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 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
Atlanta Falcons ($3300) – The Falcons defense was able to put up two nice scores at home when the offense exploded and gave them a big lead to protect. In the last game though, Drew Brees picked them apart on the road and they finished with zero total fantasy points. The way to attack the Falcons has been on the ground, as they have allowed the most fantasy points to RBs through the first five weeks of any team in the league. The Titans running back situation is a mess though, so it is doubtful they will be able to take advantage of it. The Falcons have allowed some of the fewest points to QBs and WRs so far this season. With Mariota likely out and Mettenberger in, it will not be any easier if they do have to pass. Falcons may be able to get up early on the Titans and if they can force Mettenberger and the Titans into predictable passing downs, I think the defense will be able to get some sacks and interceptions in order to pay off the salary.
New England Patriots ($3200) – The Pats are a sneaky good defense to play this weekend. Despite the high scores and the high pace, they are only 9th in points allowed. The offense really helps the defense as the get big leads and force the opponents into being one dimensional. The only other time that happened to the Jets, Ryan Fitzpatrick had a bad game playing catch up against the Eagles and they lost. The Pats are averaging almost four sacks and more than a turnover per game. If they get a lead, it is not hard to envision them reaching those numbers Sunday.
Pittsburgh Steelers ($2600) – The Steelers are in a pretty good spot here. The Chiefs will be without Charles and Maclin is also looking iffy. That means the Steelers will be facing a team with Albert Wilson as a WR1 and Charcandrick West as the starting running back. The Chiefs will have trouble moving the ball and scoring here, so it’s not a good spot for them. If you excuse the opening game against the Patriots, the Steelers defense has averaged over 10 fantasy points per contest. With a struggling offense missing it’s best weapons on the other sideline, a cheap defense like the Steelers with some sneaky good averages makes for a really solid play as a favorite on the road in a lower total game.
Arizona Cardinals ($3600) – It is tough to pay up for Arizona in this match up, because the Ravens have been pretty good. Arizona has been very good on defense though, so it could go either way. Arizona has the 5th lowest QB fantasy points allowed, 2nd lowest TE points, and the 7th lowest RB number. Those are some lofty stats. They also have a scoring average of only 19 points allowed per game and a league high 11 interceptions. While those numbers as a home favorite point to a big game, they play a pretty explosive offense. Baltimore is 10th for yards averaged and has the 8th most points scored per game. If Arizona is able to limit the run game, which is likely with Forsett banged up, then they could really go after Flaaco in predictable passing situations and make some plays. They may not get the sacks, but that ball hawking defense could end up with a pick six and that would really help them reach value here.
MIDDLE OF THE PACK
Washington Redskins ($2500) – The Redskins are in a real nice spot here for a bounce back game. They are at home and favored against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Skins have averaged over two sacks and 1.5 turnovers per game and now face a team with a young turnover prone QB. The Redskins have been stout against the pass lately, but have been buried by the run in recent weeks. Atlanta and New York have picked up nearly 400 total yards in the last two weeks on the ground against them, so you can expect to see a lot of Doug Martin early. When the Redskins get up as the score suggests though, we could see them rack up the fantasy points as Winston makes mistakes. They have scored double digit fantasy points in recent weeks, so it’s not out of the question for them. Tampa is 20th for yards per game and 26th overall in scoring, so it’s not like they are facing a juggernaut offense here.
St. Louis Rams ($2400) – The Rams defense has been ok, but nowhere near as dominate as some expected. While that is entirely true, this match up sets up nicely for them. They are averaging close to four sacks and two turnovers per game so far on their way to just shy of 10 fantasy points per game. They have allowed the 29th fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks so far, which means this should be a tough game for Josh McCown who has played well lately. If the Rams can generate pressure against a team that has been pass heavy lately, then they should be able to rack up some sacks and force a few turnovers which will help boost their fantasy score. They allow under 350 total yards and about 20 points per game. In a game where they should be leading late at home, they should have a chance to rack up some fantasy points while protecting a lead and forcing the Browns to throw.
Miami Dolphins ($2700) – Miami is favored and at home in a low total game. Normally this is a recipe for moving a team up in the rankings, but this one could go a little bit differently. Houston is the highest paced team in the league right now, with the lowest number of seconds per play. Miami is actually third, so I’m not really sure why the total here is so low. The Dolphins defense finally woke up last week and finished with 6 sacks and 4 turnovers. Houston has been putting up yards with their quick pace, and Arian Foster’s return has also coincided with the scoring numbers picking up. While Miami may be able to force the Texans into bad situations and the defense may be able to get some pressure, I still think Houston hangs a few points on them which will count negatively against the positive events.
