For three months, I have been imploring fantasy managers to target NFC East offenses with reckless abandon and wanton disregard. It has been my defining principle throughout the 2020 fantasy football season. So what happens? In Week 13, the final week of the fantasy regular season, no streamers are facing an NFC East squad. Way to go, schedule makers! All four NFC East teams are at least seven-point underdogs, and none has an implied total of over 20 points, so they are still ripe for the picking. However, said picking will be done by defenses that are rostered in at least 72 percent of leagues, which is well above the 50 percent standard to qualify for streaming status. Luckily for those seeking Week 13 D/ST streamers, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Hopefully, some of the defenses listed below do as well.
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Week 13 D/ST Streamers
Las Vegas Raiders (at New York Jets, 26 percent rostered in Fantrax leagues)
Fantasy managers will have no choice but to put last week’s 43-6 drubbing in the rearview mirror and trust this week’s matchup. The New York Jets have the worst offense in football, and it is not all that close. They average a full five points fewer than any other team in the NFL. Their offense has the fewest total yards and passing yards in the league. They have also surrendered the most fantasy points to opposing defenses. Las Vegas does not generate a ton of pressure. Their 2.77 percent sack rate is the lowest in the NFL. Because of that, the ceiling may not be as high as that of a typical Jets opponent. However, the floor should be relatively safe given the Jets implied total of just 19.5 points. The Raiders are the safest streamer on the board this week.
Arizona Cardinals (vs. Los Angeles Rams, 34 percent rostered)
It may seem a bit odd to consider a defense facing the Los Angeles Rams. After all, Los Angeles is 7-4 and has a reputation for being an explosive offense. However, that has not been the case in 2020. They average 24 points per game, which is merely in the middle of the pack among NFL teams. They have not hit the 30-point mark since Week 5. Truth be told, I do not know if the Cardinals will hold the Rams under a certain amount of points this week. What I do expect them to do is generate pressure. And pressure is Jared Goff’s biggest weakness. Of the 31 quarterbacks who have at least 50 attempts under pressure, Goff ranks 28th in completion percentage, yards per attempt, and quarterback rating. His six interceptions under pressure are tied for the most in the NFL.
The Cardinals have blitzed opposing quarterbacks on 40.7 percent of passing snaps this year. That is the second-highest rate in the league. Yet Arizona is just ninth in sack rate and 13th in pressure rate this season. The Rams are sixth-best in the league in opponent’s sack rate allowed, but the recent injury to stalwart tackle Andrew Whitworth may be an issue for them. Whitworth’s 90.5 pass-blocking grade via Pro Football Focus was second-best among all offensive linemen. Joseph Noteboom has done a serviceable job in Whitworth’s absence, but it is certainly a downgrade for Goff and the Rams’ passing attack. I believe Haason Reddick and company can force pressure in this matchup, which will lead to problems for Goff. I believe that Arizona is an intriguing contrarian play, which is why they are one of my favorite Week 13 D/ST streamers.
Tennessee Titans (vs. Cleveland Browns, 44 percent rostered)
The Tennessee Titans’ upcoming matchup against the Cleveland Browns reads like a neutral one from a fantasy perspective. Tennessee’s defense ranks 20th in fantasy scoring, while the Browns rank 15th in fantasy points allowed to opposing defenses. Based on how each team likes to approach things from an offensive standpoint, however, I am expecting a knockdown, drag-out affair. These are the top two rushing teams in the league, and both rank in the bottom five in pass attempts. Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt should get plenty of work in this one. Because both teams run the football so often, turnovers may be hard to come by. That will likely make Tennessee a less sexy option than most of the other Week 13 D/ST streamers. But they should enjoy positive game script and have a reasonable floor in this matchup.
Long Shot Streamers
Detroit Lions (at Chicago Bears, 18 percent rostered)
No fantasy defense has scored fewer points this season than the Detroit Lions this season. But their Week 13 matchup is one of the most advantageous in the NFL. The Chicago Bears have allowed four of their last five opponents to score double-digit fantasy points. No matter who Matt Nagy tabs to be his starting quarterbacks, the results largely remain the same. This week it will be Mitch Trubisky making his second consecutive start. Trubisky was able to pad his stats in garbage time last week, but he was his usual inefficient self before the fourth quarter. The Lions cornerbacks have been their Achilles’ heel all season long, but I do not believe the Bears have the confidence in their passing game to exploit Detroit’s weakness.
