3 Fantasy Football Defensive Streaming Options for Week 1
Most fantasy gamers have now caught on that some form of a late-round quarterback approach is an optimal strategy. The same applies to defenses in fantasy football leagues that use a team defense and special teams unit.
However, it might seem an unusual concept to be streaming a defense in Week 1 since the draft has just wrapped up and nothing has happened since then. Why would streaming be necessary? While most players will wait until the late rounds to draft a defense, the best plan is to not even draft one at all. Use the final rounds to grab high-upside handcuff running backs in case the starter on their team gets injured or otherwise incapacitated. If nothing happens, cut that player just before Week 1 for a streaming defense. I advocate for the same plan for kicker as well, if applicable.
So, with that noted, who are the optimal streaming defenses for Week 1? I am considering every defense outside of the top-12 units in average draft position -- per Fantasy Football Calculator -- a streamer option, but if a top-12 unit has a plum matchup, don't let this column interfere with that gift.
As 9.5-point favorites at home, the Eagles figure to be on top early and forcing Washington into catch-up mode. Washington's 18.5-point implied total is the third-lowest of the slate. The Eagles have a fearsome defensive front, which should cause plenty of problems for Washington's middling offensive line and journeyman quarterback Case Keenum. Washington simply doesn't have the offensive playmakers to cause problems for a solid defensive unit like the Eagles, managing to finish just 28th in the NFL in 2018 in total offensive yards and 29th in points.
This should be a strong outing for the Eagles to start the season, but they draw the Atlanta Falcons on the road in Week 2, so they are a one-week play.
The Seattle Seahawks no longer have the "Legion of Boom," and the defense is actually underwhelming in many ways. However, the trade for Jadeveon Clowney certainly won't hurt, nor will a Week 1 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The game features an underwhelming 43.0-point total, and the Seahawks are favored by 10.0 points at home, the largest favorites of the week. The Seahawks should be in position to cruise to a win, though more on the backs of their offense than their defense. Even with less star power and fewer game-breakers on defense than they've had in past seasons, the Seahawks should have no trouble containing Andy Dalton and the Bengals' offense, which will be without primary receiver A.J. Green.
While the Bengals finished just 26th in total offensive yards in 2018, they managed to finish 17th in total points, so the Seahawks could need some sacks and/or turnovers to pay off. The Seahawks were above average in 2018 in allowing points and yards below the league mean, and they ranked 11th in turnovers and 11th in sacks percentage, which were also above average. Against the 27th-ranked offensive line, per Pro Football Focus, the Seahawks could feast.
New York Jets
For those in deeper leagues, the New York Jets should be available, and they get the pleasure of hosting the volatile Buffalo Bills in Week 1. The game features a paltry 40.5-point over/under line with a 3.0-point edge to the home team Jets.
Even though the Jets are modest favorites at home, this game should not feature many points and thus not likely as many yards as other contests. The Jets don't have an imposing defense, but the Bills return a relatively similar offense to their attack in 2018, when they were just 30th in the league in offensive yards and points scored. The addition of John Brown as a deep threat could help them with some splash plays, but the Bills do not appear to be a high-powered offense.
The icing on the cake, for the Jets, is that the Bills ranked fourth-worst in the league in percentage of drive ending in a turnover in 2018, thanks in large part to spotty quarterback play. While Josh Allen had a respectable 3.8% interception rate a year ago, he fumbled eight times and completed just under 53% of his passes. The Jets could walk out of this game with a couple of turnovers, though sacks will be hard to predict with Allen's ability to scramble. Gang Green is a bit of a volatile option, but for deep leagues, they're a solid play.