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Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 8 (Fantasy Football)

Oct 23, 2018

Stephon Gilmore and the Patriots should have a field day with the Bills

Just like kickers, having defenses as a part of your fantasy league kind of sucks. They aren’t superstars you can get attached too, and being a good real-life defense matters a lot less for fantasy than having a good matchup. Generally, you’re hoping that they don’t have a big impact on whether or not you win your week. You just want your defense to give you 7-10 points and avoid tanking you. Maybe you get lucky and your opponent thinks they can “set and forget” a team like the Ravens and they do poorly against a good offense. If you were hoping for defenses to be a non-factor, this was not your week. The Broncos exploded for 32 fantasy points thanks to five turnovers including two interception return TDs. The Colts, Rams and Patriots also blew up for 19, 19 and 17 points respectively. If one side of your fantasy matchup started one of those four teams and the other didn’t, that probably decided your week. If you’re really committed to streaming, there’s a good chance you started the Colts or Broncos and got a win for it.

Show Me Your Ranks

Most of the top-tier teams are highly owned, but hopefully one of New England and Pittsburgh is available. If they aren’t, Kansas City is a high-upside play, and the rest of Tier 2 feels safer.

Rank Team Opponent O/U Spread PA Sack Turnovers TD FPTS Own%
The Start Them With Confidence Tier
1 NE @BUF 44.5 -13.5 15.5 2.69 1.36 0.18 8.35 54%
2 HOU MIA 44.5 -7.5 18.5 2.33 1.54 0.12 7.17 94%
3 PHI @JAC 41.5 -3 19.25 2.05 1.46 0.20 7.02 93%
4 PIT CLE 51 -8 21.5 2.68 1.59 0.12 6.97 41%
5 CHI NYJ 46 -7 19.5 2.21 1.47 0.15 6.82 93%
The Still a Fine Choice Tier
6 ARI SF 43 0 21.5 2.55 1.55 0.12 6.80 30%
7 KC DEN 55.5 -10 22.75 2.56 1.63 0.13 6.78 16%
8 NYG WAS 42 1 21.5 2.73 1.42 0.12 6.71 3%
9 WAS @NYG 42 -1 20.5 2.30 1.38 0.17 6.67 18%
10 SF @ARI 43 0 21.5 2.37 1.39 0.16 6.55 3%
The Surely You Can Find Something Better Tier
11 LAR GB 57 -9 24 2.79 1.49 0.12 6.50 99%
12 JAC PHI 41.5 3 22.25 2.54 1.37 0.15 6.45 98%
13 CIN TB 54 -4.5 24.75 2.50 1.58 0.14 6.34 12%
14 DET SEA 49.5 -3 23.25 2.66 1.34 0.13 6.22 20%
15 MIA @HOU 44.5 7.5 26 2.78 1.49 0.12 6.13 16%
16 BAL @CAR 43 -2 20.5 1.83 1.25 0.17 5.96 83%
17 IND @OAK 50 -3 23.5 1.99 1.52 0.14 5.92 67%
18 CAR BAL 43 2 22.5 2.10 1.28 0.13 5.70 44%
19 SEA @DET 49.5 3 26.25 2.13 1.37 0.13 5.23 22%
20 OAK IND 50 3 26.5 2.61 1.26 0.07 5.10 1%
21 MIN NO 52.5 -1 25.75 2.06 1.28 0.12 4.97 97%
22 NYJ @CHI 46 7 26.5 2.24 1.24 0.11 4.92 33%
23 NO @MIN 52.5 1 26.75 2.22 1.22 0.09 4.69 23%
24 TB @CIN 54 4.5 29.25 2.23 1.27 0.11 4.39 3%
25 BUF NE 44.5 13.5 29 2.15 1.30 0.08 4.22 11%
26 CLE @PIT 51 8 29.5 1.96 1.36 0.07 4.01 23%
27 DEN @KC 55.5 10 32.75 2.01 1.22 0.09 3.07 70%
28 GB @LAR 57 9 33 1.80 1.20 0.08 2.69 26%

 

