Fantasy Football: Defenses to stash for the playoffs

Marcell Dareus

We’ve turned our clocks back an hour in painstaking fashion; for teams in the driver’s seat, now it is time to look ahead. Is your fantasy football team sitting in a playoff spot currently? If so here are some defenses to stash for the playoffs. You are a lucky (oops I mean talented) player.

I am not saying to drop a skill player worthy of a roster spot. These are only for your good fantasy football teams that have room due to a player on IR or an extra QB/TE for bye week coverage. If you are right on the playoff fringe or worse, you should focus first on skill positions. I think you get the idea. Even if you can’t stash two defenses, I will highlight some defenses that are usable from now on. As always, feel free to ask me on twitter, I am usually around.

Also, check our waiver wire column for skill position adds for this week.

working the wire

My analysis isn’t math heavy, I am primarily targeting offenses that have given up the most fantasy points to defenses (in standard formats) and that also make sense intuitively. This column is very speculative here in week ten. My plan is to update this list and the table below as we get closer to week 14. Team DVOA rankings, some coaches and some starting quarterbacks may change prior to our playoffs. Those caveats out of the way, there are some good defenses listed here you might be dropping on waivers. So check yourself, kids.

DVOA is from Football Outsiders (through week 8) F.O. DVOA

Ownership percentage is from Yahoo!

PLAYOFF DEFENSES        
WEEK 14WEEK 15WEEK 16
TEAMDEF DVOA RANKOWN %HOME?OPPHOME?OPPHOME?OPP
NEP1971HOMEBALAWAYDENHOMEJETS
BUF1769HOMEPITHOMECLEHOMEMIA
LAR1165HOMEATLAWAYSEAHOMESF
DAL1458AWAYNYGHOMETBHOMEDET
GB852HOMESEAAWAYCHIHOMEMIN
ATL2646AWAYLARHOMESFAWAYCAR
HOU1242AWAYINDHOMEJAXHOMECIN
PIT2541AWAYBUFAWAYCINHOMEBAL
OAK2840AWAYKCAWAYSDHOMEIND
SD739AWAYCARHOMEOAKAWAYCLE
JETS2738AWAYSFHOMEMIAAWAYNE
CIN2429AWAYCLEHOMEPITAWAYHOU
MIA1323HOMEARZAWAYJETSAWAYBUF
NO294AWAYTBAWAYARZHOMETB
SF231HOMEJETSAWAYATLAWAYLAR

Highly Owned and Highly Usable

The Patriots are 71% owned so you probably can’t get them, but they have a very good end run. Only an away game in week 15 against the Broncos looks semi-difficult. If you have them I would play them that week also. I am only mentioning them because it is conceivable someone dropped them with their bye this past week. All three of the teams listed here may get the benefit of playing in bad weather, but you can’t really bank on that.

The Buffalo Bills defense has arguably the best schedule for the fantasy playoffs. They have three home games against the Steelers, Browns, and the Dolphins. If the Steelers come back to life you can pair them with another defense listed here for week 14. The Bills were a popular streaming defense a few weeks ago and I kept them in one league. They are going in to a week ten bye, but if you can hold them on your bench, it may pay dividends. It is kind of a dream scenario with them going in to the bye; they will be more available later this week. Adding them Sunday morning after the inactive players are announced and you know your team is solid, will be a favorite move of mine.

The Packers are on the ownership borderline around 52%. They were used as a streamer this past week, and if you have them, I wouldn’t drop them.  They have actually decent defense, ranked 8th in DVOA, and a week 14-16 schedule that isn’t bad but not great. The Seahawks, Bears, and Vikings offenses have been friendly to opposing defenses. Green Bay also plays two of their last three at home. Again, hold them if you can. In fact, their rest of season schedule is pretty awesome. You can probably just roll them out from here on, and not use another roster spot.

Falcons Vic Beasley

AP Photo – Brad Penner

Middle of the pack

These options for fantasy football team defenses are definitely less juicy then the top-tier above.

The Falcons might be the best option on the board all together. Even though their games are high scoring, their fantasy defense has done ok so far. They get the Rams, 49ers, and Panthers – these teams are all in the top ten in fantasy points allowed to opposing defenses. I used Yahoo default scoring for this ranking, including week nine. The only other team on the table that gets that easy of a schedule is the Saints. We will get to them later. Just don’t sleep on the Falcons.

The Houston Texans defense is available in 58% of leagues. They just had a bye in week nine so other owners may be looking to add them this week. They face the Colts, Jaguars, and the Bengals in the playoff weeks. There might be some floor risk facing Luck and Dalton. I would be comfortable rolling them out each of those last three weeks. They are the last of the defenses I will mention, for which I think I worth using alone. The rest of this group should be paired up with another defense for alternating matchups.

In most leagues, I would leave the defenses listed below Houston on the waiver wire for another week or two. Most opponents don’t start looking for playoff defenses until week 12. You know your league better than I do, maybe you need to grab one of these now. Well, what if I am in a super deep experts-only league where we start six defenses each? Read the section below and then promise me you will meet up with some friends or go see a movie or something. Thanks!

Dolphins defense

Brad Barr

Deep Leagues only

The Dolphins are a defense best used for weeks 14 and 15 only. They are home versus the Cardinals and away against the lowly Jets. They’re droppable after that because they face the Bills in week 16. The Bills give up very few points to opposing defenses. The Jets could also be serviceable during the same weeks, but I would leave them on the wire until after their bye in week 11 at least.

The Saints and the 49ers are listed, what is the madness Matt? Well actually, I am not saying you should add them now. Unless you are in a deep format like a 20 teamer or a dynasty league were you have three defenses stashed, or some other weirdness that I can’t even imagine. Both teams face a low floor / high ceiling finish that could win some leagues. All Saints games are points bonanzas, and the 49ers are just such a bad team overall. The 49ers are part of a week 14 matchup with the Jets that is going to be difficult to watch, but will also probably send a few fantasy teams into the next round of the playoffs. To repeat, these are deep league options only.

Check back with me again as I update this. And good luck on your run to the fantasy football playoffs!

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