Fantasy Defense Rankings Week 8: Who to start, sit at D/ST in fantasy football


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.

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

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?

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

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

Rank Team
1 Los Angeles Rams @ HOU
2 Pittsburgh Steelers @ CLE
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ NO
4 Buffalo Bills vs. MIA
5 Cincinnati Bengals @ NYJ.  The Jets have been in the top five in fantasy points per game (FPPG) allowed to D/STs virtually all season. Now, with Zach Wilson (knee) out and Joe Flacco likely taking over, things could somehow get even worse. You can make a case for the surprising Bengals and their strong pass rush to be even higher, but the four D/STs ahead of them are more proven and in good matchups of their own. Still, it wouldn’t be a shock if Cincinnati finished as the top overall D/ST this week. 
6 Los Angeles Chargers vs. NE.  You’d never know the Pats were a top-five team in FPPG allowed to defenses after they put up 54 points and allowed just one sack and no takeaways to the Jets last week. Of course, that was against the Jets in Foxboro. This week, they travel out West to take on a rested Chargers team. While LA hasn’t put up a ton of points this year, it has been better over its past four games, registering 10 sacks, five INTs, and two fumble recoveries. Given the rest of the options this week, the Chargers have the potential to be a top streamer.
7 San Francisco 49ers @ CHI.  The 49ers continue to suffer injuries all over their defense, but the Bears offense can’t get out of its own way. It’s allowing 3.7 sacks and 1.4 takeaways per game on the season, and it’s been held under 15 offensive points in four-of-six games. Even the 49ers and their somewhat shocking lack of takeaways (4) can take advantage of that. 
8 Denver Broncos vs. WAS.  Everyone watched the Broncos defense get shredded by D’Ernest Johnson last week, but despite disappointing against Cleveland’s backup backfield, Denver still has some upside. Washington’s offense is trending downward, averaging just 11.5 offensive points while giving up four sacks and turning it over four times in its past two games against mediocre-to-poor Kansas City and Green Bay defenses. The Broncos are banged up at LB, but they still have playmakers in the secondary and recently traded for a few reinforcements to help tide them over. 
9 Seattle Seahawks vs. JAX. Seattle has done next to nothing for fantasy purposes (though tough matchups have been a part of that), but there have been a few positive signs, including getting at least one takeaway in all but one game and racking up multiple sacks in three-of-six games leading up to Week 7. OK, it’s not much, but not much is needed against Jacksonville. The Jags have turned it over multiple times in four-of-six games and have allowed multiple sacks and three of the past four contests. Trevor Lawrence playing in Seattle doesn’t seem like a recipe for success. 
10 Philadelphia Eagles @ DET. The Lions haven’t topped 19 offensive points in a game since Week 1. They simply struggles to move the ball, and a couple sacks and turnovers are usually part of the reason. Philadelphia is similar to Seattle in that it hasn’t done much (especially lately), but it’s good enough to take advantage of a favorable matchup. The last time the Eagles faced soft opposition, it racked up three sacks and three INTs while allowing just 16 offensive points to the Panthers. 
11 Dallas Cowboys @ MIN. Dallas has multiple takeaways in every game this year and has scored three D/STs touchdowns in its past four games. The Vikings have struggled a bit in their past three games, either struggling to score (Week 4), turning it over multiple times (Week 5), or allowing a D/ST touchdown (Week 6). Overall, this probably isn’t a “favorable” matchup for the Cowboys, but clearly they have a ton of upside in any matchup. 
12 Carolina Panthers @ ATL. Carolina has found a way to get points more often than not, but last week’s dud in a favorable matchup against the Giants was the first big disappointment (assuming you didn’t think they’d do well against the Cowboys). The Falcons have been much better since a shaky start, though a string of favorable matchups are part of the reason. Overall, this is a slightly above-average matchup for the Panthers, and even with Atlanta playing well, it’s still turned it over four times in the past two games. 
13 Cleveland Browns vs. PIT. The Steelers are middle of the pack in fantasy points allowed to D/STs, but Cleveland has a strong pass rush, which could give an immobile Ben Roethlisberger trouble. The Browns have multiple sacks in all but one game, and they’ve allowed 14 offensive points or fewer in three-of-six games this year. 
14 Chicago Bears vs. SF. San Francisco’s turnover-filled Week 7 was likely due more to the weather conditions than anything else. However, a Jimmy Garoppolo-led 49ers offense has had turnover issues in past weeks, and if he isn’t 100 percent, that just means he’s more likely to take sacks or make mistakes. The Bears struggled against Tom Brady last week, but prior to that, they had 20 sacks in their previous five games. The Bears can get back on track in this slightly favorable matchup. 
15 Indianapolis Colts vs. TEN. Tennessee has consistently scored (29 ppg) and limited turnovers (2) over its past four games, but Indianapolis has been hot lately, recording multiple takeaways in all but one of the past six games and multiple sacks in each of the past four games. Indianapolis always seems to play Tennessee tough, as shown by its three takeaways against them in Week 3; however, it allowed 25 points and only recorded one sack in that game. That’s probably how this game goes, too, with Indy scoring around seven or eight fantasy points. That’s a decent number, but if you feel you need a “boom” game, try a team like the Seahawks or Eagles.
16 New England Patriots @ LAC. The Patriots are a top fantasy D/ST, but the Chargers are tough to get points again. Baltimore managed it before LA’s bye by limiting the Bolts to six points, but even in that game the Ravens managed just two sacks and one takeaway. The Pats have a decent floor, but their ceiling is low. 
17 Arizona Cardinals vs. GB
18 Atlanta Falcons vs. CAR
19 Kansas City Chiefs vs. NYG
20 Minnesota Vikings vs. DAL
21 Tennessee Titans @ IND
22 Green Bay Packers @ ARI
23 New Orleans Saints vs. TB
24 New York Jets vs. CIN
25 Jacksonville Jaguars @ SEA
26 Washington Football Team @ DEN
27 New York Giants @ KC
28 Miami Dolphins @ BUF
29 Detroit Lions vs. PHI
30 Houston Texans vs. LAR

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