This is a list of the top Defense targets for NFL games based on potential production and price. The teams are split into three tiers based on the likelihood of success. Remember that these rankings take potential production and price into account, so some teams may be higher up on the list despite having a lower projected score if the price point is favorable. Here are some options to consider.
Looking for a different position? Check out the rest of the positional targets:
CREAM OF THE CROP
Denver Broncos ($3900) – I would have loved to see this defense attack a healthy Pittsburgh offense. The Steelers had one of the best offenses in the league this year and the Broncos defense was absolutely lights out. The problem here is that the Steelers are incredibly banged up. Lev Bell is out. DeAngelo Williams did a great job filling in, but they are likely to be without him again this week too. Antonio Brown is looking more and more doubtful with his concussion and Ben Roethlisberger has ligament damage in his throwing arm. The once vaunted Pittsburgh offense now has to travel to Denver to play with a QB with Arm issue’s, A stable full of third and fourth string running backs, and the most dynamic playmaking WR we had in the NFL this year out. Throw in the fact that they face a defense that was second in the league for fantasy points scored, gave up the least amount of points to fantasy quarterbacks and wide receivers, 9th fewest to Running backs, and had 52 sacks with 27 takeaways and you can see why we are so high on them. A healthy Steelers offense against this defense would have been must see TV, but the current look of this offense is not inspiring a lot of confidence in many fantasy players this weekend.
Carolina Panthers ($3700) – Of the team remaining in the playoffs, Seattle has allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing defenses. The main reason behind it was the horrible play of the offensive line earlier in the year. They have been much better down the stretch, but they have a tough assignment here against a very good Carolina defense. This game has the second lowest total on the day with Carolina being favored and at home. All of those things are big positives for this defense. These two teams played earlier in the season with the Carolina defense only managing to muster 4 fantasy points after allowing 23 points scored. They get the venue switch to their home field for this one and are the rested team here. They should be able to rack up some sacks, but Seattle is very careful with the ball, so I would not expect a ton of turnovers here if any. That makes this defense a decent option for cash, but the GPP upside seems to be lacking.
Middle of the Pack
Kansas City Chiefs ($4000) – The Chiefs Defense was the highest scoring in the league in terms of fantasy points. They were torched through the air early in the season, but when Sean Smith returned from suspension, they started dominating. They play a very attacking style with lots of blitz packages and a ton of guys who can get to the QB regularly. They can do so, because Smith and Rookie Marcus Peters have been that good in one on one coverage outside. This style has led to many sacks, picks, and TD returns of those picks this year. In fact this defense has 50 sacks, 34 turnovers, and 7 defensive TDs already this year. Picking on Tom Brady is not normally a good idea, but he has been struggling a tad lately as the Pats dropped a few games down the stretch. He will likely have Julian Edelman back along with Gronkowski. That will give him two options to attack with down the middle of the field where teams have found some success against the Chiefs. I expect a solid game from KC again here, but as road dogs and with healthy players returning to the fold, I am not confident enough to buck the Vegas trends and put them ahead of some of these others.
Seattle Seahawks ($4100) – I can not see paying up for a road underdog, but this defense has been very good. They allow the least amount of points to fantasy running backs, second fewest to quarterbacks, and third fewest overall to wide receivers. In fact the only spot they do struggle against is the TE, which is why everyone loves Greg Olsen to repeat his 7 catch, 129 yard, and a touchdown performance that he had against them earlier this year. No one expects either offense to throw up huge numbers in this one, so that s a positive. The Seahawks have been awesome against the run, so we can envision a lot of long third down conversions. Cam Newton and the Panthers have done a good job of keeping drives alive and not turning the ball over this year. That will make it tough to expect huge upside out of the Seahawks. They do have some quick edge rushers and a play making secondary. They very well could make a play there or with their excellent special teams unit. They did manage to pick off Cam twice and record three sacks in the first meeting. They are on the road here, where they have been worse and they also did allow 27 points on their way to a lose in the first matchup. Seattle is a risky play due to the fact they may be trailing in this one, but they also have more upside here then a few of the other teams if things break their way. It’s a GPP only thing when contemplating using a road dog defense, but being contrarian can pay off on a small slate like this if and when you are right.
