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Week 9 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2018 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Below are RotoBaller's Week 9 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 9 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 9. 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 9 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 9 pickup or add. Good luck in Week 9 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 9 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

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: Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Giants 


Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 Chicago Bears @ BUF 14.15
2 1 New York Jets @ MIA 10.5
3 1 Houston Texans @ DEN 9.15

Khalil Mack is going to be back, and as of this writing the Bills will be starting one of Derek Anderson, Josh Allen or (shudder) Nathan POOTERMAN. The Bills offense is literally the worst to ever slog across a gridiron, as outlined by ESPN last week. The math is that simple on this one.

The Jets have yielded at least 24 points in each of their last three games, and the sacks/turnovers that buoyed their fantasy value early in the season have all but dried up. However, a matchup against Brock Osweiler should provide the kind of upside this defense needs to get back on track. Osweiler came back down to Earth on Sunday, posting just 241 yards, zero touchdowns and an interception against the Texans vaunted pass rush. The Jets' ball-hawking secondary should dial up a good game in this matchup of AFC East also-rans.

The Texans disappointed somewhat against the aforementioned Dolphins team--although Osweiler didn't beat them, Kenyan Drake had a two-touchdown day and Danny Amendola threw a touchdown against them. They should find more success against Case Keenum, who has thrown at least one interception in every game so far this season, and an offensive line that has allowed the 10th-most sacks in the league. You can fire them up confidently for one last week before their bye.


Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
4 2 Dallas Cowboys vs. TEN 8.45
5 2 Carolina Panthers vs. TB 8.3
6 2 Denver Broncos vs. HOU 7.75
7 2 Minnesota Vikings vs. DET 7.5

The Cowboys have quietly been a rock-solid real-life defense, allowing the third-fewest yards per game (313.7) and second-fewest points per game (17.6). That bodes well against Tennessee's 30th-ranked offense, especially given that they're also 10th in the NFL in sacks allowed (22). I think it'll take a touchdown to jump the Cowboys into the top tier this week, but the floor should be among the highest of all streamers out there.

I had the Panthers in my top tier prior to Jameis Winston's benching, but even replacing him with Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't enough to bump them down THAT significantly. Fitzmagic was benched for Winston, remember? Panthers should be able to make it happen one way or another, notching multiple sacks or multiple turnovers in all but one game so far this season. I wouldn't be shocked to see this devolve into a shootout, but the Panthers will find their way to DST scoring this week.

Prior to Sunday night's game against the nigh-unstoppable Saints offense, the Vikings defense had been on a hell of a roll, scoring 12 or more fantasy points in each of its last three games (ESPN standard scoring). They'll be at home against a Lions team that is middle-of-the-road in just about every measurable aspect, and therefore I like their floor a bunch this week. They're tied for fourth in sacks this season, and I think they'll add to that total with at least three more this week.


Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
8 3 Kansas City Chiefs @ CLE 6.9
9 3 Tennessee Titans @ DAL 6.5
10 3 Baltimore Ravens vs. PIT 5.75
11 3 Miami Dolphins vs. NYJ 5.1

The Kansas City Chiefs have rarely been higher than Tier 4 for me this year, but in a matchup against the Browns, who are in...let's call it a "state of flux" as an've gotta like their potential. The Chiefs have turned it on in the last two weeks, with seven total sacks and three turnovers, the Browns have traded their starting running back and top wide receiver, and Baker Mayfield all of a sudden has Gregg Williams calling the shots above him. I'm willing to bet on most defenses in that scenario.

Unfortunately, the Ravens have run into two of the top offenses in the NFL recently, and their fantasy score shows the damage. I can already hear the "but the AFC North teams always play each other hard" narrative in the comments, but I'm not buying it. The Steelers offense is fully healthy, ranks fourth in total yards per game and fifth in points per game--I'm not feeling good about any defense facing them, even if Pittsburgh is away from Heinz Field. That "Ben Roethlisberger sucks on the road" narrative is also busted this year, by the way--his passer rating is 94.9 at home and 94.0 on the road.


Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
12 4 Oakland Raiders @ SF 4.9
13 4 Los Angeles Chargers @ SEA 4.15
14 4 Pittsburgh Steelers @ BAL 3.6
15 4 Washington Redskins vs. ATL 3.25
16 4 Buffalo Bills vs. CHI 2.9

As much as I'd like to put the Oakland Raiders higher thanks to the matchup against the 49ers, I simply can't. One of the reasons why? I'll credit Austin Gayle from Pro Football Focus:

There are a ton of problems on this defense, and even C.J. Beathard could take advantage of this unit. However, the matchups are so bad this week up and down the league, they'll still carry some streaming appeal from me.

The Chargers defense has started to heat up, as many figured they would. They've averaged just over 14 points per game allowed over their last three, but I'm giving more credit to the matchup than the defense--those three games were vs. OAK, @ CLE, and vs. TEN. That's a far cry from their matchup this week, in which they'll have to enter CenturyLink Field and take on Russell Wilson, who's doing his usual mid-season return to MVP form. He's thrown for three touchdowns in each of his last three games, and Chris Carson has rushed for 100 yards in three of his last four active games. I'm fading the Chargers for at least one more week.


Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
17 5 San Francisco 49ers vs. OAK 2.65
18 5 Detroit Lions @ MIN 2.5
19 5 Los Angeles Rams @ NO 2.15
20 5 Seattle Seahawks vs. LAC 1.85
21 5 Green Bay Packers @ NE 1.45
22 5 New England Patriots vs. GB 1.15
23 5 Cleveland Browns vs. KC 1.1

Looking Ahead to Week 10...

  • New York Jets (vs. BUF)
  • Green Bay Packers (vs. MIA)
  • Buffalo Bills (@ NYJ)
  • New York Giants (@ SF)
  • New England Patriots (@ TEN)

More Weekly Lineup Prep

Check out RotoBaller's famous fantasy football draft sleepers and waiver wire pickups list, updated regularly!

Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.