Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 2 (2020 Fantasy Football)
Before Week 1, there is a lot of guesswork involved in making fantasy predictions. After we finally get to see those games, there’s still a lot of guesswork. But we learned some stuff! We now know that Joe Burrow isn’t particularly scary for opposing defenses — at least not yet. We learned that losing DeAndre Hopkins actually is the huge blow we thought it would be to the Texans’ offense. Clyde Edwards-Helaire lived up to the hype. Drew Lock did not. Tom Brady can still play without Bill Belichick. Stephen Gostkowski cannot.
One thing we don’t know yet, which I am particularly interested to find out as the season progresses, is if the absence of fans really does erase home-field advantage. In regular-season games over the past three seasons, the home team has won 55.9% of the time. In Week 1 of 2020, home teams were 8-8. That seems like evidence that the home field advantage is indeed gone, but it’s really just not very much data. Because there are so few games in football, we would need that even win rate to hold up for more than 12 weeks before we could really consider it proof that the true win probability of home teams really is different this year.
One thing we do know is that this is a good week for streaming defenses. We have one top-tier defense available in more than 90% of leagues. With three more that are startable and available in 75% of leagues, you’re basically guaranteed to have access to a good streamer this week.
Rostered numbers are from Yahoo. If you have questions, feel free to hit me up on Twitter.
|The Start Them With Confidence Tier|
|The Still a Fine Choice Tier|
|The Surely You Can Find Something Better Tier|
1. CHI vs NYG: Daniel Jones has clearly put some effort into improving his ball security. Last year he fumbled 18 times in 13 games, but he’s unlikely to repeat that if he continues to play as cautiously as he did this week. Fumbles were never the real reason to target him though — even when a player has an extremely high fumble rate, it’s more or less impossible to predict when they will happen. The real reason to target Jones is that the rest of his game was fantasy-defense friendly, too. In Week 1 he threw two picks, got sacked three times, and only led the team to 16 points against the Steelers. The Bears are an even tougher opponent, so I don’t expect any better from the Giants this week.
2. SF @ NYJ: The 49ers are the team that people reached for in the 10th round this year, so you’re unlikely to have them if you’re aware of streaming defenses as a strategy. I don’t advocate drafting defenses because (1) we really have no idea who the best defense is going to be during the preseason, and (2) even the best defense is going to be matchup-dependent and not usable every week. That said, this is the good side of the fact that every defense is matchup dependent — I would start anyone against the Jets, and the 49ers are no exception.
3. CLE vs. CIN: It’s surprising to see the Browns favored by so much after the Week 1 their offense had, but it’s not surprising to see Cincinnati as a top target. Joe Burrow showed some promise and athleticism in his NFL debut, but he didn’t do anything to scare defenses, suffering three sacks and throwing an interception, while failing to throw a passing touchdown. I expect that the 5.5-point spread will close up for this game throughout the week, but that’s really about the Browns offense. The total should also adjust such that the Bengals’ implied point total stays around 19 points.
4. BUF @ MIA: The Dolphins won’t be scary as long as Ryan Fitzpatrick is starting, and they probably won’t be scary — at least not right away — when Tua Tagovailoa eventually replaces him. While Fitzpatrick is usually a boom-or-bust type of opponent, I expect that the Dolphins’ defensive struggles will limit Fitzpatrick’s opportunities this game, giving the Bills a higher floor — and lower ceiling — than we would normally expect against Fitzpatrick. The Dolphins were totally helpless to stop the run against Cam Newton and the Patriots, and Josh Allen’s Bills do that even better, so there’s a good chance that Buffalo totally dominates in time of possession.
5. TEN vs. JAC: Don’t let the stat line fool you — the Titans put a lot of pressure on Broncos quarterback Drew Lock in Week 1 — he’s just really good at avoiding sacks. Gardner Minshew isn’t. Tied for the lowest implied point total of the week, the Jaguars are a great target.
6. GB vs. DET: I never know what to say about the team facing the Lions. They’re always a good but not great matchup. Matthew Stafford isn’t the worst at anything, but he’s below average in every area that we care about for fantasy defenses, and that adds up to a matchup worth targeting when the Lions are on the road. Even without fans, Green Bay is a tough place to play.
7. ARI vs. WAS: Rostered in just 4% of Yahoo leagues, the Cardinals are really the worst you can do this week. Despite the win, Dwayne Haskins wasn’t particularly good last week. While his three sacks weren’t a total disaster, that’s still high enough not to change our opinion of him as a good target.
8. KC @ LAC: Kansas City continued their pattern from the second half of last year of looking really good on defense. They are especially dangerous for fantasy because the high power of their offense means opponents are more likely to make ill-advised throws — and interceptions — in an effort to catch up. Tyrod Taylor isn’t really susceptible to this — he will probably play it safe even with a huge defect, but that just means he won’t be catching up either. KC is a pretty safe play this week, even if their ceiling isn’t massive.
9. TB vs. CAR: There’s a reason Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t started a full season since 2015 — he’s just not that good. While the Panthers’ running game was strong, as usual, that’s all they’ve got. With an implied point total of just 19.75, more than 10 points worse than last week’s score, Vegas doesn’t think that they’re anything to be afraid of.
10. LAR @ PHI: The Eagles are missing three of their five offensive linemen, and boy did they pay for it. Carson Wentz was sacked eight times! Last year, that number was only exceeded in four of 256 regular-season games across the league. The Eagles offense can still do some damage, so this isn’t a home run, but the upside from sacks is massive.
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