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Week 9 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2022 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Patriots Defense - Fantasy Football DST Rankings, Team Defense, IDP Sleepers, Devin McCourty

For weeks I was saying that the New Orleans Saints have shown me no reason to play them as a fantasy defense. Even Warren Sharp tweeted out last week that the Saints were the biggest defensive disappointment on the season. So it's only fitting that the Saints completely dominated the Raiders, even without Marshon Lattimore, and finished as the number-one fantasy defense on the week.

It feels par for the course with the craziness of fantasy defenses this year in a season with so much inconsistent football being played. In reality, the only defenses it seems as though we can really trust every week are the Eagles, Cowboys, and Bills. However, even the Bills' DST just put up five points against the Packers, so perhaps they're not even consistently elite.

And maybe that's the takeaway from the first half of this season. Perhaps we need to find the safe defenses, the ones with the solid floor, and just keep them in our lineups. We got 10 points from the Vikings this week, seven from the Broncos, five from the Ravens, and eight from the Jets. Maybe that's enough? Maybe instead of chasing that ceiling game that seems so hard to pin down this year, we focus on the defenses we know will just be fine. They might not win us our matchup every single week but they also won't cause us major headaches. That's a win in its own right.

As a reminder, every week I do a YouTube DST video called Pick 3(DST) where I give you three defenses I like during the week and one that I'm fading. We have some fun with it, but I think it gives a lot of the same reasoning I present here, so check it out for some video fun. And my BOD Leaderboard is available on Public Tableau, where you can see my updated BOD rankings, plus a leaderboard for the individual defensive stats I use for the BOD formula, and some of the offensive stats that I think can help us determine which DST to play or not. Also, make sure to always check back with this article over the weekend because I will my updated rankings as the week goes on when we get injury news or troubling weather information, etc.

 

What is the BOD Ranking Formula?

Last year I introduced my Best Overall Defense (BOD) rankings formula, and I'll be using it again this year. I'll give a quick overview of the formula below, followed by my general strategy for streaming defenses, and then my Week 9 fantasy football defense (DST) rankings. Good luck in Week 9 everyone!

The BOD (Best Overall Defense) formula takes into account my favorite stats for picking the right defenses (both positive and negative) and weighs them in a formula. You can view the RANKINGS AND COMPLETE LEADERBOARD of all the stats I use here. I tweaked the formula as the season went on last year, and I feel like it gives us a pretty good indicator of who has the best defenses for fantasy purposesIf you don't want to click that link, the formula is:

(Pressure Rate x 2) + (Sacks) + (QB Hurry Rate) + (Pass Break-Ups) + (%Drives ending in a Turnover x 2)

Minus

(Missed Tackles)+ (% Drives ending in a Score x 2) + (Yards per play)

It's important to clarify that the BOD rankings ARE NOT to be treated as weekly rankings. BOD is meant to tell us who the best fantasy defenses are, but depending on the matchup, they might be ranked differently in a given week. That's why we have this column where I will be breaking down my rankings for each week and an explanation of why I have the defenses ranked the way I do. The rankings will take into account their BOD ranking, opponent, injuries, weather, etc., but I hope my explanation will help make sense of each ranking.

 

Picking The Right Defenses To Pickup and Start

Just a quick recap of my general philosophy and what we discussed at length last year: when choosing a defense, you want to look for defenses that get consistent pressure and takeaways. Sacks and turnovers are more valuable for fantasy defense than preventing yardage and even, to a certain extent, preventing points. If a defense allows a stingy yards-per-play number, that's great and I'll cite some of those numbers below. However, they better also be able to get into the backfield or force turnovers or else it won't really matter in the long run.

Essentially, we need to move away from points against as being the most important factor in choosing a fantasy defense. In 2021, NFL offenses gained 343.6 yards per game and scored 23.0 points per game. While that's down from the 24.8 scored in 2020 (most likely because of the deep safety defenses), it's still the third-most in the Super Bowl era.

