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Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 6 (2021 Fantasy Football)

Oct 12, 2021

Sep 19, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) rushes the passer in the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe every year is like this, but it sure seems like QB situations are constantly changing this year. Here are a few updates:

  • Russell Wilson (Seahawks) suffered a broken finger last week and is expected to miss at least 4-6 weeks. Geno Smith will take over. Smith has been in the league a long time but hasn’t been asked to start more than a couple of games in a row for several years. This puts the Seahawks on the radar as a team to target, but they don’t rocket to the top of that list like they might if they had a worse backup.
  • Davis Mills (Houston) had his best game of the season by far last week. We probably only have one more week of him before Tyrod Taylor (who will also be a decent DST target) returns, but I think Mills and the Texans are still a top-tier matchup despite last week.
  • Daniel Jones (Giants) might be good now? He’s never actually been a bad quarterback, but his high sack rate has kept him in the mix as a quarterback to target. You can do everything else right, and the opposing defense will still have a good day in fantasy if you take 5 or 6 sacks. Jones now has two consecutive games without taking a sack. That’s a small sample compared to his whole career, but if it’s a sign of the new normal, then the Giants won’t be a team to target anymore.
  • This isn’t quite QB news, but Jon Gruden is out as the Raiders’ coach. When coaches get fired for being bad at coaching, the team often improves slightly, but Gruden leaving for being a bad person, in general, is a different situation. QB Derek Carr isn’t amazing, but he’s never been someone we want to target consistently with DSTs. The whole offense may take a step back without Gruden, which would be enough to make them a viable target.

We’re also officially in bye week season. This is the first of nine consecutive weeks with at least two teams on bye. We have four this week, and next week will be the worst of it with six. The only time we have more than one of our favorite DST targets out is Week 10 when we’ll be missing the Bears, Bengals, Giants, and Texans. I expect that to be the actual worst week with respect to DST streaming.

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Ranks

I’m not gonna lie. This week is rough. Four teams are on bye, and even though only one of them (NYJ) is a great DST target, there just aren’t a lot of bad offenses facing good defenses. Even the golden goose Houston had a good game last week. That said, both of my tier-2 defenses have pretty low rostership, so there’s a decent chance one will be available in your league. Rostership numbers are from Yahoo. You can find me on Twitter.

Rank Team Vs. O/U Spread PA Sack Turnovers TD FPTS Rost%
The Start Them With Confidence tier
1 IND HOU 43.5 -9.5 17 3.2 1.4 0.11 8.16 44%
2 LAR @NYG 47.5 -10.5 18.5 2.9 1.2 0.09 6.88 91%
3 PIT SEA 42 -4.5 18.75 2.5 1.2 0.09 6.53 81%
The Still a Fine Choice Tier
4 GB @CHI 45 -4.5 20.25 3.3 1.0 0.08 6.50 24%
5 MIA @JAC 45.5 -3.5 21 1.5 1.6 0.12 5.85 15%
The Maybe You Can’t Find Something Better Tier
6 MIN @CAR 46.5 1.5 24 2.5 1.3 0.10 5.69 63%
7 DET CIN 47.5 3 25.25 2.7 1.2 0.09 5.43 1%
8 DAL @NE 49.5 -4 22.75 2.0 1.3 0.10 5.39 53%
9 TB @PHI 52 -7 22.5 2.2 1.1 0.09 5.26 99%
The Surely You Can Find Something Better Tier
10 BUF @TEN 54 -5.5 24.25 2.5 1.1 0.09 5.20 90%
11 LV @DEN 44 3.5 23.75 2.4 1.1 0.08 5.09 36%
12 CIN @DET 47.5 -3 22.25 1.8 1.2 0.09 5.05 9%
13 CLE ARI 50.5 -2.5 24 2.2 1.1 0.09 5.00 64%
14 DEN LV 44 -3.5 20.25 1.6 1.1 0.09 4.99 90%
15 CAR MIN 46.5 -1.5 22.5 1.9 1.1 0.09 4.98 59%
16 HOU @IND 43.5 9.5 26.5 2.6 1.1 0.09 4.96 1%
17 CHI GB 45 4.5 24.75 2.4 1.1 0.08 4.93 34%
18 JAC MIA 45.5 3.5 24.5 2.5 1.0 0.08 4.84 1%
19 BAL LAC 51.5 -3 24.25 2.0 1.1 0.08 4.55 90%
20 NYG LAR 47.5 10.5 29 2.6 1.2 0.09 4.51 2%
21 SEA @PIT 42 4.5 23.25 1.4 1.2 0.09 4.50 6%
22 NE DAL 49.5 4 26.75 2.1 1.0 0.08 4.15 94%
23 KC @WAS 55.5 -6.5 24.5 1.6 1.1 0.08 4.14 42%
24 ARI @CLE 50.5 2.5 26.5 1.6 1.2 0.09 4.01 53%
25 LAC @BAL 51.5 3 27.25 2.0 1.0 0.08 3.83 25%
26 TEN BUF 54 5.5 29.75 2.2 1.1 0.08 3.76 29%
27 PHI TB 52 7 29.5 1.6 1.2 0.09 3.40 4%
28 WAS KC 55.5 6.5 31 1.5 1.1 0.08 2.71 50%

