When it comes to the fantasy playoffs, finding that extra edge or advantage is key in making sure you do everything possible to secure you that win. One of the best ways to do that is seek out success in one of the more overlooked roster spots in fantasy football, the D/ST spot. This goes for the regular season as well as the fantasy playoffs, but if you can maximize the fantasy output in your D/ST spot then it opens more possibilities across the rest of your roster. Like the QB, TE, and Kicker positions, you only need to start one. Now, that doesn’t have to mean you need the best one, but you should shoot for a good one. By the time you factor in the extent of unpredictability in how D/STs score fantasy points, you end up with a pool of solid options that, like with the QB, TE, and K positions, end up in larger cluster of similar fantasy scores outside of the extreme high/low totals for the week rather than the much wider range of outcomes that is seen with the RB and WR positions. Can you still swing for the fences trying to nail down that top scorer for the week at these single-start positions? Sure, but it isn’t a necessity. In fact, you could argue that simply playing any top-tier option gives you more freedom to bet on the variance that you find with the other skill positions. The D/STs listed this week will span the widely available options while taking account where they lie on that outcome spectrum. Determine what you need from your D/ST this week, and then lock them in. With that said, here are the D/STs to stream in Week 14:
“I Just Need Some Points” (D/STs Owned In 70-20% Of 10-Team Yahoo Leagues)
Jacksonville Jaguars - @ Tennessee Titans
Uh oh, we have a Jaguars defense sighting! Well, at least last week. The Jags came through for three sacks and two turnovers while shutting out the Colts last week, after allowing 29 points and recording no stats in their first meeting back in Week 10. However, sandwiched between last week’s success against Indy and a solid day against the Steelers in Week 11 (three picks and two sacks) is another zero-stat outing in a loss the Bills. The point being, you aren’t going off consistency with the Jags here. However, the two factors in their favor this week: matchup and game script. On the matchup with the Titans, although Marcus Mariota is on a run of QB1 outings, he has still given opposing D/STs some cushion while giving up 20 sacks and three interceptions in the last five games. All signs point to the Jags getting a few early Christmas gifts from Mariota this week. As far as game script, the Jags have resorted to using Leonard Fournette as their work horse since his return from injury in Week 11 which had kept them competitive late into games, thus letting their defense stay aggressive, despite not always cashing in those opportunities. Fournette’s matchup bodes well for the Jags defense getting some scoring chances as the Titans have allowed over 400 rushing yards in their last three games. A D/ST play with plenty of potential, but it also warrants some caution as well.
Buffalo Bills – VS New York Jets
I’m going to keep it simple here. The Bills, third-best NFL defense by Football Outsiders defensive DVOA, are up against the Jets, third-worst NFL offense by Football Outsiders offensive DVOA. The Bills are ranked inside the Top 10 in sacks, interceptions, and fumbles forced/recovered, while the Jets have allowed 28 sacks and have a minus-8 turnover differential, tied for fifth-worst in the league. The Bills allowed just 10 points while netting three sacks and two interceptions in their 41-10 win over the Jets in Week 10. Simply based on these numbers I listed, I’m taking the Bills D/ST with confidence. Just in case you need to be further convinced, the Bills have averaged almost 400 yards of offense in their past three games. At home, now with a serviceable offense, against a terrible opposing offense, I’m firing up the Bills.
New Orleans Saints - @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This Saints D/ST play rides a bit on recency bias, as well as your league’s D/ST scoring settings. Over the past four weeks, the Saints are the highest scoring D/ST while having allowed just 51 total points, netting 20 sacks, and forcing 11 turnovers in that span. Their opponents in that span were hosts of some talented offenses as well: the Bengals, Eagles, Falcons, and Cowboys. Simply put, this defense is rolling right now. Which brings us this week’s divisional rematch with the Buccaneers, a team they allowed to score 42 points and tallied no D/ST scoring stats against back in Week 1. If what this Saints defense has been doing over the past month holds any weight, then I expect we won’t see quite the shootout that we saw back in the season opener. However, even if we do this Saints defense has shown they can still put numbers on the board and this Bucs offense is no stranger to turnovers, despite their lack of them over the past two weeks. If your league’s D/ST scoring is light on penalizing points allowed and yardage gained, I think the Saints make a high-end play this week as they should provide enough value elsewhere. Outside of these leagues, the Saints are more of an average play but should still put up a useful fantasy outing.
“So, You’re Saying There’s A Chance” (D/STs Owned In 20-10% of 10-Team Yahoo Leagues)
Detroit Lions – @ Arizona Cardinals
In what should be a slog between to banged up and struggling offenses, I like both defenses to benefit from each other’s struggles. If I had to choose one, I would go with a Lions teams that has tallied multiple sacks and at least one turnover in three straight games, with two turnovers last week against the Rams. I would like them a bit more if they were at home, but the Lions are in better spot to have their remaining talent outperform the Cardinals. The Lions can take advantage of a good matchup this week, but there is no guarantee they do it.
Arizona Cardinals – VS Detroit Lions
The Cardinals defense has shown up in a few unexpected places this season when facing some of the more talented teams in the NFC (the Bears, Vikings, and a win over the Packers last week). The Lions team they face this week is not one of those teams. Since the Lions traded Golden Tate, they have lost their running game with an injury to Kerryon Johnson as well as wide receiver Marvin Jones for the season while only scoring more than 16 points twice. This Cardinals team at home has its own struggles but if they can control the tempo of this game on offense, then I think the Lions struggle to keep up. A play to be avoided, but there is some sliver of upside here.
“You Might Want To Look Away” (D/STs Owned in <10% 10-Team Yahoo Leagues)
Cleveland Browns – VS Carolina Panthers
The Browns defense started the season off well but has since fallen victim to an inconsistent offensive counterpart helmed by a rookie quarterback and terrible play calling. With that said, this Panthers team is reeling after dropping four straight games. With Cam Newton now banged up a bit, he has struggled throwing the football as referenced by his seven interceptions over their losing streak, culminating in four just last week against a poor Bucs defense. This Browns team still has plenty of talent on defense so with a solid pass rush and a back seven that can force some turnovers, there is some upside here if you want to risk going to get it.