Welcome back! Last week was a good one for defenses, as only seven teams scored more than 20 points. Of those, only three scored more than 24. All three of our picks from last week (the Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Las Vegas Raiders) came through for us and averaged around 10 points each. However, Week 7 appears to be especially challenging for streamers with six teams on bye! After looking over upcoming matchups, we have a few teams to consider as well as others with high-risk/high-reward potential. As always, we’re looking for teams that are rostered in around 50 percent of leagues or lower.
Please note: there’s a decent chance that better teams above this 50 percent threshold are out there in your league, but we can’t assume they’re out there for everyone; we have to draw the proverbial line somewhere. Stay active and monitor the league home page; someone might drop a desirable defense after the waivers clear.
Las Vegas Raiders
Opponent: vs. @ Chicago Bears
ESPN % Rostered: 24%
Yahoo % Rostered: 47%
We’re going right back to the well on this one. I was a little trigger-shy last week after watching the Bears put up 40 on the Commanders two weeks ago but they followed that up by giving the Vikings their highest D/ST score on the year. Justin Fields is unlikely to play, so there goes that concern. This Las Vegas team is on a bit of a hot streak defensively, coming off back-to-back double-digit fantasy point outings. Maxx Crosby is tied for 4th in the league in sacks and now hunts the Bears, who have surrendered at least three sacks per game (25 on the season). A Tyson Bagent turnover was returned for a touchdown last week; he now faces a Raiders team that has four interceptions over its last three games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Opponent: vs. Atlanta Falcons
ESPN % Rostered: 22%
Yahoo % Rostered: 30%
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers welcome division rival Desmond Ridder and the Falcons. Ridder doubled his interception count last week and is now tied for the third-most thrown on the season. Atlanta will have to deal with a Buccaneer secondary that amassed six interceptions before their bye week. The Buccaneers rank in the Top 10 in fewest rushing yards allowed per attempt and also in the Top 3 in rushing touchdowns allowed. It will be interesting to see how the Falcons fare against this D/ST, which has the third-highest blitz rate in the NFL. Buccaneer bulldozer Vita Vea logged a season-best 6 tackles with 2 tackles for loss and a forced fumble last week; he now looks to get into the backfield against a Falcons team that is averaging three sacks per game.
Opponent: vs Arizona Cardinals
ESPN % Rostered: 20%
Yahoo % Rostered: 24%
Seattle has been boom-or-bust this season, and in their first game back from their bye, they turned in a respectable performance at Cincinnati. Arizona ranks in the Bottom 10 in passing yards per game and has turned the ball over five times in their last two games. Tackle machine Bobby Wagner will lead the task of stopping the Cardinal rushing attack which was Top 5 in the league until last week, when they played their first game without James Conner (IR). Last week, their leading rusher was quarterback Joshua Dobbs (47 yards). This might be a good selection in leagues that count yards against. This is a division game, which does add a little spice of uncertainty. In the last two seasons, however, the games at Seattle have been lower-scoring ones compared to the high-scoring affairs in Phoenix. That said, I apologize ahead of time as I probably just jinxed it.
As a bonus, I wanted to highlight the Cleveland Browns D/ST (53% ESPN 30% Yahoo), absolute game-wreckers this season who have held four of their last five opponents to under 20 points. With the fewest overall yards allowed per game in the league, consider picking them up if they’re available in your league. They’ll enjoy a favorable matchup on the road against Gardner Minshew and the Indianapolis Colts.
These lower-tiered defenses are on a bit of a bounce-back lately and find themselves in very favorable matchups:
Washington Commanders – (E: 25% Y!: 32%) – The Commanders hit the road this week to take on the Giants (o-rank: 32nd), who are giving up the most points to opposing D/ST so far this season.
New York Giants – (E: 2% Y!: 2%) – The Giants host the Commanders (o-rank: 29th), who have surrendered an insane 34 sacks through Week 6.
Chicago Bears – (E: 1% Y!: 1%) – The Bears welcome the Raiders (o-rank: 28th) and backup Brian Hoyer the Destroyer, who is somehow a downgrade from Jimmy Garoppolo and his league-leading eight interceptions.
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Photos by Zach Bolinger & Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire | Design by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter @ IG)