Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 6 (2019 Fantasy Football)
The blows just keep coming in 2019. This week it was Steelers QB Mason Rudolph, who was already replacing Ben Roethlisberger. Rudolph was taken to the hospital after being knocked cold with an extremely prominent fencing response on the broadcast. If this didn’t look bad enough for the league, he was eventually forced to walk off the field, because the stadium didn’t have a functioning medical cart. At least the hit from Earl Thomas didn’t seem intentionally dirty.
This puts us in an extremely uncomfortable position as football fans, and especially as a D/ST streamers. We hate to see injuries both as fans of good football and as empathetic humans. But when an undrafted quarterback like Devlin Hodges has to start, that creates a great situation for opposing defenses. Before Roethlisberger’s injury, we never expected to be starting any defense against the Steelers. Now a pretty average Chargers defense is my third-best play against Pittsburgh. The Steelers are likely to take a page from the Jaguars and Jets — try to throw as little as possible and win with their run game. That will limit opportunities for sacks and turnovers, but not enough to scare you away from starting the opposing defense. The Steelers just aren’t going to score that many points, and inexperienced QBs can make mistakes even with limited dropbacks. That’s the easy piece of advice to give — start defenses against backup quarterbacks. It’s easy to take, too. By my count, there are seven teams who aren’t starting the quarterback they expected to back in August. I just wish I also had advice on how to reconcile loving football, and loving fantasy football, when it feels like a blood sport at times. I guess we just have to hope that as helmet technology, the game’s rules, and coaching evolve, these things continue to get rarer and rarer.
Rankings and Projections
Now that the mood is sufficiently somber, look at my ranks! With four teams on bye, we have a genuinely shallow pool of startable defenses for the first time this year. Fortunately, enough of my top two tiers are low-owned enough that you should be able to get one. As always, feel free to hit me up on Twitter if you have any questions. Ownership numbers are from Yahoo.
|The Start Them With Confidence Tier|
|The Still a Fine Choice Tier|
|The Maybe You Can’t Find Something Better Tier|
|The Surely You Can Find Something Better Tier|
Notes on the Top Picks
- NE vs. NYG: The Patriots are the only un-benchable defense in the league, and that’s only partially due to their tasty schedule. Giants QB Daniel Jones is promising from a real football perspective, but he’s been sacked a lot and was limited to just one touchdown by both Minnesota and Washington. If you have the Patriots, I’m jealous.
- DAL @ NYJ: I took some flack last week for raking the Eagles first overall because they hadn’t looked great on defense before that. My argument was this: they were playing the Jets. (And are fine against the run, the only strength of the Jets’ offense.) The Cowboys’ defense is also fine, and now they get a turn. It looks like Sam Darnold is going to return this week, but that’s not a massive upgrade over Faulk from a fantasy perspective. It’s not a ridiculous home run any more, but I have no hesitation about starting Dallas.
- LAC vs. PIT: With Steelers QB Mason Rudolph in the concussion protocol, it seems unlikely that he’ll play in Week 6. Against undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges, the Chargers should feast. Pittsburgh’s game plan is likely to involve a lot of James Conner and not a lot of throwing, which should limit turnover and sack opportunities. Even still, I don’t expect their offense to be very functional, which should give the Chargers a good floor.
- WAS @ MIA: Speaking of getting flack for my ranks, I expect to hear it about this one. Washington just fired their coach. They’ve been terrible on defense: they’ve held a team under 30 points only once when the Giants scored 24. That just makes it more remarkable that the Vegas line for Miami is less than 19 points. Miami is that bad. In fact, they’ve scored 10 or fewer points in every single game this season. I’d start pretty much anyone against Miami in fantasy, and this week I’m doing exactly that in a lot of leagues.
- BAL vs. CIN: The Bengals faced the worst passing defense in the league last week against Arizona, and they still only managed two TDs (with three field goals), and still scored their highest total of the season. Now they’re on the road, facing a real defense, with an extremely run-focused offense attached (which should limit the Bengals’ time of possession). Baltimore is an easy start this week.
- GB vs. DET: The Packers’ defense has been very good this year, especially against the pass, where Football Outsiders ranks them fifth. The Lions’ schedule has been easy so far, but they’re in for a rude awakening in Green Bay.
- DEN vs. TEN: Despite being the home team and the favorite, the Titans were held to just seven points by the Bills last week. Now they have to go face the Broncos in Denver, who are coming off their first win. I prefer Washington, who is almost certainly available in your league, but Denver is a fine choice if you can’t stomach that.
- TB vs. CAR: This projection is all about sacks. The Texans and Jags each got to Kyle Allen three times, and Shaq Barrett is a monster. There’s a high potential for turnovers on both sides in this game, but Tampa Bay gets the slightly better rank due to the better sack projection.
- MIN vs. PHI: For most weeks, the cutoff between startable and non-startable defenses is about 6.5 projected fantasy points. While there are several Tier-1 teams this week, there are fewer than usual in Tier 2, thanks to Buffalo, Chicago, and Oakland — all fine teams to target — being on bye. MIN is a good defense facing an average offense at home, so they’re certainly startable if you have them.
- CAR @ TB: Whoever is facing Tampa Bay in a given week usually sneaks into the back end of my top 10, because the potential for an interception-fueled meltdown is always there. Carolina is favored on the road and is certainly good enough to take advantage of Jameis Winston‘s mistakes.
Jacob Herlin is a Senior Data Analyst for FantasyPros. For more from Jacob, follow him @jacoblawherlin.