Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 5 (2020 Fantasy Football)
In Week 4, we got a taste of what football is really like in the time of COVID. The Titans and Steelers had unexpected bye weeks, and the Patriots became an unexpectedly good DST matchup without Cam Newton at the helm. As we get into the scheduled bye weeks, planning ahead becomes more and more important. As more games inevitably get moved around due to positive COVID tests, planning ahead becomes more and more impossible.
While this week has only the Packers and Lions on bye, Week 6 marks the start of six consecutive weeks with four or more teams on bye. I would highly recommend planning a week ahead if you stream defenses. With many leagues adding additional IR spots due to COVID (and so many star players in those spots with soft-tissue injuries), it’s more likely than ever that you can afford to spend that bench spot on an extra defense. While I don’t do rankings more than one week out before the fantasy playoffs, a picture of which teams are good matchups is starting to come in to focus. Here’s how I would grade each team in terms of how good a matchup they are for fantasy defenses:
- A – start almost any opponent: CHI, DEN (without Lock), NYG, NYJ, WAS
- B – start most opponents, but it’s not a home run: CIN, JAC, PHI
- C – most opponents are startable, but are either risky, or have limited upside: ARI, ATL, CAR, DEN (with Lock), DET, LAC, LV, MIA, NE (without Cam), SF
- D – start only the best defenses: CLE, HOU, IND, MIN, NE (with Cam), PIT, TEN
- F – don’t start their opponents: BAL, BUF, DAL, GB, KC, LAR, NO, SEA, TB
Note that the Cs include both weak teams who nonetheless limit turnovers and sacks (like LV and DEN with Lock), and stronger teams who carry more upside due to turnovers (like ARI and MIA). These are subject to change as QB situations change, but it’s a good starting point for who to stash. I am always interested in stashing a DST that faces an A the following week. Any QB injury or illness instantly bumps that team up at least a grade. CIN and LAC could both move down if their Rookie QBs prove themselves. WAS could also move down if Alex Smith were to become the starter, and PHI could move down if the play and health of their offensive line improves.
With only two teams on bye and several teams with medium to low rostership, including Arizona at 2%, you should be able to find a good option this week. Rost% numbers are from Yahoo. If you have questions, you can always find me on Twitter.
|The Start Them With Confidence Tier|
|The Still a Fine Choice Tier|
|The Surely You Can Find Something Better Tier|
- LAR @ WAS: The Rams worked out as my top defense last week against the Giants, and they earn that spot again. If anything, Washington is an even better matchup, especially if they bench Dwayne Haskins. If you picked them up last week, or manage to this week (they are still available in 43% of leagues), they’re a pretty good hold, if you have a bench spot. I don’t love them against SF in Week 6 because I expect Jimmy Garoppolo to be back, but the Rams get Chicago in Week 7 and Miami in Week 8.
- DAL vs NYG: Dallas getting completely embarrassed by Cleveland is actually good for us, because it means it should be easy to acquire them. The Giants have allowed a top-6 fantasy defense every week this year, including allowing more than 10 fantasy points three times. It is sustainable – none of that is due to touchdowns. The Giants are shaping up to be the team you target every week.
- SF vs MIA: We find ourselves in the second tier with SF because while the numbers look good for this matchup, it is by no means safe. That said, Vegas really doesn’t believe in Miami, giving them only 19 points. Combined with the turnover upside that Ryan Fitzpatrick brings, there is a ton of potential here.
- ARI @ NYJ: Much like the actual New York team, the Jets are a matchup worth targeting every week. Arizona has an above-average defense, even if their fantasy stats obscure that fact because they haven’t been given a lot of turnovers.
- PIT vs PHI: While the Eagles haven’t exactly been a home run matchup, they’ve still been good, allowing a top-10 fantasy performance for the opposing DST every week. The Steelers have one of the best defenses in the league and are coming off an unexpected week of rest. While Jason Kelce might return this week for the Eagles, he’s just one man, and he can’t fix an offensive line where almost everyone is injured by himself.
- NE vs DEN: The Patriots put up an impressive fight against the Chiefs last week, and now they get to face an in-shambles Broncos team lead by Brett Rypien, who threw three interceptions in his first NFL start against the Jets last week.
- BAL vs CIN: As much as we all want it to, Joe Mixon’s 3-TD explosion isn’t likely to repeat against one of the best run defenses in the league in Baltimore. Despite throwing for 300+ yards consistently, Joe Burrow isn’t scary from a fantasy perspective, especially because he’s given up just shy of four sacks per game.
- NO vs LAC: While Justin Herbert had a good fantasy day for himself last week, he has yet to win a game as a starter, or be a real problem for the opposing fantasy defense. This is a good spot for New Orleans.
- IND @ CLE: The Colts might have the best real-world defense in the league, and there’s a decent chance they’re the team that finishes as the fantasy DST1 and gets drafted in the 10th round next year. After an awful first week, Cleveland has been playing at their ceiling for three weeks, but this should be a “bounce-back” game, where they come back down to earth.
- TB @ CHI: Nick Foles got his first start of the season last week after Mitch Trubisky was benched in the middle of week 3, and the results were predictable. The Bears scored 11 points. The Buccaneers have been able to take advantage of three good matchups against CAR, DEN and LAC, and the Bears aren’t better than any of those teams.