Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 16 (2019 Fantasy Football)
It’s finals time, for fantasy football players and students alike. If the Patriots or 49ers defenses carried you here, the news is good – they both have good matchups this week, so there’s no need to find an alternative. If you’ve been living the streaming life, there are a lot of good options. Matthew Stafford’s failure to return means the Broncos are an excellent play at only 30% owned, and both sides of the WAS vs NYG game are playable at under 10% ownership.
If your commissioner sucks and you have to play in Week 17, it’s worth stashing a defense now. The problem with Week 17 matchups is the risk that teams sit their starters, because they don’t really need a win. Fortunately, I think there’s only one team – the Ravens – that can clinch a bye simply by winning this week. The Patriots would need to win and see Kansas City lose to Chicago (which is unlikely) to secure a bye. In the NFC, four teams (SEA, GB, NO and SF) are tied at 11-3, so they’re all likely to play their starters until the end. With that in mind, here’s my early top five for Week 17:
- NE vs MIA (vs BUF this week, 99% owned)
- BAL vs PIT (@ CLE this week, 48% owned)
- BUF vs NYJ (@ NE this week, 78% owned)
- NO @ CAR (@ TEN this week, 81% owned)
- DAL vs WAS (@ PHI this week, 35% owned)
Only two teams made my top tier this week, but there are plenty of options that are startable, even if they aren’t home runs. Ownership numbers are from Yahoo. You can grill me on my ranks on Twitter.
|The Start Them With Confidence Tier|
|The Still a Fine Choice Tier|
|The Surely You Can Find Something Better Tier|
- DEN vs DET: For the past several weeks, the Lions’ line has been that Matthew Stafford could return “some time this season.” Well, the season’t almost over, and it seems like the chances of that are getting slim. With David Blough starting, Detroit is an amazing matchup for Denver at home. This is great news if you need a streamer for your fantasy finals, because the uncertainty about Stafford has kept Denver’s ownership relatively low at 30%.
- NE vs BUF: If you have New England, they’re probably a big part of the reason you’re in the finals. This week they have one of their customary amazing divisional matchups. Go dance with the one that brought you, and win your league.
- SEA vs ARI: Last week, Kenyan Drake went completely nuts, and Kyler Murray avoided getting sacked for only the second time this season. Arizona’s status as an excellent DST matchup has been dependent on their tendency to pass at one of the highest rates in the league, so it’s an obvious problem if they try to repeat last week and run the ball a ton. I don’t think they’ll be able to do that though, in a much more difficult matchup against Seattle on the road. I suspect if they do commit to the run again, they won’t score nearly as many points. Seattle’s floor isn’t quite what it usually is for whoever’s facing the Cardinals, but I still think they’re a great play.
- BAL @ CLE: Remember when everyone thought Cleveland would have the best offense in the league? Well now they’re just another below-average team, and they have to face the actual best offense in the league, who also happens to have a top-5 defense. High powered offenses create a little bit of extra upside for their defense, if they force the other team to throw more (and throw more picks) in an effort to keep up.
- PIT @ NYJ: Minkah Fitzpatrick has put the Steelers’ defense on his back, and made them one of the best in the league, and this week they get a matchup that allows them to take full advantage of that.
- NYG @ WAS: This doesn’t quite fit the template for a game where both defenses are usable in fantasy, with the over-under north of 42, and the road team ranked higher. The difference is Dwayne Haskins – even after avoiding sacks last week, he’s still averaging 3.7 sacks allowed per start. His 0.14 sacks per pass attempt are the highest of any active starting QB. An implied point total of 22.75 is on the high end of what we target with team defenses, but the floor here is just too good to pass up.
- IND vs CAR: The Panthers have benched the struggling Kyle Allen, which means third-round-pick Will Grier will get his first start on the road against a solid Colts defense. Rookie QBs in their first game can surprise us, but from a statistical perspective, it’s always worth a bet that they’ll fail. That’s especially true in situations like this, where the Panthers weren’t planning to eventually make Grier the starter, like the Broncos were with Drew Lock.
- WAS vs NYG: It’s unclear if Daniel Jones will be able to return this week, but I’m currently operating on the assumption that we’ll get another week of Eli Manning‘s career epilogue. That’s great news for fantasy, because it means Washington is a reasonable start at almost no ownership.
- SF vs LAR: Like the Browns, the once-hyped Rams offense has been a huge disappointment. They’re no longer the type of wagon you’d bench a great defense against, so if you’ve been playing the 49ers every week, don’t stop now.
- KC @ CHI: Unlike the Browns and Rams, we always knew the Bears offense would suck as long as Mitchell Trubisky is the starter. Kansas City isn’t excellent on defense, so this is a play for if you need to roll the dice on the chance that the Bears end up way behind, and Trubisky actually tries to throw beyond the line of scrimmage.
Jacob Herlin is a Senior Data Analyst for FantasyPros. For more from Jacob, follow him @jacoblawherlin.