If you are reading this article… congrats! You are most likely on pace to make the fantasy playoffs! Do a lap in your living room, call your mom to brag, and crack open a Coors Light (please sponsor me) – you deserve it! You are either here because you got lucky, you drafted Travis Kelce, or you live & breathe fantasy and are always looking ahead… actually, only that third one applies if you are reading this article by a no-name fantasy writer. I appreciate you.
I go through this exercise every year on my way to the playoffs – trying to figure out which defense I can stash that will help me cruise through the playoffs like that TD pass cruised through DK Metcalf’s arms on Thursday. Every year I search online, and every year I find very few articles about this – especially a few weeks before the playoffs when bye weeks are almost over. I have since come up with a 100%, fool-proof, locked in, stake my reputation on it method*.
*Disclaimer: These claims are widely disputed by the author
First, I assign a numerical value to each team – from the team who gives up the most points to opposing defenses DEN (1) to the least PIT (32). I then add up each team’s opponents during Weeks 14-16, because I am not a sadist who plays until Week 17. Once I have those numbers, I get a good sense of who has great playoff schedules based on who has the lowest number. Teams like DAL (19), SEA (20), AZ (21), and CLE (25) all have pretty dang good matchups. But am I going to put my fantasy season in the hands of Dallas’ Defense? No. No, I am not. Nor am I going to choose all of these defenses over some of the high scoring defenses like PIT (48), BAL (33), IND (72), and KC (84) just based on schedule.
To account for the quality of each team’s defense, I once again assign them a numerical value based on their average points scored this season – with PIT (32) as the highest and JAX (1) as the lowest. I subtract these numbers from the previous number to assign a value that reflects both the EASIEST SCHEDULE and HIGHEST SCORING OFFENSE. Or more simply, low numbers = better. I found Baltimore (final score of 2) is going to win some leagues since they are the second highest scoring offense and also have an extremely easy schedule (@CLE, JAX, NYG). Compare BAL (2) with other high-powered offenses like IND (40) and KC (56) and though these defenses got me here, I am actively avoiding those latter teams in the playoffs.
But BAL is 99% owned – so we are looking for the teams that not only have an easy schedule and a DEF that scores points, but are ALSO widely available. Here are some of the top ranked teams and their availability:
BAL = 2 (99% owned)
AZ = 3 (15%)
LAR = 4 (61%)
CLE = 5 (56%)
SEA = 5 (27%)
PIT = 18 (100%)
SF = 18 (39%)
CHI = 19 (63%)
I was surprised to see the Rams 61% available. They would be my number 1 target as they face NE, NYJ, @SEA. Arizona (@NYG, PHI, SF) is my second target and I can get them almost everywhere, followed by Cleveland (BAL, @NYG, @NYJ), San Francisco (WSH, @DAL, @ARI), and then it is a tossup between Chicago and whether you think Seattle can figure out their porous defense by then.
If you are 100% playoff bound, I would pick up AZ or LAR now, and just roll with them. Apart from LAR this week against TB, neither of these teams have opponents I am actively avoiding the rest of the way. Obviously, a lot can change in a few weeks, so keep an eye out over the next few weeks or message me on Twitter and I can help you find the defense that will bring the trophy home.
Chase McKenzie is a correspondent at FGBros and this is the most math he has done since High School. GO MUSTANGS!