 

Takes

  1. IND vs. HOU: Texans QB Davis Mills had a genuinely good game last week, despite the loss, where he threw three touchdowns and entirely avoided turnovers. It was even against a solid Patriots defense. Even so, I don’t suddenly think he’s a great QB. It’s looking like we have one more week of Mills before Tyrod Taylor returns in Week 7, but for Week 6 the Texans are still my highest-rated matchup for fantasy defenses.
  2. LAR @ NYG: Giants QB Daniel Jones has now gone two consecutive weeks without taking a sack. This is something to monitor because if that’s the new norm, Jones is no longer an attractive DST target. I’m not ready to make that call yet – it’ll take a little more to erase two years of being a sack machine.
  3. PIT vs. SEA: If you didn’t watch Thursday Night Football, this might seem extremely strange. Russell Wilson broke his finger during the game and will be out for at least four weeks. Geno Smith will replace Wilson in the meantime. Smith is a career backup and hasn’t been called on to start for an extended stretch since 2014. Looking at his career numbers as a whole, I expect he’ll be an average backup who isn’t a disaster with respect to turnovers and has a moderately high sack rate. Seattle will be a good DST target until Wilson returns.
  4. GB @ CHI: At this point, it seems like Justin Fields‘ 9-sack game in Week 3 was indeed a fluke – he hasn’t had more than two in any of his four other games. That said, he’s not scary – Fields has yet to score more than one touchdown in a game. The Bears may be 3-2, but they’ve only exceeded 20 points as a team once.
  5. MIA @ JAC: While Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence isn’t exactly bad, he’s not good either. He still has more interceptions than touchdowns and has yet to lead the Jags to a win. I don’t think he has the potential to be an amazing matchup, but defenses facing Lawrence will be in the middle of my startable ranks until he takes a step forward.
  6. MIN @ CAR: It’s not every week that I have a “Maybe You Can’t Find Something Better” tier, and rarer still that my sixth-ranked defense finds itself there. With four teams on bye and a bit of bad luck for us with respect to the schedule, this is just a tough week. Panthers QB Sam Darnold has been noticeably better in Carolina than he was with the Jets, but he still gets sacked at a reasonably high clip, and as we saw last week, the potential for a multi-interception meltdown is still there.
  7. DET vs. CIN: Speaking of unusual, it’s not often a team projected for as high as 25.5 points allowed winds up in my top 10. This is a good case study for why DST scoring is weird, where turnovers and sacks are way more important than points allowed. A point projection is really the mean of a range of possible outcomes. To translate that to projected fantasy points, I calculate the probability of the team ending up in each points bracket (0-6 points, 7-13, 14-20, etc.) and multiply those chances by the fantasy point value of each bracket to get an expected value of fantasy points due to PA. The result is that the difference between 25.5 PA and 20 PA is just 1.0 expected fantasy point. (25.5 translates into -0.3 fantasy points, 20 into 0.7 fantasy points.) That’s the value of a single sack. That means Joe Burrow‘s high sack rate can easily make up for the difference between a pretty solid offense and a weak one.
  8. DAL @ NE: From a DST perspective, Patriots QB Mac Jones hasn’t gotten much attention compared to some of the other rookie quarterbacks. It’s not that he’s been amazing, but more that there are always enough better options that the Patriots’ opponent doesn’t usually wind up in the top 10. With the scarcity of better options this week, Jones becomes a decent option for someone to Target.
  9. TB @ PHI: Speaking of young quarterbacks who are kind of average, Jalen Hurts and the Phillies are a decent matchup, and the Buccaneers are a decent defense. Thanks to his rushing, hurts has done well for himself in fantasy, but the Eagles have only exceeded 21 points once.
  10. BUF vs. TEN: I usually try to find 10 defenses that are startable each week, but I cannot in good conscience recommend anyone start the Bills this week, even if the projection of 5.2 fantasy points isn’t that far off from my usual cutoff of 5.5. If I did, that would cause Derrick Henry to score four touchdowns, and I didn’t draft him in any of my leagues.

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Jacob Herlin is a Senior Data Analyst for FantasyPros. For more from Jacob, follow him @jacoblawherlin.

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