With two weeks now in the books, fantasy football owners know a lot more about D/ST matchups. With a two-game sample, it's a bit easier to identify the strongest defenses, potential sleepers, and the teams with the best waiver wire pickups to stream. Our Week 3 fantasy defense rankings will take these factors into account, but we have to acknowledge the potential impact of injuries, particularly when QBs are involved.
Week 3 is certainly a time to rely on matchup-based sleepers, as a handful of the top fantasy football defenses are taking on tough offenses. The Chiefs and Ravens would normally draw some starting consideration, but they're taking on each other in what could be a high-scoring game. The same can be said of the Packers-Saints game. That knocks out four defenses that normally would rank in the top half of D/ST rankings.
Further complicating the rankings are some matchups between weaker teams. The Jaguars and Dolphins are usually good teams to stream against, but they're playing against each other in a Thursday Night Football contest that will probably be too difficult to predict. If we have to pick one, we'll recommend the Jaguars D because at least you know Gardner Minshew will score.
Speaking of streamers, the Chargers (vs. Panthers), Cardinals (vs. Lions), and Colts (vs. Jets) all have favorable matchups at home and could be scooped off the waiver wire. In a sneakier matchup, Washington and the Browns are playing against each other, so both of those defenses will work their way into streamer territory because both quarterbacks are prone to turnovers. That could be a low-scoring game, so don't be afraid to trust either unit.
The Giants could also be worth streaming if Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) is out. They have a decent enough defensive line to cause problems for Nick Mullens and force some turnovers in addition to get some sacks.
NOTE: Check back for updates throughout the week.
Week 3 Fantasy Defense Rankings
11Washington Football Team @ Browns. The easiest way to get Baker Mayfield off his game is to pressure him. That's something that Washington can do, as they have 11 sacks through two games this season including an impressive three-sack performance against Kyler Murray. If Mayfield is missing his right tackle Jack Conklin again, Washington may be better positioned to take advantage of that than the Bengals were. Because of that upside, they qualify as one of the league's best streamers.
|1||San Francisco 49ers @ Giants. The Giants have lost Saquon Barkley (knee) for the season and Daniel Jones has committed two turnovers in each of his starts to begin the season. The 49ers defense will be weaker without the presence of top-tier pass rusher Nick Bosa (out for the season with a torn ACL), but they should still be able to make some big plays and limit a Giants offense that is one of five NFL units that has averaged under 300 yards per game.|
|2||New England Patriots vs. Raiders. Despite surrendering five TDs to Russell Wilson, the Patriots defense still was able to post positive fantasy points against the Seahawks thanks to a Devin McCourty pick-six. They should have an easier time slowing down a Raiders offense that may have trouble throwing on New England's strong secondary (though the Raiders did look good against the Saints on Monday night). As a result, New England could force Derek Carr into a turnover or some coverage sacks.|
|3||Indianapolis Colts vs. Jets. The Jets were without Jamison Crowder (hamstring) last week and lost Breshad Perriman (ankle) during the game. The result? Complete domination by the 49ers defense. The Colts should be in line for similar success at home whether Crowder returns, as Indianapolis just limited the Vikings to 11 points and forced Kirk Cousins into three interceptions and three sacks. The Jets rank last in the NFL in yards per game (265.5) and are second worst in points per game (15, ahead of only the Giants).|
|4||Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Broncos. Jeff Driskel put forth an admirable effort in relief against the Steelers, but in three starts for the Lions last year, he had four interceptions and led his team to an average of 18.7 points per game. The Buccaneers managed to force the ever-accurate Teddy Bridgewater into two interceptions last week while forcing three fumbles and logging five sacks. They should be able to get after Driskel, who was sacked six times for 53 yards against the Steelers. It doesn't hurt that Courtland Sutton (knee) is out and Phillip Lindsay (toe) might also miss this game.|
|5||Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Texans. The Texans have, unbelievably, averaged just 18 points per game so far this season. Deshaun Watson has been sacked four times in each of the two games he's played. Houston doesn't have a very good offensive line, and the Steelers' elite pass rush, which has led the NFL in sacks for the past three seasons, should have a chance to wreak havoc on the Texans' offense. That makes them a nice play, though Watson can strike for big plays at a moment's notice.|
|6||Los Angeles Chargers vs. Panthers. The Chargers have allowed the third-fewest points per game this season at a mark of 18. They have done that despite battling Patrick Mahomes in Week 2, and they did a good job of making him uncomfortable. If they can continue their success against RBs (zero TDs, 202 total yards surrendered to the position) against the Christian McCaffrey-less Panthers, the Chargers will be well positioned for a quality week on defense.|
