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Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 7 (2021 Fantasy Football)

Oct 19, 2021

Oct 3, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty (32) celebrates with defensive back Jonathan Jones (31) and cornerback Myles Bryant (41) after breaking up a pass in the end zone during the second half of a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

We’re in the thick of it now. This is the second of nine consecutive weeks with teams on bye. With a third of the NFL season behind us, it might be time to start panicking about all your teams being 2-4. (If only more of my league had team defenses.) We’re also about to lose one of the best fantasy DST targets when Tyrod Taylor returns to start for the Texans. It’s possible that that happens this week, but Week 8 is more likely.

Fortunately for us, as is usually the case, there aren’t 32 NFL-caliber quarterbacks in the world and even fewer healthy ones. Several teams are starting rookie QBs or second-year QBs who haven’t really proven themselves yet. Thanks to a lack of alternatives, a handful more are stuck starting their backups or career backups who have a starting role this year. This means, while there are only a couple truly bad offenses to target every week, there are several teams that simply don’t scare you and are fine to target with a decent defense.

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Week 7 Streaming D/ST Rankings

This is the heaviest bye week of the season, with six teams off. Despite that, the fantasy DST situation looks OK, thanks to most of the worst offenses still playing, and playing against good defenses. Unfortunately, none of my recommended starters have particularly low rostership, the lowest being New Orleans at 39%. 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 NE NYJ 42.5 -7 17.75 3.3 1.7 0.12 8.56 58%
2 ARI HOU 47 -16.5 15.25 2.9 1.5 0.11 8.52 57%
3 TB CHI 47.5 -13 17.25 3.3 1.1 0.08 7.27 97%
4 NO @SEA 43.5 -5 19.25 2.7 1.2 0.09 6.59 39%
The Still a Fine Choice Tier
5 CAR @NYG 43 -3 20 2.9 1.2 0.09 6.55 53%
6 LAR DET 50.5 -14.5 18 2.2 1.2 0.09 6.34 99%
7 BAL CIN 47.5 -6 20.75 2.7 1.2 0.09 6.26 68%
The Maybe You Can’t Find Something Better Tier
8 SF IND 44.5 -3.5 20.5 2.7 1.1 0.08 6.03 47%
9 CLE DEN 42.5 -3.5 19.5 2.5 1.1 0.08 6.00 58%
10 GB WAS 48.5 -9.5 19.5 2.0 1.1 0.08 5.67 66%
The Surely You Can Find Something Better Tier
11 NYG CAR 43 3 23 2.3 1.3 0.10 5.66 2%
12 SEA NO 43.5 5 24.25 2.3 1.3 0.10 5.35 8%
13 NYJ @NE 42.5 7 24.75 2.1 1.3 0.09 5.07 1%
14 LV PHI 49 -3 23 2.3 1.0 0.08 4.96 13%
15 IND @SF 44.5 3.5 24 2.3 1.1 0.08 4.85 90%
16 MIA ATL 47.5 2.5 25 2.2 1.2 0.09 4.79 33%
17 KC @TEN 56.5 -4.5 26 2.3 1.2 0.08 4.78 39%
18 DEN @CLE 42.5 3.5 23 1.5 1.2 0.09 4.58 90%
19 CIN @BAL 47.5 6 26.75 2.1 1.0 0.07 3.98 50%
20 PHI @LV 49 3 26 1.5 1.1 0.08 3.90 4%
21 WAS @GB 48.5 9.5 29 2.3 1.1 0.08 3.89 39%
22 ATL @MIA 47.5 -2.5 22.5 0.9 1.1 0.08 3.88 1%
23 DET @LAR 50.5 14.5 32.5 2.6 1.2 0.09 3.64 1%
24 CHI @TB 47.5 13 30.25 1.8 1.2 0.08 3.33 32%
25 HOU @ARI 47 16.5 31.75 2.1 1.1 0.08 3.13 1%
26 TEN KC 56.5 4.5 30.5 1.5 1.1 0.08 2.86 10%

 

