Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 6 (2020 Fantasy Football)
The COVID craziness as it relates to the NFL schedule has escalated since we last spoke. The Week 5 matchup between the Bills and Titans was pushed back to tonight, and appears to be happening even though it shouldn’t (the Titans had positive tests on Sunday!) Broncos-Patriots was pushed back to Week 6, causing a whole cascade of changes to bye weeks further down the road to make room, and forcing fantasy players who wanted to use the Patriots DST to audible (including myself). Right now the only Week 6 game scheduled for after Sunday is the regular Monday Night Football game between the Cowboys and Cardinals. If any games get pushed back to Monday or Tuesday due to positive COVID tests, I would be very wary of planning to use those defenses (or any players on those teams) in fantasy. You’ll be more right than wrong if you always assume that such games will be postponed until a later week.
We’ve had a few quarterback situation changes. Dak Prescott suffered a tragic and gruesome broken ankle that means the end of his season. Any time a backup QB becomes the starter that team joins the conversation for offenses to target with your fantasy DST, but Andy Dalton is better than the average backup. The Cowboys aren’t an instant every week target, but that could change depending on how Dalton plays over the next few weeks. I have their opponent – the Cardinals – ranked 11th this week. The Patriots and Broncos both have a shot of getting their starting quarterbacks back this week. I would never start a defense against the Patriots with Cam Newton starting. Drew Lock makes the Broncos less of a home run target, but still a team you’ll usually start defenses against. Kyle Allen got his first (half of a) start for Washington. He and Alex Smith both played badly, so the Football Team will continue to be a good DST target regardless of who they have at QB.
This is a pretty good week for streaming defenses. Even though four teams are on bye, all are offenses we wouldn’t be targeting anyway – LAC, LV, NO and SEA. There are multiple good options rostered in less than 10% of leagues, including my top defense at just 1% on Yahoo. You can find me on Twitter.
|The Start Them With Confidence Tier|
|The Still a Fine Choice Tier|
|The Surely You Can Find Something Better tier|
*As of Tuesday morning, there are no public lines for this game, so the total of 49 points is an educated guess on my part.
- NYG vs WAS: This game is going to be a glorious mess. We have the team that should have benched their quarterback (Daniel Jones) hosting the team that actually did bench a slightly better quarterback (Dwayne Haskins). As of now, Kyle Allen is the starter, but last week they declined to put him back in over Alex Smith despite Allen being medically cleared, and Smith getting absolutely creamed by Aaron Donald, so who knows? I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see a QB play the whole game this week either. Washington was already a good matchup with Haskins, and Allen is an even worse QB, and at least according to how he played last week, Smith is even worse than Allen.
- NE vs DEN: The surprise Week 5 bye makes it more likely that both teams get their starting quarterbacks for this game. Right now my projections are based on Brett Rypien starting for Denver, but it’s possible Drew Lock gets announced as the starter sometime this week. That will knock New England down a tier, but they’ll certainly still be startable.
- IND vs CIN: The Colts have the best defense in the league, and the Bengals have been mostly bad this year. Joe Burrow has taken three or more (sometimes way more) sacks in four of five games this year, so the floor is as solid as it gets.
- WAS @ NYG: When the two best DST matchups face each other, both sides will be viable. As I alluded to above, Daniel Jones has actually been worse than Dwayne Haskins, who was benched. Jones hasn’t scored a passing TD since Week 1, and he’s had at least once turnover every game.
- BAL vs PHI: Carson Wentz has been a turnover machine this year, with exactly 10 through five games (nine interceptions and one lost fumble). Part of 2020 is realizing that some quarterbacks we all believed in (like Daniel Jones and Deshaun Watson) just aren’t good, at least in their current situation.
- TEN @ HOU: It’s kind of a crime that Tennessee hasn’t had to forfeit a game with all the damage they’ve done to the NFL schedule, especially considering their secret practice. (Seriously, who gets told “don’t go to work and we’ll still pay you” and secretly goes to work anyway?) In any case, they better have the freshest legs in the league. Houston, on the other hand, is in shambles after finally firing head coach and Bill O’Brien for driving the franchise into the ground. (Check out this excellent video by Brett Kollmann for a breakdown of all the damage he did.) Deshaun Watson has always been a high-turnover guy relative to his overall talent level, and everything else crashing down around him makes the Texans a pretty good matchup.
- PIT vs CLE: Speaking of “pretty good QB who also turns the ball over a lot,” Baker Mayfield is the Browns quarterback. This is kind of a risk-reward play because the Browns offense has shown some explosiveness this year, but they’re facing the best run defense (and one of the best overall defenses) in the league in Pittsburgh.
- LAR @ SF: Jimmy Garoppolo played pretty badly against Miami last week in his return from a high-ankle sprain. I wouldn’t expect the two interceptions (on just 17 pass attempts) to repeat though. The 49ers offense is the opposite of Cleveland in some ways – weak, but very conservative, leading to few turnovers despite rarely exceeding 20 points. The Rams are a relatively safe, if low-ceiling, play this week.
- DET @ JAC: Of all the bad quarterbacks people think are good, Gardner Minshew is the most perplexing. At least Baker Mayfield, Deshaun Watson and Daniel Jones were high draft picks. Minshew was a backup to a backup that the Jaguars latched onto because their idea of a good QB was so thoroughly warped by years of Blake Bortles. Minshew has averaged just north of three sacks and a turnover per game this season. Jacksonville has the highest pass rate in the league, with Minshew attempting more than 40 passes in each of the last four games. That means there is a ton of opportunity for DST-scoring plays.
- CAR vs CHI: Speaking of teams starting a backup thanks to years of awful play warping their idea of what an NFL-caliber QB looks like, Nick Foles is the starter for the Bears. He’s only started two games so far, but he attempted 42 passes each time, meaning like Minshew, he gives opponents get lots of opportunities for sacks and turnovers.