Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 16 (2020 Fantasy Football)
It’s finals time! If you’re reading this, it probably means you managed to dodge the variety of injuries and meltdowns (I’m looking at you, Ben Roethlisberger) that tanked many a playoff team. If you’ve been following my advice all season, you probably already have a defense you’ve been saving for this week. If you are looking to pick someone up, you’re in luck. A few of my recommended streamers are available in most leagues, including a Tier-1 pick at just 17% rostership. Especially when you consider that you’re probably only competing with one other person, it’s extremely likely that you’ll be able to get a good defense.
Week 17 Stashes
It is still the default setting on ESPN to have two-week playoff matchups with the finals in weeks 16 and 17. Because it’s the default, I expect that a decent number of readers will be in such a league. Here are the teams I’m most interested in stashing for Week 17. Of them, only Baltimore is usable this week (and I don’t need to tell you to hold on for dear life if you have them), so there’s a decent chance you’ll be able to get one of the others. While not an official ranking, this list is roughly in order of how much I’d like to have each team in Week 17.
|Week 17 Stashes|
Week 16 Ranks
Rostership numbers are from Yahoo and reflect Tuesday morning, before Week 16 waviers have cleared in most leagues. If you have any questions, 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|
- BAL vs. NYG: The Ravens are rostered in 99% of leagues. If you have them, you don’t need me to tell you that this is a smash spot. They’re a top-10 defense (#No. 8 according to Football Outsiders). The Colt McCoy-led Giants are one of the best matchups — you could be a lot worse than the Ravens and still make my top tier against NYG.
- CLE at NYJ: Even when they win, the Jets lose. They snapped a season-long losing streak by beating the Rams last week, thereby probably losing the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. It wasn’t some offensive explosion that should worry the Browns, as New York still only scored 23 points. As has been the case all year, the Jets continue to be a tasty matchup for opposing DSTs.
- HOU vs. CIN: This one is more interesting, as the Texans don’t have a good defense, and the Bengals upset the Steelers last week. I don’t think that performance was any reason to be scared of Ryan Finley as the Bengals’ new starting quarterback. That game was a result of the Steelers inexplicably crumbling into dust and turning the ball over three times. In his career — which is only four starts — Ryan Finley takes sacks at as high a rate as anyone in the league. And while the Texans aren’t great, they aren’t bad enough that I wouldn’t expect them to take full advantage of a matchup like this. Vegas seems to agree, giving the Bengals’ offense just 18 points. At 17% rostership, if you’re following my rankings, you’re probably landing on Houston.
- CHI at JAC: Speaking of the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, the Jaguars are now in line for that honor. They deserve it, too — they have the second-worst point differential in the league, after the Jets. The Bears, for all their struggles on offense, still have one of the better defenses in the league. Jacksonville also attempts passes in 65% of their plays, which is the highest in the league. That is great news for Chicago, even though they’re generally better against the run, because a huge majority of fantasy DST scoring happens when the offense is trying to pass. That’s obviously the source of every sack and interception, but it’s also the case that about half of all fumbles occur on sacks, and those fumbles are more likely to be returned for touchdowns than fumbles anywhere else on the field.
- BUF at NE: The Patriots seem done. The stars can occasionally align for their we-only-know-how-to-run offense like they did against the Chargers, but I don’t think that’s particularly likely. They haven’t scored a touchdown in either of their last two games against LAR and MIA. Buffalo’s defense is solid enough that my expectation is another performance like those two.
- CAR at WAS: There’s some drama regarding Washington’s quarterback situation. Alex Smith is still hurt, which means Dwayne Haskins was in line to start. However, he might be facing a suspension for violating COVID protocol. It’s worth keeping an eye on, but realistically, nobody the Football Team could put out there would scare me away from starting the Panthers this week.
- TB at DET: It was somewhat surprising to see Matthew Stafford play last week, and he played OK, but didn’t exceed the expectations set by the rest of his season so far. He’s still one of the most-sacked QBs in the league, ranking behind just Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson among quarterbacks who are still starters (he’s also behind Wentz and tied with Daniel Jones). Tampa Bay’s defense is excellent, so another 4-5 sack game for Stafford is very realistic.
- ARI vs. SF: What used to look like an excellent schedule for Arizona was briefly disrupted by an Eagles team that is suddenly good thanks to Jalen Hurts, but they’re back to it with an excellent matchup against Nick Mullens and the 49ers. Mullens is on a streak of throwing an interception in six straight games, and he has the same number of INTs as TDs this year. The Cardinals are good enough to have taken advantage of their better matchups this year, and I expect this week to be no different.
- KC vs. ATL: Kansas City has the nice combination of a good secondary paired with a great offense, which means their opponents are liable to play from way behind, and therefore take more risks to catch up, thereby creating turnover opportunities. This is a bit of a boom-bust play because there is the possibility that Atlanta goes off. It’s worth paying attention to if Julio Jones remains out. My current assumption is that he won’t play, in which case I quite like KC this week, as the Falcons have struggled without him. If Julio does play, it doesn’t make KC unusable, but it shakes my confidence in them quite a bit.
- WAS vs. CAR: Carolina has quietly been a pretty solid matchup for opposing defenses. They haven’t won a game as a team since Week 5, and while their offense has performed respectably in some (though not all) of these losses, I think a tough defense like Washington’s is more likely to lead to another sub-20-point performance from the Panthers.
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