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Below are Bill Dubiel’s Week 14 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream and start for Week 14 of the NFL and fantasy football season. Our tiered defense rankings are your guide to making waiver wire pickups and adds to improve your lineups, and to decide which defenses to start, sit, target, avoid or stream for Week 14.
Are you looking for some assistance with your lineups? Not sure which defenses have good matchups for Week 14? Can’t decide which defenses to target off the waiver wire, or whether you should stream a different defense for this week? No worries, we are here to help every week of the fantasy football season.
Starting the right defense every week can be a difference-maker, so we have broken out our defense rankings into tiers with analysis on each matchup. Some of these Week 14 defenses have good matchups and are not widely owned, representing sleeper opportunities if they are available on your league’s waiver wire for a Week 14 pickup or add. Good luck in Week 14 RotoBallers!
Week 14 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings
Tier 1 Defenses: Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs
The Broncos D/ST returned to form against the struggling Chargers offense in Week 13 after posting a few unimpressive performances. They’ll get Derek Carr and the Raiders in Week 14, and you should still feel safe rolling them out there. This unit still leads the NFL in sacks (41) and is second to the Panthers in turnovers (23), so they should be able to at least add to those totals. They have the personnel to shut down Latavius Murray, Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper, it will just come down to execution.
The Panthers get the reeling Falcons in Week 14, and I don’t see any scenario in which that goes well for Atlanta. Josh Norman has proven he can shut down Julio Jones, and outside of Devonta Freeman the Falcons have nobody else to turn to on offense. Matt Ryan has looked like garbage lately, and the Panthers will make him look that way again.
Javorius Allen has been a breath of fresh air for the Ravens offense–but it’s still their dying breath. Matt Schaub is no Joe Flacco, and Kamar Aiken and (I guess?) Crockett Gillmore are his only options to throw to anyway. The Seahawks should have this one wrapped up by about the 8:00 mark of the 2nd quarter, and the D/ST will feast the rest of the way.
The Cardinals D/ST predictably shut down the Rams last week, and this week they’ll be faced with a similarly run-focused offense in the Minnesota Vikings. Adrian Peterson is the only real weapon, as Teddy Bridgewater is putting up astonishingly low passing numbers. Stefon Diggs’ breakout was short-lived, and besides Kyle Rudolph around the goal-line there’s not much else to be afraid of in Minnesota.
The Chiefs’ D/ST continued its run of dominance against the aforementioned Raiders in Week 13, forcing three interceptions (one of which was returned for a TD) and tallying four sacks. This week they’ll get Philip Rivers and the abysmal Chargers offense, which should make for even more fireworks on defense. Stevie Johnson and Antonio Gates are the two big threats in the passing game, and neither is talented enough to overcome the Chiefs stifling linebacking corps. Unless Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead magically turn things around on the ground, this won’t be much of a fight.
Tier 2 Defenses: New York Giants, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions
The Dolphins were looking for a turnaround on offense after firing offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, and they certainly got it. They turned to Lamar Miller more than 20 times on the ground, and actually came away with a victory. Expect more of the same in coming weeks, as Ryan Tannehill has been all over the board all season. Jarvis Landry and rookie DeVante Parker are legitimate threats in the passing game, but I’ll take the Giants secondary in that battle. Miller won’t have much room to work against the Giants run defense, so I think New York has a high floor in Week 14.
This team just got embarrassed by the Eagles, and I think they will take out their frustration on the Texans in Week 14. Brian Hoyer has bene spreading the ball around more, but DeAndre Hopkins is still the top threat in the offense. I like Hopkins’ chances of putting up his typical big numbers, but nobody else should give the Pats any trouble. The ground tandem of Alfred Blue, Jonathan Grimes and Chris Polk certainly won’t get the job done, so the Patriots should coast to a decent day if they can get to Hoyer.
The Packers are up this high because I’m pretty much just going to stream against Matt Cassel and the Cowboys the rest of the season. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten can’t do any damage if nobody can get them the ball, and Darren McFadden is due to break any day now. Start the Packers with confidence in Week 14.
The Bills have been the most disappointing D/ST of 2015 by a wide margin. With that said, I like them this week against the Eagles. Buffalo basically has to win out to make the playoffs, and I think Rex Ryan will throw everything he’s got at Chip Kelly. Sam Bradford and Jordan Matthews are not a real threat against Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby, leaving just DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews to move the chains. Mathews is still dealing with an injury and DeMarco Murray was essentially benched in Week 13. I think the Bills will bring the Eagles back down to earth and circle the wagons once again.
