Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire
We have another week in the books, and another week of proof that streaming defenses is not just viable, but sometimes better than that high priced option you wanted back at draft time. Let’s compare Jacksonville and Chicago as an example. The Bears are currently tied with the Rams for first place with 44 points scored through the first 3 weeks. Behind them are the Jets, Dolphins, and Browns. Please come up to receive your award if you had that as your top 5. Where does Jacksonville rank? They are currently tied with Washington for 9th overall–19 points behind the leader or 6.3 per week. While I will admit the sample size is rather small, it is interesting to see so many great groups were just free. Most of them still are! Think about it: with limited bench spots and RB injuries, can you afford two roster spots on defenses? I know I can’t. So, it makes sense to bottom out at the position and not waste the roster spot at all. I like just outright dropping my defense during their BYE week and seeing what happens.
Looking at last week, our streamers were the Cleveland Browns (9 points), New York Jets (4 points), Seattle Seahawks (15 points), and the Miami Dolphins (8 points). This gave us an average of 9 points on the week, or good enough for a ninth place finish…coincidentally enough. We will take a look at the full leader board for week 3:
|LA Rams||LA Chargers||14||0||2|
Looking at the top-12, I would say that only one team on the list was a complete shock: the Buffalo Bills. They throttled the Minnesota Vikings and looked like a world beater. I would not pick them up as I expect this to be a flash in the pan. They are clearly better with Josh Allen behind center, but I thing last week was still better than we should expect to see moving forward. I think some other teams though (Cleveland, Tennessee, Miami) can be taken more seriously. All this being said, let’s see what we can find for week 4. Remember that every streamer is 50% or less owned in Yahoo leagues, meaning that at least a couple of these options should be available to you right now.
L.A. Chargers (79%)
If you have rolled with the Chargers so far, you probably aren’t thrilled by the results. They have two dud weeks, including a -3 in week 1 against Kansas City. Joey Bosa has been out and the impact has definitely been felt. Still, the Chargers get to play the 49ers this week. The 49ers are without Jimmy Garoppolo after his ACL tear in week 3, and I love chasing backups quarterbacks. If the Chargers are out there, feel free to pick them up and start them against the 49ers this week over all other streaming options.
Cleveland Browns (50%)
If you drafted the Browns defense this year and rolled with them, then you have 32 points in 3 weeks. That’s pretty crazy. Cleveland has accrued 9 sacks, 5 interceptions, and 6 recovered fumbles. While I don’t expect those fumble numbers to last, it’s clear that this is a much improved unit. Second-year player Myles Garrett has looked impressive up front with 4 sacks and 2 forced fumbles, and rookie cornerback Denzel Ward has 2 interceptions and a forced fumble of his own. This is not a defense to be ignored any longer. Let’s add in the likely improved offense (switching from Tyrod Taylor to Baker Mayfield) and I could see the Browns continuing to be a viable option. Cleveland travels to a win-less Oakland team desperate for a win, but I still expect the Browns D to play well.
Green Bay Packers (45%, stream of the week)
Green Bay is desperate for a win right now. They are 1-1-1, Aaron Rodgers is hurting, and Clay Matthews can’t seem to sack a quarterback in a way that the league finds acceptable. They host a Buffalo Bills team that I thought might go 0-16 this year before they somehow destroyed the Vikings. They have an improved secondary behind rookie corners Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson, and the pass rush has looked decent…despite all the aforementioned penalties against Matthews. I expect the Packers to roll, the Bills to turn back into a pumpkin, and for this game to be a one-sided affair. The Green Bay Packers are my week 4 stream of the week.
New Orleans Saints (34%)
The Saints defense was supposed to be good this year. So far, it has been atrocious. They give up 30+ points a game and they only have one takeaway through 3 weeks. Still, the Saints get to play the struggling New York Giants…an offense that has a hard time doing much of anything. Eli Manning has 3 passing touchdowns through 3 games, and the offense ranks in the bottom 10 for both yards gained and points scored. I think there is a chance New Orleans regains their rhythm from last year, and what better cure than an easy matchup in week 4? I will give the Saints a chance this week against a weak offense.
Detroit Lions (9%)
Speaking of weak offenses, how ’bout them Cowboys? They rank in the bottom 3 for both points scored and yards gained. Besides for Ezekiel Elliott and the obvious power he brings to the running game, there is nothing in Dallas that scares me. The leading receivers are Cole Beasley and Deonte Thompson, and no one on the team has 150 receiving yards (averaging 50 per game). They don’t have a viable deep threat, and their longest play from scrimmage, excluding one good play by Tavon Austin, was a Zeke run for 26 yards. I expect the Lions offense to roll, and then they can sit back on Dallas as they try to throw. Just try not to laugh at the Cowboys…they are doing their best.
Arizona Cardinals (13%)
Once again, I find us chasing an opponent with a weakness. The Seattle Seahawks have allowed 14 sacks through the first 3 weeks, including 6 in each of the last two games. If the Cardinals were able to get to Wilson a few times, we already start to see a nice scoring floor develop. Let’s factor in the Seattle running game being underwhelming, the continued absence of Doug Baldwin, and I could see the Cardinals defense causing the Seahawks some trouble. Finally, I should mention that Arizona’s defense has looked capable (8 sacks, 2 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles) in its own right. Just beware that Arizona’s offense has been putrid, so Seattle might have a lot of chances to move the ball.