Week 16 Rankings (2016): Top 15 Defenses

by Ray Kuhn

Due to multiple factors we have quite an interesting slate of games from an over/under perspective. Weather will once again be an issue, and it likely will cause game totals to continue to fall as we get closer to Saturday. There are 12 games with an over/under of 44.5 or lower as of Wednesday night, and just four games are expected to be over 46.5 points with three match-ups expecting a combined total of between 52 and 53 points.  That means plenty of opportunity for defensive success, or at the very least there isn’t too much risk. Let’s take a look at how things rank:

  1. New England Patriots – vs. New York Jets
  2. Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Denver
  3. Seattle Seahawks – vs. Arizona
  4. Denver Broncos – at Kansas City
  5. San Diego Chargers – at Cleveland
  6. New York Giants – at Philadelphia
  7. Tennessee Titans – at Jacksonville
  8. Green Bay Packers – vs. Minnesota
  9. Buffalo Bills – vs. Miami
  10. Houston Texans – vs. Cincinnati
  11. Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Baltimore
  12. Cincinnati Bengals – at Houston
  13. Arizona Cardinals – at Seattle
  14. Washington Redskins – at Chicago
  15. Los Angeles Rams – vs. San Francisco


  • The Cardinals are not having the season they were expected, which can be said for the defense specifically. While they certainly have some fantasy value, we also need to be careful not to overrate them. They travel to Seattle, a team ranked 25th against opposing defenses, but the Seahawks are not the same squad that managed just two field goals in Arizona. Russell Wilson is healthy, Thomas Rawls is back and the Cardinals are coming off a 48 point outing against the Saints. So far Arizona has just 12 interceptions while registering 35 sacks. Their defense isn’t going to hurt you, but you can likely find more upside elsewhere.
  • It shouldn’t be a surprise that some of the lowest point totals of the week can be found in the match-up between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The 49ers are expected to score just 17 points, and that means the Rams defense should be filled with upside. After three games of double digit fantasy production the Rams put up a combined three points in their following four games, but they have the perfect opportunity to right the ship. Facing San Francisco should help improve on their seven interceptions, and if there is a risk to be taken Los Angeles is it.
  • As far as safe options go, it’s not going to be much better than San Diego. As of Wednesday night they are owned in just 50.4% of ESPN leagues, and they face the Browns. The fact that the game is taking place in Cleveland might actually benefit San Diego as weather could come into play. At 18.5 you aren’t going to see many expected point totals less than Cleveland’s, and they have done little this season to generate much confidence in their offense. San Diego has the 12th best fantasy defense, but the Browns help to make them a top-5 option.

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  1. Joe says:

    Notwithstanding the risk the Rams involve, would you take them over the Texans? Is it a matter of the Texans having a higher floor, though they face a Bengals team that is very stingy in how many points they allow to opposing DSTs?

    Thanks for all of your hard work!

  2. promillo says:

    Hello Professor,

    Broncos or Chargers in my semi-finals? Thx!

  3. Romo says:

    I have Arizona but still not sold. Only other defense I can pick up is buffalo. Should I pull the trigger??!

  4. BWAY says:

    Bills or Dolphins?

  5. haggy says:

    Vikings or Chargers D

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