Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 7 (2020 Fantasy Football)
Streaming defenses is starting to get hairy. We already had four teams on bye last week, but they were all strong offenses, meaning we weren’t missing any of the teams we’re targeting with fantasy DSTs anyway. The situation is similar this week, but the schedule shakes out in a way that the great offenses to target mostly have average or better matchups. That means most of my second and third tiers are either strong defenses in middling matchups (like NO vs CAR) or weak defenses in good matchups (like NYG @ PHI).
The real problem is going to be week 8. With HOU, JAC and WAS on bye (in addition to ARI), three good DST matchups are off the board. Fortunately, of the small handful of teams that I think will be good starts in Week 8, most of them are usable this week. It’s hard to rank them against each other this far out, but in no particular order, here are the four teams that you can start this week and in Week 8:
- Chiefs: KC is a solid start against Denver this week, and they get a great matchup against the Jets at home in Week 8.
- Rams: Like, KC, the Rams have an OK matchup this week against Chicago. In Week 8 they face Tua Tagovailoa in his first career start for the Dolphins. As is always the case with highly-drafted rookie QBs, he could turn out to be awesome, but I’m going to be there if he’s not in his very first game.
- Chargers: The Chargers might be the most attractive team on this list. They’re rostered in only 27% of leagues and are a great start this week against Jacksonville, and they get a pretty good matchup against the Broncos in Week 8.
- Saints: The Saints have a top-10 real-world defense, and two OK matchups against Carolina this week and Chicago next week.
Here are two other teams that are worth stashing for Week 8 if you have an open bench spot.
- Tampa Bay: I wouldn’t start them against Las Vegas this week, but they will almost certainly be a Tier 1 start against the Giants in week 8.
- Titans: You can’t use them against Pittsburgh, but they face the Bengals in Week 8. I’m interested in stashing TEN, since Joe Burrow is just one short of tying Carson Wentz for the league lead in sacks taken.
I’ve included a “Maybe You Can’t Find Something Better Tier” for the first time this year. I don’t usually do that when it doesn’t intersect the top 10, but with no teams with rock-bottom rostership in the first two tiers, I thought it was worth indicating the teams I think aren’t horrible in a pinch (ranks 11-15), and the teams I’m avoiding at all costs (16+). Rost% numbers are from Yahoo and reflect Tuesday morning, before Week 7 waivers have cleared in most leagues. If you have questions you can find me on Twitter.
|The Start Them With Confidence Tier|
|The Still a Fine Choice Tier|
|The Maybe You Can’t Find Something Better Tier|
|The Surely You Can Find Something Better Tier|
- PHI vs NYG: While they’re a mess on offense, the Eagles are average on the defensive side of the ball, which is certainly enough to take advantage of a good matchup like this at home. The Giants’ opponent has finished as a fantasy starter (that is, top 12) in every week but one, a distinction held by only five teams.
- DAL @ WAS: I’m a bit skeptical of the line for this game that’s giving Dallas 26 points, but I agree with 23 for Washington. Kyle Allen is still the starter, which is good for us, but none of the Football Team’s options is really better. Opposing DSTs have finished seventh or better for five weeks in a row now, and there’s no end in sight.
- BUF @ NYJ: The Jets find themselves in the top tier despite only being projected for 2.2 sacks (Joe Flacco is pretty decent about that one thing) because they have the lowest implied point total by a pretty significant margin, as the only team under 20. That tells you everything you need to know about a team that just gave up on finding a way to use Le’Veon Bell effectively.
- LAC vs JAC: The fresh-off-the-bye Chargers are the best actual defense on this list so far, and Gardner Minshew’s Jags have been held under 20 points by worst defenses three times already (Miami, Houston and Detroit). Trade rumors involving other teams have bounced around for Dwayne Haskins, but I think Minshew is here to stay because Jacksonville doesn’t seem to be aware of how bad he is.
- CLE @ CIN: I’m not sure what to make of the Bengals’ performance last week. They blew up for three early rushing touchdowns against one of the best run defenses in the league, but didn’t really do anything in the second half. It could maybe be a sign of things to come for Joe Burrow’s offense, but at this stage, I’m still willing to trust an above-average Cleveland defense against them.
- NO vs CAR: After a three-week stretch of terrorizing opposing fantasy defenses, Carolina’s wheels fell off against Chicago, with Teddy Bridgewater throwing two interceptions and getting sacked four times. It’s not without risk, but against one of the best defenses in the league in New Orleans, I’m interested in betting that the Panthers won’t bounce back.
- KC @ DEN: Broncos QB Drew Lock looked good in his return, even if the stat line won’t tell you that. His receivers dropped eight catchable passes against the Patriots, including three in the end zone. That might be a little comforting for Broncos fans, but there’s not much reason to expect his receivers will get better against the much tougher KC defense, even if Noah Fant and KJ Hamler are active.
- LAR vs CHI: The Bears have been winning on the strength of their defense. There’s still a lot of room for opposing defenses to succeed against Nick Foles, who has thrown an interception in all four of his games so far.
- NE vs SF: This play is just kind of meh. Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t have the meltdown potential of some of the other opposing QBs in this tier, but it’s a low-powered offense. If you want a safe (as it gets, crazy things can happen to any team) 4 fantasy points, look no further.
- NYG @ PHI: Even moreso than the Broncos, the Eagles have a good QB being completely let down by his supporting cast. While Lock has a tendency to hit his receivers in the hands, Carson Wentz is more liable to take a sack when nobody gets open in the half-second it takes for his offensive line to crumble. Wentz leads the league in sacks taken, and the Eagles are the only team to have allowed a top-12 fantasy DST performance every single week this season.