If you can’t stream against the Cowboys, stream against the Rams. Outside of Todd Gurley, there is not a soul you can trust in this offense–and he’s made me question his usability of late. Nick Foles has Tavon Austin and nothing else to throw to, so the Lions should be one of the safest plays of the week.
Tier 3 Defenses: St. Louis Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers
Those same Rams have faltered on defense after a strong start to the year, and I don’t think their fortunes will change with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson on deck. The run game is even showing signs of life, with Ameer Abdullah and Joique Bell kind of, sort of, almost moving the ball forward. Theo Riddick and Golden Tate are terrific short options, and when it’s running well this offense can hang with the best of them. However, the offensive line is still pretty shoddy, so the Rams stay up in the rankings.
Tyrod Taylor takes care of the ball at an absurd level, but the Bills offensive line still gives up enough sacks to keep the Eagles on this list. LeSean McCoy will give their run defense fits, but I think they’ll do enough to warrant a fantasy start–if they can keep Sammy Watkins and Charles Clay in check. Their incredible special teams unit also needs to be factored in here, so they make my rankings as a low-end streamer.
The Buccaneers have quietly become a reliable D/ST option in the last month, but they may not be as relevant against the Saints in Week 14. Drew Brees has his full complement of weapons, and between Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Benjamin Watson and Mark Ingram I’m willing to bet he finds the end zone at least twice. I’m staying away from Tampa Bay this week.
The Redskins have also been a pleasant surprise in the last month, holding Drew Brees and Eli Manning to just 14 points (each) in Weeks 10 and 12. They sandwiched those around a 44-point outing from the Panthers, but who aren’t the Panthers beating up on? They’ll be tasked with shutting down Jay Cutler and the Bears in Week 14, and while I think they’ll keep things under control, I don’t see how they manage to contain Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford four four quarters. Their upside is limited, leaving them in the third tier.
I don’t think I’ve written about the 49ers in this column since ‘Nam. The D/ST needs a touchdown of some sort to be fantasy-relevant, but I’m rolling the dice that they’ll get it against the Cleveland Poo…er, Browns. Johnny Manziel will likely be the starter, and I don’t trust him to get the ball to Travis Benjamin or Gary Barnidge often enough to put points on the scoreboard. The run game is still a travesty, although Duke Johnson has some value as a pass-catcher. It’s the playoffs, and you’ve gotta risk it to get the biscuit–why not risk it on the San Francisco 49ers?
Tier 4 Defenses: Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets
The Bengals have looked great against the Rams and Browns in the last two weeks, but they may be in for a rude awakening–the Steelers are not the Rams or Browns. Ben Roethlisberger now has three reliable wideouts in Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton, and a perfectly capable multi-talented running back in DeAngelo Williams. I don’t see any way the Bengals stop all of them, and therefore I’m avoiding them if I can.
The Vikings have had some really solid games and some real clunkers on defense. This week will likely be the latter, as they’ll head to Arizona to tangle with Carson Palmer and the Cardinals. With Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and Michael Floyd all candidates to blow up at any minute, there is not much to like about the Vikings D/ST in Week 14. They do get to the quarterback at a decent rate, so there is some hope for fantasy points, but I’m not betting the house on them.
The Steelers defense has been shockingly good this year, both in real life and in fantasy. Unfortunately they’re tasked with shutting down Andy Dalton and the Bengals in Cincinnati. Tyler Eifert should return to join A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, and Giovani Bernard in the Red Rifle’s gun safe (get it? Because those are his weapons and his nickname is the Red…nevermind.), leaving the Pittsburgh secondary with too much to handle. This game should be a shootout–so naturally, it’ll probably finish 13-10. Roll the Steelers out there and pray that Bad Andy shows up.
As you hope for Bad Andy, hope for Bad Marcus Mariota. The Jets certainly will be when they host the red-hot rookie in Week 14. The Titans offense is finally starting to emerge, as Dorial Green-Beckham and Delanie Walker have clearly supplanted Kendall Wright and Harry Douglas as the top pass-catchers in Tennessee. The Jets secondary is still solid on paper, especially if Darrelle Revis is playing, so they sneak onto the list here.