An enormous percentage of your focus each week is involved with decisions about RBs, WRs, TEs, and signal callers. That makes the amount of planning that you dedicate to team defenses far less extensive. While that is understandable, it still behooves you to maximize your chances of winning by examining all of your existing options. We have now progressed sufficiently into the regular season for fantasy owners to locate most of the most proficient defensive units, even if they were not highly regarded at the onset of the year. That has diminished the number of appealing options. As has this season’s final bye week, which eliminates the Bills, Eagles, Bengals and Seahawks from consideration. Here are three alternatives that should be available if you prefer to stream a defense in Week 12. For recommendations on this week's sleepers, click it here.
Saints at Falcons
The Saints now rank an impressive fourth in total defense, and have delivered a series of commendable performances this season. That trend continued in Week 11, as Rob Ryan’s vastly improved unit limited San Francisco to 196 total yards, including 81 on the ground. Not only has New Orleans permitted only 305 YPG, but they have allowed the fifth fewest points per game (18.3). A sizable percentage of this success has originated from a stingy pass defense that now ranks third overall, while yielding 191 YPG. New Orleans is also tied for sixth with 32 sacks, and should improve upon all of these numbers during this week’s enticing matchup with Atlanta. Their long-time division rival currently possesses so many problems that it is a challenge determining where to begin. The Falcons have not performed well in the aftermath of several critical injuries, and their -11 turnover differential has been impacted by the 19 turnovers, which is the NFL’s sixth highest total. They also rank 31st in rushing, while managing just 73 YPG. But despite the ineffectiveness of their ground game, ongoing issues with their pass blocking prohibit Atlanta from simply launching a prolonged aerial assault. New Orleans is still owned in just 47% of all ESPN leagues, but deserves a considerable increase in respect from owners. Particularly since they should overpower Atlanta in this appealing matchup.
Other Favorable Matchups
Titans at Raiders
Well, well, well. Look which unit managed to work its way back into this column. The idea that Oakland could resurface here was essentially laughable two weeks ago. Because witnessing the Raiders secondary during their 406 yard/seven TD meltdown in Week 9 was akin to watching cats chasing laser lights. But their efforts in two contests since that time have been favorable, and very similar to the results throughout most of the season. They have been consistently stout against the run, and currently rank sixth in that category (97.6 YPG). And even though the Raiders can surrender passing yardage, they have registered 27 sacks, and are tied with Tennessee for fifth with nine fumble recoveries. HC Dennis Allen and DC Jason Tarver have concocted an effective blend of confusing blitz and coverage schemes that have created headaches, sacks and subsequent turnovers. All of which will cause massive issues for Tennessee’s Ryan Fitzpatrick-led attack. Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene will be stuffed repeatedly when attempting to gain yardage, resulting in reliance on Fitzpatrick. That in turn will increase the likelihood of critical mistakes as he reacts adversely to continual pressure. Oakland is now available in 90% of ESPN leagues, and will be capable of accumulating fantasy points.
Titans at Raiders
Meanwhile, the Titan defense will return the favor, by making success equally difficult for Oakland’s offense. Tennessee now ranks 10th in total defense, and is allowing 330 YPG. This unit remains far more formidable against the pass as the Titans rank seventh, while permitting just 213 YPG. They have also yielded only seven TDs through the air this season, largely due to the exceptional season-long performances by starting CBs Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty. Plus, they have produced 26 sacks, while amassing 17 takeaways. That includes nine fumble recoveries, which ties them for fifth (with Oakland). While they are more vulnerable against the run, the Titans will benefit from this favorable matchup. First, the Raider offense will be spearheaded by rookie free agent Matt McGloin, who will be making just his second career start. While it is plausible that the offense will actually be better with McGloin and Rashad Jennings in the lineup than it was with Terrelle Pryor and Darren McFadden, McGloin’s inexperience and the lack of playmakers at WR and TE will facilitate matters for Tennessee. The Titans are still available in 49% of all ESPN leagues, and are a logical option for any owners who wish to stream.