In My Defense is a weekly feature designed to give you a little advice when it comes to streaming defenses. By nature, defensive scoring is extremely random and difficult to forecast, but each week, we’ll take a look at three defenses who are readily available in the majority of leagues and may be in line for a nice output based on their matchups.
Surprise, surprise. It was another wild week in the land of fantasy defenses. Baltimore, Green Bay, and Carolina led the way despite their seemingly bad matchups. These defenses had proven futile in their first two games and did not look as though they would buck that trend in Week 3.
The Ravens played vintage Baltimore defense in their shellacking of Houston, racking up 22 points as the week’s top scoring D/ST. Entering the week with -4 (yup) points, Green Bay totaled 21 at Cincinnati. The Pack did allow 34 real-life points in the loss, but fantasy defense is all about big plays, which Green Bay had in the form of four turnovers, including a fumble return for a touchdown. Carolina, owners of a whopping eight points through two weeks, took advantage of the bumbling Giants offense on its way to a 21-point outing.
New Orleans was my top streaming option from a week ago, and you’ll be hearing about them again later. The Saints scored 13 points and finished as the week’s eighth-best option. My other two suggestions, Minnesota (vs. Cleveland) and the Jets (vs. Buffalo), came up with eight and seven points, respectively, ending up outside of the top 12 in Week 3. I should have seen the Brian Hoyer storm coming … I’m an idiot. There will be endless little tidbits like this as the season progresses, but this is a perfect example of the randomness that is fantasy defenses. Facing Chicago, one of the league’s best offenses, on the road, Minnesota amassed a sparkling 17 fantasy points. A week later, playing at home against Hoyer and a depleted, T-Rich-less, Cleveland offense, the Vikes mustered just seven.
And so we roll on. Week 4 is a week where some of the top defenses, New England at Atlanta, Chicago at Detroit, and Denver vs. Philadelphia, have tough matchups. This means it is a great time to take a peek at the waiver wire for some plug-and-play streaming options.
Baltimore at Buffalo – owned in 55% of ESPN leagues
As previously mentioned, Baltimore locked up a very stout Houston squad last week. The Ravens head north to Buffalo in Week 4. After the Week 1 beat down in Denver, Baltimore has been a top-12 defense in both Week 2 and Week 3. E.J. Manuel and the Bills have been more than respectable on offense, but with C.J. Spiller questionable, things may line up nicely for a hot Ravens D/ST. The dream scenario would involve Joe Flacco and company jumping out to a quick lead, forcing Manuel to chuck the rock 35-plus times.
Indianapolis at Jacksonville – owned in 2.4% of ESPN leagues
Let’s just call it what it is: the Jaguars stink and they stink real bad. Jacksonville is allowing the second most points per game to fantasy defenses this season while showing few signs of life offensively. Maurice Jones-Drew is hobbled, Justin Blackmon is still suspended, and the Jags are averaging a paltry 9.3 points per game. Indianapolis, meanwhile, is coming off its biggest win in the Andrew Luck era, and the defense played a big role in it. They limited San Francisco to just seven points. The Colts D/ST isn’t anything special, but they will only have one better matchup all year; Jacksonville at home.
New Orleans vs. Miami – owned in 5.7% of ESPN leagues
Once upon a time, the Saints had a fantasy relevant defense, but it was due in large part to big plays. The blitz-heavy scheme of Gregg Williams produced a slew of defensive touchdowns. Now that Rob Ryan is at the controls, the Saints have the 12th-best fantasy defense through three weeks despite not having a defensive score. That’s good news for fantasy owners, because it means New Orleans is playing flat-out steady defense. The big plays will come and when they do, the Saints D/ST will continue to climb up the fantasy ladder. In Week 4, the Saints get a rolling Miami squad, but one without a dominant offense. I think the Dolphins are a good team, but I also think a Monday night showdown in the deafening Superdome is going to be a little too much for the youthful Fins. If Drew Brees and the offense get out to an early lead, the Saints D/ST could have a monster night.