This season's "Bad QB Renaissance" has been bad for a lot of receivers, but it's a great thing for D/STs. In fact, our Week 12 fantasy defense rankings are as strong as ever through the top 10 (here's hoping Nathan Peterman starts again). After that, it gets a little tougher to find a sleeper you feel great about, but there are a few potential waiver wire pickups you can get away with starting.
The Bengals (vs. Browns) will be the most popular pickup this week, but the Redskins (vs. Giants), Titans (@ Colts), Chargers (@ Cowboys), Raiders (vs. Broncos), and Falcons (vs. Buccaneers) all could be scooped off the wire, too. Owners of the Rams (vs. Saints), Saints (@ Rams), Vikings (@ Lions), and Lions (vs. Vikings) should be consider finding a fill-in, as those matchups leave a lot to be desired. The early Thursday start time for the Vikings-Lions could lead to some sloppy play, but neither has given up much to D/STs (aside from Detroit's debacle in New Orleans earlier this year).
The Cardinals (vs. Jaguars) and Texans (@ Ravens) are two D/STs with good reputations and what appear to be decent matchups, but neither has performed particularly well this year, and both the Jags and Ravens aren't as bad as you might think. Consider both boom-or-bust options, but if either is your only D/ST, don't feel like you have to play it.
Reminder: We'll update our rankings throughout the week and add player analysis, so please check back often. And here's how you could lose in fantasy in Week 12.
Week 12 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense
8 New England Patriots vs. Dolphins. The Pats defense has been steadily improving over the past six games, at least in terms of keeping the score low. In that span, New England's defense has allowed an average of 12.5 points, and over the past three games, the Patriots have five takeaways. The Dolphins QB situation is a mess, so regardless of who starts, New England has major upside. FD cash | Values | Stacks | DFS lineup builder
Week 12 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense
8New England Patriots vs. Dolphins. The Pats defense has been steadily improving over the past six games, at least in terms of keeping the score low. In that span, New England's defense has allowed an average of 12.5 points, and over the past three games, the Patriots have five takeaways. The Dolphins QB situation is a mess, so regardless of who starts, New England has major upside.
These rankings are for standard leagues
|1||Jacksonville Jaguars @ Cardinals. Fantasy's top defense against Blaine Gabbert. Even on the road, this is a layup.|
|2||Baltimore Ravens vs. Texans. Fantasy's No. 2 defense against Tom Savage -- at home, in prime time. Another layup.|
|3||Philadelphia Eagles vs. Bears. Fantasy's No. 4 defense against Mitchell Trubisky -- at home. Come on, this is getting too easy.|
|4||Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Packers. We could continue the same pattern of analysis here, or we could recap Brett Hundley's last performance: Six sacks, three INTs, lost fumble, zero points scored. He's taken at least three sacks in each of the past three games, and Pittsburgh's averaged over three sacks per game in its past five outings.|
|5||Cincinnati Bengals vs. Browns. The Browns are the most fantasy-friendly offense for D/STs, and the Bengals enter this game with at least three sacks in three of the past four games and two takeaways in each of the past two games. Cincinnati took advantage of Brock Osweiler for a nice fantasy day last week, and it can do the same against DeShone Kizer.|
|6||Seattle Seahawks @ 49ers. The Seahawks figure to take a step back without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, but they still have enough of a pass rush to put up fantasy points against San Francisco, regardless of who's under center for the Niners. Jimmy Garoppolo would seemingly be a step up, as the C.J .Beathard-led offense has posted multiple turnovers in each of his four starts, but San Francisco lacks the weapons and offensive line to really give Seattle problems. (Update: Beathard is starting.)|
|7||Carolina Panthers @ Jets. New York had been tougher for D/STs to get fantasy points against until its last game when it allowed six sacks and two takeaways while only scoring 10 points. Conversely, the Panthers defense had been a roll prior to their last game. We expect the sack-happy Panthers to get back on track in this one.|
