Fantasy Football DEF/ST Strategy for Week 7

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After I threw them under the bus last week, Week 6 brought us the 31st different team defense to finish in the fantasy top-12 this season when Atlanta picked off Kirk Cousins three times. That leaves just the Las Vegas Raiders as the lone DEF to not have a top-12 finish this season. We actually have more teams that have finished in the top-12 every week: Baltimore and Pittsburgh, than teams that haven’t accomplished the feat once. This week, the Raiders will be facing one of the best fantasy DEFs from last week. Four teams led the way in Week 6, let’s see how they did it and who might take their spot after Week 7.

Week 6 Top Performances

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs GB
The Buccaneers started the 2nd quarter with a pick-6 and basically shut Aaron Rodgers down for the rest of the game after the first 15 minutes. They sacked Rodgers five times, picked him off twice, and of course, took one of those back for a TD. The Packers failed to score after the 1st quarter ended and Tampa Bay ended the week as the top D/ST.

Week 7 Matchup: @ LV
The Buccaneers DEF is a good streaming option again this week. They stop the run well and will likely force a few turnovers in this game. The Raiders scoring could be an issue based on what we saw from them against Kansas City in Week 5. There are better options but you could also do far worse than Tampa Bay in Week 7.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs CLE
The Steelers DEF scored as many points as the Cleveland offense this week. Baker Mayfield came into the game banged up and was forced out of the game once the score was out of hand. The Steelers sacked Mayfield four times in this game and ended with two interceptions, both thrown by Mayfield. Minkah Fitzpatrick took one of those INTs back for a TD and that was enough to land then the #2 spot.

Week 7 Matchup: @ TEN
It is probably not a great idea to start either DEF in this game (more on that later) but do not cut the Steelers DEF. They have finished in the fantasy top-12 every game they’ve played this season and still have an outside chance to finish in the top-12 this week. If you can’t free up a roster spot, start them with tempered expectations.

Miami Dolphins vs NYJ
Three defenses managed to score more points than the Jets offense did this week. That’s because we had three defensive TDs…and not one point from the Jets. Miami was a bit of a surprise as my Stream of the Week last week, but they handled their business and shut out the Jets. The Miami D/ST has put together top-3 performances in back-to-back weeks, though this week they tied for 3rd.

Week 7 Matchup: BYE

Arizona Cardinals @ DAL
There were concerns for the Dallas offense heading into this game. Well, one concern: how would Andy Dalton do in his first game taking over this offense? Turns out,  the concern was well deserved. Andy Dalton is not Dak Prescott and prime-time Andy Dalton still looks bad. The Cardinals sacked Dalton three times, forced four turnovers: two Dalton INTs and two Ezekiel Elliott fumbles, and held the Cowboys to just 10 points scored. If not for the TD Dallas scored in the last three minutes of the game, Arizona would have had a top-3 finish to themselves, instead of sharing with Miami.

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Week 7 Matchup: vs SEA
Arizona’s DEF held their own against DAL but Russell Wilson is not Andy Dalton. Seattle is far too dangerous to play any D/ST against them this season.

Week 7 Starts

Buffalo Bills @ NYJ
It’s the Jets. It’s Adam Gase. It’s not Le’Veon Bell. So it’s definitely my Start of the Week. Buffalo’s D/ST hasn’t looked as good this season as they have in the past but a date with the Jets should fix that right up. After a tough game with Kansas City, facing the team that gives up the most fantasy points to D/ST is the definition of a bounce-back game.

LA Rams vs CHI
The Rams DEF didn’t show up in their game against the 49ers but should find the going easier against the Bears. Jalen Ramsey should be very familiar with Allen Robinson from their time together in Jacksonville and Aaron Donald should get after Nick Foles all day long. Expect sacks, expect turnovers, and don’t be surprised if you see a DEF TD in this one.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

New England vs SF
Surprisingly, the 49ers give up the 7th most fantasy points to D/ST and the Patriots DEF is still very good. They are the #6 fantasy DEF on the season and have finished in the top-12 in 4 of 5 games this season. The 49ers looked much better against the Rams last week but had given up 30 total fantasy points in their two previous games.

Stream of the Week

LA Chargers vs JAX
This game could end up higher scoring but that will likely be due to garbage time Gardner Minshew. I expect the Jaguars DEF to struggle with Justin Herbert and put their own offense in tough spots. The Chargers haven’t looked great this season but they have scored at least three fantasy points in every game. They should be able to get after Minshew, forcing enough sacks and turnovers to make up for any points allowed. The Chargers D/ST is available in 71% of Yahoo leagues.
Other Options: Giants, Bengals, Jaguars, Buccaneers

Week 7 Sits

Philadelphia Eagles vs NYG (Thursday Night)
Don’t get fooled into streaming the Eagles. There are far better options out there and they are just as likely to let Daniel Jones go off as they are to finish in the top-10. Philly’s DEF looked good in Week 4 against San Francisco, and most DEFs have looked good against San Fran this season, but that was it for the Eagles. Otherwise, they struggle to score five fantasy points. They are not worth the gamble.

Tennessee Titans vs PIT
The long and short is that you don’t start DEFs against the Steelers. They give up the 4th fewest points to D/ST and this game is far more likely to be a shoot-out than the low-scoring running game that we would normally expect from these two teams.

New Orleans Saints vs CAR
Teddy Two-Gloves Revenge Game. Teddy Bridgewater has played well and now faces his former team. While I doubt there is any animosity between the two sides, the narrative is still fun. The fact is that Carolina gives up the 10th fewest points to D/ST and have held fantasy DEF to 4 or fewer points in 4 of 6 games this year. New Orleans DEF hasn’t looked good since Week 1 for fantasy purposes and should be left on waivers coming off their bye.

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Top DEF/ST Year-to-Date

*All Stats and Scores from FantasyData.com, your league scoring may differ. Rank vs Pass/Run based on yards allowed.

Rank Team Fantasy
Points
Weeks in
Top-12
Points
Allowed
Sacks INTs Fumbles
Recovered
DEF/ST
TDs
Safety Block
Kicked
Rank vs
Run
Rank vs
Pass
1 Ravens 78 6 104 22 6 9 3 0 0 11 13
2 Colts 67 4 107 13 10 0 3 2 0 3 1
3 Buccaneers 61 4 110 22 8 3 1 1 1 1 6
4 Steelers 54 5 94 24 8 1 1 1 0 2 8
5 Dolphins 46 3 113 17 5 3 0 0 0 19 17
6 Patriots 43 4 104 8 6 4 2 0 0 16 9
7 Giants 41 4 146 15 4 4 2 0 0 8 16
7 Chiefs 41 4 127 13 7 2 1 0 0 30 3
9 Cardinals 40 3 112 17 3 4 0 0 1 17 11
10 Bears 38 2 116 15 5 3 0 0 0 14 10
10 Rams 38 3 114 20 4 2 0 0 0 11 4
12 Browns 37 3 181 14 6 6 1 1 0 4 27

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