Fantasy Football Defenses to add before week 13

Joe Robbins - Getty Images

Many of you good folks are already locked into a playoff spot. Here are some fantasy football defenses to add before week 13, with an eye towards playoff matchups. Even if you’re fighting for a spot this week, you might avoid releasing a good playoff defense by reading this column. If you have one of the always playable defenses like Denver or Minnesota, you will still find a worthy add here.  Don’t forget you don’t want your opponents to add the best option for the playoffs, if you can hide it on your bench. As always, feel free to ask me on twitter, or post a lovely comment.

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

My analysis isn’t particularly math heavy; I am primarily targeting offenses that have been weak this season. From Pro Football Reference PFR , I am using Points Scored, Turnovers (per game), and Average Net Yards per Attempt. There are five offenses that check all the sad boxes – Houston, Cleveland, Jacksonville, San Francisco, and the Los Angeles Rams.

Well then, maybe we are onto something here. It should be noted that three of the five have changed their quarterbacks, and Houston and Jacksonville probably should think about a change. So the full season stats I use may not reflect the new offense. But I wouldn’t bet against Goff, Kap, or RGIII turning the ball over either. Getting that hedge out of the way, let’s look at some further details.

There are five additional team offenses that rank in the bottom 12 of two out of three of those same categories – Points Scored, Turnovers (per game), and Average Net Yards per Attempt. They are Baltimore, Arizona, Minnesota, Jets, and the Giants. These are our second tier targets for streaming. The Miami Dolphins face two of these teams in weeks 14 and 15. There is more on that subject later in the column.

DVOA is from Football Outsiders (through week 12)

Ownership percentage is from Yahoo!

PLAYOFF DEFENSES         
    WEEK 14 WEEK 15 WEEK 16 
TEAMDEF DVOA RANKST DVOA RANKOWN %HOME?OPPHOME?OPPHOME?OPP
NEP211196HOMEBALAWAYDENHOMEJETS
BUF191670HOMEPITHOMECLEHOMEMIA
LAR15368HOMEATLAWAYSEAHOMESF
MIA81262HOMEARZAWAYJETSAWAYBUF
BAL1662AWAYNEHOMEPHIAWAYPIT
DAL271050AWAYNYGHOMETBHOMEDET
PIT111845AWAYBUFAWAYCINHOMEBAL
OAK26845AWAYKCAWAYSDHOMEIND
HOU143144AWAYINDHOMEJAXHOMECIN
GB172431HOMESEAAWAYCHIHOMEMIN
SD91930AWAYCARHOMEOAKAWAYCLE
CIN182528AWAYCLEHOMEPITAWAYHOU
JETS233220AWAYSFHOMEMIAAWAYNE
NO222818AWAYTBAWAYARZHOMETB
ATL24714AWAYLARHOMESFAWAYCAR
CHI20132AWAYDETHOMEGBHOMEWAS
SF29171HOMEJETSAWAYATLAWAYLAR

Right off the top we see that Cincinnati and Atlanta play two of those poor five offenses mentioned above in the playoff weeks. I’d much rather roster Atlanta because they are a hashtag good team. The Bengals are slowly circling the drain. Public Service Announcement for the parents: make sure you have a plumber’s grade toilet snake. You’re welcome and please don’t ask me why. I didn’t let that ruin my Thanksgiving. Ha!

Brad Barr

Brad Barr

Highly Owned and Highly Usable

The previous column I wrote advocated the Bills and the Packers Defense in this space. I don’t hate holding on to those options, but I like them less now. The Bills are now 70% owned so I won’t talk about them much here. If you can bench them in week 14, then you get Cleveland at home in the best possible week 15 matchup. If you have a bye in the first round, definitely keep/get the Bills. I don’t recommend using strictly Dallas or the Rams. Baltimore is a very good real life NFL defense. Yet, I’d even be a little concerned about hinging my fate solely to them, given their offensive struggles. These teams are owned in a majority of leagues but I would consider dropping or hiding them for the defenses I suggest.

The Miami Dolphins are actually playing decent football. There I said it. They have DVOA ranks on both Defense and Special Teams in the top 12. They are 62% owned and get a playoff schedule of Cardinals, Jets, and Buffalo. The Cardinals are bottom 12 in both turnovers on offense and ANY/A. Narrative street also hits because the Cardinals will be travelling to the East Coast for an early game start. The Jets are bottom five in both points scored and ANY/A. The Bills don’t turn the ball over much, but are the 6th worst team in ANY/A. I think the casual fan is aware they run the ball a lot. They also don’t allow many points to opposing fantasy defenses. Weather could be a factor there since the game is Buffalo. Obviously this is speculation with three weeks to go until then. The main point is to add / keep the Dolphins defense if you can. Playing the Dolphins as your defense in week 16 is questionable. I would drop them after week 15 and try to pair them up now with another defense.

AP Photo - Brad Penner

AP Photo – Brad Penner

Second Tier

The Packers ownership has dropped to 32%. Their defense dropped from 8th in DVOA a few weeks ago down to 17th currently. Their week 14 through 16 schedule isn’t bad but not great either. The Seahawks, Bears, and Vikings offenses have been friendly to opposing defenses. On the positive side, Green Bay also plays two of their last three at home. They have a plush matchup versus Houston this week. Personally I am using them in two leagues. After that though, I think you can do better. The Houston Texans defense may have also been in this space previously but don’t use them. Let’s move on.

The Falcons defense was much higher owned the last time around. Now they are only 14% owned and they should be grabbed. I don’t consider them a deep league only option. 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. Atlanta’s defense has a middling DVOA rank. However, they get the Rams, 49ers, and Panthers – these teams are not that scary. I would definitely add them and possibly pair them up with a second defense for week 16. A quick note about the Rams offense: Goff seems to have raised the offense up to its legal limit while being coached by Jeff Fisher. I would still target them with my fantasy defenses. We all know what’s coming.

Pairing defenses is a time tested strategy by us fake footballers. Among playable options widely available, the following teams play against our first and second tier targets in week 16: Pittsburgh, Green Bay, and San Diego. Green Bay was discussed above. San Diego is best left on the wire; they will still be there for another few weeks. Pittsburgh is interesting. They play Buffalo week 14, then Cincinnati on the road and Baltimore at home. They would ideally be paired with a defense for week 14, like Miami or Atlanta.

Cincinnati plays Cleveland in week 14, in Cleveland. I wouldn’t hate playing them in that spot, but I think you can do better. Cleveland will be coming off a bye, playing at home, and probably with Robert Griffin at quarterback. They’re still Cleveland though. I will list Cincinnati near the bottom of my recommended adds for week 14.

Deep Leagues only

The New York Jets are a curious option. They are easily grabbed in roughly 80% of leagues.  Something compels me to mention Joe Namath here. We’ll move on. If all previous options are taken, they aren’t a horrible option. They face SF, Miami, and possibly New England when they could be resting starters. Honestly I would rather be using Miami, Atlanta, or even Cincinnati week 14. After week 14, I would cut the Jets.

Summary:

Are you going to probably play week 14? Add these:

  1. Miami
  2. Atlanta
  3. Cincinnati
  4. Jets

Do you have a first round bye? Add these for week 15:

  1. Buffalo
  2. Miami
  3. Pittsburgh
  4. Atlanta

Available low cost streaming / pairing options:

  • Atlanta + Pittsburgh
  • Miami + Pittsburgh [Miami is not widely available]
  • Cincinnati + Atlanta
  • Jets + Atlanta

Good Luck fellow degenerates!

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