3 Fantasy Football Defensive Streaming Options for Week 9
Week 8 was a good week for this column as the Pittsburgh Steelers had a solid game versus the Miami Dolphins, the Indianapolis Colts shut down the Denver Broncos, and the Detroit Lions turned over the New York Giants for a defensive touchdown. Victory lap complete.
Time to look ahead to Week 9 for streaming defenses. All recommendations are available in over two-thirds of ESPN fantasy leagues. If available, you could go right back to the Indianapolis Colts against a Mason Rudolph-led Pittsburgh Steelers team, the Philadelphia Eagles against turnover-prone Mitchell Trubisky, or the Seattle Seahawks against the equally turnover-prone Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All are strong options but are owned in between one-third and one-half of leagues, so they could well not be available in a lot of leagues.
ESPN Ownership: 32.3%
If it ain't broke, don't fix it, so go right back to picking on rookie Daniel Jones, whose 15 combined interceptions and fumbles in six starts trail only Jameis Winston (20) and are tied with Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen. That means snag the Dallas Cowboys, who should be available in most leagues due to their bye week last week rather than poor performance.
"Dem Boyz" open up as 7.5-point favorites on the road, so the game should be well in hand, and "Danny Dimes" should be taking to the air in the second half. Jones ranks second in the league (despite not starting two games) with 17 interceptable passes, as charted by PlayerProfiler. The New York Giants as a team rank last in the league with 21.6% of their offensive possessions ending in a turnover and just 25.0% ending in a score, which is fourth-worst. The Giants are league-average with 7.0% of drop backs resulting in a sack for the opposing team.
Dallas has been uninspiring in terms of generating sacks or turnovers and equally uninspiring at limiting opposing scoring. However, they are coming off of their bye week and this contest is against a divisional rival, so just fire up narrative street. Even without an elite defense, when the opposing team gives the ball away like Booger McFarland gives out clichés, even a middling defense is set up to smash. Fire up the Cowboys with confidence this week.
ESPN Ownership: 22.9%
Fantasy football is allowed to be easy sometimes -- even as a 2.5-point underdog, the Denver Broncos are playing at home against the league leader in interceptions (that being Baker Mayfield with 12 of them). It sounds obvious and easy because it is, so just grab the Broncos for $1 of FAAB and let everyone else fight over Dallas and Cleveland.
The Broncos aren't doing a ton in terms of racking up sacks and turnovers, but they are limiting opposing offenses enough to have a decent day without a barrage of either. The Broncos have not yet had their bye week but still rank ninth-best in points allowed and seventh-best in yards allowed.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns rank just 24th in scoring percentage (just under 30%) on their offensive drives and 2nd-worst with a massive 18.8% of drives ending in a turnover. Did I mention that Mayfield takes a lot of sacks? The Browns are allowing a sack on 8.3% of their passing plays, good for 9th-worst in the league. In a game with a low 40-point over/under, the Broncos should turn in a nice fantasy outing.
ESPN Ownership: 17.1%
Just turn the tables if you don't want Denver and grab their opponent, the Browns, who have a better defense in many regards and will be facing off against a Brandon Allen-led Broncos offense that parted ways with Emmanuel Sanders last week. The Browns are favored in the game, despite playing on the road, thanks in large part to the underwhelming offense boasted by the Broncos, and the game's aforementioned 40-point over/under is a great sign for fantasy defenses.
The Browns are about as average as possible in terms of yards and points allowed, including on a rate basis, with 35.3% of opponents' possessions ending in a score (18th-highest). Unfortunately, they are not generating turnovers at a high rate -- just 9.4% of opponents' drives end in a turnover, which is 24th-best in the league. The big upside with the Browns is that they currently rank fifth-best in the NFL with a sack on 8.9% of opposing passing plays. Combine that with the Broncos' protection struggles, and you get a lot of defenders in the pocket.
The Broncos have allowed a ton of pressure this season, with Joe Flacco getting sacked on 9.3% of his dropbacks, which is good for the fifth-highest rate in the league. The Broncos are scoring on just 28.9% of their offensive possessions (eighth-worst) and turning the ball over on 10.0% of their drives. Denver ranks above average in passing attempts, which is a good sign for providing opposing defenses opportunities for sacks and turnovers.
This game sets up nicely for the Browns to generate a lot of quarterback pressure and sacks on a quarterback who was traded for a kicker in 2015 and has never played an NFL snap. Both defenses are appealing in this slugfest.
If you're really desperate, just grab the New York Jets (90% availability on ESPN) and let them beat up on the Miami Dolphins, who might not actually have any offensive players left by the time the game kicks off.