Losing the Ravens and Raiders D/STs to byes this week isn’t particularly impactful to our Week 8 fantasy defense rankings. Neither are “must-starts” (though the Ravens are highly owned), nor are either favorable matchups for opposing defenses. That means we have a full complement of top units, sleepers, and waiver wire streamers at our disposal to make start ’em, sit ’em decisions a little easier.
The Bengals (@ Jets), Chargers (vs. Patriots), Seahawks (vs. Jaguars), Eagles (@ Lions), and Bears (vs. 49ers) lead our list of potential streamers who are widely available in most leagues. Some of those teams are extremely risky — namely, the Seahawks and Eagles — but given the matchups, they all have some big-play, boom-or-bust upside. The Patriots, Jets, and Jaguars entered Week 7 in the top five in fantasy points per game (FPPG) allowed to D/STs, and the Lions ranked 10th. The Bears are simply a decent D/ST, at least for fantasy purposes, and get a middling offense at home, so they have some potential.
The Falcons (vs. Panthers) and Chiefs (vs. Giants) are also in favorable matchups and have similar boom-or-bust profiles as the Seahawks and Eagles. However, they’ve shown even less competence. You could always take a chance, especially since they’re both playing at home, but you’re taking a huge risk. On the other hand…they’re due, right?
Among regular starters, the Patriots (@ Chargers), Saints (vs. Buccaneers), and Colts (vs. Titans) are better off left on benches this week. The Colts always seem to play the Titans tough, as shown by the sack and three takeaways they had in Tennessee in Week 3, so if you feel you need to stick with them, you might be able to get away with it. Otherwise, look to stream one of the potential sleepers mentioned above.
We’re also getting to that time of year when weather might play a factor and turn some teams we haven’t even mentioned here into potential starting units. We saw that last week in the Colts-49ers fumble fest. Be sure to keep track of the weather forecasts leading up to the weekend.
Overall, this is a pretty good week for D/STs, though it would be nice if some better defenses had a few of the more favorable matchups. As it stands, most fantasy owners should be able to feel good about the D/ST in their lineup going into Sunday, and that’s about all you can ask for from this position.
Note: We’ll be updating these D/ST rankings throughout the week, so check back for the latest analysis and player movement.
Fantasy Defense Rankings Week 8: Who to start, sit at D/ST in fantasy football