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Fantasy football rankings, Week 15: Defense/special teams

Thank you, NFL schedule makers, for having the Seahawks play the Giants. That was the easiest ranking ever.

Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks play the New York Giants. That would be the Seahawks, a defense that has the second-most fantasy points on the season, facing the Giants that have allowed the most. Rarely does it get easier than that to place a team's defense/special teams first in the rankings.

Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings play the Philadelphia Eagles. That would be the Vikings, a defense that has the second-fewest fantasy points on the season, facing the Eagles that have allowed the seventh-fewest. Rarely does it ....

Damn, I can't finish that parallel. Because Thursday, the San Diego Chargers play the Denver Broncos. That would be the Chargers, a defense that has the fourth-fewest fantasy points on the season, facing the Broncos, who have allowed the fewest. Rarely does it ...

Okay, here's the thing. In Seattle, Week 15 has a very obvious, no-thought-needed top defense, and a few obvious, no-thought-needed defenses that fantasy owners can't touch. In the middle, of course, it gets a bit more muddled, but after several weeks of question-mark rankings, I've gotta say, some clear parts were awfully nice.

Anyway, I'm continuing with my playoff ranking system from a week ago, and offering two system of rankings - a set of rankings for Favorites, and another for Underdogs. Basically, if you are a top seed in your league, all you want is a D/ST unit to go out there and be reliable. A 20-point game is nice, sure, but if the team is just as likely to score 2 as it is 20, it's not worth it. You need reliability. On the other hand, if you've squeaked in as a six-seed (or whatever), and you have to hope for big performances to have a chance, that 2-or-20 possibility might be just what you need.

Here's a look at a few key units this week:

Carolina Panthers (No. 6 Favorites, No. 2 Underdogs) - The Panthers have allowed the second-fewest yards in the NFL, and the fewest points. They are the only team holding opposing teams to less than 80 rushing yards. Meanwhile, their opponent, the Jets, has been one of the most bipolar teams in the league. The Jets simply have no middle ground, and that carries over to defensive scoring against them - in the Jets seven losses, opposing defenses have scored more than 18 points a game; in their six wins, that number falls to 3.8. It seems pretty safe to predict a Panthers victory, and with that victory could easily come huge production from a defense.

Kansas City Chiefs (No. 15 Favorites, No. 4 Underdogs) - The Chiefs had the season's high score for a D/ST Sunday, putting up a billionty jillionty fantasy points on the Washington Redskins (or 27, but whatever). That came after three straight games of -1, -7, and 1 fantasy points. They scored 23 in Week 1, 8 in Week 2, and 20 in Week 3. The Chiefs' defense is unquestionably good, and definitely one of the top units, but there is literally no D/ST unit in the league with more week-to-week variability in its score, coming in 32nd in consistency rating. So playoff favorites might steer clear, but underdogs who are just hoping for a jackpot? That "billionty jillionty points" result is always in play.

Here are the overall rankings for Week 15:

Favorites ranking Opponent Underdogs ranking Opponent
1 Seattle Seahawks at NY Giants Seattle Seahawks at NY Giants
2 San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay Carolina Panthers NY Jets
3 Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville
4 Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland
5 Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee
6 Carolina Panthers NY Jets San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay
7 Detroit Lions Baltimore Tampa Bay Buccaneers San Francisco
8 New Orleans Saints at St. Louis New Orleans Saints at St. Louis
9 New England Patriots at Miami Detroit Lions Baltimore
10 Baltimore Ravens at Detroit Chicago Bears at Cleveland
11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers San Francisco Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota
12 Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh
13 Jacksonville Jaguars Buffalo Baltimore Ravens at Detroit
14 Chicago Bears at Cleveland Jacksonville Jaguars Buffalo
15 Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland St. Louis Rams New Orleans
16 Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Atlanta Falcons Washington
17 St. Louis Rams New Orleans Miami Dolphins New England
18 Miami Dolphins New England Pittsburgh Steelers Cincinnati
19 Atlanta Falcons Washington New England Patriots at Miami
20 Washington Redskins at Atlanta Green Bay Packers at Dallas
21 Houston Texans at Indianapolis Washington Redskins at Atlanta
22 Cleveland Browns Chicago Indianapolis Colts Houston
23 New York Jets at Carolina Dallas Cowboys Green Bay
24 Tennessee Titans Arizona Houston Texans at Indianapolis
25 Pittsburgh Steelers Cincinnati New York Giants Seattle
26 Oakland Raiders Kansas City Tennessee Titans Arizona
27 San Diego Chargers at Denver New York Jets at Carolina
28 Dallas Cowboys Green Bay Denver Broncos San Diego
29 New York Giants Seattle Cleveland Browns Chicago
30 Indianapolis Colts Houston Oakland Raiders Kansas City
31 Denver Broncos San Diego San Diego Chargers at Denver
32 Minnesota Vikings Philadelphia Minnesota Vikings Philadelphia

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Week 15 fantasy football position rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | D/ST