|8||New England Patriots vs. Dolphins. The Pats defense has been steadily improving over the past six games, at least in terms of keeping the score low. In that span, New England's defense has allowed an average of 12.5 points, and over the past three games, the Patriots have five takeaways. The Dolphins QB situation is a mess, so regardless of who starts, New England has major upside.|
|9||Washington Redskins vs. Giants. Despite only scoring 12 points last week, the Giants' offense took a major step forward by not allowing a sack and only committing one turnover. In the previous four games, New York had averaged 15.5 points per game, 2.3 sacks allowed, and 1.3 turnovers -- not horrible, but not good either. The Redskins opportunistic defense has been up and down this year (down the past two games), but with a prime-time Thursday home game, we like the 'Skins to ugly it up and cause some problems for Eli Manning and Co.|
|10||Kansas City Chiefs vs. Bills. If Nathan Peterman starts again, move the Chiefs up about four notches. Even if Tyrod Taylor is under center, Kansas City can put up defensive points. Over the past three contests, the Bills have allowed 10 sacks and 10 takeaways. Five of those INTs are on Peterman, but clearly the rest of the offense has issues, too.|
|11||Tennessee Titans @ Colts. Tennessee has been racking up the turnovers lately (seven in the past four games), and Indianapolis has had trouble on offense most of the year. Over their past four games, the Colts have allowed 20 sacks, three takeaways and two defensive TDs. With Jacoby Brissett in the concussion protocol and a possible Scott Tolzien start looming, Tennessee could be a major sleeper this week.|
|12||Los Angeles Chargers @ Cowboys. Dallas can't block without Tyron Smith (12 sacks allowed the past two games), and the Chargers have two of the best pass rushers in the league in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Even if Smith returns on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys' offense won't be the same without Ezekiel Elliott. Expect plenty of sacks and a turnover or two.|
|13||Minnesota Vikings @ Lions. The Lions don't turn it over much, but pass blocking can be an issue. Against Minnesota earlier this year, they allowed six sacks. The early Thursday start time doesn't figure to help this week, giving Minnesota's solid pass rush more upside than usual.|
|14||Oakland Raiders vs. Broncos. Oakland has been a terrible fantasy defense this year, but this ranking is all about the matchup. In three Brock Osweiler starts this year, Denver has allowed six sacks and six takeaways, and it's unlikely that new starter Paxton Lynch will be much better. Khalil Mack alone might give the Raiders fantasy value this week. If they can't get an INT against the Broncos, then they might be destined to go 0-fer the season.|
|15||New Orleans Saints @ Rams. New Orleans's defensive resurgence took a hit against Washington last week, and this week the Saints face a Rams team among the league leaders in fewest fantasy points per game allowed to D/STs. But as we pointed out prior to last week's game against Minnesota, the Rams hadn't faced many good defenses this year, and when they have, the results haven't been pretty (seven sacks, seven takeaways, 14.7 points per game against Jacksonville, Seattle, and Minnesota). New Orleans might not be as good as those units, but it can apply pressure and force Jared Goff into a mistake or two.|
|16||Atlanta Falcons vs. Bucs. The Bucs are among the most unpredictable offenses in the league, and Atlanta hasn't done much for fantasy owners this year. Still, we like the Falcons ability to get pressure, especially at home, against a shaky QB.|
|17||Detroit Lions vs. Vikings|
|18||Los Angeles Rams vs. Saints|
|19||Arizona Cardinals vs. Jaguars|
|20||Denver Broncos @ Raiders|
|21||Dallas Cowboys vs. Chargers|
|22||Houston Texans @ Ravens|
|23||Chicago Bears @ Eagles|
|24||Green Bay Packers @ Steelers|
|25||New York Giants @ Redskins|
|26||Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Falcons|
|27||Buffalo Bills @ Chiefs|
|28||Cleveland Browns @ Bengals|
|29||Indianapolis Colts vs. Titans|
|30||New York Jets vs. Panthers|
|31||Miami Dolphins @ Patriots|
|32||San Francisco 49ers vs. Seahawks|