Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 5 (2019 Fantasy Football)
We are officially through 25% of the season. The baseball fan in me thinks a 16-game season is an absurdly small sample to draw any conclusions from. By Football standards, however, four games are enough to form some reasonably confident opinions about which offenses really are worth targeting. Here are the top ten (worst) offenses in terms of points allowed to opposing fantasy defenses:
You can see the full list here. There are some surprises here, especially toward the bottom — I don’t think anyone expected Cleveland, Atlanta or Houston to be particularly friendly to opposing defenses. Less surprising are the teams that really matter to us for streaming, the worst of the worst. It turns out that quarterbacks named Josh are the punching bags of the league — Miami and Buffalo are both teams you would start anyone against (and in Week 7 they play each other!). The next three are all teams I would start most defenses against — certainly any home team that isn’t the Cardinals. The Bengals might improve when A.J. Green comes back, but that’s a lot to ask of one receiver. The Jets are missing their starting (and second-string, for that matter) quarterback, but it’s not like Sam Darnold’s particularly good anyway. They’ll still be a team to target when he comes back. And Washington, well, there’s no redeeming Washington. They looked at what Case Keenum did in Denver in 2018 and said, “yes, we’ll take one of those, please.” They threw rookie QB Dwayne Haskins to the wolves just two quarters after saying they wouldn’t play him before he was ready, and he promptly threw his first NFL touchdown to Giants safety Jabrill Peppers.
I don’t make projections more than one week out because Vegas lines are a huge factor, and they aren’t usually available more than a week out. If you have the bench space to plan ahead, my best advice is to go after defenses facing the top-five offenses listed above.
Rankings and Projections
This is a good week because three of my top-tier defenses are widely available. You should be able to get the Eagles or Titans in most leagues, and barring that, you can almost certainly get the Bengals. As always, ownership is from Yahoo. If you have any questions, find me on Twitter.
|The Start Them With Confidence Tier|
|The Still a Fine Choice Tier|
|The Surely You Can Find Something Better Tier|
Notes on the Top Picks
- PHI vs. NYJ: At this point, it seems unlikely that Sam Darnold will play, which leaves Luke Falk to start. Even if Darnold does somehow return, the Jets are still a tasty matchup. The Jets are tied with the Bengals for the third-most fantasy points allowed to opposing defenses, and the Eagles can certainly keep that going.
- NE @ WAS: The Patriots are a set-it-and-forget-it defense, and that is an extremely rare thing. Meanwhile, Washington is a trainwreck. They decided mid-game to bench Case Keenum for rookie Dwayne Haskins, who clearly wasn’t ready. He might get there sometime this season, but I won’t bet against the league’s best defense.
- TEN vs. BUF: Josh Allen sucks at football. This might come as a surprise to people who are used to thinking about the offensive side of fantasy football because his tendency to score rushing touchdowns makes him sort of viable as a fantasy QB. The thing he is bad at is throwing, which is bad news for the Bills because they keep telling him to do that. The interception upside here is massive, and an implied point total of just 18 means the Bills aren’t likely to make up for it with real football points.
- CIN vs. ARI: Every week, there’s one team that draws a lot of questions on Reddit and Twitter that amount to “explain your rank for [team].” I’m constantly surprised by who it was, and last week that team was Seattle against Arizona. To me, the case for targeting Arizona is obvious: for streaming defenses, we want fumbles, interceptions, and sacks. Those things all correlate strongly with how much an offense throws (including fumbles — half of all fumbles happen on sacks), and the quarterback’s tendency to throw picks and get sacked. The Cardinals throw at one of the highest rates in the league. Kyler Murray has one interception per game, which is average, but he’s on pace to get sacked 80 times this season, which would beat the current all-time record of 76.
- CHI @ OAK: Chicago’s defense is great, even if their offense isn’t. Oakland’s offense is bad. Derek Carr isn’t the juiciest target for interceptions and sacks, which keeps Chicago out of Tier 1, but he’s nothing to fear either. Why overthink it?
- MIN @ NYG: After getting sacked five times in his debut against Tampa Bay, Daniel Jones righted the ship and avoided getting sacked by Washington. Not one to let us down, he made up for it by throwing two interceptions. That was against Washington, who is a mess — I think Minnesota should be able to get to him.
- CAR vs. JAC: Jacksonville’s play calling has been very conservative with Gardner Minshew. Combined with his accuracy on short throws, there isn’t a ton of turnover upside here. What we do have is an offense that’s just not very good at scoring, which should provide Carolina a reasonable floor.
- NO vs. TB: Jameis Winston is the opposite of Gardner Minshew. He’s going to sling it, but half the time it’s going to be to the wrong team. While Carolina was the high-floor, low-ceiling play, New Orleans has a low floor but an incredible ceiling. If you feel like the underdog and need to take a chance on your defense getting four turnovers, New Orleans could do it.
- JAC @ CAR: Kyle Allen seemed awesome against a high school defense in Arizona in Week 3. Last week he came back to earth, scoring no touchdowns and getting sacked three times against an actual NFL team, the New Orleans Saints. I expect a low-scoring punt-fest in Jacksonville this week, and both sides are reasonable defensive starts.
- SF vs. CLE: The Browns stunned everyone by blowing up on the Ravens last week, but one week is not a pattern. The fact remains that Baker Mayfield is extremely turnover-prone, and the undefeated 49ers haven’t let a team score more than 20 points.
- LAC vs. DEN: Oh, the Broncos. If there was a drop of intelligence in that front office, they would take notes from the Jags and Vikings and try to keep the ball out of Joe Flacco’s hands as much as possible. They have a decent pair of running backs to lean on, but they won’t. The Broncos haven’t made a single good decision since Peyton Manning retired, and they aren’t going to start now.
Jacob Herlin is a Senior Data Analyst for FantasyPros. For more from Jacob, follow him @jacoblawherlin.