Minnesota Vikings ($3000) – The Vikings defense has been pretty solid this year for fantasy. While they have not been dominant, they have been a consistent source of points that has not killed you. They play at a slow pace, so the opponents scoring average is low.They also have averaged 2 sacks and just shy of two turnovers per game. They face a team that was a fountain of fantasy points up until last week. The Vikings are favored in this one and Stafford has a lot of turnovers this year. If they can get a lead, they should be able to force them into some situations that can lead to positive fantasy points. I would not expect a huge game out of them, but they have been averaging almost 9 a game which is solid for the price tag.
New York Jets ($2900) – This is the a story of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object. The Jets have the best defense in the league in terms of yards allowed and scoring average. They give up the second fewest points to quarterbacks (Brady) and Running backs (Lewis and Blount) as well as the fourth fewest to tight ends (Gronk). They are allowing the ninth fewest to wide receivers, but they also have their top one pretty banged up with a few broken fingers (Edelman). It would seem like the Jets should be first based off those numbers, but not in this match up. The Patriots have scored the most points per game with about 36 as an average. They have the second most yards gained with 422 and are the top offense in all of football. Brady rarely gets sacked and almost never turns it over. If the Pats score a ton and he does no do those two things, how will the Jets defense score any fantasy points? They are the best defense in the league so I can not put them on the bottom rung, but as a 9 point underdog in a game with a total near 50, I also can not recommend them in this match up.
Kansas City Chiefs ($2700) – When the Chiefs have been able to control the run, they have put up double digit fantasy points in those four games. When they have allowed over 100 yards rushing, they have averaged -3.5 in those two contests. That makes them a very volatile defense that would only be a GPP play. The bad news is they will have trouble controlling the run with LeVeon Bell carrying the ball. The good news is Ben Roethlisberger looks likely to remain out. After a horrid first half last week, the Steelers made the switch from Mike Vick to Landry Jones. Neither guy is a world beater, so that could be good for the Chiefs. The problem is the Chiefs are without their best player in Jamaal Charles and may also be without Jeremy Maclin who left early last week. If so, they may struggle to score and be down late. That would mean a heavier dose of LeVeon and likely less chances to score fantasy points. If they could get a lead, they could have upside. The likelihood is they will be trailing though and that would mean a low score is probable.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($2600) – The Bucs do not have a good defense here, but the match up is not horrible either. They are pretty solid against the run, but have been torched in the air this year. The Redskins aerial attack has not been good as Cousins has been picked off 7 times. If DeSean Jackson is still out, then the RedSkins do not really have the offensive fire power to take advantage of the fact the Bucs allow a lot of fantasy points to QBs and WRs. Cousins is always good for a few turnovers if forced to throw in bad situations. Tampa is expected to be trailing, but they could put up some fantasy points if they can somehow get a lead.
REST OF THE FIELD
Baltimore Ravens ($3000) – This is the one defense will definitely be staying away from. The Ravens are stout against the run but allow the second most fantasy points to quarterbacks and wide receivers. The strength of this Cardinals attack is Carson Palmer, the quarterback, and his pass catchers. Their strength is exactly what the weakness is of the Ravens defense and that is bad. The small upside is that they may be able to score some fantasy points with sacks or turnovers as the Cardinals will likely be throwing early and often. The bad news is the Cardinals are efficient when they throw early and often, so they could seriously rack up the real life points and kill the chance for the Ravens D to have positive fantasy points.
Carolina Panthers ($3100) – This is a controversial one, so let me lay out the case. Carolina has a good scoring average on defense, but most of those points came in only two games. They are at home and favored, but the total is pretty high and Philly has been putting up some points lately. When they have a big lead and can force the pass, they have played well and scored some fantasy points. In close games that have gone back and forth though, they really haven’t. There is definitely a chance they could put up a good number if they get a big lead, but this offense is not explosive enough to go up multiple scores. More than likely, we will see a lot of running from both teams in this one early, which limits a lot of the scoring on either side of the football for defenses. Carolina is also not cheap, so they would need to limit the Eagles points and really rack up the defensive positives,neither of which I think is likely.
Detroit Lions ($2600) – In the last three home games, the Lions have finished with an average of 1.6 fantasy points. It’s no shock they are an underdog at home here again. Minnesota has the second lowest offensive output in the league so far in terms of yards (305) and total points (96). Detroit’s defense has had a big game or two, but for the most part, they too have not been good. Minnesota will try to keep it on the ground with Peterson as much as possible. That will limit the chances for Detroit to score fantasy points. Detroit’s defense has been allowing a top 9 fantasy average to every single offensive position. With those two things mixed together as well as being an underdog, I can’t see them having a huge game.
