Week one was not all that kind to my defensive streaming picks. It’s important to remember that fantasy defenses are extremely unpredictable on a week-to-week basis, which is why you should never invest anything but one of your last picks on a D/ST.
Here’s an example from this past weekend of the randomness of defenses. New England and Tampa Bay both have solid real-life defenses and they had very favorable matchups; Tampa Bay played against the Jets and the Patriots played against Buffalo. Yet their defenses combined for just 15 points. Dallas, on the other hand, hosted the Giants (one of the league’s better offenses). The Cowboys gave up 36 points and 478 total yards but finished with 21 fantasy points, the second-highest total among defenses in Week 1, because of six turnovers and two defensive touchdowns. Four of the top six scoring defenses in week one were unowned in our 16-team LRQB League, including the Cowboys.
Trying to predict defenses is a little like shoving your hand underneath your car seat to pick up some change you just dropped. You know the quarter is down there somewhere, but you’re blindly fishing for it. Of the three defenses I picked for Week 1 (Washington, Indianapolis and Jacksonville), the Redskins (9 points) ended up being the only servicable option. While my picks didn’t go as planned, I’m hopping back on the saddle to give you a trio of streaming options for Week 2.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns – owned in 60.4% of ESPN leagues
Because of an awful opening-week matchup at Denver, Baltimore is currently unowned in nearly 40 percent of ESPN leagues. Yes, they looked awful against Peyton Manning and company, but the Broncos are going to do that to a lot of defenses this season. Week 2 looks a lot more promising for the Ravens, as Cleveland strolls into Baltimore. The Browns offense chucked the ball 53 times and looked all sorts of terrible in their opener against Miami, committing three turnovers. Baltimore, because it played in Thursday night’s season opener, is going to have extra time to prepare, not to mention extra time to sit and stew about the shellacking they were handed by the Broncos.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. San Diego Chargers – owned in 3.4% of ESPN leagues
Lost in the Monday night madness about Chip Kelly’s offense was the fact that the Eagles defense played pretty dang well. The Eagles amassed 10 fantasy points, and it could have been more if not for the Redskins garbage time comeback. In Week 2, Philadelphia faces a San Diego team that just lost a heartbreaker on Monday night and has to travel all the way across the country for an early game. The Bolts offense looked decent against a stout Houston defense, but I see San Diego getting down early and throwing the ball a ton in this one, which could lead to interceptions (not to mention sacks). Turnovers are everything in the world to fantasy defenses.
Oakland Raiders vs. Jacksonville Jaguars – owned in 0.6% of ESPN leagues
The Raiders’ defense quietly played a very nice game at Indianapolis in Week 1, holding Andrew Luck and the Colts to 274 total yards, and a measly 147 through the air. Jacksonville is going to make another strong push for the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. The Jaguars looked miserable in their debut (178 total yards) and are already switching to Chad Henne. If the Raiders can keep Luck and the Colts in check, you’ve got to like their chances of bottling up the Jags.
Defenses that are likely unavailable, but have mouth-watering matchups
New England (vs. Jets), Houston (vs. Tennessee), Cincinnati (vs. Pittsburgh) and Chicago (vs. Minnesota).