By Zach Cohen
I’m trying something new this week. Instead of an emergency replacement for an injured or potentially ill player, I turn my focus to the defensive side of the ball—and special teams, too. Can’t forget about those guys. These units are available in at least 40% of leagues, per ESPN, and they could be solid options if you haven’t picked a defense for the week, yet.
Los Angeles Chargers (vs NYJ) | Available in 48% of leagues
Step 1: See who the Jets are playing. Step 2: Add that defense. Seriously, it’s that easy. This season, D/STs have averaged nearly 11 points per game against New York. Of the five games where a D/ST has posted double-digit points against the Jets, five of them came on the road. This week, the Jets fly to L.A. to take on the Chargers. Catch my drift? If they are still somehow available, scoop up the Chargers D/ST quicker than you can say, “Trevor Lawrence."
Minnesota Vikings (vs DAL) | Available in 50% of leagues
It hasn’t been a good year for Cowboys fans. (Has it been a good year for anyone?) The Cowboys have surrendered a whopping 56 fantasy points in the four games since Dak Prescott’s injury and Minnesota has been decent against offenses over the last three weeks. They held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to 22 points, and on Monday the unit posted 12 fantasy points against the Bears. I’m not comparing Chicago’s offense to Dallas, although I have confidence that the Vikings can at least force some turnovers against Dallas on Sunday.
Cleveland Browns (vs PHI) | Available in 41% of leagues
The Browns certainly aren't a sexy pick, so play your cards wisely here. However, there are some factors working in Cleveland‘s favor. The Eagles have turned the ball over in every game except last week. Defenses have also recorded sacks in every game but one against Philadelphia. The other factor? Mother Nature. We saw how impactful the rain could be at FirstEnergy Stadium last week when the Browns beat the Texans in a “thrilling” 10-7 win. The Browns’ D/ST only got seven points, but this week they get a more mistake-prone offense helmed by Carson Wentz. They aren’t the best option, but you could do worse this week.
Washington Football Team (vs CIN) | Available in 57% of leagues
It feels like it’s been ages since Washington and Cincinnati played each other. (They play every four years, so their last matchup was in 2016—and it was a tie.) In 2020, Washington’s defense has been surprisingly solid. While they’ve had some ups and downs in fantasy, they have a somewhat favorable matchup against Cincinnati. The Bengals have turned the ball over in all but two games this season. Again, I’m not that confident in the Football Team on Sunday, but you could do worse than playing their D/ST. If Cincinnati’s defense wasn’t so bad, I may even recommend them against a very underwhelming Washington offense.
Los Angeles Rams (at TB) | Available in 48% of leagues
Wait, hear me out. I know the Buccaneers have one of the best offenses on paper, but the Rams are too widely available to not earn starting consideration in Week 11. They have four games with double-digit points this year, though honestly, they just have too good of a defense to ignore. Although, all that could go to waste against what—at times—has been a very scary Tampa Bay offense. However, their embarrassing defeat against the Saints a couple of weeks ago showed that Tom Brady and the Buccaneers are vulnerable. If it comes down to it, I’d consider playing Los Angeles this week, though not before I look at some other options in this column. And for what it’s worth, the Rams do face the banged-up 49ers at home next week.
Still need more help? Check out of Week 11 D/ST rankings here.