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NFL Fantasy 2023 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Defenses for Week 17

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

No team has allowed more sacks this season than the New York Giants. Their QBs have been sacked 77 times -- the next-closest team is at 61. Yeah, that’s no good. Plus, they have turnover issues at times. It’s why the Giants have allowed the most fantasy PPG to opposing defenses. Aaron Donald and Co. should feast against this offensive line. The Rams are a strong streaming option in championship week. 

The Browns defense is capable of going off in any given week. Since Week 7, Cleveland has five games with 12 or more fantasy points, scoring as many as 23. That’s a change-your-week type of performance. It could post another big week against the Jets, who have allowed the second-most sacks in the NFL (61) and the second-most fantasy PPG to opposing defenses. No matter which backup is in at quarterback for New York, Myles Garrett and this Browns crew will be the far more talented option. They are very much in play this week and could win you a title.

The 49ers defense scored just three fantasy points against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens on Monday night. But most weeks, the Niners are good for nine-plus and are more than capable of posting week-altering performances -- like, say, this week against the Commanders. Washington has taken the third-most sacks this season (60), while also allowing the third-most fantasy PPG to opposing defenses. Even with Jacoby Brissett starting for Washington, the 49ers are back to being a must-start option. 

The Packers defense flopped last week against the Panthers, but I’m going to blame that on Joe Barry. As such, I am not shying away from streaming against Carolina. The Panthers have surrendered 56 sacks this season, the fourth-most in the league. They have turnover issues, don’t score a lot of points and have allowed plenty of big fantasy days to opposing defenses. Josh Allen (the pass rusher) and the Jaguars defense should make life very difficult on Bryce Young. I would look to stream the Jags if you’re in need of a waiver wire plug-and-play. 

Sit 'Em

The Cowboys played another top offense last week and scored … one fantasy point. They have now been held to fewer than five fantasy points against the 49ers, Chargers, Eagles, Seahawks, Bills and Dolphins. They’re more than capable of punching down but have been knocked out repeatedly by heavyweight offenses. This week, they face another top squad in Detroit, one that does not surrender a ton of sacks or turnovers. I would get away from Dallas in this matchup. 

I won’t lie, I considered going with the Ravens defense here against Miami. But after what they did to Brock Purdy and the 49ers, I think they remain in play against a banged-up Dolphins squad. So I'm pivoting to the Eagles, who managed to score fewer than five fantasy points against the Giants last week. Since Week 8, Philly’s D/ST has topped double digits once and its high mark is 10. The Eagles have scored four fantasy points or fewer in four of their last five games. The floor is very low and there has not been much upside. I would avoid what appears to be a trap here. 

Since its Week 9 bye, the Lions defense has scored six or fewer fantasy points in all but one game. Now it faces Dak Prescott and the Cowboys in Dallas, where they have been one of the league’s best offenses. This game has shootout written all over it. I would play it safe and stream another defense this week. 

The Packers defense just flopped against the Carolina Panthers. Not only did it score just one fantasy point, it allowed 30 real points to the league’s worst offense. I mean, Joe Barry, what was that? The Packers cost many a trip to the fantasy championship, and after scoring six or fewer in four straight, you cannot trust this unit, which will be without Jaire Alexander on Sunday night, with the title on the line. 

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