3 Fantasy Football Defensive Streaming Options for Week 16
If you're reading this, congratulations on the fact that you are almost surely in the fantasy championship. I hope you used last week's article to look ahead and plan for Week 16. If not, keep reading. The same applies if your fantasy championship is for some barbaric reason still in Week 17, but we'll cover it nonetheless.
All recommendations are available in over two-thirds of ESPN fantasy leagues. The Indianapolis Colts are owned in just over one-third of ESPN leagues, but have a relatively favorable matchup against the Carolina Panthers, who will be giving Will Grier his first NFL start. If no seemingly viable options are available, take to Twitter, where I will do my best to assist.
ESPN Ownership: 18.8%
The Denver Broncos have not been the fearsome defense of years past, but they have still been solid in 2019, and better against the pass than against the run, which is good news for fantasy purposes. The Broncos have a home game in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions and unimpressive rookie David Blough.
The Broncos got off to a slow start to 2019, with no sacks or turnovers in their first three games, but since their Week 10 bye, the Broncos have nine turnovers in five games and an average of three sacks per contest. The Broncos have just one defensive touchdown on the season, but owners should expect a few sacks and a turnover or two from a suspect Lions offense. Opponents are scoring just 1.81 points per drive against Denver this season, 10th-best in the league.
On the Lions' side of things, they have not been strong offensively since Blough took over the offense, with just three passing touchdowns and five interceptions thrown in three games. Blough has taken nine sacks in those three contests and fumbled once, though he recovered it. Blough is not particularly mobile, with just 20 rushing yards in the three games he has played thus far, so escaping pressure won't be a regularity for Blough. The Lions will likely struggle to score points, too, since they are implied for just 15.75 points according to the Vegas line.
ESPN Ownership: 15.1%
Don't look now, but Washington is one of the better low-owned defenses in a vacuum, and they get the pleasure of a matchup with the New York Giants at home in Week 16. Washington has quietly taken care of business defensively in their good matchups this season, so this is a prime spot for them to deliver a strong fantasy line.
Since their Week 10 bye, Washington has accumulated an impressive 10 turnovers and 21 sacks, which are very solid numbers for five games. On the season, Washington has allowed points at a high rate, but has also turned over opponents on 13.3% of their defensive drives, a top-ten rate in the NFL. Washington is currently tied for third-best in the NFL with 27% of opposing dropbacks generating pressure on the quarterback. The team they are tied with is the San Francisco 49ers, which seems nearly impossible to believe. As a result, Washington is quietly top-five in the NFL in sack rate, with 8.3% of opposing dropbacks resulting in a sack (just ahead of the New England Patriots).
On top of being a surprisingly good defense, Washington's matchup with the Giants is enticing. The Giants are a bottom-three scoring team as a percentage of their offensive possessions, while leading the NFL in turnover rate, with 19.5% of their drives ending in a turnover. While the Giants as a team are allowing sacks at an average rate, rookie Daniel Jones is being sacked at a huge 8.2% rate. He's back at practice as of the start of the week, so while Washington is a strong streamer regardless, it's even better if Jones is the starter. Washington should feast either way.
ESPN Ownership: 18.0%
The Houston Texans are a pretty uninspiring defense this season, but should be usable in Week 16 for the fantasy championship as a deep option for those in a tight spot. Despite being on the road, the matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is very enticing, thanks not only to the absence of a strong run game and the turnover machine named Jameis Winston, but also this week thanks to the absence of both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who will be sidelined with injuries.
The Texans defense is bad in most ways one can slice it, giving up yards and points per drive well above the average rates in the league, struggling to generate sacks and pressure (both bottom five rates), and surrendering raw yards and points. However, the Texans are at least above average at generating turnovers, with 11.6% of their defensive drives ending in a takeaway. Even with a porous defense and little in the way of inspirational performance, the matchup is tantalizing enough to use the Texans in a pinch.
The Buccaneers are top-ten in scoring rate, but top-three in turnover rate on their offensive possessions, and they also allow sacks at an above-average rate. Jameis Winston is, of course, close to a total meltdown for 5 turnovers in any given week, and the coaching staff has shown no intention of moving away from Winston, even on his worst days in 2019. Expect the Texans defense to have one of their best outings of the season against an extremely depleted Buccaneers offense that was fantasy-friendly for opposing defenses anyway.
For those still playing in Week 17, other than options already mentioned, the Atlanta Falcons will face off with the likely-still-depleted Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense. If the Dallas Cowboys or the Green Bay Packers are dropped in Week 16 based on a tougher matchup, scoop them up for favorable Week 17 divisional clashes with Washington and the Detroit Lions, respectively.