With offenses putting up video game numbers, it means that we can't continue to judge a defense solely by the number of points they allow or the number of yards they give up. Those numbers will naturally be higher than we're used to. Instead, we need to look for which offensive lines are truly weak points and which defenses will either be blitz-heavy or get consistent pressure with their pass rush. These are all incredibly important pieces of information in determining which defenses to play in any given week.

Starting the right defense every week can be a difference-maker, so remember to check back here during the week as I will make updates once we get more information on some of these injuries and also get a better sense of the weather for the game.

 

Season Record

41-39 correctly predicting top-10 defenses

I want to track how correctly I pick the top 10 this year, so I'll keep track using FantasyPros total points. If anybody has other suggestions, let me know.

 

Week 9 Defenses To Start and Stream: Tiered Rankings

Confidence Ratings (out of 15) - 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 just a point projection. This is the best way to see just how much I like one team over another. Not all one or two spot differences are the same.

A zero means "do not start," and then the confidence rises from there. Typically the top three tiers will be DSTs you should target, with Tier 4 being options in deep leagues.

 

Tier 1 Defenses - Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 9

I mentioned that there are very few elite fantasy defenses this year, so we're going to let the rankings show that. The Eagles and Bills have consistently been two of the best fantasy DSTs all year and now they find themselves in plus matchups, so I don't think we need to overthink it.

Tre'Davious White will be back for the Bills this week (perhaps on a snap count) and the Jets look like a completely different offense without Breece Hall. It puts too much pressure on Zach Wilson to make plays, and that has gone horribly so far in his short career.

 

Tier 2 Defenses - Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 9

The Patriots' defense has continued to be a solid unit since a rough start to the year. They may not have the upside of last year's DST, but this is still a strong team that's 2nd in the NFL in pressure rate, 6th in sacks, and 4th in turnover rate. They now get a Colts team that is still in shambles a bit. Sam Ehlinger did some OK things in his NFL debut, and he's far more elusive in the pocket than Matt Ryan, but this offense (and offensive line) didn't look any better. I'm going to trust Bill Belichick against a rookie quarterback and an offense giving up the 2nd-most fantasy points to opposing DSTs. FRIDAY UPDATE: It seems highly unlikely Jonathan Taylor will play, so fire up the Pats with confidence. 

Minnesota has an underrated defense from a fantasy perspective. They're 8th in turnover rate, 9th in sacks, and 10th in tackles for a loss and are now going up against a Commanders offense that has been fairly average. Taylor Heinicke has been a slight improvement on Carson Wentz, but this is still a team giving up the 7th-most fantasy points to opposing DSTs and is a matchup I think we should be targeting with a solid defense.

This Chiefs ranking is assuming Ryan Tannehill is back. If Malik Willis were to play again, I would move Kansas City up. The Chiefs have been a bit down on defense this year, ranking 10th in pressure rate but not much else positive. However, I don't think Tennessee is a particularly scary matchup. We know they want to run the ball with Derrick Henry, but there's not much in the passing game apart from Robert Woods. I expect Kansas City to put up points, which means Tennessee will have to throw and that's when the Chiefs can capitalize on this offense being outside of their comfort zone. FRIDAY UPDATE: It seems like Malik Willis will start for the Titans, so I love this matchup for the Chiefs. 

This Bucs ranking is pending health. Last week against the Ravens, the Bucs were missing cornerbacks Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting, plus safety Antoine Winfield Jr., and defensive end Akiem Hicks. Those are no small losses. None of Davis, Murphy-Bunting, or Winfield practiced at all last week, so we need to keep an eye on them, but if they're back, this is still a good unit. Tampa Bay is 3rd in sacks, 5th in the percentage of drives that end in an opponent's score, and 2nd in tackles for a loss. This Rams offense also gives up the most fantasy points per game to opposing DSTs at 13.3 points per game. There's also the potential that Cooper Kupp will be at less than 100% after injuring his ankle last week, which would make this an even better spot. FRIDAY UPDATE: Davis and Murphy-Bunting were back at practice this week, so Tampa Bay is getting healthier in their secondary. 

