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Guide to Streaming Defenses (2022 Fantasy Football)

by Scott Youngson | @jscottyoungson | Featured Writer
Jun 14, 2022
Cleveland Browns Defense

It’s generally a good strategy to wait on drafting your Defense/Special Teams. After all, the difference between the highest-scoring D/ST last season (Cowboys) and the lowest-scoring (Lions and Jets) was only 7.5 points per game. That may sound like a lot but let’s face it, nobody was using the Lions or Jets as their D/ST. If you compare the Cowboys to the 15th-ranked Packers, the difference was only four points per game.

On top of that, Dallas’ 10.9 points per game last year were greatly inflated by six defensive TDs and three special teams TDs – which are hard to predict. Based on points and yards allowed, the Cowboys were a slightly above-average defense in 2021.

So it is generally not worth spending an early pick on your D/ST. Build up your bench instead. You can stream D/ST throughout the season and be no worse for the wear.

Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

D/ST Streaming Strategy

If you decide to stream D/ST, how should you go about it? First, there are a few different tools on FantasyPros that make it easy for quick-n-dirty decisions. The most straightforward is the Matchup Calendar, where you can quickly review the upcoming schedule for the highest-ranked D/STs. You can also use the Fantasy Points Allowed report, which ranks teams based on their season-to-date performance.

If you’re not comfortable with these tools, you can always go about it the old-fashioned way. It’s pretty simple, really – you want to stream the best defense available that has the best matchup that week. After you get past the top handful of D/STs, the middle-of-the-pack is pretty interchangeable, so it’s best to follow the schedule.

Using the weekly Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) as a guide makes it easy to spot the highest-ranked D/STs available each week – particularly if you have synced your league. From there, take a look at their opponents. You want to target those whose offenses tend to struggle. To determine this, you can find team stats in several places online, such as pro-football-reference. It’s even more effective if you break down the passing and running attacks. For example, if you are considering streaming a team that’s good against the pass but not the run, don’t use them against a high-scoring passing offense.

Early 2022 Matchups to Exploit

Using this methodology, below are some matchups for the first four weeks of the 2022 season which look good on paper. These are based on the preseason ECR for each D/ST versus the 2021 offensive production for each opponent. We only detailed the first four weeks as you’ll want to use 2022 data rather than 2021 after a month or so into the season. Also, we excluded the top 10 ranked D/STs as we assumed these might not be available to stream.

Week 1

Stream: Cleveland at Carolina
The Browns have a mid-tier defense against a Panthers team that ranked 30th in yards produced last season. Even if Christian McCaffrey (RB – CAR) is healthy for this one, the Panthers’ QB situation is still unsettled.

Stream: Tennessee vs. New York Giants
The Titans’ defense excelled against the run in 2021, which could put the onus on Daniel Jones (QB – NYG) to move the chains. Given his propensity for turnovers, this could bode well for Tennessee.

Week 2

Stream: Green Bay vs. Chicago
The Bears’ offense is still a work-in-progress as Justin Fields (QB – CHI) matures. The division rival Packers have seen Fields twice now, so they should be prepared for him.

Stream: Carolina at New York Giants
The Panthers gave up the second-fewest yards in the NFL last season, while the Giants gained the second-fewest. That’s a pretty good recipe for success.

Week 3

Stream: Chicago vs. Houston
The Texans generated the fewest yards in the NFL last season on offense and were 30th in points scored. The Bears’ defense ranked sixth in yards allowed, so Houston could have trouble moving the ball in this game.

Stream: Philadelphia at Washington
Philadelphia’s defense was solid in 2021 and held Washington to 17 and 16 points in their two meetings last year. The newly dubbed Commanders struggled to score points last year, and new quarterback Carson Wentz (QB – WAS) isn’t likely to change that significantly.

Week 4

Stream: Cleveland at Atlanta
As mentioned earlier, Cleveland has a solid defense, while the Falcons did little this offseason to inspire confidence that they’ll improve in 2022. You could argue the opposite, as Marcus Mariota (QB – ATL) doesn’t feel like an upgrade over Matt Ryan (QB – IND).

Stream: Chicago at New York Giants
The way to beat the Bears last year was on the ground as they were one of the best in the league against the pass. The G-Men had the 24th-worst rushing offense last year and were tied for last in rushing TDs with eight.

Final Strategies

There are a few other things to watch out for if you use a D/ST streaming strategy. The first is the weather. As the season progresses, weather becomes more of a factor. Games played in high winds, rain, or snow usually work out well for the defense and are good matchups to exploit. You can find weather information in a lot of places. There’s even an entire site dedicated to it:

Also, keep an eye out for the heavy bye weeks. As there will be fewer streaming options during those weeks, you may need to plan accordingly. If you can, try to pick up a D/ST that will cover a few weeks over this period. For example, the Eagles face the Texans in Week 9 (six teams on Bye) and the Commanders in Week 10 (four teams on Bye).

If you play it smart and use all the tools at your disposal, you can end up with a strong contribution from your D/ST through a streaming strategy. It takes a bit more work but can pay off if you do your research.


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