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 5 was the best week yet for In My Defense, as a pair of the week’s top scorers were among my three recommendations. Only seven defenses surpassed the 11-point mark this past week and two of them could have been found in last week’s edition.
I tabbed St. Louis, Cleveland and Atlanta as my top streaming options. Both the Rams and Browns finished as top-seven D/STs, with Cleveland racking up 18 points and St. Louis totaling 13. The Falcons, my third choice, laid an egg in their Monday night matchup with the Jets, ending with a measly five points. Even with the sour result, I stand by my selection of Atlanta. The Falcons were at home in a near must-win game and facing a poor offense with a young quarterback. Those are the type of things to look for each week when scanning the waiver wire for defenses to stream.
Aside from St. Louis and Cleveland, both the Cardinals and Raiders were owned in less than five percent of ESPN Leagues and each had a monster week. Arizona led all defenses with 20 points, and Oakland, available in 98.5 percent of leagues, came up with an 18-point effort.
Denver, New England, Seattle, San Francisco, Houston and Chicago were all D/STs that fantasy owners seeking during draft season. Through five weeks, Seattle is the only unit out of this group among the top 10 in points per week. Meanwhile, the Chiefs, Browns, Titans and Colts (yes, the Colts!) are in the top five. Please don’t spend an early pick, or more than $1 in auction drafts, on a defense.
While there were some fairly easy calls (cough, Jacksonville at St. Louis) a week ago, things aren’t quite as obvious in Week 6. Some of the more favorable matchups, Jacksonville at Denver, the Giants at Chicago and Cincinnati at Buffalo, are owned in a large majority of leagues. So we’ll dig a little deeper to find this week’s top streaming picks.
Tampa Bay vs. Philadelphia – owned in 13.4% of ESPN Leagues
Philadelphia certainly boasts a high-powered offense, but up to this point, it’s been spearheaded by a strong rushing attack. Tampa Bay, who will have an extra week to prepare after last week’s bye, features one of the league’s premier run defenses, allowing just 94.3 rushing yards per contest. Add that to the fact that Michael Vick is expected to miss Sunday’s game and the Bucs should be able to keep LeSean McCoy somewhat in check. That means a majority of the offense will fall on the shoulders of backup quarterback, Nick Foles. The former Arizona Wildcat is a capable passer, but Darrelle Revis should do a solid job containing Desean Jackson. This would leave Foles with Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, and Brent Celek as his top pass catchers. Tampa Bay has already posted a 15-point fantasy day against New Orleans and I expect similar production against the Eagles (currently giving up the ninth most points to opposing defenses).
Minnesota vs. Carolina – owned in 7.7 % of ESPN Leagues
The Vikings, like Tampa Bay, will have had an extra week to prepare for this matchup. Minnesota has scored at least nine fantasy points in three of its four games and the Vikings are facing a Carolina offense that’s surrendered the seventh most points to fantasy defenses this season. Minnesota is averaging a tick under two interceptions per game and Cam Netwon (five picks in four games) hasn’t been the same guy we saw in 2012. Newton and company struggled mightily in Week 5, serving as the driving force behind Arizona’s D/ST accumulating a week-best 20 points.
Indianapolis at San Diego – owned in 30.2% of ESPN Leagues
I’ve reached the point where I am buying into the Colts. At some point, flukes turn into trends. Through five weeks, Indianapolis has the fifth-ranked fantasy defense, averaging 11 points per game. The Colts put up 14 against Seattle a week ago, taking advantage of a special teams touchdown off a blocked field goal attempt, and that followed a monstrous 23-point outing against the hapless Jaguars. Philip Rivers and the Chargers have looked rejuvenated under a new coaching regime (passing for 311 yards per game, 5th best in the NFL). However, the Colts own the NFL’s sixth-best pass defense (201.4 YPG) and San Diego is coming off a five-turnover game (three INT, two fumbles) against Oakland. The Colts are 30th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game, but a lot of that is due to playing Russell Wilson and Terrelle Pryor already this season. Rivers obviously doesn’t pose that kind of threat and the Chargers are averaging just 90.4 rushing yards per contest.