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.
Week 4 was the best week for fantasy defenses so far this season and it was a streamers delight. Five defenses that were owned in less than 10 percent of ESPN leagues finished the week as top-12 D/STs. In all, 15 defenses reached double digit points, including four units surpassing the 20-pont mark.
Two of my suggestions from a week ago, New Orleans and Indianapolis, landed in the top eight. Thanks to a hapless Jacksonville offense, the Colts put up a league-best 22 points in Week 4 (tied with Tennessee). The Saints, owned in less than 12 percent of leagues, scored the seventh-most points, racking up 13 against the Dolphins on Monday night. The Saints have now scored at least nine fantasy points in all four weeks.
Much like last week, some of the top defenses – San Francisco at Houston, Seattle at Indianapolis, New England at Cincinnati and Chicago vs. New Orleans – have less-than-stellar matchups in Week 5. Don’t fret! There are some mouth-watering matchups available on the waiver wire, so let’s get right down to it.
Atlanta vs. New York Jets – owned in 8.3% of ESPN leagues
The Atlanta defense hasn’t done much in fantasy land this season. In fact, they’ve been downright putrid, totaling a meager 13 points through four weeks. But they’re going to be a nice plug-and-play this Monday night when they host the Jets. New York, who is allowing the fourth-most points to fantasy defenses, looked all sorts of lost at Tennessee in Week 4, leading the Titans D/ST to an eye-popping 22 points. I don’t see how this isn’t a massacre. The Falcons are going to put New York in a hole and the Jets will turn to Geno Smith’s arm for a majority of this game. That should mean plenty of sacks and interceptions for Atlanta.
St. Louis vs. Jacksonville – owned in 82.6% of ESPN leagues
Somehow, the Rams have the reputation of being a good fantasy defense. This is my guess as to why they are owned in over 80 percent of ESPN leagues despite scoring just 10 (TEN!!) fantasy points all season. Well, folks, they aren’t good. In fact, they’re one of the worst in the league, checking in at 30th against the run and 18th versus the pass. Sounds like a ringing endorsement, eh? There’s one offense in the NFL that can make any defense look like the Steel Curtain; the Jacksonville Jaguars. Guess who the Rams play in Week 5? You got it. Jacksonville is giving up the second-most points to fantasy defenses. The Jaguars are responsible for the Indianapolis’ D/ST erupting for 22 points last week, and the Rams, who I included here because they’re only owned in 53 percent of Yahoo! leagues, are in line for similar production. St. Louis’ fantasy irrelevancy is due to a lack of turnovers. The Rams have one lonely pick through four games, but that number is bound to rise with Blaine Gabbert and company on the horizon.
Cleveland vs. Buffalo – owned in 4.3 percent of ESPN leagues
The Browns have one of the league’s top real-life defenses. They have held their opposition without a touchdown twice this season and rank in the top ten in both pass defense (9th) and rush defense (4th). Cleveland is allowing just 79 rushing yards per game. The Browns’ front seven, among the best in the NFL, has bottled up Adrian Peterson (88 yards but 3.8 YPC), Ray Rice (36 yards), Giovani Bernard (37 yards) and Lamar Miller (three yards), so there’s no need to be concerned about C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson (both of whom got a little dinged up in Week 4). Cleveland is going to force E.J. Manuel to throw the rock. The same E.J. Manuel who is completing 56 percent of his passes and has five total turnovers through four games. Can you say “Joe Haden”? Another thing working in Cleveland’s favor is the fact that this is a Thursday night game. The offensive inefficiency in Thursday night contests have been well documented. The Bills have a laundry list of things working against them: a short week, road trip, and a rookie QB going against one of the league’s best defenses. Grab the Browns D/ST, and then keep them in mind for later this season when they face Pittsburgh (twice), the Jaguars and Jets in a six-week stretch.