Welcome to Week 17! It’s the championship and all the marbles are on the line. I just want to take a moment to thank you for coming along on a season-long adventure to find the best streaming defenses every week. I am grateful to be able to put these out; I’m thankful to all who have read the articles and shared your views along the way. Now, whether you’re trying to win it all or avoid a last-place punishment, let’s find some defenses that are rostered in around 50 percent of leagues or fewer.
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, so stay active and monitor the league home page; someone might drop a desirable defense after waivers clear.
Opponent: vs. Carolina Panthers
ESPN % Rostered: 33%
Yahoo % Rostered: 42%
The Jacksonville Jaguars snapped their three-game streak of turnovers generated last week; they generated five turnovers during that stretch. More importantly, they are coming back home to host a Carolina Panthers team that has given up the third most fantasy points to opposing defenses. The Panthers have surrendered an average of 12 fantasy points over their last three away games while the Jaguars are tied for the third-highest rate of turnovers generated on defense. It’s also worth noting that the Panthers have given up at least three sacks and a turnover per game since Week 11. QB Bryce Young will be facing a Jacksonville defense that is Top 10 on the season in blitz rate, QB hurries, and knockdowns. The Jaguars are an excellent bet to outperform expectations this week and should be targeted by anyone in need of a streaming defense during Championship Week.
Los Angeles Rams
Opponent: @ New York Giants
ESPN % Rostered: 28%
Yahoo % Rostered: 22%
We’ll stick with the trend of playing it safe in Championship Week and go with another matchup against an offense that has been statistically very favorable for opposing defenses. The New York Giants have given up eight sacks and three turnovers over their last three games and have created their own backup QB dilemma heading into this week. This should bode well for the Los Angeles Rams, who are heating up to the tune of a 5-1 streak as we come down to the wire. The Rams have held their opponents to 20 or fewer points scored in four of those six games and are in the middle of an interception streak: they’ve notched one per game in each of their last four going into this road matchup in East Rutherford. Start the Rams with confidence this weekend.
Opponent: vs. Atlanta Falcons
ESPN % Rostered: 22%
Yahoo % Rostered: 32%
The Chicago Bears’ defense stumbled a bit, in fantasy terms at least, putting up a contain-and-bend-but-don’t-break performance. It got the job done from an NFL standpoint but didn’t go so well for fantasy managers. I won’t be deterred from this one though, as they now welcome the Atlanta Falcons into town who will trot out Taylor Heinicke at quarterback. While this Falcons offense is respectable at home, they’ve been vulnerable on the road, averaging eight points to opposing defenses over their last four away games. This provides us with a high floor to build on. Before last week’s performance, the Bears were on a double-digit fantasy point-per-game streak, averaging 15 points per match-up over their last three games.
Even with the suboptimal fantasy performance last week, the Bears still only allowed 16 points. In doing so, they kept alive a streak of 20 or fewer points allowed, one that’s been going strong since Week 11. Chicago’s body of work over the preceding five games should carry more weight than their most recent ho-hum fantasy performance. The Bears may be a bit riskier than the two options above, but they’re a solid gamble nonetheless.
If you see something I don’t, leave a comment or hit me up with feedback @MikeoftheFF on Twitter!
Photos by Zach Bolinger & Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire | Design by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter @ IG)