Fantasy Defense Rankings Week 16: Who to start, sit at D/ST in fantasy football

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No one enjoyed last week's cavalcade of postponements and inactive players, but if there's one fantasy football position that potentially benefited, it was D/ST. When key offensive players are out -- especially offensive linemen and quarterbacks -- suddenly there are more D/ST sleepers. Our Week 16 fantasy defense rankings already features a slew of potential streamers, so this is shaping up to be a week with no shortage of viable options for your start 'em, sit 'em decisions. 

The Eagles (vs. Giants), Chargers (@ Texans), Bengals (vs. Ravens), 49ers (@ Titans), Saints (vs. Dolphins), and Seahawks (vs. Bears) are all owned in about 50 percent of leagues and have solid matchups this week. The Saints are the riskiest, but they always have more upside at home. Even the consistently stellar Colts (@ Cardinals) aren't widely owned, and despite a tough matchup, they've proven they can produce in any matchup. 

WEEK 16 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | Kicker

If you really want to trust the stats, you can go with both sides of the Lions-Falcons and Jaguars-Jets games. None of these D/STs have done much of anything this year (though both the Lions and Jets are coming off big weeks), but all have top-10 matchups. If we had to pick one, the Jets have the most upside, but it's worth noting the Jaguars played a bit better last week without Urban Meyer calling the shots, and Lions have been playing better lately, too. Still, you'd have to be pretty desperate (or in a very deep league) to consider one of these units with so many other potential streamers available.

WEEK 16 PPR RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end Kicker

In addition to being a solid week for streamers, it's a good week for some of the most reliable defenses. The Cardinals (vs. Colts) have the most worrisome matchup among the top D/STs, but they can still be started because Carson Wentz is prone to mistakes. If Arizona can force Indianapolis into more passing situations than New England did last week, they can still pay off despite how mediocre they looked in a premium matchup against Detroit. The Steelers (@ Chiefs) and Ravens (@ Bengals) are still highly owned but look like stayaways this week.

WEEK 16 FANTASY: Sleepers | Busts | Start 'em, sit 'em

More D/ST options will likely emerge throughout the week, especially if any QBs wind up on the injured/COVID lists. This can work the other way, too, if a team's defense is decimated by ailing players. Keep track of all the updates, and be prepared to hit the free agent wire. You might have a solid D/ST, but there also might be a better option available. At this point in the season, every point matters. 

WEEK 16 DFS LINEUPS: DraftKings | FanDuel | Yahoo

Note: We'll be updating these D/ST rankings throughout the week, so check back for the latest analysis and player movement.

