These Week 15 Fantasy Football Defenses are the key to unlocking big winnings!
The Vikings’ defense, headed into Week 14, was priced like a middling option, but clearly had top-end potential against Geno Smith in his final games before a career as a well-compensated clipboard holder.
Minnesota picked off Smith’s first pass and returned it for a score — enough to end the day with 14 fantasy points and come in as a top-6 Week 14 play. The Lions’ defense, meanwhile, managed to meet their Week 14 cost by scoring 13 fantasy points thanks to six sacks against a predictably over-matched Tampa offensive line.
The Saints’ defense, highlighted in this space last week as a tournament play, was a complete and total debacle. Apologies if you went in on New Orleans.
The past few weeks have shown daily gamers that there are clear instances in which expensive defenses are worth the investment. It’s natural to flock to the warm bosom of a pricey defensive play, seeking a comfortable matchup in a cash game that calls for high fantasy floors across the board.
I wouldn’t, however, limit high-priced defensive options to cash games, as many of these defenses have undeniably high ceilings as well — precisely what we seek in large-field tournament plays.
One caveat for Week 15: I’m not paying up for the Rams’ defense, no matter how invincible they seem. St. Louis is the highest priced defense and they’re taking on a Cardinals’ offense that simply does not give up fantasy points to opposing defenses.
Here are defensive scores against Arizona in 2014: 5, 6, 2, 4, 0, 1, -1, 8, 4, 4, 13, 6, 2. That 13-point performance came against the Seahawks in Seattle. I don’t think there’s much of a chance that the Rams meet their cost against Drew Stanton and the Cards’ offense. Only three teams, Green Bay, Seattle and New England, allow fewer turnovers than Arizona.
There are plenty of appealing Week 15 defensive plays available, and as per usual, we’re going to use my defensive Streaming Scores to pinpoint which units have the best matchups.
A team’s Streaming Score doesn’t incorporate how stifling or generous a certain defense has been. It’s entirely matchup based.
Week 15 Fantasy Football Defenses for Cash Games
Baltimore Ravens ($3,750) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
I’m borderline blown away by the Ravens’ low Week 15 cost. They’re at home against the abysmal Jags — who are particularly awful on the road — and Baltimore’s defense is priced as DraftDay’s 25th priciest option in Week 15. Count me flabbergasted.
At that price, it’s hard to find a reason to invest in any other defense this week. Sure, the Ravens’ injury-ravaged secondary has been scorched through the air in recent weeks, but against Blake Bortles, who cares? Only the Raiders total fewer yards per game than Jacksonville. The Jags are averaging 237 total yards per game over the past three weeks.
Even better, only three defenses have failed to hit double digit fantasy points against Jacksonville in 2014. The Ravens, rated by Pro Football Focus as the NFL’s fifth best defensive squad, will feast on sacks and turnovers in this one. Baltimore’s usage should not be limited to cash games in Week 15.
Kansas City Chiefs ($7,650) vs. Oakland Raiders
Purge your degenerate memory of the Raiders’ Week 13 domination of the Chiefs in Oakland. The Raiders are a completely different team away from the nightmarish confines of their home stadium, as they’ve shown time and again over the past couple months.
Oakland’s offense is rated by PFF as the league’s second worst, just a sliver ahead of Jacksonville. Derek Carr’s offense gains 57 fewer yards on the road than they do at home — a monumental road-home split. While Oakland gives up .8 interceptions per game at home, they allow 1.5 picks in road contests. The Raiders average an astounding 2.5 turnovers in road games.
The Chiefs are more than twice the cost of the Ravens’ defense. I might have them in a few spots, but Kansas City is no safer than Baltimore. They might, however, have a slightly higher ceiling in Week 15.
Week 15 Fantasy Football Defenses for Tournaments
New England Patriots ($3,150) vs. Miami Dolphins
The Pats’ defense might not make a horrible cash game play, though I’m only using them in tourneys. They represent a (very) cheap contrarian play, as the Dolphins, on paper, are a decidedly bad matchup for opposing defenses.
Defenses have notched five or fewer fantasy points against Miami six times in 2014. Miami gives up an uninspiring 6.1 points to opposing defenses through 13 games.
But there’s this: The Dolphins have given up serious fantasy production to defenses in road games. The Bills’ defense scored 21 fantasy points when the Fins visited Buffalo, the Lions’ defense notched 10 points against the Dolphins in Detroit, and even the Jets managed eight fantasy points against the Dolphins on Monday Night Football.
Only four (unusable) defenses are priced below the Patriots this week. New England has an obviously low floor, but I think their ceiling could be tremendous against the Dolphins.