The year was 2015. Week 16 had arrived and it was the Fantasy Super Bowl, or “Fight for the Facemask” as my home league calls it. I was up big over my biggest rival and the resident troll of our league Matt. The Hicksville Gamblers were up big early and looked to be on our way to the first of many championships. I was confident that a big day 97 yard, one touchdown game from the Bills’ Karlos Williams would carry the day for me. Then the 4:00 pm games started. Todd Gurley had a strong showing with 90 total yards and a touchdown. The sweat began to run down my brow at the family Christmas party as the minutes ticked by. Then it happened. The Arizona Cardinals scored TWO defensive touchdowns in the third quarter. Combine that with NINE sacks, only eight points against, AND an interception, and my championship hopes lay destroyed. This story serves as an example of how the right defense will win you a championship. Which fantasy playoff defense should you add to win your league?
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— Geoff Lambert ☒ (@GeoffLambert77) December 14, 2020
Fantasy Playoff Defense to Add
Arizona Cardinals (28.4% of Rosters)
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) December 13, 2020
The Cardinals are a quarterback pressure machine, ranking eighth in Pressure Percentage, and have a juicy schedule throughout the fantasy playoffs. In Week 15, they travel to take on the rookie Jalen Hurts in what looks like it will be a cold and rainy Philadelphia day. Hurts played his college ball in the SEC and Big 12, not two conferences known for playing in bad weather. The rookie behind a sieve of an offensive line is due to turn the ball over a few times. Then in Week 16, the Cardinals get to take on their division rival 49ers. Sure, Jimmy G might be back, but it is unlikely. That means the turnover statue Nick Mullens will be starting. Mullens has had five multiple turnover games and has been sacked multiple times in three of his last four games. Mullens will be devoured by a hungry Cardinals pass rush and secondary. It does not help that his best receiver, Debo Samuel, will likely miss time as well. The Cardinals may have a repeat of their 2015 miracle game.
New York Giants (23.0% of Rosters)
The Giants defense has begun to really come into their own as an elite unit over the last three weeks. They have not allowed more than 231 yards through the air over the last four weeks and have had six multiple turnover games on the season. Joe Judge has the Giants playing with an attitude and over the next two weeks, they get to face the up-and-down young quarterbacks of the AFC North. Baker Mayfield has been taking care of the football but has not been able to avoid getting sacked. Alternatively, Lamar Jackson has turned the ball over in four of his last five games and been sacked multiple times in four of his last six. With two young and easily flustered quarterbacks on the schedule, the Giants are a must-add fantasy playoff defense. Oh, and in Week 17 they get to feast on Andy Dalton.
Carolina Panthers (25.2% of Rosters)
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) December 13, 2020
Yeah, the Panthers are most likely going to get murdered by the Green Bay this week. Going to happen, lock it in. However, the Panthers have emerged as a big-play turnover and havoc creating defense. They have forced a turnover every week except Week 1 and have been particularly stout against the run. Factor in some snow and cold in the forecast for Green Bay this weekend and Rodgers could be limited through the air. You are really adding the Panthers for their Week 16 matchup against a listless Washington offense. With Alex Smith banged up and no real running game, Washington is in trouble. They have given up multiple sacks every week and if Dwayne Haskins is playing the Panthers’ young and hungry secondary will feast. If you can weather the storm with another defense this week, the Panthers will bring you a title in Week 16.
Los Angeles Chargers (27.1% of Rosters)
My preseason DST01 has had a rough go of it this season. However, things have been looking up for them in the past few weeks. In two of their last three, the Chargers have forced three turnovers and have been pressuring the quarterback consistently all year. In the last three weeks the Raiders have turned the ball over multiple times and the Chargers look like a team who will force the issue against a divisional rival. As if one juicy matchup was not enough, the human turnover machine that is Drew Lock also comes to town in Week 16. Lock was sacked twice and threw a pick in their Week 8 matchup. He did throw for three touchdowns, but this Chargers team has been playing better defense the last few weeks. Look for the Chargers to be a difference-maker as a fantasy playoff defense down the stretch.
Dallas Cowboys (20.7% of Rosters)
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) December 13, 2020
This is the moment you wonder, “Just how many Blue Lights has this whack-job had?” The answer is none, it is a school night. But hear me out on why there is a chance that the Cowboys could be a productive fantasy playoff defense. In Week 15 they get to play the aforementioned Monument to Meltdowns Mullens and in Week 16 they either get the rookie Hurts or the ever-broken Carson Wentz. Either way, they have two juicy matchups for the fantasy playoffs. Couple that with forcing a turnover in five of their last six games, and forcing multiple turnovers in three of their last six and you have an intriguing option. The Cowboys have some interesting pieces up front and against a soft end-of-season schedule, they could just provide some fantasy relevance. Should you be playing in Week 17, they get the chance to play a listless New Jersey Giants’ offense then too.