Fantasy Defense Rankings Week 16: Who to start, sit at D/ST in fantasy football

Rank Player
1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ CAR
2 Buffalo Bills @ NE
3 Philadelphia Eagles vs. NYG
4 Miami Dolphins @ NO
5 Cincinnati Bengals vs. BAL. With 15 sacks and seven takeaways in the past four games, the Bengals have stepped up its production lately. Perhaps even more noteworthy is they've allowed just 10 offensive points in two of those four games. Tyler Huntley performed well in his most recent start, but it seems likely Lamar Jackson (ankle) will suit up this week. Amazingly, that's probably better for the Bengals, as Jackson had been struggling in recent weeks and doesn't figure to be significantly better with a bum wheel. In Weeks 10-14, Baltimore averaged 18.6 offensive points per game, 4.6 sacks allowed, and two turnovers per game. The Bengals have a high floor regardless of which QB starts. (Update: Josh Johnson is starting for Baltimore, giving Cincinnati an even better outlook.)
6 Dallas Cowboys @ PHI
7 Los Angeles Rams @ MIN
8 Green Bay Packers vs. CLE
9 New England Patriots vs. BUF.  The Patriots defense got beaten down by a run-heavy Colts attack last week, but we know Buffalo doesn't have the personnel to do that. If they did, they would have done it during the bad-weather game against New England in Week 13 when the Pats had two sacks, a takeaway, and limited Buffalo to 10 offensive points. As long as Josh Allen drops back to pass his usual amount, New England will make enough plays to pay off as a fantasy starter. Given their overall consistency and big-play upside, the Pats still have a good ceiling, too.
10 San Francisco 49ers @ TEN.  Tennessee has turned it over at least four times in three of its past four games. That might be reason enough to play the 49ers, but they're on a takeaway hot streak themselves, racking up 12 turnovers in the past six games. With 12 sacks in the past three games, the 49ers are putting it all together, so a shorthanded Titans squad could be in for a long Thursday night playing on a short week.
11 Kansas City Chiefs vs. PIT.  For all the Steelers' offensive issues, they're decidedly middle of the road in terms of giving up fantasy points to defenses. In the past three games, Pittsburgh has allowed nine sacks but just one takeaway while averaging 22.3 offensive points per game. The Chiefs continue to torment offenses, though, forcing multiple turnovers in six straight games. The Chargers were able to move the ball on them last week, though, something we hadn't seen in a while, and they didn't allow any sacks. Perhaps that was largely because Chris Jones (reserve/COVID) was out, but either way, this could be another game where Kansas City is merely average against an offense that simply goes three-and-out a lot while finding its way to 17 points. Kansas City has a high ceiling and solid floor, so there's no reason to shy away from it, but just know Pittsburgh can frustrate in multiple ways.
12 Indianapolis Colts @ ARI.  The Colts are tied for the league lead in takeaways (31) and are coming off a big performances against New England (two INTs, blocked punt, D/ST touchdown). Arizona's high-powered offense has hit a speed bump, getting shut down by the Lions last week. The week before, it allowed four sacks and two takeaways to the Rams. The Cardinals generally don't allow many sacks or turnovers, so the Colts' D/ST has a lower ceiling than usual, but it's high level of play still gives it a solid floor. 
13 Los Angeles Chargers @ HOU. Davis Mills has steadied the ship for the Texans in recent weeks, leading the team to 43 offensive points while they've allowed just two sacks and one takeaway. This is where context matters, though: Houston played Seattle and Jacksonville. The Chargers aren't a great fantasy D/ST, but with multiple takeaways in each of the past three games (eight total) to go along with nine sacks, they should be able to bother the rookie QB and have a solid fantasy day. As long as Joey Bosa (reserve/COVID) and a couple other key defensive contributors are playing, the Chargers have a high ceiling. (Update: Bosa is out.)
14 Seattle Seahawks vs. CHI. Despite Justin Fields' recent uptick in play, the Bears still turned it over seven times and allowed five sacks in Weeks 13 and 14. The Seahawks repeatedly disappoint, but it can come through every once and a while, like it did in Week 13 when it had three takeaways against the 49ers. With the game in Seattle, we'll put the boom-or-bust label on the Seahawks. Update: Nick Foles is starting for Chicago, giving the Seahawks a slightly better overall outlook.)
15 Atlanta Falcons vs. DET. With Tim Boyle now starting for Detroit, the Falcons have just enough of a positive outlook to be worth streaming.
16 New Orleans Saints vs. MIA.  The Dolphins had been limiting D/STs until last week's surprisingly bad performance against the Jets (one sack, three takeaways, defensive TD). In Weeks 10-13, Miami allowed eight sacks and two turnovers while averaging 23.3 offensive points per game. New Orleans is coming off one of the best defensive performances of the season, but in Weeks 9-14, the Saints averaged just 2.2 sacks, 0.7 takeaways, and 24.2 offensive points allowed. Basically, the Saints are a classic boom-or-bust play this week. Considering the game is in New Orleans, we still think they have plenty of upside, but tread lightly if you're risk adverse.
17 Arizona Cardinals vs. IND.  Indianapolis doesn't allow many points to D/STs because of its dominant running game and stout offensive line. Carson Wentz is prone to mistakes, but his need to drop back and open himself up to mistakes is limited, so Arizona, who's been one of the top fantasy defenses all year, has a lower ceiling that usual. It should still be able to get decent pressure (at least three sacks in four of the past six games) and force Wentz into at least one bad turnover.
18 Denver Broncos @ LV
19 Pittsburgh Steelers @ KC
20 New York Jets vs. JAX
21 Las Vegas Raiders vs. DEN
22 Tennessee Titans vs. SF
23 Jacksonville Jaguars @ NYJ
24 Baltimore Ravens @ CIN
25 Cleveland Browns @ GB
26 Detroit Lions @ ATL
27 Chicago Bears @ SEA
28 New York Giants @ PHI
29 Carolina Panthers vs. TB
30 Minnesota Vikings vs. LAR
31 Washington Football Team @ DAL
32 Houston Texans vs. LAC
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