There are a couple of narratives that also lead me to like the Lions more than I typically would. First, Detroit has extra time to prepare for this game, after having played the early game on Thanksgiving. They will also be motivated to prove that former head coach Matt Patricia was more the problem than the solution in the Motor City. There have been plenty of indications that players had grown weary of Patricia, and some openly celebrated his firing. A strong defensive effort in their first game since Patricia’s release would be a fitting parting jab at their former boss. Detroit was also up 23-6 in the fourth quarter against the Bears in the season opener before falling apart late. They have seen enough of the Bears to keep them in check in what should be a low scoring game.
Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Miami Dolphins, 19 percent rostered)
Cincinnati was one of two dark horses I selected here last week. Both panned out quite nicely, so I am going back to the well. Their defense scored a season-high 13 points against the New York Giants. I know, shocking to imagine a defense putting up a double-digit effort against an NFC East opponent. While they will not have the luxury of going up another anemic NFC East offense, the offense of the Miami Dolphins remains sporadic. Tua Tagovailoa remains questionable with a thumb injury, and Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown eight interceptions in eight games this season. Miami also has injury concerns at running back, though the team’s leading rusher, Myles Gaskin, may return for this contest. I would not go out of my way to select them above any of the Week 13 D/ST streamers listed above, but there is a path to fantasy success here.
New York Jets (vs. Las Vegas Raiders, 12 percent rostered)
Guess who else scored a season-high 13 fantasy points last week? While the Jets defense does not figure to match up well against the Raiders’ offense, the same was said about the Falcons defense before Week 12, and we all know how that turned out. Atlanta’s defense scored 31 fantasy points, racking up five turnovers and an equal amount of sacks. If Las Vegas cannot rectify the protection issues that plagued them last week in Atlanta, they could be in for a fight.
The Raiders could also possibly be without their two leading touchdown scorers, as neither Josh Jacobs nor Nelson Agholor has been able to practice yet this week. New York is an undisciplined defense with major issues at cornerback, but they do have some talent up front. Folorunso Fatukasi may be the best run stopper most people have never heard of, and Quinnen Williams is coming into his own in his second NFL season. I am not predicting an upset by the Jets or a boatload of fantasy points for their defense. However, I do expect them to exit Week 13 with a much higher weekly finish than most are giving them credit for.
Dallas Cowboys (at Cincinnati Bengals, 28 percent rostered)
Dallas has been a laughingstock for much of the season due to their defensive ineffectiveness. But they will among next week’s most popular streamers based on their upcoming game against Brandon Allen and the Cincinnati Bengals. Allen turned the ball over twice and averaged a paltry 4.7 yards per attempt last week. Even Dallas should be able to contain the Burrow-less Bengals.
Carolina Panthers (vs. Denver Broncos, 17 percent rostered)
The Carolina Panthers have not generated a ton of fantasy points from their defense, but they have forced 17 turnovers thus far. That ranks in the top 10 in the NFL, and their Week 14 matchup is top-notch. Only Carson Wentz has thrown more interceptions than Drew Lock in 2020, and Lock has played in three fewer games.
Houston Texans (at Chicago Bears, 29 percent rostered)
The Bears are absolutely on my list of teams to target with D/ST streamers. Houston has forced a league-low eight turnovers, but they have played better of late. Their defense has scored 34 fantasy points over the last three weeks.
Arizona Cardinals (at New York Giants)
Tennessee Titans (at Jacksonville Jaguars)
Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Dallas Cowboys)
If I did not sell you on any of these three defenses this week, can I interest you in their Week 14 matchups? I do not expect any of the three to be overly popular adds this week, but they have some very favorable matchups next week. Arizona, in particular, stands out. They are currently available in 66 percent of Fantrax leagues. I would not be surprised if that number is cut in half by the time they head out east to take on the Giants.
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