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NFL Fantasy 2023 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Defenses for Week 12

You have lineup questions, we have lineup answers -- at least we hope so. Start 'Em, Sit 'Em is here to help fantasy managers make difficult roster decisions. And you know what is a good move? Starting Christian McCaffrey. But that's too obvious, so you won't see such simple analysis here. Instead, we're exploring more debatable situations. And if you can't find a player you are looking for, please check out the latest NFL Fantasy lineup rankings.

Start 'Em

I was going to include Dallas' defense here, but that's rather obvious, and we have several streamers worth mentioning. (But yes, definitely start the Cowboys' D.) We’ll start with the Patriots, because ... well, Giants. Tommy DeVito may have led them to a win before heading home for chicken parm with vodka sauce and another viewing of 2 Fast 2 Furious, but he also takes a bunch of sacks. Last week alone, DeVito was sacked nine times. On the year, the Giants have taken 63 sacks, which is 12 more than any other team (the Commanders are second at 51; no other team has more than 40). Plus, Bill Belichick makes life extremely tough on rookie QBs. Not streaming the Patriots against Tommy D? Fuhgeddaboudit! (Oh, wrong segment -- sorry.) 

The Jets have benched Zach Wilson ... and somehow may have made their offense worse. New starting QB Tim Boyle played at UConn for three years in college -- he threw one touchdown and 13 interceptions with a 48.4 completion percentage. As a pro, he has thrown three touchdowns and nine interceptions. You always stream defenses against the Jets, but this is a whole new level. Ride with the Fins.

Denver has been playing much better defensively as of late. They have scored eight or more fantasy points in three straight, notching as many as 17 in one of those. That’s the type of D/ST performance that can change the landscape of your fantasy week. The Broncos have a matchup with that sort of upside this week against the Browns. Dorian Thompson-Robinson has not yet thrown a touchdown and has four picks in his two starts. He is averaging just 3.6 yards per pass attempt. The Broncos are a strong streaming option this week. 

The Bengals will be without Joe Burrow for the rest of the season. Jake Browning is an unknown but Cincy was playing a heavily hampered Burrow over him early on in the year for a reason. The Steelers are an extremely tough opponent to make your debut start against, so their D/ST is in play (as is the Bengals’ against a Steelers offense that simply cannot move the ball consistently). 

The Panthers are scoring just 16.3 points per game this season, the fourth-fewest in the NFL. They’ve also taken the fourth-most sacks in the NFL. And amusingly, they’re not the only defense to stream in this game. The Panthers D/ST is also in play, as the Titans average just 16.8 PPG, the sixth-fewest in the league. They have also taken the fifth-most sacks. These offenses are the Spider-Man meme, except that both are wildly ineffective. As such, both defenses are in play this week. 

Sit 'Em

The Bills are coming off a huge performance where they scored 21 fantasy points against the Jets. But prior to that, they had been held to single digits in seven straight. I expect more of the latter this week, as they face MVP front-runner Jalen Hurts and one of the very best offenses in the league. The Eagles have allowed the 10th-fewest fantasy PPG to opposing defenses. Sit the Bills this week. 

Speaking of tough matchups, that is exactly what Seattle gets on Thanksgiving evening. The Niners have taken the fifth-fewest sacks in the league, and Brock Purdy’s interception troubles have faded away with all his offensive pieces back in the fold. It’s just not wise to play defenses against this San Francisco offense. There will be weeks to stream the Seahawks, this is just not one of them. 

The Ravens have scored 31 or more real-life points in five straight games. You’re not starting solid defenses against them, and the Chargers are far from solid. Their defensive-minded head coach and defensive play-caller is frustrated. Joey Bosa is headed to injured reserve. This is perhaps the least attractive D/ST play of the week.

Houston has become a powerhouse passing attack in a very short period of time, thanks to the breakout of C.J. Stroud, Tank Dell and Co. Even last week, when Stroud threw a season-high three picks and was sacked four times, the Texans only surrendered 10 fantasy points to the Cardinals' defense. They have simply been putting up too many real-life points. This game could be especially high scoring. I would get away from the Jags' defense this week. 

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