In Week 11, three of the top 10 scoring fantasy D/STs were recommended in this article last week. The Kansas City Chiefs (20.00 points), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (18.00 points) and Tennesee Titans (9.00) were all quality streaming options and helped fantasy owners bolster their point totals with strong outings. OK, enough tooting my own horn. The reality is that D/ST fantasy scoring is one of the hardest things to predict in fantasy football because of flukey plays like kick returns and pick sixes, so just keep that in mind.
Some of the streaming D/ST qualifications that I use here each week include good matchups, home teams, favorites, and obviously good defenses.
Now, we look ahead to Week 12 for some recommendations with the important caveat that defensive fantasy points are one of the most difficult things predict with complete accuracy, but if you're in need, here are some suggestions based on the above guidelines.
A recommended streaming option in this space last week, the Buccaneers D/ST had its strongest performance of the season in Week 11 against the Eagles and finished as fantasy's second-highest scoring defense with 18 points. Tampa Bay tallied a season-high four takeaways, posted three sacks on Sunday and allowed Philadelphia to score just 17 points against them. Mark Sanchez's poor play as the Eagles starting quarterback had a lot to do with it. He threw three interceptions including one returned for a touchdown. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Since the Bucs' bye in Week 6, the team's D/ST unit has posted fantasy totals of eight, 10, four, 12 and 18. The unit currently ranks as a top-10 fantasy option for the season with 86 total points. Since Week 5, the unit has averaged 11.16 fantasy points per game. Tampa Bay has allowed fewer than 20 points per game in back-to-back games, and didn't allow Dallas to score a touchdown in Week 10. The team has also registered three sacks in two straight contests.
Thanks to its streak of strong games, Tampa Bay's D/ST will remain a solid streaming option against the Colts in Week 12. Indianapolis has not been the offensive juggernaut that we thought they'd be coming into the season. The Colts are a middle-of-the-pack offense and now have 40-year-old quarterback Matt Hasselback under center. In Week 11 against Atlanta, the Colts turned the ball over three times, including two ugly Hasselback interceptions, and only produced 276 yards of total offense.
Fantasy owners can expect Tampa Bay's D/ST to take advantage of Indianapolis' suspect offensive line in Week 12. If they can put pressure on Hasselback and force him into some mistakes, it could be another big game for the Bucs defense.
This season, the Rams are 31st in the NFL in average points per game (17.9), average yards per game (299.9) and total points scored for the season (179). The Rams are also dead last in the league in passing yards (1,739) and are tied for last in passing touchdowns (eight). With Case Keenum under center in Week 11, the Rams had one of their worst offensive performances of the season, totaling just 217 yards on offense. Even Todd Gurley struggled behind poor offensive line play, totaling just 66 yards on 25 carries. As a team, St. Louis turned the ball over four times. Even the Ravens, one of fantasy's lowest scoring D/STs for the season, managed to post 13 fantasy points against the Rams on Sunday.
The Bengals allowed a season-high 34 points to the Cardinals on Sunday night which makes sense when you consider that Arizona is one of the league's most potent offenses, averaging 33.6 points per game. But even in their worst defensive performance of the season, the Bengals still managed to salvage their fantasy total (5.00 points) thanks to two interceptions and two sacks against Carson Palmer. And prior to Week 11, Cincinnati's defense had allowed just 10 points to opposing teams in each of their last three games. If the Bengals can find a way to limit Gurley, who has solely accounted for 40 percent of the Rams' total offensive yards since Week 4, this unit should be able to rebound with a strong outing for fantasy owners in a home matchup in Week 12.
Kansas City was fantasy's highest scoring defense for the second straight week. The Chiefs D/ST ownership is quite shocking considering how well this unit has been playing recently.
In the last two games, Kansas City has posted fantasy totals of 19 and 20 points, and both of those were road contests. The unit made San Diego's sorry excuse for an offense look even sorrier on Sunday, allowing just 201 total yards and zero touchdowns to the Chargers (three total points). The team returns home to the unfriendly confines (for opposing teams) of Arrowhead Stadium in Week 12 where the Chiefs D/ST is averaging 12 fantasy points per game this year. Kansas City has also held its opponents to 18 or fewer points in six straight games.
If you haven't figured it out yet, all of the above is bad news for the Buffalo Bills offense. The Bills offense isn't anything to be afraid of as the team ranks 21st in average yards per game (342.7), 14th in total points (231) and 31st in total passing yards (1,803). Buffalo's strong suit is the run game as they rank second in rush yards per game (142.3). But the Chiefs rank among the top teams in the league in terms of stopping the run, so it may be tough sledding for LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams. That could force Tyrod Taylor into throwing the ball often. That's a great scenario for a Chiefs defense that has limited opponents to fewer than 200 passing yards in four straight games and has collected one or more picks in five straight contests.
This recommendation is more about Washington's 28th ranked offense than it is about the Giants defense.
The New York Giants D/ST ranks in the top 10 in total fantasy points, yet the unit is available in about 85 percent of NFL.com leagues. Sure, the Giants defense is one of the worst in the NFL in terms of real football, but for fantasy purposes, a matchup against Washington could be just what this unit needs to post another solid outing for fantasy owners.
Washington's offense is averaging just 332.8 yards per game and is among the worst in the league in terms of rushing. We're going to just throw away Washington's big offensive game against the Saints in Week 10, which we all know was an anomaly due to New Orleans abysmal defense. So in Weeks 9 and 11 combined Washinton's backfield produced a total of 47 rush yards on 26 attempts. With the run game not working, Kirk Cousins will have to throw to move the offense. In his last three games, Cousins has been sacked nine times, thrown two picks and lost two fumbles. New York is tied for second in the NFL with 14 picks, so the defense should be able to take advantage of Cousins' inconsistent play.
If you're desperate
This is a complete desperation play but hear me out. The Ravens head into Cleveland next Monday night and will be fielding a MASH unit of offensive starters. Joe Flacco is out for the season with a torn ACL, so interception machine Matt Schaub will start under center; Kamar Aiken is the team's top wideout with Steve Smith out for the year; and rookie runner Javorius Allen will now serve as Baltimore's No. 1 running back since Justin Forsettbroke his arm on Sunday. The injury plague has hit Baltimore hard this year, and even though Cleveland has allowed 30 or more points to opposing teams in their last three games, they should be able to take advantage of the unfortunate situation that the Ravens offense finds themselves in. Cleveland has some injuries of their own on defense, but they should be healed up with a Week 11 bye and will be fresh to face a Baltimore team that can't catch a break (insert classless Forsett broken arm joke here).
Matt Franciscovich is an associate fantasy editor at NFL.com. He suggests you check out Amos Lee and his band's rendition of the "Game of Thrones" theme song. Hit him up on Twitter @MattFranchise for music recommendations and fantasy advice.