Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 7 (2019 Fantasy Football)
If you were streaming defenses a few years ago, it was easy. Even with savvy opponents, it was likely you’d be the only person in your league employing the strategy. In 2019, the fantasy football community has caught up. A third or more of the league picking up a new defense every week is the new normal. Speaking anecdotally, I rarely win the waiver claim for my top defense, even when it’s a bad team who just happens to have a good matchup, as was the case with Washington last week. It’s still correct to chose your defense primarily based on matchup, but you need to plan more than a week ahead if you want to take full advantage of the strategy. The bench spot is a real cost, but if it means the difference between starting a defense against the Dolphins and starting an average defense, that can easily win you your week. If you have the bench space and want to stash someone else for Week 8, here are my early predictions for who the top defenses will be:
- PIT vs MIA (30% owned)
- NE vs CLE (98% owned)
- NO vs ARI (41% owned)
- MIN vs WAS (97% owned)
- SF vs CAR (25% owned)
- HOU vs OAK (63% owned)
- NYJ vs JAC (6% owned)
As we get closer to the fantasy playoffs – and those lottery-ticket-RB bench spots get less valuable – I’ll start doing more formal projections for more that one week out. Until then, you really can’t go wrong basing your decisions on Miami’s schedule.
With four teams on bye, this is a pretty tough week. There are a few home runs, but the drop-off is quick. If Buffalo, San Francisco and Tennessee aren’t available, you might be in trouble. As always, feel free to ask me questions Twitter. 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|
Talk About the Ranks
- BUF vs MIA: Last week, Miami faced Washington, one of the worst defenses in the league. Miami still scored just 16 points, and gave Washington’s fantasy DST 10 points, which tied for 7th. On the other side this week, Buffalo has one of the best defenses in the league. With only a slight chance that the Bengals will be an exception in Week 16, the Dolphins’ opponents will be excellent starts every week.
- NE @ NYJ: The Patriots are playing checkers when everyone else is playing chess. Sure they’ve had a nice schedule, and there’s some luck involved in recording 16 turnovers and five TDs, but they haven’t fluked their way into scoring nearly twice as many points as the next-best fantasy defense. New England has the best defense in the league in a real football and in fantasy. They face the Chiefs in Week 14, but honestly, you’ll probably use them that week too.
- SF @ WAS: After Sunday’s games, my brother sent me a message asking if San Francisco’s DST is one you can start every week and forget about it. I think the answer is yes. They’re tied for the second-highest-scoring fantasy defense, and they’ve already had their bye! Football Outsiders ranks them as the second-best real defense (behind New England), but it’s more complicated than that. San Francisco has a DVOA that’s 45% better than average, almost tied with NE, but the third place team (BUF) is just 15.4% above average. In fact, 29 teams are within 20% of average. New England, San Francisco, and Miami (40.8% worse than average) are huge outliers.
- CHI vs NO: This game has the Vegas line that surprised me the most, with Chicago favored by 3.5. The Saints are 4-1 with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm, but that’s been largely thanks to their defense. The Saints actually scored fewer than 14 points in two of their wins (and in their loss). While the Bears aren’t the powerhouse they were last year, they are still one of the better defenses in the league.
- GB vs OAK: At least while Davante Adams has turf toe, Green Bay’s defense is probably better than their offense. Oakland isn’t the bottom of the barrel for offenses, but that says more about the plethora of bad offenses in the NFL than it does about Oakland. You can start most competent defenses against them, and Green Bay is certainly that.
- MIN @ DET: While many teams are burdened by terrible quarterbacks, Detroit is burdened by the guarantee that they’ll be on the wrong end of multiple inexcusable calls from the officials each game. Stafford isn’t a disaster, so the opportunity for sacks and turnovers isn’t huge here, but the Lions’ offense just doesn’t score that much. The Vikings should not be scared.
- TEN vs LAC: We’re starting to get to the defenses that reflect how weak our options are this week. In a typical week, this projection would be 11th or 12th. Like the Bears, this rank for the Titans mostly reflects a low implied point total for the opponent. If you can’t get any of the better options, I’m willing to trust Vegas whenever they have a team projected for fewer than 20 points.
- LAC @ TEN: With Marcus Mariota benched for Ryan Tannehill, the Titans offense is in full panic mode. The Chargers’ defense has played poorly this year, but not close to poorly enough that you wouldn’t use them against a backup QB. They get the lower rank of the two teams in this game mostly due to being the visitor.
- IND vs HOU: This is the desperation zone. If you can’t find anything better, the Colts have some serious sack upside as a home team facing Deshaun Watson. While he’s managed to avoid sacks for two weeks now, he’s still averaging three per game this season, and 3.5 in his career.
- NYG vs ARI: Last week, the Cardinals finally looked like the prolific passing offense everyone was hoping for. Unfortunately, that was just one game, and it was against the abysmal Falcons pass defense. While the Giants aren’t great, they aren’t as bad as the Falcons. The Giants should be available in almost every league, and the turnover potential here is high.
- NO @ CHI: The Saints are underdogs on the road, but they are clearly the superior team. I’m assuming Mitchell Trubisky plays, and while he hasn’t turned the ball over that much, he hasn’t scored much either (he failed to throw a TD pass in two of three games), and has suffered eight sacks in three games.
Jacob Herlin is a Senior Data Analyst for FantasyPros. For more from Jacob, follow him @jacoblawherlin.