|7||Philadelphia Eagles vs. Bengals. Yes, the Eagles have allowed an average of 32 points per game to open the season, but they are still taking on a rookie quarterback making just his second start on the road. The Bengals don't have a very good offensive line, and Joe Burrow has been sacked three times in each of his first two games. If the Eagles can get pressure on the Bengals, they will have a chance to rack up some solid sack numbers. That gives them a high floor in a week that is tough on defensive streamers.|
|8||Arizona Cardinals vs. Lions. Last week, the Cardinals did a great job of limiting Washington, holding it to 15 points while getting a ton of pressure on Dwayne Haskins. They could find similar success against a Lions offense that has stalled after early scoring twice in as many weeks, especially if they can get to Matthew Stafford, who was sacked four times and threw a pick-six last week.|
|9||Tennessee Titans @ Vikings. So far this season, Kirk Cousins has thrown just two TDs compared four INTs while being sacked five times. The Titans just saw the Jaguars rack up 30 points against them, but they were much stronger in Week 1 against the Broncos, allowing just 12 total points. They should be able to force Cousins into the mistakes he has been prone to making.|
|10||Buffalo Bills vs. Rams. Pre-lightning delay, the Bills had held the Dolphins to just 10 points. They folded to allow 18 after they returned, but had they stayed on the field, it's fair to wonder if they would've fared better. Either way, the Bills are allowing just 332 yards per game and 75.5 rushing yards per game, the latter of which is good for third best in the NFL. The Rams will be the Bills' toughest challenge yet, but if they can get either Matt Milano or Tremaine Edmunds back from injury (or both), they should have a chance to render them one dimensional and limit the Rams' overall success.|
|11||Washington Football Team @ Browns. The easiest way to get Baker Mayfield off his game is to pressure him. That's something that Washington can do, as they have 11 sacks through two games this season including an impressive three-sack performance against Kyler Murray. If Mayfield is missing his right tackle Jack Conklin again, Washington may be better positioned to take advantage of that than the Bengals were. Because of that upside, they qualify as one of the league's best streamers.|
|12||Cleveland Browns vs. Washington. So far this season, Washington is averaging 3.5 points in the first half, and Dwayne Haskins has been getting sacked 3.5 times per game. The Browns can take advantage of Washington's poor offensive line and try to force the young starter into mistakes. They couldn't do much in that regard against Joe Burrow, but Haskins is less mobile, and Cleveland may get some of their ailing defenders back in what looks like a good matchup for their defense.|
|13||Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Dolphins. Any time you get to play a defense against Ryan Fitzpatrick on a short week, you have to consider it. Fitzpatrick played well against the Bills, but he was guilty of throwing three picks against the Patriots the previous week. The Jaguars don't have a ton of defensive talent, but perhaps Josh Allen and their defensive line can pressure Fitzpatrick into some bad throws and top-10 pick C.J. Henderson can pick up his first interception.|
|14||Minnesota Vikings vs. Titans. We'll give the Vikings one more chance to prove that they're worthy of being a potential starting defense for fantasy purposes. They've allowed 35.5 points per game so far this season but have the talent to be better than that. The efficient Titans could pose some problems for them, but if the Vikings can contain them as the Broncos did, at times, in Week 1, they'll have a chance. If not, then the Vikings will probably move out of the top half of these rankings moving forward.|
|15||Los Angeles Rams @ Bills. Josh Allen has been playing nearly-flawless football so far, but the Rams will be, by far, the best defense he has faced this year. Jalen Ramsey will do what he can to erase Stefon Diggs while Aaron Donald will pressure Josh Allen and limit the Bills' running game. The Rams are only allowing 18 points per game to defenses, so they could slow down the Bills, but given Allen's mobility, it's hard to trust them as a top unit this week.|
|16||Carolina Panthers @ Chargers. If Tyrod Taylor plays, the Panthers should have a chance to slow down his offense, as they were only able to put up 16 points against a weakened Bengals defense when he was at quarterback. If Justin Herbert plays, this unit could have more trouble containing a Chargers offense that played well against the Chiefs. Consider them a potential cheap DFS option but avoid them if Herbert starts.|
|17||New York Giants vs. 49ers|
|18||Houston Texans @ Steelers|
|19||Denver Broncos vs. Buccaneers|
|20||New York Jets @ Colts|
|21||Atlanta Falcons vs. Bears|
|22||Cincinnati Bengals @ Eagles|
|23||Chicago Bears @ Falcons|
|24||New Orleans Saints vs. Packers. Aaron Rodgers is playing incredibly well through two weeks, so the Saints aren't a recommended play after getting carved up by the Raiders on Monday night.|
|25||Green Bay Packers @ Saints|
|26||Dallas Cowboys @ Seahawks|
|27||Baltimore Ravens vs. Chiefs. Normally, the Ravens can be trusted, but we're not going to bet on them against Patrick Mahomes.|
|28||Kansas City Chiefs @ Ravens|
|29||Seattle Seahawks vs. Cowboys|
|30||Miami Dolphins @ Jaguars|
|31||Detroit Lions @ Cardinals|
|32||Las Vegas Raiders @ Patriots|