Streaming Defense: Week 5

Mike Miklius takes a look at the top streaming options for the D/ST position in week 5.

Week 4 is now in the books, and it finished with a pulse-pounding blowout between two 0-3 teams. We now have a pretty good sample size with which to make a conclusion; we’ve seen a quarter of the whole season. So what can we say so far?

  • New England’s defense has looked excellent, but it’s feasted on rather pathetic competition (Patriots opponents are a combined 4-11 including two winless teams)
  • Chicago’s defense looks just as good as last year, holding opponents to 11.25 points per game. They have also enjoyed a pair of winless opponents (Washington and Denver)
  • Despite laying an egg against Jacksonville, Tennessee seems to be for real. They are averaging 4+ sacks and 2 forced turnovers in their other three games (Cleveland, Indianapolis, Atlanta)
  • Green Bay averaged 13 fantasy points per game in their first three games against Chicago, Minnesota, and Denver. They did this without the benefit of a defensive score.
  • San Francisco has totaled 9 sacks and 7 forced turnovers in their first three games. This week, they host Baker Mayfield–who has 6 interceptions and a fumble in his first four games.

Okay, so some of this isn’t surprising and some of it is. How did week 4 go? Here’s the top-12:

 

Rank Team % Owned Opponent Sacks INTs Fumble Recov. Fantasy Points
1 New England 98% Buffalo 5 4 0 25
2 NY Giants 2% Washington 3 4 0 24
3 Pittsburgh 47% Cincinnati 8 1 1 19
4 Chicago 100% Minnesota 6 0 2 17
5 Seattle 61% Arizona 4 1 0 16
6 Tampa Bay 5% LA Rams 2 3 1 15
7 Carolina 15% Houston 6 1 1 14
8 Kansas City 27% Detroit 4 0 2 13
9 LA Chargers 96% Miami 5 1 0 11
10 Tennessee 24% Atlanta 5 0 1 11
11 Dallas 56% New Orleans 5 1 0 11
12 New Orleans 42% Dallas 1 1 2 11

 

There was some chalk here with New England and Chicago both 98%+ owned and both in the top-4. However, we also had a lot of surprising teams. The Giants snuck in thanks to a turnover-prone Redskins offense (thank you, Dwayne Haskins). The Steelers find their first win against an oh-so-sackable Andy Dalton. Tampa Bay shockingly blew the doors off of the Rams.tore the Rams to shreds. Basically, some crazy things happened. Our under-owned teams were headlined by the Chargers who finished ninth with 11 points. Unfortunately, the Jaguars and Packers both blew it–scoring 2 and -1 points respectively. Looking at our sleepers, the Titans had 11 points to tie for ninth while the Broncos only mustered five points for an 18th place finish. The Bengals proved unable to do anything against Pittsburgh, but they were only a desperation play in the first place. So, what can we say about our surprise teams thus far? Let’s check which teams are making for the best matchups so far:

 

  1. Miami Dolphins (18 sacks allowed, 7 interceptions thrown, 2 fumbles lost)
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12 sacks allowed, 5 interceptions thrown, 1 fumble lost)
  3. New York Jets (3 games — 13 sacks allowed, 1 interception thrown, 2 fumbles lost)
  4. Cleveland Browns (12 sacks allowed, 6 interceptions thrown, 0 fumbles lost)
  5. Cincinnati Bengals (19 sacks allowed, 4 interceptions thrown, 6 fumbles lost)
  6. Seattle Seahawks (12 sacks allowed, 0 interceptions thrown, 4 fumbles lost)
  7. Buffalo Bills (10 sacks allowed, 7 interceptions thrown, 3 fumbles lost)
  8. Atlanta Falcons (10 sacks allowed, 6 interceptions thrown, 2 fumbles lost)
  9. Arizona Cardinals (20 sacks allowed, 4 interceptions thrown, 0 fumbles lost)
  10. Los Angeles Chargers (11 sacks allowed, 2 interceptions thrown, 3 fumbles lost)

 

Looking at this list, it’s not surprising the Dolphins have been pathetic. They are clearly tanking, and they have traded away nearly every talented player remaining. The Jets (without Sam Darnold), the Bills (Josh Allen being a turnover machine), the Buccaneers (ditto for Jameis Winston) and the Bengals (can anyone not sack Andy Dalton?) also clearly fit the bill. The Browns will remain interesting as long as Baker Mayfield keeps throwing away the ball. The Seahawks seem like a mirage given the crazy number of Chris Carson fumbles. I like targeting the Falcons as long as their defense remains MIA. It makes them one dimensional and easier to force turnovers against. Finally, I’ll finish with the Cardinals. They seem like they’ll click at some point, but Kyler Murray has been extremely sack-able behind a porous O-line. Games against Arizona should present a very safe floor. Okay, so what are we looking at in week 5? Let’s take a look.

