Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 8 (2021 Fantasy Football)
It’s Week 8, but it feels like the quarterback landscape is still in flux. A few things have changed:
- Tyrod Taylor is returning this week for the Texans. While he’s certainly better than Davis Mills, he’s not good enough to overcome the terrible situation in Houston and get them out of the conversation as a top-tier DST target.
- The Jets traded for Joe Flacco and… aren’t going to use him? The current plan with Zach Wilson injured is to start Mike White, while Flacco is the backup. That might be a temporary measure – it’s hard to slot a new QB into a system in just a week – but until Flacco starts, the Jets are still a great DST target.
- With the trade deadline – November 2nd – approaching, trade rumors about Deshaun Watson are heating up once again. The Dolphins, Panthers, and Eagles are all in the conversation, with several other fanbases disappointingly rooting for a trade. I highly recommend this excellent article from Sports Illustrated about Watson’s situation if you want the full picture. The short of it is Watson hasn’t actually been suspended – he’s technically holding out. That has allowed the NFL not to make a decision on suspending him, but there’s a very real chance they do if he gets traded to a team where he might actually play. That’s not to mention it just being a scummy move on behalf of whichever team does acquire him. The allegations appear to be credible, so it’s hard to imagine he has much in the way of long-term prospects in the NFL, even if a team does get a few weeks out of him this year.
- The Panthers benched Sam Darnold last week, but it appears to be more of a “there’s no reason to leave the starter in during such a blowout” and less of an “actually benching him long-term.” Unless the Panthers get Watson, Darnold still appears to be the starter.
Week 8 Streaming D/ST Rankings
Only two teams – LV and BAL – are on bye this week. The list of teams I feel confident is actually on the short side this week, but with several low-rostership options, you shouldn’t have to dig too deep to find a defense. Rostership numbers are from Yahoo. 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|
- SF @ CHI: Bears QB Justin Fields leads the league in sacks taken and is neck-and-neck with Zach Wilson on a per-game basis. While Fields’ three interceptions last week might not happen again, it’s not the first time this Bears team has scored less than 10 points, and it probably won’t be the last.
- LAR @ HOU: Texans QB Tyrod Taylor is slated to return this week. He’s certainly an upgrade over Davis Mills, but Vegas doesn’t seem to think Houston will do much better, with a still-extremely-low points projection of 16.75. Taylor hasn’t had a regular starting job since he was with the Browns. Back then, he took a lot of sacks but avoided turning the ball over much, which is reflected in these projections.
- CIN @ NYJ: With Zach Wilson injured, the Jets traded for Joe Flacco. It appears their plan is still to start Mike White, which is curious. White was drafted in 2018 and hadn’t seen the field until last week. Flacco is likely the better quarterback, but I guess it doesn’t cost the Jets much to give White a chance in a season as lost as this one. I won’t complain though, Flacco riding the bench means the Jets will remain an S-tier DST target until White surprises us.
- KC vs. NYG: If you’re not fully bought into my QBs-are-the-only-thing-that-matters philosophy of fantasy defenses and instead know which real-world defenses are good or bad, it might be surprising to see Kansas City ranked this highly. But 21 points is a pretty low projection for the Giants, and Daniel Jones is still one of the more sack-able QBs in the league. Saquon Barkley might return this week, but Kansas City is actually decent against the run; their defensive struggles are really in the passing game.
- ATL vs. CAR: Panthers QB Sam Darnold was benched late in a blowout loss last week, but he still appears to be the starter. The Panthers are one of the teams caught up in the Deshaun Watson trade rumors that have been swirling, but for now, nothing has happened. Darnold is one of several QBs tied at three sacks/game this season, and he’s still as interception-prone as he was as a Jet.
- SEA vs. JAC: Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence gets our highest turnover projection at a massive 1.5. With 11 in six games(8 interceptions, three fumbles), that projection is actually lower than his season rate. There are a few safer picks, but if you want upside, you can’t do much better than Seattle this week.
- TB @ NO: Speaking of upside, Saints QB Jameis Winston holds the single-season record for pick-sixes thrown, with seven in 2019. He’s mostly kept it together this season but has still been as boom-bust as ever from a scoring perspective. I think Tampa Bay has a better chance than most to cause one of his classic meltdowns.
- TEN @ IND: Carson Wentz has continued to be less mobile than he used to be (despite a rushing TD last week), and as such, does a lot less of holding on to a ball he should get rid of, leading to a sack. He still has a pretty clear ceiling, having failed to throw more than two TDs in a game this season. This tier is called “Maybe You Can’t Find Something Better” for a reason, and at 6% rostership, Tennessee is a viable backup plan.
- JAC vs. SEA: I typically rank 10 teams in my startable tiers, but at 1% rostership, there’s no reason you’ll have to reach deeper than this. Russell Wilson is still injured, meaning Geno Smith is the Seahawks’ starter. Smith has now had back-to-back games with five sacks. Seattle as a matchup deserves a higher rank, but Jacksonville’s defense is not good. Vegas’s projection for Seattle – 23.5 points – is more than they’ve scored in a game with Smith so far.