The defenses I touch on are not my ranks, but my overall thoughts on the defenses I find notable. The goal of these pieces is to give you a concise, actionable rundown on defenses for the upcoming week.
Defensive order is based on their opponents implied team total, from lowest to highest. The team in parenthesis is the defense's opponent.
Defenses that are highly owned, or worth noting overall.
Jaguars (@ Browns — 15.25-point implied team total)
The Jaguars’ defense is elite, the Browns’ offense is not.
Ravens (@ Packers — 18-point implied team total)
The Ravens are set to square off against a Packers team that is implied for the second-lowest total on the slate at 18 points. They should boast a high floor against Brett Hundley as the Packers lost Bryan Bulaga two weeks ago and the Ravens’ defensive line has the 12th-best sack rate, while the Packers’ offensive line has allowed fifth-highest sack rate this season.
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Steelers (vs. Titans — 18.5-point implied team total)
The Steelers lost Joe Haden (fibula) for a few weeks, which may dim the appeal, but they still rank in the top-five in adjusted sack rate and have held offenses to the second-lowest scoring rates this season. That said, Marcus Mariota is great at avoiding being sacked as he has been taken down just 12 times through his eight games this year.
Broncos (vs. Bengals — 18.75-point implied team total)
The Broncos’ defense has been struggling recently as they’ve allowed 29 or more points in their last three games and they have the league’s second-lowest turnover rate this year. It’s possible they turn things around this week as they Bengals are implied for just 18.75 points and they have the third-lowest scoring rate and sixth-highest turnover rate this year.
Lions @ Bears — 19.5-point implied team total)
Any defense against Mitch Trubisky is going to garner a high floor, especially if they can gain a lead and force the Bears to throw versus letting them hammer the ball with Jordan Howard. Trubisky has been sacked 3.2 times per game in his five starts and he’s completing just 51.3 percent of his passes.
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Seahawks (vs. Falcons — 21-point implied team total)
This is close to a matchup downgrade, but the Falcons’ offense will likely be without Devonta Freeman (concussion) and Julio Jones has been playing at less than 100 percent with his injuries. The loss of Richard Sherman stings, but it’s a boost the Seahawks are playing at home against an Atlanta team that historically has had negative road splits.
Bengals (vs. Broncos — 21.25-point implied team total)
This game shouldn’t feature a ton of scoring as the game total is just 40 points, the third-lowest total among all the games. Brock Osweiler has been confirmed as the starter once again and he is completing just 52 percent of his passes with a 2.7 percent touchdown and 4.0 percent interceptions rate.
Saints (vs. Redskins — 21.75-point implied team total)
The Redskins will be the Saints’ toughest task in recent weeks as they’re coming off games against Brett Hundley, Mitch Trubisky, Jameis Winston/Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Tyrod Taylor. Taylor was the best of the bunch and they clamped down the Bills at home. If they can limit the Redskins’ scoring opportunities and get after Cousins they could be in for yet another nice game at the Superdome — they currently rank ninth in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate. Per the FantasyLabs Trends tool, the Saints’ defense has averaged 10.75 fantasy points per game at home this season.
Eagles (vs. Cowboys — 22.25-point implied team total)
It could be another long outing for Dak Prescott if tackle Tyron Smith is out once again. Dak was sacked eight (!!) times against the Falcons last week and Pro Football Focus grades the Eagles with best pass-rush grade among defenses this season.
Highly Owned Defenses with limited upside in the current matchup.
Vikings (vs. Rams — 21.75-point implied team total)
Sean McVay has done an excellent job with this offense and it’s scary how efficient they are, leading the league with a 51.9 percent scoring rate and they have the sixth-lowest turnover rate this season. Granted, they’ve exploited some poor opponents this year, but it wouldn’t shock me if the Vikings struggled in this one especially if Everson Griffen (foot/back) is out again.
Rams (@ Vikings — 24.25-point implied team total)
The Rams will have a tough task on the road trying to contain Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs and the Vikings have a healthy 24.25 implied team total. While PFF grades the Rams with the fourth-best pass rush and they rank in the top-six in adjusted sack rate, the Vikings’ offensive line has fared well this season, ranking fourth in adjusted sack rate, allowing a sack rate of just 3.7 percent.
Chiefs (@ Giants — 17-point implied team total)
The Chiefs aren’t a particularly strong defense as they’ve allowed the fifth-most total yards and allowed 16 passing touchdowns along with a 6.8 adjusted net yards per attempt, but they are massive 10.5-point favorites and the Giants are currently implied for 17 points. Both positive indicators for a streaming defense.
Chargers (vs. Bills — 19.5-point implied team total)
The Chargers could be a streaming candidate as the Bills have to fly all the way across the country are implied for just 19.5 points. The main issue with the Chargers is they're much better against the pass than they are against the run and the Bills are much better with the run than they are the pass. The Bills also don’t turn the ball over often as they have the third-lowest turnover rate this season.
Cardinals (@ Texans — 20.3-point implied team total)
Texans (vs. Cardinals — 19.5-point implied team total)
Drew Stanton is dealing with a sprained knee and the Texans may be facing Blaine Gabbert in this game. It’s not ideal the Texans are underdogs, but the Cardinals just put D.J. Humphries on IR and their offensive line had already ranked near the bottom-third of the league in adjusted sack rate. Gabbert has a career 56 percent completion rate and has thrown 38 touchdowns to 37 interceptions.
Kickers in Order of Implied Team Total
Kicker fantasy points have a strong correlation to Vegas implied team totals. Here are the top kickers who garner low-to-medium ownership (70% or lower) in order of implied team total (minimum 22-point implied team total) in order to help you find possible streamers.
Harrison Butker (27-point implied team total)
Jake Elliott (25.75-point implied team total)
Kai Forbath (24.25-point implied team total)
Blair Walsh (24-point implied team total)
Nick Novak (24-point implied team total)
Phil Dawson (23.5-point implied team total)
Josh Lambo (22.75-point implied team total)
Mike Nugent (22.25-point implied team total)
Ka’imi Fairbairn (22-point implied team total)