Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Fantasy Defense Rankings Week 4: Who to start, sit at D/ST in fantasy football

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A few weeks into the season, stats are finally starting to mean something. They’re still not the end-all, be-all, as D/STs could’ve had some random good/bad games that are significantly inflating/deflating their numbers, but it’s time to start paying attention to which defenses are producing fantasy points and which offenses are giving them up (more so the latter). We’re not going to be slaves to the numbers, but our Week 4 fantasy defense rankings can help you find some sleepers and streamers in what looks like a tough week for many of the top drafted units. 

Matchups are always the first thing we look at putting together D/ST rankings, and they’re not particularly favorable for heavy-hitters such as the Patriots (vs. Buccaneers), Steelers (@ Packers), Ravens (@ Broncos), Rams (vs. Cardinals), and Panthers (@ Cowboys), among a couple others. It’s a tough call as to whether you should trust the talent and stick with these teams or try to stream, but given some of the struggles of the Steelers and Ravens — and the overall efficiency of the Bucs and Cardinals — it might be better to stream for them depending on your options.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | Kicker

If you’re looking for some potential pickups, both D/STs in the Colts-Dolphins game are in play given their respective QB issues, and both defenses in the Giants-Saints game are worth streaming given those quarterbacks’ historical turnover problems. You can also try your luck with the Bears (vs. Lions), Bengals (vs. Jaguars), and Titans (@ Jets), all of whom play weak, potentially turnover-prone offenses. 

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight endKicker

The fact that there are more good streaming options than “every-week” plays should tell you all you need to know about this position. Eventually, things will calm down a bit, but with offenses seemingly stronger than ever across the league (and virtually every rule seemingly designed to make things more difficult for defenses), it’s best to just look for the bad quarterbacks/offenses to stream against. Those will be far more consistent week-to-week than all but the very best D/STs, and even those are vulnerable against the very top offenses.

Injuries will continue to change which matchups are favorable/unfavorable, so it’s not an exact science, but generally speaking, the fantasy points per game allowed metric is more reliable than D/ST fantasy points scored. Plan ahead and take advantage.

Note: We’ll be updating these D/ST rankings as needed throughout the week. so check back for the latest movement and analysis.

Fantasy Defense Rankings Week 4: Who to start, sit at D/ST in fantasy football

Rank Team
1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ NE. Mac Jones and the Patriots had been pretty good at limiting fantasy points to D/STs through two games, but all hell broke loose against the Saints. New Orleans racked up three INTs, two sacks, a blocked kick, and a defensive TD in Week 3. That obviously won’t happen every week, but good defenses can exploit the Pats rookie QB and low-wattage offense, and Tampa certainly qualifies as a good defense despite a surprising lack of sacks (3).
2 Buffalo Bills vs. HOU. Davis Mills didn’t look ready for prime time last Thursday night, getting sacked four times and leading the Texans to just nine offensive points. Buffalo has seven sacks, six takeaways, and 21 total points allowed in the past two games, so this one could get really ugly in upstate New York.
3 New Orleans Saints vs. NYG. Daniel Jones is no stranger to turnovers, so despite his INT-free start to 2021, we just know the takeaway monster will rear its ugly head soon. New Orleans has six INTs and six sacks and has twice allowed fewer than 14 offensive points in a game this year. Given New York’s glut of WR injuries, there might be nowhere for Jones to go with the ball, which is a recipe for disaster — especially in what figures to be an emotion return to the Superdome for New Orleans.
4 Indianapolis Colts @ MIA. Jacoby Brissett and the Dolphins offense fared well in Las Vegas last week, allowing just two sacks no takeaways (not counting a safety). Indianapolis is a much stronger defense than Las Vegas, though, as shown by its five sacks and six takeaways this year despite facing three offensive powerhouses (Seahawks, Rams, Titans). This should be a good get-right game for the Colts. 
5 Miami Dolphins vs. IND. Miami has posted five sacks and five takeaways through three games, and it should be able to keep the score low against Indianapolis, who’s yet to score more than 18 offensive points in a game this year. Carson Wentz fared better than expected despite two sprained ankles last week, but that was against Tennessee’s pedestrian defense. The Dolphins will turn up the pressure and force him into some mistakes. 
6 Cincinnati Bengals vs. JAX. You might be surprised to see the Bengals ranked this high, but that’s probably because you haven’t been paying attention. With 10 sacks, four takeaways, and an average of just 16 offensive points allowed per game, the Bengals have been a high-floor D/ST so far this year. Yes, they’ve taken advantage of a couple favorable matchups, but the Jaguars present a similar outlook. Jacksonville has allowed multiple takeaways every game this year while averager fewer than 16 offensive points per game. Given the short turnaround for this Thursday road game, Jacksonville could be even less prepared and sloppier than usual.
7 Chicago Bears vs. DET. Chicago is back to being a big-play, all-or-nothing defense. It didn’t have a takeaway in Weeks 1 or 3, but it had four, including a pick-six in Week 2. About the only thing that’s been even semi-consistent for the Bears is their pass rush, which has racked up five sacks in each of the past two games. The Lions haven’t been terrible on offense, turning it over just three times and allowing six sacks on the year, but they have difficulty scoring (17 points each of the past two game) and we know Jared Goff can make crucial mistakes at any point in the game. Expect the Bears to “boom” this week at home.
8 Green Bay Packers vs. PIT. The Packers have gotten on track the past two weeks, totaling five sacks and two takeaways against the Lions and 49ers. Pittsburgh is slowly falling off track in that same span, scoring just 27 points, allowing six sacks, and turning it over three times. Given the injuries to the Steelers’ WR group and Ben Roethlisberger’s poor decision-making, the Packers are in position to rack up a solid amount of points at home. 
9 New York Giants @ NO. The big-play talented on the Giants’ defense hasn’t produced many fantasy points this year despite some decent matchups, but we started to see more signs of life last week when New York produced three sacks, a takeaway, and 17 offensive points allowed. The Saints have allowed seven sacks the past two weeks, and we know Jameis Winston is prone to bad mistakes. He looks legitimately more stable now than he was with the Bucs, but bad decisions are in his blood. The Giants have a decent floor, but their high ceiling is why they’re a top-10 play this week.
10 Tennessee Titans @ NYJ
11 Baltimore Ravens @ DEN
12 Cleveland Browns @ MIN
13 Washington Football Team @ ATL
14 Los Angeles Rams vs. ARI
15 Carolina Panthers @ DAL
16 Denver Broncos vs. BAL
17 Pittsburgh Steelers @ GB
18 New England Patriots vs. TB
19 Dallas Cowboys vs. CAR
20 Kansas City Chiefs @ PHI
21 San Francisco 49ers vs. SEA
22 Las Vegas Raiders @ LAC
23 Seattle Seahawks @ SF
24 Atlanta Falcons vs. WAS
25 Detroit Lions @ CHI
26 Philadelphia Eagles vs. KC
27 Arizona Cardinals @ LAR
28 New York Jets vs. TEN
29 Los Angeles Chargers vs. LV
30 Minnesota Vikings vs. CLE
31 Jacksonville Jaguars @ CIN
32 Houston Texans @ BUF

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