Week 17 Defenses to Stream (Fantasy Football)

by Josh Shepardson | @BChad50 | Featured Writer
Dec 26, 2017

Most fantasy football leagues wrapped up last week, but that’s not the case for all. Week 17 is an odd week since playoff seeding is often locked up, and as a result, some teams opt to rest starters for halves or even entire games. Given the wonky nature of Week 17, most leagues don’t include it in their schedule. For those of you who are still playing, though, you’ll want to pay especially close attention to player news and betting line movement (since huge line shifts could be the product of gamblers/oddsmakers expecting teams to rest starters). With that in mind, defenses that aren’t included among the streaming suggestions this early in the week could become interesting by the end of the week. Using an example, if the Jaguars are projected to rest key regulars against the Titans — a team fighting for a Wild Card berth — then they become a far more interesting option against the likes of Chad Henne and a cast of backups.

*Spreads and totals are from Pinnacle, and stats and ranks in the tables are from Pro-Football-Reference and don’t include the games played on Monday.

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Detroit Lions

Opponent Spread/Total Ownership
Points Allowed Per Game (Rank) Turnovers Forced (Rank) Sacks (Rank)
vs. GB -7.5/43.5 57.5%/56% 24.3 (25th) 28 (3rd) 31 (T-20th)

The Lions threw up all over their cleats last week, figuratively speaking, and in doing so, they were eliminated from qualifying for a playoff berth. They’re the only team touted this week who don’t have something tangible to play for, but they are professionals facing a division rival and playing at home. With that being the case, it’s not surprising to see they’re 7.5-point favorites against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers. Green Bay has been dreadful with Brett Hundley running the offense, and they’ve been a favorable opponent for streaming against. The Packers are tied for the third most sacks allowed (47) and tied for the 13th most turnovers (21). They were blanked at home by the Vikings last week, and the playing status of Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson is up in the air this early in the week. Even if both play, this is a great streaming spot for the Lions D/ST. If either one or both don’t play, the Lions become contenders for top D/ST scoring honors against a punchless Packers’ offense.

New Orleans Saints

Opponent Spread/Total Ownership
Points Allowed Per Game (Rank) Turnovers Forced (Rank) Sacks (Rank)
@ TB -7.5/50.5 56.4%/51% 19.7 (T-6th) 22 (T-11th) 40 (T-6th)

The Saints are marching toward a division title and can clinch the NFC South with a win. Winning the division would assure them a home playoff game, so they have motivation to win this week on the road against the Bucs. The game’s over/under total might provide some reason for pause, but Tampa Bay’s implied team over/under total of 21.5 points isn’t terrifying. The Bucs are tied for the fifth most turnovers (24) and tied for the 13th most sacks allowed. Furthermore, since returning in Week 13, Jameis Winston has absorbed 18 sacks and committed seven turnovers (five fumbles lost and two interceptions thrown). If the game goes according to the spread, Winston will be forced to drop back early and often, and given his sack-taking and turnover-prone ways, that’s a recipe for D/ST scoring for the Saints.

Tennessee Titans

Opponent Spread/Total Ownership
Points Allowed Per Game (Rank) Turnovers Forced (Rank) Sacks (Rank)
vs. JAC Not Posted 31.5%/28% 23.1 (T-19th) 17 (24th) 40 (T-6th)

I touched on the Titans in the intro, and the lack of a posted total and spread is likely due to some uncertainty about how the Jaguars will approach this game. Jacksonville is locked into the No. 3 seed, so it’s possible — if not probable — they rest their starters for part of or for the entire game. The Titans defense is mediocre, but against another team’s reserves, that would play up. Tennessee’s inclusion as a streaming suggestion should tell you all you need to know about my expectation as to how the Jaguars will treat Week 17. At worst, I think the Titans will face Jacksonville’s starting offense for a half.

Buffalo Bills

Opponent Spread/Total Ownership
Points Allowed Per Game (Rank) Turnovers Forced (Rank) Sacks (Rank)
@ MIA -3/43 20.2%/26% 22.9 (18th) 24 (T-8th) 26 (T-26th)

The Bills need some help to earn a playoff berth, but because all of the AFC teams competing for the two Wild Card spots play in the 4:25 PM ET time slot, there’s no danger of Buffalo’s playoff fate being determined in advance of their contest. They played the Dolphins in Week 15 in Orchard Park and won 24-16 while forcing three turnovers and sacking Jay Cutler three times. A week after springing a home upset against the visiting Patriots, Cutler played like bad Cutler, and the Bills made him pay for his head-scratching decisions. Having said that, he did beat the Patriots at home in Week 14, and if good Cutler shows up, the Bills defense could be in trouble. This isn’t a “safe” pick, but Buffalo is favored, Miami has an implied over/under total of 20 points, and the Dolphins have the third most turnovers (28) this year. There’s substantial upside here, but Buffalo’s D/ST’s floor is lower than at least that of the Lions and Saints, and it’s also lower than Tennessee’s if signs point toward the Jaguars resting their starters on offense.

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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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