It's championship week and odds are if an owner made the title game, they probably lucked into one of the best scoring defenses in the league.
This season a few squads continued their dominant play (Seattle, San Francisco, Cincinnati), several surprises littered the field (Kansas City, Carolina, Arizona, St. Louis), and one emerged in the second half (Tampa Bay).
Funny enough, several are matched up in pivotal Week 16, adding another layer to fantasy owner conundrums.
Any would be worthy to start in most weeks, but for an owner tinkering with his championship lineup, he’ll have to choose between two of them.
Below is a breakdown of each of the top defenses, and which to start for the title.
Kansas City Chiefs
Motivated with an outside chance of earning the AFC’s No. 1 seed, the Chiefs are at home against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts, who own big wins over the 49ers, Broncos, and Seahawks. It’s probably best to keep the Chiefs on the bench if you can pick up any of the below defenses.
They hold a two-game lead for the NFC’s top seed, but host a Cardinals squad that are one of the hottest in the league, winning six of their last seven. The Seahawks also need another win ahead of Week 17’s matchup with San Francisco. The Cards are hungry for a playoff spot, and have averaged nearly 30 points a game during their run. But the Seahawks are fresh off arguably their best performance of the season. Put Seattle in your starting lineup today.
Two weeks ago, Drew Brees torched them for 304 passing yards and four touchdowns. This time around the Panthers are at home, where they are 6-1 this season and are allowing 11.8 points per game. A win also puts them in first place in the NFC South. Carolina should get owners around five to 10 points this week, but they aren’t the safest bet.
San Francisco 49ers
The lock of the week against a soft Atlanta Falcons offensive line. Steven Jackson does pose a threat, scoring four of his five touchdowns in the last two games, but San Francisco just held the hard charging Bucs and Bob Rainey to 39 total rushing yards.
They own the league’s best rushing defense, allowing 83.2 yards per game, and have the ability to take away Seattle’s best weapons in Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. But Arizona’s 17th ranked pass defense against the highly accurate Wilson makes them vulnerable.
The loss to Pittsburgh is a bit disturbing. It was just the second time all season the Bengals allowed 30 points. In Week 16, they’ll host a Minnesota team coming off a season-high 48 points without Adrian Peterson. A repeat performance seems unlikely for the Vikings unless Peterson returns. If AP is out, the Bengals could net roughly 10 to 15 points.
St. Louis Rams
They just sacked Brees four times and picked him off twice, and now face an up and down Bucs squad that’s 1-5 on the road and been held to single digit point totals in two of their last three games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If they can force turnovers, and contain the Rams rushing attack, the Bucs have a chance to be a sleeper pick this week. They’re right in the middle of defenses this season, ranked 15th against the pass and rush, but the Bucs have plenty of talent that could shine through. Start them ahead of Arizona and Kansas City, but no one else on this list.
Bonus Picks: Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns
Both will face the teams with the worst turnover ratios in the NFL. The Lions host Eli Manning and the Giants, and Cleveland will stare down Geno Smith and the Jets. At least one is likely to be available on the wire.