 

Tier 3 Defenses - Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 9

The Colts' defense is also relevant on the other end. The Patriots give up the 13th-most fantasy points to opposing defenses, so they're a slightly above-average matchup, but Mac Jones has looked increasingly shaky of late and now will be without DeVante Parker, not that it's a huge difference. This is a Colts defense that is 3rd in tackles for a loss, 11th in pressure rate, and 10th in the percentage of drives that end in an opponent's score. They're a solid but not spectacular unit in a solid but not spectacular matchup, so I think they finish in the back half of the top 10.

The Ravens made a huge trade on Monday when they acquired stud linebacker Roquan Smith. It's unclear how ready Smith will be for Sunday's game, but that's a big acquisition for a defense that has been hit-and-miss this season. The Ravens are 3rd in the NFL in turnover rate and 6th in pass breakups but the rest of their metrics are decidedly below-average. Still, we know the talent this defense has and the Saints give up the 4th-most points to opposing fantasy defenses, so I think the Ravens are still likely a top-ten unit this week.

When you have the Cowboys, Broncos, and 49ers on bye, your list of defenses that can sneak into the top ten becomes a little weird. This Packers' defense is hard to pin down. On one hand, they're 5th in pressure rate and 5th in tackles for a loss, but, on the other hand, they're 24th in turnover rate and 19th in the percentage of drives that end in an opponent's score. Detroit also has dynamic weapons in D'Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown, but they give up the 8th-most points to opposing fantasy DSTs, and the loss of T.J. Hockenson will take some bite out of the Detroit offense. I'm not really sure which way this game goes, but I expect the Green Bay pressure to get to Jared Goff and make the Packers a playable defense.

We've seen Jacksonville sneak into the top ten a few times before, and they were actually trending as a top-ten unit before giving up that late touchdown to Denver. It's not a pick that excites us, but we just saw how bad Les Vegas can be last week against a Saints defense that had done nothing this year. The Jags are just outside the top 10 in the percentage of drives that end in an opponent's score and turnover rate, and they lead the NFL in pass breakups so I think they could produce a solid floor week to sneak into the top ten.

This Seahawks defense has been getting progressively better as the year goes on. They're 8th in sacks, 8th in tackles for a loss, and 9th in turnover rate. They don't have an easy task against the Cardinals, but they did hold Arizona to nine points earlier in the year (albeit without DeAndre Hopkins) and Kyler Murray still takes far too many sacks for a player with his ability. The Seattle pressure could lead to a few sacks and/or bad throws that allow them to sneak into the top ten.

POST SUBMISSION UPDATE: As of now, I'm keeping Miami here even after trading for Bradley Chubb because we're not sure if he'll play this week. As we get more information, I may move them up the rankings since he is obviously an elite talent and a difference-maker. You may be tempted to put the Dolphins higher, but I would be careful. This Bears offense is very different over the last two weeks now that they're letting Justin Fields get many designed runs each game. The Bears gained 371 yards against the Cowboys and put up 29 points. If it wasn't for a fumble that Micah Parsons returned for a touchdown (which is not a consistent week-to-week occurrence to bank on), the Cowboys would have finished with just four fantasy points. Oh, and this Cowboys' defense is way better than Miami's.

 

Tier 4 Defenses - Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 9

I think both Cincinnati and Carolina are playable here, but only the Bengals make this tier. It's clear that P.J. Walker has made this Panthers offense better, but they are still really short on playmakers and Cincinnati has a solid defense (although they didn't show it on Monday night). However, the Panthers' defense is also feisty, and it's clear that the Bengals have issues on offense without Ja'Marr Chase. Joe Mixon and the running game can't get anything going, so I think this could be a bit of a sloppy game overall. I don't love either option, but they are in play. SATURDAY UPDATE: The Bengals will now be without cornerbacks Mike Hilton and Chidobe Awuzie as well as defensive tackles DJ Reader and Josh Tupou. That just leaves this defense a bit too short-handed for me to have tons of confidence in. 

Tier 5 Defenses - Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 9



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