Knowing what team to start at defense is hard. It is often entirely matchup-based, injury dependant, or seemingly entirely random. But there is a method to its madness. Whether you stream defenses week by week or have an inconsistent defense you’re nervous about, below is a list that breaks down what team is the best play for week 10.
1. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have been rewarding fantasy owners all season long. Averaging double-digit fantasy points, they are currently ranked as the number two fantasy defense. This weekend they are playing a struggling New England offense that has only been able to score 20.8 points per game (28th). The Ravens are the clear number one defense in week 10.
2. Green Bay Packers
The Packers are not known for this defense this season. Any noise surrounding Green Bay has been about their dominant offense. That being said, the Packers defense ranks largely above average in most statistical measures. They’re 11th in yards allowed per game, 17th in points allowed per game, and 14th in stopping the opposing team on third down. Ultimately these stats reflect a streaming defense, in other words their matchup based. Against an unproven rookie in Jake Luton and a struggling offense, they’re a good start.
3. New York Giants
I knew my headline would draw controversy so I was careful when crafting it. Start trusting means having some optimism about the Giants defense, not blind faith. The offense is known for its turnovers and will subsequently give many drives to their opponent, but the defense has played well anyway. I’m not asking you to trust this Giants’ team, and certainly not this team’s offense, but start trusting their defense.
Quietly, the Giants rank 12th in points allowed, 15th in yards allowed – and maybe most strikingly – 9th in fantasy defenses. This is largely because they’ve recorded 2nd most total takeaways this season with 15. They are measurably a well above average defense. With touchdown scoring Tae Crowder back in the lineup this weekend, I like New York’s odds of racking up points against a poor Eagles’ offense.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have been a top defense all season, but they’re looking at an especially easy matchup this weekend. Facing a Cincinatti team that scores just 24.2 points per game (20th), and 361.9 yards per game (18th), Pittsburgh should not have a problem containing their offense. Led by rookie Joe Burrow, he has been unable to prove he’s an elite NFL quarterback right away. The Steelers are a safe start this weekend.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay’s defense has been lights out good all season long. They have stuffed impressive offenses like the Packers, (holding them to 10 points), all season long. Maybe most importantly, they held the Carolina Panthers to just 17 points in their week 2 matchup. That same game they scored 11 fantasy points, and that was all with Christian McCaffery playing albeit not the whole 60 minutes. This weekend McCaffery will not be playing, so this Buccaneers team has an opportunity to have another big game. Start the Tampa Bay defense if you can this weekend.
6. New Orleans Saints
The Saints get to look forward to playing the most injured and unluckiest team in the NFL this weekend, the 49ers. The Packers defense surprisingly only scored 6 fantasy points off of in their last matchup, but this Saints defense is significantly better. New Orleans ranks as a top 10 fantasy defense. They are coming off an impressive 16 point performance against a respectable Brady led offense. I think the Saints are a solid play this weekend, but don’t expect them to carry your team.
7. Philadelphia Eagle
I understand that the Eagles are playing a struggling Giants’ offense this weekend, but New York is a team that likes to outperform expectations. The last time these two teams played, the Eagles scored 9 fantasy points despite allowing 22 actual points. The fantasy points largely came off of an interception and two fumble recoveries. Last weekend the Giants had 0 turnovers. With momentum in their stride, I like the Giants to keep the Eagles D from having a big fantasy game. Philidaplhia might score some points, but don’t expect them to be a top 5 play.
8. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings have not been an elite defense this year. They currently allow the 25th most points per game (29.2) and allow the 29th most yards (412.9). This week, however, they have a fair shot to better their averages when playing a really bad Chicago offense. The Bears give up the 26th most points to opposing fantasy defenses and just let the Titans score 13 fantasy points off of them. The Vikings are not a weekly starter at defense, but they a good streaming play this Monday.
9. Chicago Bears
The Bears rank top 10 in stopping their opposing teams from gaining yards and points. The combination has led them to be the 11th ranked fantasy defense so far this year. They are both metrically a very good defense, and have scary film through their speedy linebacker core. They are playing, however, an even scarier Vikings offense. Dalvin Cook has been able to shred his opponents these last two weekends in a career season. Some even claim he has a shot at MVP if he stays consistent. As a Bears’ defender, I would not be looking forward to facing him. Cautiously start the Chicago defense given you don’t have options with a team listed above.
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