3 Fantasy Football Defensive Streaming Options for Week 8
Week 7 saw mixed results for this column with the Green Bay Packers disappointing heavily against the Oakland Raiders, and the long shot, desperation play in the Cincinnati Bengals getting rolled as usual. The bright spot was nine sacks and a touchdown for a monster day by the Kansas City Chiefs thanks in large part to a meltdown of epic proportions by Joe Flacco.
Time to look ahead to Week 8 for streaming defenses. All recommendations are available in over 60% of ESPN fantasy leagues. The Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams, and Tennessee Titans are strong options if they are available in your league, but they are owned in too many leagues to qualify for this column.
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Any defense facing the Miami Dolphins is in a good position, though the Fins did show a bit more life last week with Ryan Fitzpatrick back under center for the offense. That said, the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense should have plenty of firepower and ample opportunity to score fantasy points for owners.
The Steelers are massive 14.5-point favorites at home on Monday Night Football in Week 8, which gives the Dolphins a paltry 14.5 implied team total in the game. The Steelers are allowing the ninth-fewest points this season along with the eighth-fewest yards, so they should have no trouble stopping the Dolphins in all phases. The Steelers also rank best in the league in terms of percentage of opponents' drives that have ended in a turnover, just ahead of the vaunted New England Patriots. What's more, the Steelers are generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks at the seventh-highest rate in the league this season.
There's really nothing not to like here. The Dolphins are abysmal on offense in most regards, ranking second-worst in scoring percentage and turnover percentage (of total drives) and fourth-worst in percentage of dropbacks allowing a sack. The Steelers D/ST should absolutely feast this week.
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The Indianapolis Colts are nice 6.0-point favorites at home in Week 8 against the Denver Broncos, who just had a massive offensive meltdown last week. The low over/under of 44 points gives the Broncos just 19 implied points.
The Broncos have been underwhelming (to put it nicely) in terms of team offense. The team is allowing sacks at the fifth-highest rate in the league. While they are about average in terms of turnovers given to opponents, they score on the eighth-fewest percent of their drives. The Broncos' offense ranks just 20th in total yards and 28th in total points in 2019.
Meanwhile, the Colts' defense has been underrated thus far in 2019, allowing yards and points at a level below the league average. They have been marginally worse than average in terms of creating turnovers on opponents' drives (just over 10%) and getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks (just under 20% of dropbacks). While the Colts haven't been as disruptive as owners would like, they have limited opposing offenses enough to provide a solid floor, and Joe Flacco in catch-up mode would be a nice boost for defensive opportunities.
ESPN Ownership: 5.0%
The bottom-of-the-barrel pick this week is the Detroit Lions, who seem to find successively more aggravating ways to lose games each week. They are playing at home this week against the volatile New York Giants' offense and mistake-prone rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. The Lions are favored by 7.0 points at home this week, putting them in a prime spot for a desperation streaming use.
Detroit hasn't been a game-breaking defense this year, and they are struggling to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks (just 18% of opposing dropbacks). However, they are 16th-best (average) at getting turnovers (13.2% of opponents' drives) and have been better at limiting scoring than yardage. The Lions have actually done very well in fantasy terms, though, this season, scoring seven fantasy points (by ESPN's default scoring) in every game but Week 7 against the surging Minnesota Vikings (including contests against the Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Philadelphia Eagles).
The Giants rank below league-average both in terms of points scored and yards gained, so the Lions should be able to contain them even with Saquon Barkley back in action. The G-Men rank fourth-worst in terms of scoring at just 23.4% of their drives. They are also turning the ball over on exactly the same percentage of drives (23.4%, this ranks worst in the league by a wide margin), which bodes well for opposing defenses. The Giants are better in terms of limiting sacks (7.0% of dropbacks, just worse than average), but that won't prevent the Lions from having opportunities to get their fill of fantasy points this week.