Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 3 (2020 Fantasy Football)
Week 2 was, well, tragic. A ton of excellent players got hurt. We all feared there would be a lot of soft tissue injuries early this season, with limited practice and no preseason to ease players into football. Apparently it just took until Week 2. Fantasy defenses are perverse in a lot of ways, and one of them is that this actually benefits us.
- With Drew Lock starting, the Broncos were a weak offense with limited upside as a DST target thanks to his ability to avoid sacks and turnovers. With him and top receiver Courtland Sutton out, the Broncos become an A+, start-whoever-they’re-facing-type offense. Jeff Driskel is the starter for now, but the Broncos just signed Blake Bortles. Both players are bad, though, so not much will change if Bortles becomes the starter.
- The 49ers also lost their starting QB, but they become only a good matchup, not a great one. Nick Mullens is one of the more competent backups in the league, and this is a run-first team. That limits the upside of their opponents, even if the 49ers do poorly in real football terms.
- The Panthers were already a decent DST target with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm. He’s still there, but Carolina’s offense loses quite a bit of its punch with Christian McCaffrey out for multiple weeks. Typically losing a running back wouldn’t have a big impact on a team’s overall offensive strength, but McCaffrey is an exception in just about every way, and this is one of them.
Rostered numbers are from Yahoo, and are from Tuesday, meaning they should give you a good sense of who’s available for waiver claims that process on Wednesday. If you’re looking at this on Wednesday afternoon or later, Rost% for the top teams is likely to have gone up. You can yell at me for ranking the Browns highly again on Twitter.
|The Start Them With Confidence Tier|
|The Still a Fine Choice Tier|
|The Surely You Can Find Something Better Tier|
- SF @ NYG: The Bears were my #1 defense against the Giants last week, and they did not disappoint, with four sacks and two turnovers. The 49ers profile similarly to the Bears – a strong defense with (now that Nick Mullens is in charge) a weak offense. The main difference is that the 49ers are even better on defense.
- IND vs NYJ: The Colts had a monster week against the Vikings, thanks to four turnovers, including a safety. Sam Darnold disappointed last week against an admittedly good 49ers defense, but with the lowest implied point total of the week at 16.5, he won’t fare any better against the Colts.
- CLE vs WAS: You have to wonder how long Dwayne Haskins will last as the starter with a supposedly healthy Alex Smith on the roster. Haskins sucked again last week, including starting off the game with a fumble. The Football Team will want to keep the ball out of Haskins’ hands as much as possible, but the Browns have actually been a top-5 defense against the run so far, despite doing poorly against passing.
- TB @ DEN: Jeff Driskel (or possibly Blake Bortles) starting for Denver is a huge boost to their appeal as a DST target. While Drew Lock was pretty good at avoiding sacks, the Steelers got to Jeff Driskel six times after Lock went down on Sunday. On top of that, the Broncos lost their best receiver for the season in Courtland Sutton. Until Lock recovers, the Broncos are a tier-1 target.
- LAC vs CAR: Cam Newton put on a show on Monday Night Football, making the entire league, and especially the Panthers, look pretty bad for letting the Patriots sign him. Teddy Bridgewater, on the other hand, opted to sit down on the ground with the football five times, and give it away three times. With Christian McCaffrey out, the Panthers don’t really have an “offense” to speak of.
- PIT vs HOU: Deshaun Watson has always been a good DST target despite also being a good quarterback, because of his ability to give up on passing downfield too early and try to run when there isn’t room, leading to sacks. That pattern has continued so far this year, with Watson suffering four sacks in each game. Now he faces a Steelers defense that is more than capable of punishing sack-prone QBs.
- PHI vs CIN: Joe Burrow put up a good stat line last week with over 300 passing yards, 3 passing TDs and no interceptions. However, it took him an absolutely absurd 61 pass attempts to do it. Fantasy DST scoring is strongly correlated with the opponent’s pass rate, because all sacks and about half of all fumbles (and obviously all interceptions) happen when the opposing team is attempting to pass. That means that good-but-not-great offenses who pass a ton are often good DST targets, and the jury is still out on if Burrow’s Bengals are even good.
- JAC vs MIA: This is a high-risk, high-upside play, as is usually the case against Ryan Fitzpatrick. My projections reflect that, with Jacksonville’s rank being largely due to being tied for the highest turnover projection of the week, while the sacks and points allowed are merely OK. Last week was actually a good one for Fitzpatrick, but he’s been in the league long enough that we know that doesn’t last.
- MIN vs TEN: Derrick Henry is the most overrated player in football, and the whole Titans offense is overrated with him. This is a middling spot for Minnesota, carried largely by a high sack projection.
- ARI vs DET: Matthew Stafford continued to be aggressively meh last week. He’s always going to throw a TD or two and lead his team to 20+ points, but he’s not going to punish you.
- ATL vs CHI: Mitch Trubisky is Mitch Trubisky as long as Mitch Trubisky is Mitch Trubisky, got it? The Bears (Mitch Trubisky) actually won last week, despite only putting up 17 points on the board (a Mitch Trubisky). The Bears will be a good matchup as long as Mitch Trubisky is the starter, but be aware of the Mitch Trubisky.