3 Fantasy Football Defensive Streaming Options for Week 5
Tough calls in Week 4 as the Denver Broncos finally got on the board with some sacks but were not able to slow down the Jacksonville Jaguars enough, and the Indianapolis Colts didn't cause much mayhem against the Oakland Raiders. Thankfully, the Pittsburgh Steelers redeemed me last night.
Time to look ahead to Week 5 for streaming defenses. All recommendations are available in over 70% of ESPN fantasy leagues.
ESPN Ownership: 26.8%
The Browns' offense ranks just above average in points and yards, but they offer some upside to opposing defenses nonetheless. The Browns have six turnovers so far in 2019, tied for 10th-most in the league. Baker Mayfield has been off to a rocky start, with a meager 2.9% touchdown rate (near the bottom of the league) and six interceptions (one behind the league-high). Mayfield has also taken 12 sacks in four games, tied for sixth-most in the league.
The 49ers are faring well in points and yards allowed, even factoring out their bye week, so it looks like they are off to a good start on the defensive side of the ball. They rank fifth-best in the league with just 4.7 yards per play allowed on defense and have seven takeaways through three games (tied for the highest per-game rate in the league). Just 25.7% (seventh-lowest rate) of opponents' drives end in scores, while 20% (highest rate in the league) end in turnovers. The Niners have also been getting it done with the pass rush, racking up nine sacks through three games at a rate of 7.9% of opponents' dropbacks, the eighth-highest rate in the league. Depending on which Browns team shows up, the 49ers could have a massive outing on defense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
ESPN Ownership: 3.0%
The ideal streaming candidates for streaming defenses are teams playing at home and teams favored to win, so get ready to snag a road team that is a 4.5-point underdog, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa is on the road against the New Orleans Saints, who failed to score a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4, and the Bucs' defense has been making plenty of noise this year.
New Orleans is among the best teams in the league in terms of scoring on a high percentage of their drives as 42.1% of their possessions end with points, but they rank near league-average in points scored. The Saints have not been particularly susceptible to turnovers in 2019 so far, but the Buccaneers may change that. Tampa ranks fourth in the NFL with 19.1% of their opponents' drives ending in turnovers, and they are near the middle of the pack with 40.4% of opposing drives ending in a score. Tampa's 5.7% sack rate is not dominant, but that's not likely how they'll pay off in fantasy scoring.
Through three appearances and two starts, Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has been largely unimpressive throwing the ball, accounting for just 535 passing yards, two scores, and one interception. Bridgewater has tallied just 6.1 yards per attempt and has been susceptible to sacks. While Tampa's 5.7% sack rate is not impressive, Bridgewater has been sacked on 7.4% of his drop backs thus far, so expect Tampa's rate to pick up in Week 5. This could be a much lower-scoring game than anticipated when the season started.
ESPN Ownership: 0.8%
It's generally not advisable to pick a streaming defense that is expected to lose by a good margin, such as the Oakland Raiders, who are 5.0-point underdogs at home to the Chicago Bears. However, you can do it this week.
Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky looks doubtful for this game as of Tuesday, so the Raiders will have to contend with an underwhelming rushing attack and Chase Daniel, which seems easy enough. The Raiders aren't stacked defensively and are among the worst teams in the NFL in terms of turnover rate and sack rate, but anything can happen in Oakland when a team is led by their backup quarterback.
The only real bright spot for the Raiders' D is that through four weeks, they have recorded 20 tackles for loss, which is top 10 in the league. The Raiders are also on the low end of the spectrum in terms of penalties committed, for whatever that is worth. On the down side, their 16 first downs surrendered by penalty trail only the Atlanta Falcons, though that likely means the Raiders have been unlucky thus far in that regard.
The Bears as a team have not been particularly susceptible to sacks and turnovers, and they are about league-average in percentage of drives ending in a score, but the aforementioned Chase Daniel has a career sack rate of 8.5%, which would be the sixth-highest team rate in the league this season. This contest could certainly be a get-right game for the Raiders' defense, but they are only a desperation play.