Pittsburgh Steelers ($3600) – An underdog on the road is not the ideal spot to target for fantasy defenses, but this is a special case. Peyton Manning will be back under center this week for the Broncos. For those who forget, the last time we saw him start was when he was pulled for Osweiler after throwing more picks in a half then any of us can ever remember seeing a QB throw. In fact it was not even that shocking at the time as Manning had thrown a pick in every single game he started this year. That and the big number of sacks the statuesque Manning had taken is still a large reason why Denver has allowed a top 6 number of fantasy points to opposing defenses. Remember that defensive scoring for fantasy purposes is not solely based on the number of points allowed. In fact I would argue that is the least important factor as most teams give up around 20 points a game which barely gets you a bonus point or two from the points allowed category. The way to score a lot of points with your fantasy defense is to find a team that has a good chance to rack up sacks and interceptions and hopefully be able to take one of them to the house. With the number of both Peyton has allowed this year, the Steelers D could lose this game, give up 24 points, and still have a chance to be the top scoring defense on the slate.
Arizona Cardinals ($3800) – One of the top scoring fantasy defenses on the season gets a matchup against a QB who very rarely turns the ball over. For that reason alone I have some reservations about using them. Throw in the fact this is the highest total game by a wide margin and things could be risky here. I love Arizona’s defense, do not get me wrong, but this is not an easy matchup for them to come away with large upside. They are favored, they are at home, and they should be playing with a lead. All those things are positive for them. Aaron Rodgers does not turn the ball over, they will give up a decent amount of points, and Rodgers does not get sacked a ton which are all bad things for them. There is a chance they get a big lead and force Rodgers to throw, which should increase the likelihood of them getting positive point scoring events. the problem is that forcing Aaron Rodgers to throw more may also not work out well for them. The loss of safety and slot cover man Tyrann Mathieu is a big deal. It will make life much easier for Randall Cobb who finds himself in the slot role more and more. We have yet to really see Arizona adjust to his absence, so we could have a breakdown or two here that leads to big plays. I do not hate Arizona’s D here, but also do not think they are a lock or a safe play in this matchup.
REST OF THE FIELD
New England Patriots ($3500) – The Chiefs want to run the football and throw a lot of short route, high percentage passes. That does not make it easy for the Pats to score fantasy points with sacks and interceptions. Alex Smith may not have the explosive ability some craved from him coming out of college, but he also is underrated as a game manager. Smith does not make many big mistakes. He is rarely the guy who forces throws or fumbles in a big spot. Smith may not be as explosive as some of these other guys, but he also is not as careless, EVER. This offense features a lot of bubble screens and check downs to avoid taking sacks and throwing interceptions. That makes it that much tougher still for the Pats to rack up fantasy points on D. The good news is they are at home and favored. If they can manage to pull away, they could force KC to forget the run and go to the air. This would be the only way I see them having a huge day, but even then it would not be a lock. KC has a defense that should be able to slow down the Patriots a bit, so if the offense does anything early, I think this game stays close and KC sticks to the ground as long as they can. There is a higher likelihood of a low score than a ceiling one in this matchup, so it’s tough to recommend the Pats here.
Green Bay Packers ($3400) – The Packers might be the worst defense, in the worst spot, with the worst matchup to target for fantasy purposes. They are on the road as underdogs to the biggest favorite on the day. The case for fading them is off to a great start after that stat packed sentence. They have allowed a ton of yards on the ground this year. 1117 of them a game to be exact and over 100 in 10 of 16 games with two others being very close. Arizona has been running it all over everyone lately and have shown the willingness to do so down the stretch. As a home favorite, likely to be ahead, hey could do a lot of running here again. Tackles on run plays do not help you rack up fantasy points. With that likely to be the case the Packers see, you can see why they are at the bottom of the list. Green Bay will likely be the lowest owned defense on the day if you are feeling lucky. For cash games I would steer well clear of them though.