitch Trubisky is literally unstartable at this point (unless you want to plan on garbage time saving you like last week), and the Chargers pass rush should continue to make life miserable for him given how poorly he deals with blitzes.


Middle and Lower Tier Defenses

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
11 3 Buffalo Bills Defense vs. PHI 8.25
12 3 Philadelphia Eagles Defense @ BUF 7.7
13 3 New Orleans Saints Defense vs. ARI 7.2
14 3 Tennessee Titans Defense vs. TB 6.9
15 3 New York Jets Defense @ JAC 6.45
16 3 Houston Texans Defense vs. OAK 5.95

Still would feel totally fine starting any defense in this tier, for the record. It took an onside kick return for a touchdown, but the Bills got a respectable fantasy day against the Dolphins in Week 7. This week they'll get Carson Wentz and the Eagles, who are coming off a brutal Sunday night showing against the Cowboys. The Eagles have, surprisingly, been a bottom-10 offense this year, and they'll travel to Orchard Park, New York to take on the third-best overall defense. Bills should finish with a nice day, but given Josh Allen's knack to play hero ball from time-to-time the Eagles should also be a valid option.

The Titans defense is one of the highest-variance plays on the slate because of the opponent--do they get good Jameis Winston or Very Very Bad Jameis? We've seen both evolutions of the former first overall pick this year, and his last outing before the Week 7 bye was a five-interception nightmare. Understand that if you're starting the Titans, you're betting on Chris Godwin and/or Mike Evans not taking over the game, a bet that is essentially a crapshoot these days.


Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
17 4 Seattle Seahawks Defense @ ATL 5.35
18 4 Green Bay Packers Defense @ KC 4.6
19 4 Washington Redskins Defense @ MIN 3.9

A lack of sacks has kept the Seahawks out of the DST1 conversation for most of the year, and in a potential shootout against the Falcons I'm not sure they've got enough going for them to justify starting. The question here is what version of the Falcons are they going to get--the one that absolutely lit up the Cardinals in Week 6, or the one that was embarrassed by the Rams in Week 7? Matt Ryan sprained his ankle last week, so his status will be worth monitoring. If he's out, the Seahawks will instantly jump to the top of the third tier and become very startable.

The Redskins have started to generate some real pressure in the last two weeks, and were they not playing a suddenly-resurgent Kirk Cousins and Stefon Diggs I'd have them ranked higher. As it is, I don't think they have the weapons to stop the Vikings if the passing game AND Dalvin Cook are all on. Adam Thielen is dealing with an injury, but even if he sits out the Thursday night matchup I don't feel any different about the Redskins.


Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
20 5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense @ TEN 3.35
21 5 New York Giants Defense @ DET 2.8
22 5 Kansas City Chiefs Defense vs. GB 2.5
23 5 Denver Broncos Defense @ IND 1.9
24 5 Arizona Cardinals Defense @ NO 1.25

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