Tell Me About Your Top Picks

  1. NE @ BUF: It’s easy to wonder if the Tom Brady-era Patriots dynasty would be as dominant if they were in, say, the NFC North. Fortunately for them, they get to face the hot garbage that populates the rest of the AFC East six times a year. The Patriots are favored by a huge 13.5 points. They covered similarly large spreads against the Bills twice last year, and the Bills are even worse this year. The move to third-string QB Derek Anderson didn’t work out for the Bills last week, when they turned the ball over to the Colts five times. The New England D/ST is coming off their own four-turnover performance, and are available in almost half of leagues. There’s nothing not to like here.
  2. HOU vs MIA: Speaking of garbage AFC East teams, the Dolphins are absolutely a team to target as long as Brock Osweiler is the starter. On top of that, Houston hasn’t scored fewer than 9 fantasy points in any of their past four games.
  3. PHI @ JAC: Despite my habit of ranking them low, “team facing the Jaguars” has been pretty good in fantasy lately. This week, that’s a non-terrible solid Eagles defense. With the news that actual human Blake Bortles will start again despite being benched mid-game last week, the Eagles are an easy start.
  4. PIT vs CLE: Speaking of extremely lopsided division rivalries, the Steelers’ all-time record against the Cleveland Browns (in their current iteration, not the Ravens) is 33-6-1. The Steelers have an easy task in front of them coming off their Bye week. Hopefully they smash the Browns thoroughly enough to finally get Hue Jackson fired.
  5. CHI vs NYJ: Khalil Mack and the Bears are probably the best real-life defense in the NFL right now, and they’ve been the #3 defense in fantasy. This week they get to host the rookie-led Jets with an implied point total under 20.
  6. ARI vs SF: This is an interesting game (that’s going to be super boring to watch). Vegas doesn’t favor either team, and the O/U is just 43. That’s instantly a candidate for both teams being viable in fantasy. The tiebreaker here is turnover differential. The Cardinals have a turnover differential of -3 (meaning they’ve given up the ball 3 more times than it’s been given to them), but the 49ers differential is a whopping -15. The Cardinals are also at home, and the departure of Mike McCoy as offensive coordinator can only be a good thing for Arizona.
  7. KC vs DEN: Kansas City performed well when they visited Denver, and now they get to do it at home. After averaging less than half an interception per game in the 2017 regular season, Case Keenum is in the midst of a 9-game streak of throwing at least one pick, beginning in the Playoffs last year. KC’s defense has been boom-bust this year, but I’m happy to bet on boom if none of the Tier-1 options are available.
  8. NYG vs WAS: This is another low point total game with a tight spread. Both offenses have been anemic, averaging around 20 points/game in a season where the league as a whole is shattering scoring records. I don’t expect a ton of fantasy points, but the low expectation for actual football points means either side should have a safe floor. Between the two, I’ll take the team at home.
  9. WAS @ NYG: Even though the Giants are at home, they’re slight underdogs. If you prefer the 1-point favorite, I wouldn’t blame you.
  10. SF @ ARI: Even if Arizona is the defense I’d rather have, they’re still an offense to target. The 49ers should be a fine choice if it comes to that.

The Rams and Jaguars are notably high-owned and ranked just outside being starters. If you really want to hold on to them and don’t have a spare bench spot, you could do worse than starting them this week. I would avoid starting the Ravens or the Vikings – the other two highly-owned teams – this week, even if it means dropping them.

How Did We Do Last Week?

Fortunately, three of the four teams that blew up (the fourth being New England) were ranked in my first tier. Unfortunately, Jacksonville and the Chargers had quiet days despite good points allowed performances, due to a lack of turnovers and sacks. My hottest take was ranking Tampa Bay as a starter, so it was nice to see them have a solid day (and be right on the money in terms of projected points). In addition to New England, there were three other teams to exceed 10 fantasy points – Houston (@JAC), Cleveland (@TB) and Kansas City (vsCIN).

Rank Team Opponent O/U Spread Proj. FPTS Act. FPTS
The Start Them With Confidence Tier
1 JAC HOU 42.5 -4.5 7.83 2
2 IND BUF 42.5 -6.5 7.60 19
3 DEN @ARI 40.5 -2.5 7.16 32
4 LAC TEN 45.5 -6.5 7.00 5
5 LAR @SF 52 -10 6.99 19
The Still a Fine Choice Tier
6 ARI DEN 40.5 2.5 6.99 3
7 TB CLE 49.5 -3 6.95 7
8 WAS DAL 41.5 -1.5 6.70 15
9 DET @MIA 47 -1 6.37 4
10 MIN @NYJ 47 -3 6.31 12
11 DAL @WAS 41.5 1.5 6.30 2
12 PHI CAR 45.5 -4.5 6.30 2

 
Jacob Herlin is a Senior Data Analyst for FantasyPros. For more from Jacob, follow him @jacoblawherlin.


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