Fantasy

Browns, Cardinals Among Eight Sneaky D/STs for Fantasy Football Playoffs

dsts for the fantasy playoffs

Searching for D/STs for the fantasy football playoffs? Look no further. Below, you’ll find eight sneaky options that are under 50% Sleeper rostership and have favorable matchups from Weeks 15-17.

This article was done in collaboration with The 33rd Team’s, Ryan Reynolds. I’ll include his numeric grades for each matchup, along with quick notes from my end to help you understand why we’re optimistic about each game. These defenses will be ranked in order, so the second team is our second favorite option among the eight.

1. Cleveland Browns

  • Week 15 vs. Baltimore (96)
    • The Browns’ pass rush should overwhelm Anthony Brown, a five-year college player who went undrafted this year. The Ravens have minimal WR talent, and Mark Andrews has struggled of late. The Ravens will need to funnel their run game through J.K. Dobbins, who is still not 100%.
  • Week 16 vs. New Orleans (84)
    • This is a direct bet against a Saints offense that’s scored only 13 points per game during their past five games.
  • Week 17 at Washington (85)
    • We’re getting a turnover-prone Taylor Heinicke and a Commanders’ offense that hasn’t reached three offensive touchdowns in a game with Heinicke this year. The Browns’ defensive line also holds a massive advantage in the trenches, per our new Trenches Tool.

2. New York Jets

  • Week 15 vs. Detroit (80)
    • The Lions have been surging recently, but the Jets have only allowed one of their past 10 opponents to score three offensive TDs against them. They’ve held opponents to just 16 points per game in the past 10 games, despite facing the Bills (twice), the Dolphins and the Vikings.
  • Week 16 vs. Jacksonville (85)
    • Trevor Lawrence has been sacked four or more times in four different games this season. The Jaguars have been a hot and cold offense all season, and the Jets are talented in their own right.
  • Week 17 at Seattle (93)
    • Geno Smith has taken three or more sacks in seven of his past nine games (those two other games, he was sacked twice in each), and he’s fumbled five times in that span. He’s also thrown interceptions in five of his past seven games.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Week 15 at Carolina (87)
    • Sam Darnold could easily flounder against the Steelers’ pass rush and had four straight seasons with at least 11 interceptions heading into 2022.
  • Week 16 vs. Las Vegas (82)
    • Derek Carr has thrown multiple picks in two of his past three games. The Raiders’ offensive line could be overwhelmed in this matchup, too.
  • Week 17 vs. Baltimore (75 if Lamar Jackson, 80 if Tyler Huntley, 99 if Anthony Brown)
    • The Steelers and Ravens have historically played tight games, and this one should open with one of the lowest Vegas totals of Week 17. The Ravens are devoid of talent in the passing game aside from Andrews.

4. Los Angeles Chargers

  • Week 15 vs. Tennessee (72)
    • Derrick Henry could get going against a terrible Chargers run defense. However, the Chargers’ backups put on a clinic against Miami in Week 14, and there is serious talent on this roster. Ryan Tannehill has taken 10 sacks during the past two weeks.
  • Week 16 at Indianapolis (82 if Joey Bosa plays, 77 without him)
    • Matt Ryan leads the NFL in interceptions (13) and has taken more than three sacks per game on average.
  • Week 17 vs. the Rams (93 assuming Joey Bosa plays)

5. Detroit Lions

  • Week 15 at the Jets (75)
    • The Lions’ defense has played much better the past six weeks, with six picks, 15 sacks and four fumble recoveries in that span. Mike White has more career picks than TD passes, and has attempted 101 passes in the past two weeks. There is turnover upside here for Detroit.
  • Week 16 at Carolina (86)
    • We are betting against Darnold with a much-improved Lions’ defense.
  • Week 17 vs. Chicago (60 if Fields plays, 90 if he doesn’t)
    • Justin Fields has taken at least four sacks in six of 12 games this year. The Bears have no WRs of note, and while they’ve been putting up points in recent weeks, there’s still potential for an ugly Week 17 game.

6. Arizona Cardinals

  • Week 15 at Denver (82)
    • Brett Rypien should start this game, and he’s thrown twice as many picks as TDs in his career. The Cardinals’ defensive line also holds an advantage over the Broncos’ offensive line, per our brand new Trenches Tool.
  • Week 16 vs. Tampa Bay (75)
    • The Buccaneers have scored just 17 points per game this year. Only the Rams have scored fewer points in the entire NFC.
  • Week 17 at Atlanta (79)
    • Rookie QB Desmond Ridder is most likely a downgrade from Marcus Mariota. The Falcons have been a tough offense to stop this season, but I don’t like betting on third-round rookie QBs with weak supporting casts.

7. Washington Commanders

  • Week 15 vs. the Giants (89)
  • Week 16 at San Francisco (70)
    • The 49ers project to struggle in the trenches when passing and running the ball, per our Trenches Tool. Brock Purdy is in no way a sure thing for the 49ers either. The worry here is the 49ers’ offensive scheme, which generally puts up points regardless of matchup.
  • Week 17 vs. Cleveland (70)

8) Minnesota Vikings

  • Week 15 vs. Indianapolis (82)
    • Ryan leads the NFL in interceptions (13) and has taken more than three sacks per game on average. The Vikings allow the most passing yards per game to opponents, but additional Ryan dropbacks will likely result in additional Ryan turnovers.
  • Week 16 vs. the Giants (82)
    • The Giants have a hobbled Barkley, a weak offensive line and nobody after Slayton in the passing game. This Giants team is not built for a pass-heavy attack, so they’re unlikely to take advantage of the Vikings’ dreadful pass defense.
  • Week 17 at Green Bay (70)
    • There is a chance Green Bay is completely out of the playoffs and starting Jordan Love. Most likely this is a bad matchup for the Vikings, and you’ll likely want to swap them out for one of the above defensive options.

These eight options can provide some stability for those searching for new D/STs for the fantasy playoffs. Best of luck these next three weeks.

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