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Top 9 Fantasy Football Defense Rankings for Week 8
Similar to last week, the top nine fantasy defenses are continuing to solidify, with many of the previous selections from week seven making the cut list for week eight. Due to the skill level of the defensive units for both the 49ers and Panthers, they each made the cut list, even though they will be facing each other this week. I will discuss my top nine defenses for this week, analyzing the offense they will be competing against and giving some insight about what to expect as an outcome.
1. New England Patriots
Opponent: Cleveland Browns
The Patriots are the NFL’s most productive fantasy defense, and it’s not even close. The Patriots are being led by their elite secondary, which already has a whopping 18 interceptions on the year. They also the most successful defense when it comes to preventing teams from scoring, stifling opponents to score less than 5 points a game. The Patriots are going to be a nightmare for Baker Mayfield in the Browns offensive line due to their elite capability to sack and rattle the QB.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
Opponent: Miami Dolphins
Quite frankly, if the Patriots defense weren’t so dominating, the Steelers defense would be the no. 1 ranked defense due to their extremely favorable matchup against the Miami Dolphins. The tanking Dolphins rank in the bottom five in terms of points scored, yards gained, and giveaways. The Dolphins are the only team in the NFL who shows a determination to lose better than any team has lost before, and the Steelers will make sure of that because of their elite ability to force turnovers and pressure opposing QBs. Any defense that plays the Dolphins is a must-start, especially if they’re as good as the Steelers, who are a top ten defense according to Yahoo Sports.
3. San Francisco 49ers
Opponent: Carolina Panthers
The 49ers defense has transformed from being a liability in 2018 to their greatest strength in 2019. Like the Patriots, the 49ers are an undefeated team, with a remarkable secondary and a daunting front seven. The 49ers defensive unit is in the top ten in terms of points allowed and yards/game. The Niners will be a little bit of a challenge trying to contain Christian McCaffery in both the rushing and receiving game, but their bend not break style will help them limit the versatile runner. Plus, Kyle Allen has been sacked ten times in four games, which is great news for a Niners front seven that is ranked in the top three in terms of sacks.
4. Minnesota Vikings
Opponent: Washington Redskins
The Minnesota Vikings defense has had a rollercoaster fantasy season in 2019. Most of their success is oriented around the offensive success of the opposing team. They have struggled against offensive units, such as the Packers and Raiders, who are in the top ten in terms of limiting fantasy defenses. Although when they compete against struggling offenses, like the Falcons and Giants, they have put up 10+ points. The Vikings take on the lackluster Washington Redskins, who have rotated between three different QBs, and their second head coach this year. The Redskins surrender the 5th most points to opposing defenses, and QBs Case Keenum and Colt McCoy won’t fix this issue.
5. New Orleans Saints
Opponent: Arizona Cardinals
Similar to the Panthers, the Saints‘ defensive fantasy success can be attributed to their ability to pressure the QB and rack up turnovers. Their defense should be able to continue their sacking success when they head to Arizona to take on the Cardinals. Cardinals QB, Kyler Murray, has already been sacked 23 times, so expect the Saints to perform well against the Cards’ turnstile-like offensive line.
6. Los Angeles Rams
Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals
The Rams defense is coming off a game against the Falcons, in which they completely decimated Atlanta’s offensive gameplan. While the Rams were great at eliminating the Falcons running game and stifling Matt Ryan, they should fare even better against a winless Bengals team. The Bengals have surrendered the second-most turnovers in the NFL this year, which is excellent for a Rams team that ranks 6th in terms of forcing turnovers. Bengals QB Andy Dalton hasn’t been terrible this year, but Zac Taylor has to be thinking about benching him at some point to evaluate rookie QB, Ryan Finley. If the Rams vs. Bengals game gets too ugly, Dalton could get yanked from the field, which would bolster the defensive success for the Rams.
7. Chicago Bears
Opponent: Los Angeles Chargers
The only reason why the Bears are ranked this low is due to their matchup against the Chargers. Even though the Bears have fallen a little short of expectations, they are still an excellent defense because of their front seven. They are currently in the top ten in forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, points allowed/game, and yards per game. Chargers running backs, Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler, have struggled to hold on to the ball this season, so expect the Bears to wreak havoc on the Chargers ball carries in week eight.
Opponent: San Francisco 49ers
Ron Rivera’s defensive unit has been excellent at pressuring the QB and accumulating turnovers by leading the league in sacks and gaining the 2nd most turnovers in the NFL. The only caveat to starting the Panthers‘ defense is that their defense falls just outside the top ten in terms of passing yards allowed a game. However, the Niners rank in the bottom ten in terms of passing yards a game, so the Panthers shouldn’t have too much trouble containing Jimmy Garrapolo. You can expect the Panthers to have success pressuring Jimmy G and forcing turnovers in what should be an exciting game.
9. Tennessee Titans
Opponent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Despite a disappointing start to the 2019 season, the Tennessee Titans‘ defense has been a top ten fantasy defense this year. They are currently ninth in sacks, fourth in points allowed a game and interceptions. Buccaneers QB, Jameis Winston, is a turnover machine that has thrown the second-most interceptions in the NFL this year, with three of them being returned for TDs along with four fumbles. If the Titans secondary can confuse Winston, they will be in for an excellent day for fantasy owners.
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