Tennessee Titans ($2600) – The Titans have a very tough match up staring them in the face here. They have given up at least 28 points in three of the last four weeks. They have given up over 100 yards rushing in four straight games and now get to face the hottest rushing offense in the NFL. Devonta Freeman has almost 700 yards to go with 9 touchdowns in the last 4 weeks since becoming a starter. While many will argue the Titans have limited opposing running backs to the 27th most fantasy points per game so far, they have given up over 550 yards in the last four games. The Falcons are favored by 4 in a game with a total of 48 and a half. They should see a large dose of the run with Freeman spearheading the attack. They have been beat in the air as well lately, so the upside here is basically non-existent.
Houston Texans ($2900) – The Texans have given up 20 points or more in all but one game this season. They have also scored 6 or feer total fantasy points in all but one as well. Both teams play at a hot pace and Miami is favored, so the Texans could be allowing a lot of points here. Despite the perception of that defense as a good one, they really have no racked up a ton of stats. They only had six sacks and 2 interceptions in the five games leading up to the last one. In that game they had 3 of each against Jacksonville which was the only good game this defense played all year fantasy wise. As the road dog here who will likely be trailing, they may see a ton of Lamar Miller and not have any chance for upside late.
San Diego Chargers ($2600) – Despite being at home and favored in this one, I think the Chargers defense will underperform. They have been horrible against the run. Fantasy running backs are scoring the second most points against them of any team in the league. Oakland’s passing game has also been solid, so it’s no slam dunk they will rack up fantasy points if they force Oakland to pass. They have a very low scoring average for a fantasy defense and the high total in this one leads me to believe that will continue. After a rough start, the Raiders defense has racked up 10 sacks and 7 turnovers in the last three games. While they could score a few fantasy points here, they are also likely to give up a ton of real life points in this high total game and negate the positives.
Oakland Raiders ($2400) – The Raiders are underdogs on the road. They have been slightly better than average at defending almost every offensive position, yet still have allowed 23.6 points per contest. They face the Chargers offense that has has actually outgained the Patriots by an average of 11 yards per game to be the most prolific offense on that metric mostly due to the 20 yard per game lead they have over everybody in passing yards.
Cleveland Browns ($2300) – The Browns are in a tough spot this weekend as far as fantasy defenses go. The good thing for them is that St. Louis is not a very high powered offense. In fact they are averaging the least amount of yards per game so far in the NFL with only 297 total per game. The bad news is that they have been playing better lately and their offensive game plan is not one that lends itself to a lot of fantasy points being scored. The Rams will likely try to keep the ball on the ground and pound the run with Todd Gurley. That means the Browns will have very few chances to score fantasy points through sacks or interceptions. Given how bad their rush defense is, we could see a huge game from Gurley here. The Rams are at home and favored as well. That means they will likely be trailing late and seeing an even bigger douse of the run. If Cleveland can not force St. Louis into passing situations, they will not be able to score any fantasy points and will likely end up with a very low score.
Indianapolis Colts ($2300) – The Colts are favored at home in one of the higher scoring games on the slate. They have been allowing a ton of points this year and New Orleans has been scoring, so they are not likely to hold any points allowed bonus. They are only averaging about a sack and a turnover per game, so there is not much to hope for in terms of upside. Drew Brees does not get sacked or turn it over often either, so the match up is just bad on all fronts here.
New Orleans Saints ($2000) – The Saints defense might be one of the few who have looked worse than the Colts have. They are averaging about 27 points allowed per game and have given up the most yards on average at about 410. They are the underdog on the road here too, so that also factors into the decision. As mentioned above, this is one of the biggest totals on the day and given how easily other teams have scored on the Saints, I have no problem expecting Luck to do the same. They are insanely cheap and have averaged more sacks and turnovers than Indy. I still would not look to roll either of them in this one though as both are likely to have a low score.
New York Giants ($2800) – This does not set up really well for the Giants defense today. Dallas will try to slow it down with the run. That means not many opportunities for fantasy points early. They should have a lead late, which would hopefully force Dallas to have to throw. They are making some changes to that Dallas offense this week, so we will find out whether or not they will help. The Giants have not generated a ton of pressure as evidenced by the low sack totals. While they are likely to wiin the game, the defense is not likely to put up a huge fantasy total.
Dallas Cowboys ($2500) – The Cowboys do not really have anything going for them here. They are underdogs, on the road, and have one of the lowest scoring fantasy defenses. They have only averaged 5 points per game and face a Giants team that is fast paced and high scoring. Dallas had one game where the defense scored 19 fantasy points and the rest of the games have been a disaster with an average of only 1.5 per contest. With that backdrop, they are definitely not in play.