It seems like it’s getting harder to find a good D/ST. Last week looked like it offered a bunch of worthwhile streamers, and while several did provide decent numbers (Cowboys, Bears, Packers, Colts), they were hardly worth the waiver wire move you used to get them. Instead, a few teams surprised (as always), and even more disappointed (as always). A quick glance at our Week 5 fantasy defense rankings features few notable top options and even fewer high-upside sleepers, so you know the start ’em, sit ’em decisions are going to be a nightmare.
Let’s start with the potential streamers. The Raiders (vs. Bears), Cowboys (vs. Giants), Cardinals (vs. 49ers), Titans (vs. Jaguars), and Vikings (vs. Lions) all have solid matchups on paper, though the Titans let everyone down in an even better matchup last week against the Jets. The Vikings have disappointed most of the year, too. The Packers (@ Bengals), Falcons (vs. Jets), and Eagles (@ Panthers) are also in play based on fantasy points allowed to D/STs, but none are particularly strong defensively. Perhaps the Falcons-Jets game being in London gives the Falcons an extra boost, but they’re a start-at-your-own-risk unit.
Injuries to a couple starting QBs could be a major factor this week. If Teddy Bridgewater (concussion) is out, the disappointing Steelers look significantly better. We’re currently ranking them as if Drew Lock (and his inevitable interceptions) is starting. The same goes with the Cardinals, who will draw rookie Trey Lance in his first NFL start. As much upside as Lance has, he’ll still likely make a few big mistakes. Take advantage.
Unfortunately, several top D/STs drop in our rankings because of bad matchups. The Rams (@ Seahawks) are still on the start-sit bubble, as Seattle is prone to giving up sacks and Thursday night games are notoriously sloppy, but clearly their ceiling is lower like it was last week against the Cardinals and the week before against the Bucs. However, the Bills (@ Chiefs), Browns (@ Chargers), and Colts (@ Ravens) simply can’t be trusted, as tough as that is to hear for Bills owners. You can try your luck against Patrck Mahomes, as he’s been a bit more turnover-prone this year, but don’t be surprised if you wind up with low single-digit points.
Washington (@ Saints) continues to play horribly, so as much as we’d like to give it the benefit of the doubt against a Jameis Winston-led offense, we can’t put it any higher than middle of the pack. Even that is probably too generous. The Dolphins (@ Bucs), another preseason favorite, also continue to disappoint, and they’re a complete no-go with with their matchup this week. Both of these D/STs can be dropped.
We know at least one or two D/STs will have return TDs or randomly get a bunch of takeaways. It might even be the Dolphins or Bills. You can’t predict that kind of stuff, so you’re better off sticking with talent combined with matchup. Take into account new injuries, and go from there. Offenses seem better than ever, and fantasy D/STs are suffering as a result. You’re not alone if you get mediocre results, so just be happy with a middle-of-the-pack showing and hope you don’t go against the one or two monster defenses that week.
Note: We’ll be updating these D/ST rankings as needed throughout the week. so check back for the latest movement and analysis.
Fantasy Defense Rankings Week 5: Who to start, sit at D/ST in fantasy football
|1||Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. MIA|
|2||Pittsburgh Steelers vs. DEN|
|3||New England Patriots @ HOU|
|4||Denver Broncos @ PIT|
|5||New Orleans Saints @ WAS|
|6||Carolina Panthers vs. PHI|
|7||Baltimore Ravens vs. IND|
|8||Las Vegas Raiders vs. CHI|
|9||Dallas Cowboys vs. NYG|
|10||Arizona Cardinals vs. SF|
|11||Tennessee Titans vs. JAX|
|12||Minnesota Vikings vs. DET|
|13||Green Bay Packers @ CIN|
|14||Los Angeles Rams @ SEA|
|15||Atlanta Falcons vs. NYJ|
|16||Philadelphia Eagles @ CAR|
|17||Washington Football Team vs. NO|
|18||Cleveland Browns @ LAC|
|19||Buffalo Bills @ KC|
|20||Cincinnati Bengals vs. GB|
|21||Indianapolis Colts @ BAL|
|22||Miami Dolphins @ TB|
|23||San Francisco 49ers @ ARI|
|24||Seattle Seahawks vs. LAR|
|25||New York Giants @ DAL|
|26||Houston Texans vs. NE|
|27||New York Jets vs. ATL|
|28||Los Angeles Chargers vs. CLE|
|29||Chicago Bears @ LV|
|30||Kansas City Chiefs vs. BUF|
|31||Detroit Lions @ MIN|
|32||Jacksonville Jaguars @ TEN|