At no point in the Fantasy Football calendar is the saying “defense wins championships” more apt. For all the time we spend breaking down every quarterback, every running back and every wide receiver, its funny how, more often than not, Fantasy Football championship games come down to something flukey like a defensive touchdown or a random safety.
Still, picking a D/ST isn’t all luck. There’s some method to the madness. With that in mind, let’s break down a few options I like and don’t like and the position for Week 16.
Believe me, I understand not wanting to trust the Colts’ D/ST at the moment. Their secondary has been banged up in recent weeks and that’s made passing on the team about as easy as can be. I mean, Drew Brees maybe the most accurate QB in the history of the NFL, but 11 professional athletes probably shouldn’t let an opponent go 29-for-30 in a single game. Anyway, Will Grier is not Drew Brees. In fact, Grier has yet to throw a pass in the NFL. That’s always going to be a steep learning curve and Carolina’s offensive line likely won’t be doing the rookie any favors. The Panthers actually come into Sunday possessing the league’s fifth-worst adjusted sack rate (9.1%) and as the NFC’s lone team to have surrendered 50-plus sacks. A young quarterback with underwhelming protection is always a tantalizing combination.
It’s hard to watch the Steelers’ offense right now. It’s honestly not an exaggeration to say that Pittsburgh is almost incapable of winning games without either a defensive or special teams score, as their offense has produced a league-low eight touchdowns dating back to the beginning of Week 9. That alone would be enough to justify some interest in New York’s D/ST, but the matchup only keeps getting better and better. If it wasn’t enough that Pittsburgh generates a measly 27.2 yards per drive - the second-worst mark among all AFC teams - it also turns the ball over at a well above-average rate. A whopping 16.8% of Steelers’ possessions end in either an interception or a fumble, a figure that ranks as the fifth-highest in the NFL.
This is one of those situations where the end result sort of conflicts with the information available. Are the Bills a good defense? Yes. In fact, some might argue that Buffalo’s unit is great. Coming into Week 16, the Bills rank fourth in defensive DVOA, while also allowing the third-fewest total yards per game to opponents (291.9). Is this the weakest version of the Patriots’ offense we’ve seen in some time? Also yes. New England sits just 18th in yards generated per contest (349.9) and the team has mustered a pathetic seven red zone scoring drives in its past three matchups combined. However, despite all of that, the Patriots own the league’s fifth-lowest adjusted sack rate (5.5%) and have turned the ball over on an AFC-low 6.7% of drives. They might not be what they once were, yet they still don’t often make mistakes.
In a very similar sense to New England, Green Bay tends to avoid the devastating negative plays. While the Packers have only scored an average of 20.8 points per game on the road so far this season, those offensive inadequacies have little to do with turnovers. Through 15 weeks of play, Green Bay is tied with New Orleans for the fewest giveaways per contest of any team in the league (0.6), while the squad has also benefitted from Aaron Rodgers’ NFL-low 0.4% interception rate. The Vikings have a strong roster and the advantage of playing at home this weekend, but there’s simply a reason only one D/ST has amassed double-digit fantasy points versus the Packers so far in 2019.