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Week 14 D/ST Streamers for Fantasy Football

The fantasy football playoffs are upon us, which means that each lineup decision can make or break your season. Fantasy managers tend to ignore certain positions, but if your league counts them, then you must not haphazardly choose your starters. That brings me to the D/ST slot. By nature, there usually are not a ton of great streaming options each week when it comes to defenses. This week, however, there are certainly some offenses worth targeting. Of the nine most generous NFL offenses when it comes to allowing fantasy points to opposing defenses, six are on the table this week. That does not make any of my Week 14 D/ST streamers slam dunks by any means. What it does mean, though, is that there are several solid choices this week. I will run through a few of them now.

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Week 14 D/ST Streamers

Arizona Cardinals (at New York Giants, 35 percent rostered in Fantrax leagues)

The New York Giants pulled off a shocking upset when they went into Seattle and defeated the Seahawks. Make no mistake about it, though – New York did not win this game on the offensive side of the football. The Giants scored just 17 points and mustered 290 yards of total offense in the victory. Seattle’s defense still scored 11 fantasy points, which was the ninth-highest total of the week. That has been par for the course against the G-Men this season. New York has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses this year. Arizona’s defense is the only outfit among my Week 14 D/ST streamers that ranks in the top half of the league in defensive DVOA. Regardless of which quarterback lines up for the Giants on Sunday, the Cardinals’ defense should be up to the task.

Carolina Panthers (vs. Denver Broncos, 22 percent rostered)

In Carolina’s last game two weeks ago, Jeremy Chinn performed a feat that may never again happen on a football field. The second-year safety recovered fumbles on consecutive plays of scrimmage and returned both for touchdowns, scoring twice in just 10 seconds. That helped propel the Panthers to a season-high 20 fantasy points. Before that game, they had only scored double digits in one other game all season long. Their lack of consistent year-to-date production may cause fantasy managers to be hesitant about using them this week. But the Panthers are one of my favorite Week 14 D/ST streamers primarily because of their opponent, the Denver Broncos.

On the season, the Broncos have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing defenses. They have an NFL-worst 28 turnovers and a minus-17 turnover differential. And the last four defenses to face Denver have averaged 13 fantasy points. Sure, these numbers all include the Kendall Hinton experiment from a couple of weeks ago. But it is not as if Drew Lock has been an above-average NFL quarterback either. Of 33 qualified quarterbacks, Lock ranks 30th in QBR and dead last in quarterback rating. The Panthers are fresh off a bye and in a prime spot to take advantage of Denver’s generous tendencies.

Houston Texans (at Chicago Bears, 30 percent rostered)

Mitch Trubisky looked like a competent NFL quarterback last week, but I believe we can attribute much of Trubisky’s success to having faced the Detroit Lions. Before that game, Chicago had allowed three consecutive defenses to post at least 15 fantasy points. That is a number the Texans have reached just once on the year. Houston has forced an NFL-low eight turnovers, which has hindered their fantasy production. However, they have forced 28 sacks, including multiple sacks in nine of 12 ballgames. Trubisky has been decent in limited action this season when facing pressure, but he is still quite prone to the occasional lapse in judgment. Call me crazy, but I would sooner bet on J.J. Watt or Whiney Mercilus to make a big play rather than Trubisky.

Tennessee Titans (at Jacksonville Jaguars, 46 percent rostered)

When I first started looking at this week’s potential streamers, I did not expect to include the Tennessee Titans. After all, Tennessee was rostered in 44 percent of leagues before their game against Cleveland. I figured if they had a decent showing, managers would pounce before their Week 14 game against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. As you may know, I recommended Tennessee against the Browns last week. That did not work out so well for any of us. The good news is that fantasy managers have steered clear of the Titans because of their showing a week ago. Much like professional athletes, fantasy managers need to have short memories. A date with the Jaguars could be just what the doctor ordered for Mike Vrabel’s crew.

Jacksonville has allowed two of its last three opponents to post at least 17 fantasy points. That includes last week’s opponent, the Minnesota Vikings. Mike Glennon was his usual below-average self, turning the ball over three times in a game Jacksonville would eventually lose in overtime. His only touchdown pass on the day was a fluke that bounced off a defender right into the arms of a waiting receiver in the end zone. Tennessee’s defense currently averages 6.25 fantasy points per contest. That is not necessarily anything to write home about, but it is ahead of what the Vikings had averaged before last week’s encounter with the Jaguars. The Titans have shown to have a low floor, but they should also have a fairly high ceiling given the matchup.

