Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 2 (2021 Fantasy Football)
Week 1 of the regular season is exciting for a lot of reasons. For someone who thinks about fantasy defenses a lot (which is just a weird way to say “someone who thinks about QB performance a lot”), it’s an opportunity to start to answer a lot of questions. Football has a tradition of tiny sample sizes, and one game is as tiny as it gets, but one game is infinitely more than zero. We learned that none of the rookie QBs are scary. Mac Jones, Trevor Lawrence, and Zach Wilson all stay in the category of “rookies I’m willing to target until they improve.” We learned that the Lions were holding Matthew Stafford back, and a better situation in Los Angeles is exactly what he needed. We learned that something is up in Green Bay – we don’t know how this story will end, but Aaron Rodgers might be terrible, he might bounce back, and he might get benched for Jordan Love. We learned that something is wrong with Tennesee’s offensive line, despite the same personnel that was dominant last year. All of these things could change, but this information makes projecting Week 2 defenses dramatically easier than Week 1.
Unfortunately for us streamers, the list of teams drafted mostly lines up with the list of teams in good matchups. The Saints are the clear pick here for streaming at only 32% rostership, and all three teams in my second tier are widely available if you can’t get the Saints. Rostership numbers are from Yahoo and reflect Tuesday morning before waivers have cleared in most leagues. If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up on Twitter.
|The Start Them With Confidence Tier|
|The Still a Fine Choice Tier|
|The Certainly You Can Find Something Better Tier|
- NE @ NYJ: While rookie QB Zach Wilson wasn’t a disaster in his debut for The Jets, but he wasn’t exactly impressive either. Importantly, he got sacked Six times, which is a ton – the league average in Week 1 was 2.2. One game is hardly a sample size at all, but it’s a start that means I’m happy to target Wilson with opposing defenses until he proves I shouldn’t.
- WAS vs. NYG: It’s not a great time to be a quarterback in New York. Daniel Jones struggled against a solid Denver defense last week, and this week he gets an even better defense from the Football Team. It’s no secret that Washington has one of the better defenses, and that means they were highly drafted and probably not available in your league. I wouldn’t use them every week, but I would absolutely use them this week if you can.
- NO @ CAR: We don’t know exactly what The Packers’ meltdown vs. New Orleans last week says about Aaron Rodgers vs. what it says about the Saints’ defense, but it’s likely to be a lot more of the former. That said, almost shutting out Rodgers is an excellent resume line, and Football Outsiders had the Saints rated as the 2nd-best defense in the league last year. While the Panthers won last week, they did it without very many points, so I’m thrilled to start The Saints start this week. At 32% rostership, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to.
- CLE vs. HOU: Houston surprised me last week, thrashing Jacksonville even with Tyrod Taylor at the helm. With a projection of just 18 points, Vegas doesn’t seem to think that will translate against the Browns, who are better on defense than The Jaguars, especially vs. the run, which is Houston’s strength.
- LAR @ IND: Carson Wentz wasn’t a total disaster in Indianapolis’s loss to Seattle, but he wasn’t anywhere near the stud Colts fans are hoping he’d be. He extended his streak of allowing 3 or more sacks in a start to 11 games, and The Rams are certainly good enough to take advantage of that tendency.
- DEN @ JAC: Trevor Lawrence threw three interceptions in the Jags’ loss to Houston last week, which bodes well for opposing defenses. As is typical of rookie QBs, I’m in “start the opposing defense until I get burnt” mode with Lawrence, and Denver is strong enough on defense that I don’t see a reason to doubt that approach this week.
- TB vs. ATL: Fun fact: Matt Ryan is still the QB for the Atlanta Falcons in 2021. I know. I would have thought the Falcons would try something new by this point too. The Buccaneers gave up a lot of points en route to a narrow win against the Cowboys last week. Still, if the massive 12.5-point spread (tied for highest this week) is any indication, they’re likely to have an easier time of it against the ghost of the Falcons, who did just about nothing in Week 1.
- CHI vs. CIN: At first glance, this might seem like an odd pick. Joe Burrow played well for the Bengals last week, and the Bears got hammered by the Rams. If you’re a long-time reader, you probably know what I’m going to say next. Burrow takes a lot of sacks, and last week was no different, with five. That allowed the Vikings to finish in a respectable 13th place among fantasy defenses, despite allowing 27 points, which is typically enough to totally disqualify a DST. That, combined with the fact that the environments flipped so that Chicago is at home and Burrow is on the road, means I think Chicago is a solid choice if you can’t get a top-tier defense.
- GB vs. DET: This line is a little surprising. I’m pretty much always interested when Vegas gives a team less than 20 points. At 19, the books don’t expect the Lions to repeat their score-lots-of-points-in-a-loss performance, and they seem to think Green Bay can bounce back from their disaster in New Orleans. This is my lowest rank for a sub-20-point team this week, but teams in that category are always Playable, and this week is no different.
- SEA vs. TEN: This situation is kind of the opposite of Green Bay’s. I will rarely rank a team projected for more than 23 points as a starter, but that line seems optimistic from the Titans’ perspective. They only managed 13 points, and Ryan Tannehill took five sacks, 3rd-most in the league for Week 1. The Titans’ offensive line is known for making Derrick Henry look good. Still, they aren’t nearly as strong in pass protection and apparently didn’t get to practice as a group much in the preseason due to a combination of injuries and COVID protocols. They might right the ship as the season goes on, but I don’t expect them to improve that much in just one week. If everyone else is taken, the Seahawks should be a good fallback plan, at 9% rostership.