3 Fantasy Football Defensive Streaming Options for Week 14
Last week was a fine week for defensive streamers -- the top recommendation in the Green Bay Packers had a big day and the New York Jets and Detroit Lions defenses didn't kill owners for those who were in desperate situations. We will continue to look ahead for playoff stashes as we have been the last few weeks. If you have a Week 14 bye and haven't already looked for a Week 15 defense, now is the time. If your league's playoffs start in Week 15, the same applies -- look ahead now and don't get caught with your pants down.
All recommendations are available in over two-thirds of ESPN fantasy leagues. The Indianapolis Colts and Dallas Cowboys are both in good spots against turnover-prone quarterbacks (Jameis Winston and Mitchell Trubisky, respectively) and should be considered if available. There will be no third option this week as the fantasy playoffs are all-or-nothing, and now is not the time to be dumpster diving or getting cute with lineups. If no seemingly viable options are available, take to Twitter where I will do my best to assist.
ESPN Ownership: 24.0%
Let's go right back to it, because this week the Green Bay Packers will get to face off with Washington. Even though Dwayne Haskins and company are on a "hot streak," this still sets up as a favorable matchup for the Packers.
The Packers are giving up yards and points at an above-average (in a bad way) rate relative to other teams in the NFL. For fantasy purposes, that's less important than it is for real football, as sacks and turnovers are the primary drivers of defensive fantasy production. The Packers rank sixth-best in the NFL this season with a turnover on 14.6% of their defensive drives. They also rank middle of the pack in terms of generating quarterback pressure, with 21.3% of opponents' drop backs resulting in pressure. That is resulting in a sack on 6.5% of drop backs, which is about average.
The big appeal of using the Packers is 1) if you streamed them last week, you don't need to submit a FAAB bid or waiver claim and 2) the matchup with Washington is favorable, even in light of their recent, modest improvements. Washington is still scoring at the fourth-lowest rate on the season, with just over a quarter of their drives resulting in points and almost 13% ending in a turnover, which is marginally above average. Washington is allowing a sack on a whopping 10.3% of their passing plays, which is the third-most in the league, but rookie Dwayne Haskins is being taken down on 14.2% of his drop backs, which is higher than any team's rate in the league.
Expect the Packers to get home and cause some chaos this week.
ESPN Ownership: 10.2%
While the Atlanta Falcons are not exactly an imposing defense, they are a sneaky-good option for Week 14, and they should be a lot cheaper to get than the Packers will be. Even though Christian McCaffrey is basically a god, the Carolina Panthers are a strong matchup for opposing defenses, and that puts the Dirty Birds in a nice spot this week.
It's not a pretty picture for the Falcons -- they are besting only the Miami Dolphins in sacks with 4.3% of opposing drop backs resulting in one. They are slightly under-performing their pressure rate, so that might tick up a bit, but it's still not great. The Falcons are also worst in the league at generating turnovers, and they are allowing opponents to score at the highest rate, both as a percentage of possessions.
Basically, it's an ugly and risky move to use Atlanta's defense, but the Panthers are a solid matchup, so it's viable in leagues with few options available.
The Panthers are scoring at a rate just below the league average and are turning the ball over at the eighth-highest rate in the league, as a percentage of drives. They are also top five (in a bad way) with 9.0% of their passing plays resulting in a sack. The Panthers are also bottom-10 in the NFL with just over 28 yards gained per possession. While they have been able to sustain great fantasy value for McCaffrey and even D.J. Moore, the overall state of the offense is pretty poor, and the Falcons could take advantage.
It's worth noting that the Falcons' defense has been notably less abysmal since making some coaching changes on the defensive side of the ball, including a five-sack, four-interception game against the Panthers in Week 11.
If you picked up the Green Bay Packers last week or claim them this week, hold onto them for Week 15 for a matchup with the Chicago Bears and the erratic Mitchell Trubisky. The Kansas City Chiefs are also now widely available and are sitting pretty with matchups against the Denver Broncos and the Chicago Bears in Weeks 15 and 16, respectively. The Chiefs are one of the top stash options for teams with a Week 14 bye.
The unexciting Detroit Lions get plus-matchups with the Tampa Bay 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). The Lions are also not a strong defense in many regards, so this is only for those with limited other options.
For the dumpster divers out there, it's worth noting that the New York Giants have a very favorable playoff stretch with the Miami Dolphins in Week 15 and Washington in Week 16. Even worse, the Miami Dolphins may cause owners to tempt fate as their Week 14 through Week 16 schedule goes as follows: New York Jets, New York Giants, Cincinnati Bengals. This paragraph applies only to those in deep leagues or those with defense hoarders in their league.