Dallas Cowboys (at Cincinnati Bengals, 26 percent rostered)

I cannot even pretend that the Dallas Cowboys have a good defense, fantasy or otherwise. Only the Detroit Lions have fewer fantasy points, and only the Houston Texans have forced fewer turnovers this year. Dallas has also already allowed over 2,000 rushing yards this season. To put that in perspective, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints have combined to allow 1,803 rushing yards thus far in 2020. However, I cannot help but include Dallas in my Week 14 D/ST streamers. That is because they will be facing the Cincinnati Bengals. Cincinnati’s offense has predictably fallen off a cliff since losing running back Joe Mixon and quarterback Joe Burrow. But the decline has been even more precipitous than most would have expected.

The Bengals have failed to eclipse 200 total yards in each of their last two games without Burrow leading the charge. Quarterbacks Brandon Allen and Ryan Finley have both thrown an interception in each of the team’s last two games, which seems pretty difficult to do if you ask me. Cincinnati’s rushing attack has experienced a similar drop-off without Mixon in the backfield. Giovani Bernard has totaled just 110 yards on the ground over the last four weeks and has done so by averaging a shade under three yards a clip. There has been little evidence this season that the Cowboys can stop anybody this year, but this is a test that even Dallas’ defense should be able to pass.

See You on the Other Side

Several Week 14 matchups pit potential streamers on defense against one another. I have listed my preferred options in those games above, but those who want to take a contrarian route may wish to seek out the defenses below. While I generally gear this column towards redraft leagues, the D/ST units listed below are also cheaper DFS than their real-life Week 14 counterparts.

New York Giants (vs. Arizona Cardinals, 38 percent rostered)

Of all the defenses mentioned in this week’s column, the Giants have been the most impressive. They currently sit sixth in the NFL in fantasy points scored. Last week’s impressive showing in Seattle proved that their defense is legit. The Giants are hitting their stride defensively. They now have 12 sacks and have forced 10 turnovers over their last four contests. The issue I have with them this week is that they are arguably facing the best offense of any of the defenses mentioned. Arizona has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing defenses. The recent struggles of Kyler Murray could give the Giants a boost, and I certainly would not fault those who decide to ride the hot hand. But the floor is low considering Arizona’s offensive potential. If I could only have one D/ST in this game, I would prefer the Cardinals.

Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Dallas Cowboys, 17 percent rostered)

I have mentioned the Cincinnati Bengals on more than one occasion in this space in recent weeks. And while they have not registered a top-five week, they have certainly not embarrassed themselves. Or me, for that matter. The Bengals are tied for 10th in fantasy points over the past three weeks. The reason? Well, it helps that they have faced NFC East opponents in two of those matchups. That will be the case once again this week when they host the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, an Andy Dalton revenge game is within the range of outcomes considering that Cincinnati has registered just 13 sacks and 12 turnovers on the season. But they have held opponents to only 58 points over their last three games. I prefer the Bengals in leagues with thresholds for points allowed, but they are a viable option this week regardless of format.

Denver Broncos (vs. Carolina Panthers, 31 percent rostered)

Because of the recent positive Covid tests among Panthers offensive players and the news that Christian McCaffrey is likely to miss another game, I am listing the Denver Broncos here. However, I simply do not see enough turnover potential to excite me. Matt Rhule has predicated Carolina’s offense on short, quick throws. Teddy Bridgewater has an average time to throw of 2.61 seconds and an aDOT of just 6.8 yards downfield. That has led to a completion rate just north of 70 percent. Fun fact: completed passes are less likely to be intercepted than incomplete passes. Denver has only forced 11 turnovers on the season, so it is not as if they are a ball-hawking unit by any means. I can see preferring Denver over Carolina in DFS with the extra cap savings, but in redraft, I would leave the Broncos to another manager.

Looking Ahead

Here are a couple of the teams I have my eye on with Week 15 in mind. If you have a first-round bye in your fantasy playoffs, it may be worth your while to stash one of these defensive units before rosters locking on Sunday. They have decent matchups this week as well, if you are trying to break a tie somewhere or if your league caps the number of transactions you are permitted to make.

New York Giants (38 percent rostered, vs. Cleveland Browns)

The last time we saw the Cleveland Browns, they were punching the Tennessee Titans in the mouth. However, I would like to see them do it against a better defense before I anoint them among the elite offenses in the NFL. They will have a big test this week when they face the Baltimore Ravens. Unless they smash this week’s matchup, I would be confident streaming the Giants against them next weekend.

Arizona Cardinals (35 percent rostered, vs. Philadelphia Eagles)

I am quite curious to see how the Philadelphia Eagles look from an offensive standpoint with Jalen Hurts at the helm this weekend. The rookie will make his first NFL start in the bayou against the New Orleans Saints. The Cardinals have allowed the fourth-most rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks this year. So if the Eagles morph into a Baltimore or New England style of offense with Hurts, I may be less bullish on Arizona heading into next week.

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