Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 11 (2019 Fantasy Football)
The Broncos’ strategy at quarterback continues to defy reason. They drafted Drew Lock in the second round of the draft this offseason, and fans have been begging Denver to start him and get him some experience in a season that’s already lost to Joe Flacco‘s terribleness. Instead, they continue to pretend Lock’s thumb is still hurt, and not even practice him. This is a familiar story for Broncos fans – they drafted Paxton Lynch in the first round, and he never got ahead of (current Jets backup) Trevor Siemian, (current free agent, recent Dolphins backup) Brock Osweiler, or (recently benched by Washington) Case Keenum on the depth chart. Despite the draft investment, Lynch only started when those guys were injured, recording only four starts in a Broncos uniform before being released.
This pattern – refusing to develop a high-draft-pick quarterback in a season where they have nothing to gain by starting anyone else, the Broncos have found a new low. They’ve decided that the best decision – for their current and future chances of winning football games – is to start Brandon Allen instead of Lock. Brandon Allen’s resume highlights are a sixth-round draft pick, serving as third-string QB for the Jaguars in 2016 (behind Chad Henne), then as third-string QB for the Rams in 2017 (behind Sean Mannion), and playing on the Rams’ practice squad in 2018.
While this is bad for Broncos fans and for football in general, bad football is the bread and butter of streaming defenses. Don’t let Allen’s reasonable performance in Week 9 (12/20 for 200 yards and 2 TDs) fool you – this is exactly the type of quarterback fantasy defenses eat for lunch. Vegas agrees – Denver has a rock-bottom sub-15 implied point total this week. Until further notice, the Broncos are a premier target for Defenses.
We’re nearing the fantasy playoffs. I’m an advocate of picking two defenses with compatible playoff schedules and sticking with them through the playoffs, but it’s still a little too early with playoffs still three of four weeks away in most leagues. If you’re in a league with a lot of streamers, it might still be worth stashing someone for Week 12, which is the last week with four teams on bye. Among teams under 50% ownership, here are my top five stashes for Week 12:
- DET @ WAS (13% owned, vs DAL this week)
- CLE vs MIA (25% owned, vs PIT this week)
- OAK @ NYJ (1% owned, vs CIN this week)
- TB @ ATL (3% owned, vs NO this week)
- NYJ vs OAK (9% owned, @ WAS this week)
It doesn’t look like it’s going to be a particularly deep week – I don’t expect I’ll feel very good about starting the Jets or Tampa Bay. As far as teams with higher ownership, BUF, CHI, PIT will all be good starts. Our two top defenses have tough matchups – New England vs Dallas and San Francisco vs Green Bay – so owners will have a tough decision.
Week 11 Ranks
We have GB, NYG, SEA and TEN on bye this week. Despite that, there are a full 10 teams I would feel OK with starting. Ownership numbers are from Yahoo. If you have any questions, feel free to find me on Twitter.
|The Start Them With Confidence Tier|
|The Still a Fine Choice Tier|
|The Surely You Can Find Something Better Tier|
- MIN vs DEN: As I discussed in the intro, the Broncos are an excellent target with Brandon Allen starting. Minnesota also happens to have a good defense, so there is no doubt here.
- SF vs ARI: Despite almost winning when they faced SF in Week 9, the Cardinals are huge underdogs here. Kyler Murray has been a better matchup in fantasy than in real football thanks to his tendency to get sacked, and that won’t change now that San Francisco has the home-field advantage against him.
- BUF @ MIA: Ryan Fitzpatrick has been a big improvement for Miami since taking over for Josh Rosen in Week 6, but he doesn’t have to do much to clear that bar. The wheels fell off last week against Indianapolis, where he failed to score a passing TD. While they’ve passed the torch of homerun matchup to Washington (and maybe Denver), Miami is still an excellent team to target.
- LAR vs CHI: While Arizona has been a better fantasy matchup than a real-world one, Chicago has been the opposite. They haven’t made a ton of the mistakes that lead to big fantasy defense numbers, but they haven’t created any downside either. While Mitchell Trubisky has only thrown three interceptions this year, he’s only had passing TDs in three of seven games (granted, he had more than one TD in each of those three games). The Rams are a safe start here, even if their ceiling isn’t excellent.
- WAS vs NYJ: Over/under below 40 points: check. Spread within three points: check. Two teams with a combined win rate of 17%: check. We have all the ingredients for the type of horrible NFL game where both team defenses are usable. Washington is the worse team, but not by enough that they aren’t favored at home. The two teams actually came out exactly tied in my fantasy point projections, so the tie goes to the home team in terms of rank.
- NYJ @ WAS: Unlike Denver, Washington is making the right decision by starting rookie Dwayne Haskins. The point is to get him NFL experience, but it’s going to be bumpy ride that we’re happy to hop on as fantasy players.
- OAK vs CIN: The Bengals are another desperate team who have benched their starting QB, Andy Dalton. With Ryan Finley, the situation is clearly dire for Oakland to be favored by more than 10 points.
- PIT @ CLE: Baker Mayfield just had his best start of the season – he threw two passing TDs for the first time this year, and didn’t throw an interception. We’ve been considering him a boom-bust opponent because of his high interception rate contrasted with his ability to sometimes be good at football. That might be unfounded at this point – the ceiling just doesn’t seem to be there anymore. Even on the road, the Steelers are a reasonable start against the Browns.
- NO @ TB: Jameis Winston actually is a boom-bust quarterback, and last week was a bust: he recorded just one TD to three turnovers against Arizona. Favored by almost a touchdown on the road, the Saints are startable here, but be aware of the risks if you go that route. Winston’s season-high is four TDs to one turnover against a decent Rams defense in Week 4.
- NE @ PHI: On the road and only slightly favored against a team that isn’t prone to turnovers, this isn’t a smash spot for New England. The Eagles still aren’t particularly fearsome, though – not nearly enough to make you want to bench the Patriots.
Jacob Herlin is a Senior Data Analyst for FantasyPros. For more from Jacob, follow him @jacoblawherlin.