Success in fantasy football is all about finding the right matchups. Streaming defenses is no exception. Of the seven D/ST units who scored at least a dozen points in Week 1, five of them did so based on their ability to take advantage of quarterbacks who are prone to mistakes. Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Daniel Jones, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Joe Burrow were some of the signal-callers who succumbed to defensive pressure on Sunday. Fantasy managers should be looking at this group of quarterbacks when looking to stream defenses. Yet, as luck would have it, none of the five quarterbacks listed above can be exploited by those looking for Week 2 D/ST streamers.
Last week, I used the criteria of using D/ST that fantasy managers drafted outside the top 16 units in this year’s drafts. Beginning this week, I will be highlighting teams that are rostered by less than half of all Fantrax leagues. These teams should be options that are readily available for your streaming pleasure. The 49ers, Bills, and Bears are all rostered in at least 93 percent of leagues. Odds are none are available on your waiver wires. That means you will have to find another week to attack Darnold, Fitzpatrick, and Jones, respectively. And Cleveland and Cincinnati squared off on Thursday night. It would be pointless for me to cherry-pick a Thursday matchup considering this column gets published on Fridays. With that said, here are a few of my favorite Week 2 streamers at the D/ST position.
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Week 2 D/ST Streamers
Arizona Cardinals (v. Washington, 32 percent rostered)
The Arizona Cardinals went into San Francisco and shocked the defending NFC Champions in Week 1. Their defense did not force any turnovers, but they still finished tied for 10th in fantasy points last week. Much of their success was due to the inaccuracies of Jimmy Garoppolo, who was off-target on several occasions. Arizona should benefit from facing another inaccurate passer in Week 2 when they host Dwayne Haskins and Washington. Even in Washington’s surprise Week 1 win, Haskins completed just 55 percent of his throws and absorbed three sacks. Washington wants to run the ball and avoid exposing their quarterback to a high number of throws. Haskins has averaged just 28 pass attempts in the seven games he has started and finished in his young career. If the Cardinals can jump out in front early and force Haskins to throw, they can get him to make some mistakes.
Washington Football Team (at Arizona, 35 percent rostered)
The top fantasy scoring defense last week was none other than the Washington Football Team. They forced three turnovers and racked up eight sacks against the Eagles in an upset victory. While overall number-two draft pick Chase Young will get most of the hype, Washington has put together a solid defensive front in recent years. Their well-rounded effort on Sunday highlighted that. Seven different defenders recorded at least half a sack against Philadelphia. Kyler Murray was sacked 48 times last year, tied for third-most in the NFL. He will have to get rid of the football quickly if he wants to stay upright on Sunday. Washington should be able to cause some chaos in the pocket in this contest.
Quick side note – just because I have both defensive units in this game listed as Week 2 streamers does not mean it has to be a low scoring slugfest, although I am sure Ron Rivera would be quite happy if that were the case. A high scoring affair can still feature plenty of sacks and turnovers. New Orleans was last week’s third-highest scoring defense while allowing 23 points. And of course, we cannot forget the epic Rams-Chiefs Monday night game from two years ago. The game was the third-highest scoring in NFL history, with the teams combining for 105 points. Yet the defenses combined for 40 fantasy points, with each finishing as a top-five unit that week. All of this is to say that I would not let the 47-point total in the Washington-Arizona game scare me off either defense.
Green Bay Packers (v. Detroit, 27 percent rostered)
The Detroit Lions managed to pull defeat from the jaws of victory on Sunday in their opener against the Chicago Bears. Despite their collapse, they were able to limit the fantasy impact of the Bears defense. That was due mostly to playing with the lead for most of the afternoon. I do not expect them to have that luxury in Lambeau Field on Sunday. Aaron Rodgers looked like the Rodgers of old in Week 1, and he should be able to exploit Detroit’s subpar defense. If Kenny Golladay remains sidelined with his hamstring injury, the Packers should be able to hold the Lions at bay. I would categorize this as more of a high floor, low ceiling matchup than the others, but Green Bay should be a good streaming option nonetheless.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (v. Carolina, 47 percent rostered)
I suspect that Tampa Bay’s relatively low rostership was due to “at New Orleans” front and center on the 2020 schedule in Week 1. Avoiding them proved to be a prudent decision, as they scored just one fantasy point against the Saints. Now, fantasy managers should look to secure the Bucs’ services. Their upcoming matchup against Carolina is not as easy as it appears. Teddy Bridgewater is the ultimate game manager, and his dink and dunk style tends to lead to a low turnover rate. However, this is still an above-average matchup for the Bucs. Their upcoming schedule (Denver, Chicago, Los Angeles Chargers) is also exploitable, making them an attractive choice for a manager who may not want to scour the wire or spend FAAB on a defense every single week.
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What were the results of your week 1 streaming defenses?
Admittedly, not very good. Tennessee was the only one of the three that matched my expectations.