Matchups

  1. NE vs NYJ: Death, taxes, and the Jets at the top of my DST rankings. The Jets are fresh off their bye week, and weren’t entirely horrible in the two previous games, reaching 20 points both times. That doesn’t mean Zach Wilson isn’t still a top-tier target. He leads the league in sacks taken per game (3.6), and has yet to have a game without an interception. The Patriots might not have the best defense in the league, but they’re above average and certainly capable of taking advantage of this matchup.
  2. ARI vs HOU: There is a chance that Tyrod Taylor returns to starting for Houston this week. My rank is based on the assumption that Davis Mills will get the ball for another week, but it’s worth noting how much Taylor practices this week. If Taylor does return, The Cardinals will still be a startable defense, but they’ll drop out of the top tier. After an uncharacteristically good game in Week 5, Mills returned to form last week against Indianapolis, throwing two interceptions with no touchdowns. Starting a defense as strong as Arizona against a third-string QB is as safe as bets get in the NFL.
  3. TB vs CHI: Picking on rookie quarterbacks is the name of the game for fantasy defenses. Bad QBs don’t tend to start for very long in the NFL, but those that get drafted highly usually get at least a year to start. If you just pick a random rookie QB each week, the odds are in you favor that he’s not destined for Greatness, and those that are often still struggle as rookies. Justin Fields is one of four rookies starting this week, and his main story is that he takes a lot of sacks despite not throwing the ball very much. Sacks are strongly correlated with passing attempts – the fact that Fields can throw under 17 attempts per game while still taking an average of 3 sacks means the potential is sky-high if he is asked to throw a lot.
  4. NO @ SEA: Journeyman QB Geno Smith had his first full start of the season after taking over for the injured Russell Wilson last week, and it went about how we were hoping. The Seahawks lost to a not-very-good Steelers team, and Smith took five sacks. Smith is not horrible by any stretch, but he is a backup you can be confident starting a defense against, especially one as strong as New Orleans.
  5. CAR @ NYG: The interest in Daniel Jones as a fantasy defense target has always been his high sack rate, because the rest of his game isn’t bad. That narrative was in doubt going into Week 6, after avoiding sacks entirely in the previous two games. Not only did Jones return to form with four sacks against the Rams, but the rest of his game fell apart as well. Jones threw three interceptions for the first time in almost two years. While I don’t expect lightning to strike two weeks in a row, you can feel good starting the Panthers knowing that Jones’s sack habit – and the potential to melt down – are still there.
  6. LAR vs DET: The Rams have one of the best defenses in the league. The Lions, under the leadership of former Rams QB Jared Goff, are 0-6, not having eclipsed 20 points since Week 1. The only reason the Rams aren’t ranked higher is that Goff’s failures aren’t of the several-interceptions-in-a-game variety. He has a moderately high sack rate, but the real story is that this Lions team just can’t score points.
  7. BAL vs CIN: As is common in the bottom half of my top 10 targets, Joe Burrow is an actually solid quarterback who’s interesting for fantasy because of his high sack rate. Burrow has improved in that area a bit in that area since his rookie year. His 2021 sack rate of 2.67/game is down from his rookie rate of 3.2, but the 2021 season is still a small sample.
  8. SF vs IND: Colts quarterback Carson Wentz seems to have found a rhythm of taking 2-3 sacks, throwing a couple of touchdowns, and not turning the ball over much. With his rushing threat of yesteryear gone, however, he isn’t particularly threatening, and a fine low-end target for DSTs.
  9. CLE vs DEN: Teddy Bridgewater is a classic boom-bust quarterback. On occasion he does both at the same time, like last week where he had three touchdowns and three interceptions. When you start a team against the Broncos you’re hoping for one of those bust days, and a solid Browns defense at home is a good spot to make that bet.
  10. GB vs WAS: Like Wentz, Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke is nonthreatening, but not massively error-prone. Facing the Packers in Green Bay is a tough situation for anyone, which is what allows Washington to sneak in as a top-10 target this week.

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Jacob Herlin is a Data Scientist for FantasyPros. For more from Jacob, check out his archive and follow him @jacoblawherlin.

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