3 Fantasy Football Defensive Streaming Options for Week 12
Week 11 was a strong week for defensive streaming -- the top option in Washington had a middling day, but the other two suggestions here both smashed (those being the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders). We are now at the point in the season where some owners will begin looking ahead. While I don't endorse that strategy except in leagues with very deep benches (in other words, no running backs or wide receivers of interest are available). It's almost always a better idea to add a handcuff running back at this point in the season or even an upside wide receiver. However, to appease those defense hoarders out there, we'll look ahead anyway.
Time to look ahead to Week 12 (and beyond) for streaming defenses. All recommendations are available in over two-thirds of ESPN fantasy leagues. This is a good week for streaming defenses with plenty of options available, and perhaps even the solid Green Bay Packers defense on waivers thanks to the bye week.
ESPN Ownership: 29.0%
The Cleveland Browns are coming off a win over a division rival and now get to face the Miami Dolphins at home. They are favored by 11 points as a result. The Dolphins have looked much improved of late but should still provide for their opposing fantasy defense in Week 12.
The Browns have been solid on defense in some regards and mediocre in others as noted in some prior editions of this column, but it's far from all bad. They are surrendering points on just over 30% of their defensive drives, which is the seventh-best rate in the NFL, and they basically slot in as a middle-of-the-pack unit with just under 11% of their defensive drives ending with a takeaway. The Browns have excelled in getting to the opposing quarterback this season with a sack on 8.3% of opponents' dropbacks, the sixth-best rate in the league. They may struggle without Myles Garrett, who has 10.0 sacks on the year, but the matchup is plum enough that they should be able to get the job done anyway.
The good news for the Browns is that Miami still ranks 31st in the NFL in the percentage of their drives that result in a score (21.2%), and the line implies them for a team total of just 16.75 points, which is unsurprisingly low. The Dolphins are also turning the ball over on a massive 16.8% of their offensive possessions, ranking fourth-highest in the league. Even better, despite Ryan Fitzpatrick being quietly mobile, the Dolphins are allowing a sack on over 10% of his dropbacks, the third-highest rate in the league. It should be easy money for the Browns to have a solid fantasy day this week.
ESPN Ownership: 7.6%
The Detroit Lions are just 3.5-point favorites on the road at Washington in Week 12 without their starting quarterback, Matthew Stafford, but that doesn't mean the defense can't create some chaos. Washington's offensive line struggled mightily (or perhaps just didn't care) when trying to protect rookie signal-caller Dwayne Haskins.
It doesn't all look rosy on the surface, as Detroit is getting gashed this season to the tune of over 400 yards per game, the second-worst rate in the league of yards allowed. The Lions also allow over 27 points per game through 10 contests in 2019. Their scoring rate allowed is a bit better, but only a bit, and they also are below average in terms of generating takeaways. That also hold true of generating quarterback pressure and sacks.
Essentially, there is not much to like in terms of racking up fantasy points. Except, of course, the matchup.
Washington is scoring at the third-worst rate in the league, at just 23.4% of their drives, which bodes well for the Lions allowing fewer points than their norm. Washington is also turning the ball over on 14% of their drives, tied for the 11th-highest rate in the league, which could continue to rise with Haskins off to an underwhelming start to his career. Almost 10% of Washington's pass plays end in a sack, and Haskins was notably not mobile at all during his college career. Even though the Lions' D is unappealing, Washington is such a juicy matchup that this defense still has a solid ceiling, and the general incompetence of Washington's offense should allow for a nice floor.
ESPN Ownership: 1.9%
Don't look now, but the Atlanta Falcons have been on a defensive rampage lately, and they are 4.0-point favorites against their division foe, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the ever-turnover-prone Jameis Winston, who leads the NFL in interceptions this season. The Falcons managed four of those in their last game, for the record. I actually prefer the Falcons to the Lions this week, personally, but it's close.
The Falcons have been a bad defense in most regards for the bulk of the season, but after some coaching changes on the defensive side of the ball, things are looking much, much better since their bye week. Through two games against the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers, the Falcons have allowed just a combined 12 points and racked up an enormous 11 sacks. They also picked off Kyle Allen four times last week (no turnovers against the Saints). This is a perfect week to fade the season-long stats and look at the recent performance.
That, and did I mention that Jameis Winston leads the league in interceptions?
The Green Bay Packers are owned in just 20.2% of ESPN leagues coming off of their bye week and get to play the New York Giants in Week 13, followed by Washington in Week 14. They also get the implosion-prone Chicago Bears in Week 15, which isn't bad, either.
The aforementioned Lions get matchups with the Buccaneers and Denver Broncos in Week 15 and Week 16, respectively. This is only relevant to teams who are sitting very pretty (preferably with a first-round playoff bye).
For the dumpster-divers out there, it's worth noting that the Giants have a very favorable playoff stretch with the Miami Dolphins in Week 15 and Washington in Week 16. Even worse, the Dolphins may cause owners to tempt fate as their Week 14 through Week 16 schedule goes as follows: Jets, Giants, and in the fantasy championship... the Cincinnati Bengals. Hey, if you're in a deep league, there are worse options.