 

Under-owned Teams 

 

Houston Texans (vs Atl, 63%)

 

There isn’t much available in terms of under-owned teams this week, and I wouldn’t even say I’m that passionate about this play either. The Texans have been good at applying pressure on opponents, racking up 13 sacks and 5 forced fumbles in only four games. Whitney Mercilus leads the team in both sacks (five) and forced fumbles (four!), though we should hardly forget about J.J. Watt. Atlanta, for its part, has given up 4+ sacks to two different opponents. They also have shown next to no ability to stop any opposing offense. If Houston can jump to an early lead, expect the pass rush to tee off on Matt Ryan. This being said, Houston has pass protection problems of its own. Expecting them to “jump out” may be hoping for too much. Still, this one is worth considering given how bad Atlanta is playing.

 

Streaming Options

 

New Orleans Saints (vs TB, 43%)

 

What if you could start a defense that just held the Cowboys (averaging 33 points per game over their first three outings) to 10 points? What if that defense was also playing at home, where they have a strong home-field advantage? What if they also got to play against a turnover-happy quarterback fresh off a confidence inflating performance? I’ll admit that this one could easily go wrong; the Saints give up too many points and their offense is missing its legendary filed general. Still, Jameis Winston is capable of blowing up the stat sheet in a bad way. He has 31 “fumbles + interceptions” in his last 16 games which can mean big things for an opponent. This being said, Winston has seven touchdowns, two interceptions, and no fumbles in his last two games. Do you think we see good Winston or bad Winston this week? If you think Bad Winston, this matchup might be unbeatable. Personally, I’ll keep looking for now.

 

Philadelphia Eagles (vs NYJ, 38%)

 

The Eagles have gotten off to a bit of a slow start, though losing Alshon Jeffery and Desean Jackson to injuries surely didn’t help matters. However, their run defense has been on point. They have given up only 248 yards on the ground (62 per game) with a YPC of 3.2. The one thing I think the Jets might be able to do right now is run the ball with Le’Veon Bell. If you think Le’Veon Bell can be a one-man offense, you should avoid this one. While the Eagles’ passing defense has been suspect, I don’t expect Luke Falk to be able to take advantage of it. He has been a potato thus far, and this only makes matters easier for the Eagles defenders. This game should be a blowout as long as Philly doesn’t throw it away. Once they force the Jets to throw, all bets are off. I’m rolling with the Eagles as my stream of the week for week 5.

 

San Francisco 49ers (vs Cle, 26%)

 

The Browns were supposed to be a runaway success and the 49ers were supposed to be bad…sometimes life doesn’t listen. San Francisco is undefeated through three games behind the strength of their defense and a surprisingly good rushing attack. I still want to see San Francisco face a better opponent (they’ve played Tampa Bay, Cincy, and Pittsburgh) and this looks like it’s it. For San Francisco to win this game, they will have to force turnovers. They need to confuse Baker Mayfield into throwing picks, which hasn’t been too hard thus far. If they can force a couple big mistakes, they should be able to follow the blueprint the Titans laid out in their own win over the Browns. If they can’t, Cleveland might run away with this one as they looked on the rise against Baltimore. It all comes down to what you think is most likely. I expect the Browns to win, so I’ll stay away. This is a perfect option for Browns-haters, however.

 

Tennessee Titans (vs Buf, 24%, stream of the week)

 

If Josh Allen was a country, the chief export would be turnovers. I’ve listened to multiple “fantasy experts” describe the style of Josh Allen, and this is my favorite quote thus far: “Josh Allen looks like he was teleported into a quarterback’s body right before the snap happens with no idea what’s going on or what play was called.” I laugh every time I think of it, and the stats back it up so far. Allen has thrown six interceptions and fumbled five times for an outstanding 2.75 {fumbles + interceptions} per game. He almost guarantees a defensive score per week for the opponent. Did I mention Allen is banged up and might be replaced by someone Buffalo thinks is even worse? I haven’t even mentioned the Titans’ defense and their hot start yet: 13 sacks, 4 interceptions, and 2 fumble recoveries. I love this matchup and it could only be better if Tennessee was at home. Still, as long as Tennessee can stop the run, this one is in the bag. This is my top play of the week by a country mile.

 

(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)

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