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
St. Louis Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers ($3200) – The Rams are at home, favored by 7, and playing in the lowest total game of the weekend. They face a bad offense in San Fran that not only struggles to score, but is also yielding the 10th most points to fantasy defenses this season. In six games so far this season, the Rams have recorded 23 sacks and 13 Turnovers. That breaks down to about 4 sacks and 2 TOs per contest. They have also limited opponents to an average of only 18 actual points per game which is low enough to give them some bonus points. The Rams do very well limiting the fantasy points to the passing game. If they get a lead early, they will be able to pin their ears back and really attack Colin Kaepernick. That will lead to sacks and could lead to some turnovers as well. That is when the defense will really rack up the fantasy points.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Cleveland Browns ($4000) – The Cards are favored by 4.5 here on the road vs. Cleveland. They have a stout defense against the pass and the run that has allowed some of the lowest fantasy outputs to not only quarterbacks and wide receivers, but running backs as well. The real key to how much upside they will have is the status of Josh McCown. McCown very well may be out this week and that would mean a chance to tee off on Johnny Football for the Cards. McCown has actually been very good so far this season and while Manziel will likely throw less, he may be forced to throw when the Cardinals ultimately get a lead. To top it off the Cards have a solid specials teams until that can score some points too, so they have many paths to a high score and all will be needed at a lofty price of $4000.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($3400) – The thing about rookie QBs is that they are consistently inconsistent. Everyone is drooling over the game Winston played and the connections to Mike Evans, but how sure are we that he can repeat that effort? Atlanta is home, favored, and plays well in that scenario usually. The last two times they found themselves in that spot they put up a combined 33 points in back to back games while leaning heavily on Devonta Freeman. If they can get a score early and feed Freeman the rock, they should be able to keep that lead and force Tampa into obvious passing situations. Tampa has been trying to limit the exposure of Jameis Winston, but will not have that luxury if trailing. In that scenario we could easily see bad Winston come back and bad Winston has been a source of sacks and turnovers all season long. The game script sets up nicely for Atlanta and if they can repeat the last two home efforts, they should have a nice upside game here Sunday.
New Orleans Saints vs. New York Giants ($2000) – The price is not the only reason why the Saints make for a good play here, but it certainly does not hurt that they are minimum price. They are favored by 3 and at home in this one. They played a much better Falcons team tough in this situation two weeks ago, so I think they can do a good job against a struggling Giants team. The Giants are coming off a home win vs. the Cowboys, but it had nothing to do with the offense. The Giants squeaked by with a win there, but it took a kickoff return and a pick 6 for them to really put points up on the board. With the Giants offensive struggles, I think the Saints can put up a good game. They have a top flight CB that they can match up with Beckham to neutralize the Giants top offensive threat. The Saints D has managed 9 sacks and 6 turnovers in the last two games as well, so that Falcons game seems to have woke them up.
MIDDLE OF THE PACK
Carolina Panthers vs. Indianapolis Colts ($3200) – Carolina is one of the best defenses in the NFL. They have given up the third fewest points to QBs, the fourth fewest to WR, the 8th fewest to TE and are in the bottom half against running backs as well. The do not have a real weakness to attack on that side of the ball. Josh Norman is quickly becoming one of the best corners in the game and their strengths on the defensive side will be a bad fit for the Indy offense. They have 18 sacks and 12 forced turnovers in 6 games this season. That is an average of 3 sacks and 2 TOs per game. Luck has been turnover prone this year due to a shoddy offensive line. The Panthers being favored should force him into throwing downs. While Luck is good enough to make some plays, this defense is also good enough to get pressure and force turnovers, both of which should lead to fantasy points scored.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Dallas Cowboys ($3700) – If this game was in Seattle I would have the Seahawks as a top 3 defense, but they have been giving up more yards and points this season on the road, so I have some concern. Mostly my concern is there lack of offensive punch. If they can not get a lead and force Dallas to play fast and throw the ball, this could be a slow boring grind it out game with a real lack of fantasy scoring. Dallas likes to shorten games anyway and when you add in the fact that run heavy games do not yield many fantasy points, it becomes a concern. While I think they can ultimately get the lead and force Dallas to play catch up, if it takes too long to happen they may not have a lot of chances to go after the QB and force mistakes. This is a GPP only defense for me as they are as likely to score twenty as they are to score five.
REST OF THE FIELD
New York Jets vs. Oakland Raiders ($2900) – The Jets D gave up a bunch to New England last week, but held tough for most of the game. New England has a juggernaut of an offense, so it’s no shame playing them tough. The Jets run D is superb, which is bad news for Latavius Murray this weekend. While passing against them is the way to attack, it has not exactly been successful to do so. The Jets allow the least points to fantasy QBs and RBs, the second fewest to Ks, fourth fewest to TEs and fifth fewest to WRs. In fact there really is no good way to attack this defense. The Jets are favored and should be able to get their own ground game going. The defense has been so good, that if they get a lead it’s almost a lock they can rack up some sacks and turnovers. Oakland does have some explosiveness in the passing game with guys like Cooper and Crabtree, so it’s not a slam dunk, but this is the cheapest you will probably see the top statistical defense in the NFL all year against an opponent not named the Patriots.
Denver Broncos vs. Green Bay Packers ($2900) – This is one of the few match ups I am eagerly awaiting a chance to watch. It’s also one of the few I have absolutely no desire to have too much exposure to on either side. Denver has been the every week cash game staple that many players have used to make money. Having a piece of the Green Bay passing game has also proven to be a good strategy in recent weeks. The problem is that Denver’s pass defense is so good and the Green Bay pass attack is as well and when you put them both together, it’s tough to figure which wins out. Denver will likely not be this cheap again, but as well as they have played it is still tough to pull the trigger. Rodgers rarely turns it over and rarely takes sacks. He also has a knack for scoring points against anyone. None of those things are positive for the potential upside of the Broncos. Despite being the best fantasy defense so far of 2015, I am not sure how much I can trust them, even at home.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears ($3100) – The return of Cutler and Jefferey helped the offense look better last time out, but this is still not a very solid offense. The Vikings on the other hand do have a pretty stout defense. The Vikings have allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points to WBs, sixth to RBs, and 7th to WRs. Sure keeping the ball on the ground and controlling the clock plays a part, but they have also averaged over 9 fantasy points per game on the back of an average of 3 sacks and 1.5 turnovers per game. We all know that Cutler was a league leader in interceptions thrown in 2014 and the porous offensive line can be taken advantage of. If the Vikings get a lead, you can expect them to pound out the clock and force the Bears to throw in order to catch up. That is when this opportunistic defense can really make things happen and rack up a nice fantasy total.