Week 16 Fantasy Defense Rankings: Sleepers, busts, waiver-wire D/ST streamers to target

By | December 20, 2020

With the final round of the fantasy football playoffs here, owners will be stressing about all of their start ’em, sit ’em decisions. One of the toughest will be at D/ST, as many owners have relied on streamers and sleepers at the position for most of the year. Our Week 16 fantasy defense rankings can help you figure out who to trust in your quest for a fantasy championship.

As always, the debate at this point in the season is about whether to start a defense that has consistently performed well or to stream a D/ST in a good matchup. With defenses, it’s usually best to trust the matchup-based streamers. Of course, there are still some top-tier D/STs who also have favorable matchups. For example, the Ravens (vs. Giants) and Bears (@ Jaguars) both are taking on offenses that have struggled this year, while the Dolphins (@ Raiders) get to face a mistake-prone backup QB (Marcus Mariota). All should be positioned to be top defensive units and rack up some sacks and turnovers.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | Kicker

Beyond them, there are plenty of worthwhile streamers. Most notably, the Browns (@ Jets), Cardinals (vs. 49ers), and both sides of the Washington-Carolina game can be trusted as starting units. The Browns are playing a Jets offense that ranks last in scoring and total yardage this year. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are taking on Nick Mullens and a beat-up 49ers offense. They should be able to get pressure on him with Haason Reddick and Co. and force him into some turnovers.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | Kicker

As for the Washington-Carolina game, Washington’s defense has been on the rise in recent weeks and has a high sack floor because of the pressure that Chase Young, Montez Sweat, and others have generated. They will get some heat on Teddy Bridgewater behind the Panthers’ below-average offensive line. On the other side, the Panthers will either be facing Dwayne Haskins or Alex Smith. Neither has been dynamic this year, and after the Panthers allowed just three second-half points to the Packers, trusting them in this matchup should be an easy sell.

In terms of defenses to avoid this week, the Patriots (vs. Bills) have played well at times this season, but they’re hard to trust against one of the NFL’s best offenses. The Seahawks (vs. Rams) are in a similar boat, as their defense has been much better in recent weeks, but they’re taking on a multi-dimensional Rams offense. Jared Goff is always at a risk to implode, but banking on that happening in the fantasy championship is a big-time risk. The Rams (@ Seahawks) also present more of a risk than usual, and while they should be able to rack up sacks, they might not do much more. The Colts (@ Steelers) also have a much lower ceiling than most weeks.

NOTE: Check back for updates throughout the week.

Week 16 Fantasy Defense Rankings

Rank Team
1 Baltimore Ravens vs. Giants
2 Miami Dolphins @ Raiders
3 Chicago Bears @ Jaguars
4 Buffalo Bills @ Patriots
5 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Colts
6 Cleveland Browns @ Jets
7 Carolina Panthers @ Washington
8 Los Angeles Chargers vs. Broncos
9 Arizona Cardinals vs. 49ers
10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Lions
11 Washington Football Team vs. Panthers
12 New Orleans Saints vs. Vikings
13 Kansas City Chiefs vs. Falcons
14 Philadelphia Eagles @ Cowboys
15 Houston Texans vs. Bengals
16 Los Angeles Rams @ Seahawks
17 Indianapolis Colts @ Steelers
18 Seattle Seahawks vs. Rams
19 Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Bears
20 Dallas Cowboys vs. Eagles
21 San Francisco 49ers @ Cardinals
22 New York Giants @ Ravens
23 New England Patriots vs. Bills
24 Minnesota Vikings @ Saints
25 Green Bay Packers vs. Titans
26 Las Vegas Raiders vs. Dolphins
27 Denver Broncos @ Chargers
28 Cincinnati Bengals @ Texans
29 Tennessee Titans @ Packers
30 Detroit Lions vs. Buccaneers
31 New York Jets vs. Browns
32 Atlanta Falcons @ Chiefs