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Week 9 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Whereas last week was troublesome because there were so many usable DSTs, this week I did a lot of juggling because many of the typical top options have horrendous matchups.

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. 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 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!

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Week 9 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: Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals


Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 San Francisco 49ers Defense @ ARI 10.55
2 1 Buffalo Bills Defense vs. WAS 9.7
3 1 Philadelphia Eagles Defense vs. CHI 9.45

Nick Bosa is a monster. The 49ers have allowed just 21 total points in their last four games. They are the best defense in the NFC, and it's not particularly close for me. The Cardinals on Thursday night without David Johnson OR Chase Edmonds aren't much of a threat. Kenyan Drake can't possibly learn the offense in four days, and even if he does--it's the 49ers.

The Eagles have struggled to keep points off the board this year, but they did step up last week against the Bills with a nice four-sack outing. This week they'll get the miserable Bears offense at home, who are averaging just 18.3 points per game. Mitch Trubisky has been declared the starter for Week 9 already, and between his ineptitude and Matt Nagy's brutal play-calling, that can only be a good thing for the Eagles. David Montgomery is the only real threat here, but the Eagles interior defense should be able to keep him from running wild. High floor for the Eagles this week.


Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
4 2 New England Patriots Defense @ BAL 8.9
5 2 Carolina Panthers Defense vs. TEN 8.65
6 2 Cleveland Browns Defense @ DEN 8.1
7 2 Denver Broncos Defense vs. CLE 7.75
8 2 Chicago Bears Defense @ PHI 7.25
9 2 Minnesota Vikings Defense @ KC 7.1

I don't think I need to go into too much detail about the historic season the Patriots DST is posting. They are undoubtedly a top defense every week until someone stops them. With that said, it's difficult for me to put them in Tier 1 when they take on Lamar Jackson and the #2 scoring offense (30.6 points per game). They can't possibly keep scoring defensive touchdowns, right? Right? Guys?

The Browns have been a disappointment for many reasons this season, and the defense is high on the list. Fortunately for them, they'll draw Brandon Allen at quarterback, in for the injured Joe Flacco. The Broncos offense was bottom-five to begin with, but with Allen under center they're even less intimidating. The Browns are tied for ninth in sacks (22) so there is some fantasy scoring upside on top of the nice floor they're walking into.

I'm not sure what to make of the Chiefs offense right now, and therefore I struggled to rank the Vikings defense this week. Matt Moore has played much better than anyone expected in Patrick Mahomes' stead, and he should be locked in for at least one more start with a full, healthy contingent of weapons. Even a game-managing Moore can do plenty of damage with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce at his disposal, and LeSean McCoy has effectively ousted Damien Williams from the starting RB gig. The Vikings have at least one INT and two sacks in each of their last four games, and ultimately I think they're a startable option with some upside--just not a top-flight option due to the Chiefs offense's potency.


Middle and Lower Tier Defenses

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
10 3 Washington Redskins Defense @ BUF 6.5
11 3 Dallas Cowboys Defense @ NYG 6.35
12 3 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense vs. HOU 5.9
13 3 Green Bay Packers Defense @ LAC 5.6
14 3 New York Jets Defense @ MIA 5.15

The Cowboys defense trounced the Eagles in Week 7, and now they'll draw the Giants coming off the bye. The big concern here is Daniel Jones finally getting a healthy corps of weapons around him--Saquon Barkley is back and lethal as ever, Sterling Shepard looks like he's about to return, Golden Tate is back, and Evan Engram is back to 100%. I think this game has some slight shootout potential, and with just three total INTs on the season the Cowboys will need to rely on Daniel Jones mistakes to come up with turnovers. They're still a streamable option, but this one has me wary.

The Jaguars have bounced back in a big way after a small rough patch in October. They've held each of their last three opponents to 17 points or fewer while tallying seven turnovers and 13 sacks in that time frame. This week they'll be tasked with stopping Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense, which is still a top-six scoring offense in the NFL. The Texans offensive line has still been leaky, as they've allowed 24 sacks already, so that provides the Jags with a decent little floor before turnovers and points allowed. Ultimately it's tough to rank them any higher than the third tier going up against Watson and DeAndre Hopkins (even if Hopkins hasn't been as explosive as in years past) but they'll definitely still be a startable option in 12+ team leagues.


Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
15 4 Tennessee Titans Defense @ CAR 4.9
16 4 Seattle Seahawks Defense vs. TB 4.45
17 4 Indianapolis Colts Defense @ PIT 4.1
18 4 Detroit Lions Defense @ OAK 3.8
19 4 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense vs. IND 3.5
20 4 Houston Texans Defense @ JAC 2.7

The Titans are the most interesting option in this group as they draw Kyle Allen and the Panthers, who are coming off an absolute whooping at the hands of the 49ers. The Titans are NOT the 49ers. However, that was clearly Kyle Allen's worst start of the year, and I'm interested to see how he bounces back after a three-interception performance. The Titans are quietly top-10 in the NFL in yards allowed per game, tied for 10th in sacks and top-10 in turnovers, so I think there is a pretty decent floor here. The key will, of course, be stopping Christian McCaffrey.

I was ready to move the Colts defense up after the Steelers' first half on Monday night, but Mason Rudolph and the entire Steelers offense rebounded in the second half and played to the potential they're capable of. James Conner's status looks uncertain, but Jaylen Samuels should be able to step in and not bring down the offense much, if at all. Ultimately the ranking here is based on the away matchup and the Colts lack of excellence in any category--they're 22nd in interceptions, 16th in sacks, 15th in yards allowed, and tied for ninth in points allowed. They're probably fine as a start in 12+ team leagues, but there's very limited fantasy upside here.


Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Opponent Confidence Rating
21 5 Miami Dolphins Defense vs. NYJ 2.3
22 5 Los Angeles Chargers Defense vs. GB 2.1
23 5 Baltimore Ravens Defense vs. NE 1.8
24 5 Kansas City Chiefs Defense vs. MIN 1.25
25 5 New York Giants Defense vs. DAL 1.1


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