Fantasy Football Defensive Streaming: Week 8 Edition
If you listened to Jordan Hoover last week, you did pretty well for yourself. The Bills finished the week tied as the fifth-highest scoring defense after forcing two turnovers and recording five sacks against the Vikings. The Browns also turned out to be a strong streaming option, terrorizing Blake Bortles with three interceptions and two sacks. And, although they weren't a spectacular play, the Bears were also a viable streaming option after sacking Ryan Tannehill four times.
With that said, although none of the streaming options we recommended last week were poor plays, none of them were truly elite either. The top four defensive plays of Week 7 - and the Dolphins who were tied with the Bills at fifth - were all available in more than 50% of all Yahoo and ESPN leagues. That's an absolute dream week for us streamers.
This week, there's a bit of a trend in my recommendations: target rookie quarterbacks.
Owned - ESPN: 27.1%, Yahoo: 60% Week 8 numberFire Rank: 8th
While many fans and analysts were singing Derek Carr's praises after he threw for 282 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Chargers in Week 6, other than that week, Carr and the Raiders have continually been a target for defensive streamers. The Raiders' quarterback has only eclipsed 200 passing yards twice, has only thrown more than two touchdowns once (throwing one or fewer in four of six starts) and has only rushed for more than 10 yards once. Carr has also yet to win a game in his NFL career.
The other factor that makes this matchup such an exciting one for fantasy owners is that the game will be played in Cleveland. In his two starts on the road, Carr is averaging only 162.5 yards per game despite throwing the ball 66 times. He has only thrown two touchdowns, was intercepted once and has taken his only four sacks of the season on the road.
While Carr hasn't been great, he's far from the only problem with Oakland's offense. Despite playing one less game than most teams due to their Week 5 bye, the Raiders have already turned the ball over 10 times, which is good for the 15th in the league. Oakland's 282 yards per game is the fewest in the NFL, and their 15.3 points per game is the second fewest. The Raiders also rank dead last in rushing yards per game at 69.3, 13.1 less than Detroit who has rushed for the second least, and fourth worst in the league in in overall Adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP).
The Browns have not been a great fantasy defense this season, but they matchup incredibly well with the Raiders. Cleveland's biggest problem on defense this year has been stopping the run - according to our metrics, the Browns rank 29th against it so far this season. The five yards per carry they are allowing to opposing rushers ranks second to last in the league, and the seven rushing touchdowns they have allowed is the fourth most in the league, with two of the teams who have allowed more yet to have their bye weeks.
Although they don't have a strong run defense, the Browns have actually been decent against the pass. Cleveland ranks 16th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP at 22.5 and they have already forced seven interceptions in just six games.
The good news for Cleveland is that Oakland is the worst rushing team in the league, which should help mask their shortcomings in that department. The Browns are seven-point favorites at home in a game Vegas expects to be low scoring (43 over/under). Don't hesitate to plug them into your lineup.
Owned - ESPN: 12.6%, Yahoo: 17% Week 8 numberFire Rank: 4th
As a rule of thumb, I generally don't stream defenses who are on the road. But for any team facing the Jaguars, I'm willing to make an exception.
Jacksonville had allowed opposing defenses to score double-digit fantasy points every week heading into last week. They were finally able to break that streak - the Browns only scored eight fantasy points last week - but they remain a weekly target for fantasy owners. The Jaguars' rank dead last in Adjusted NEP by a mile at -66.05. Tampa Bay ranks second worst at -16.22. The gap between the Buccaneers and Jaguars is actually bigger than the gap between Tampa and the Seahawks, who rank 10th overall in Adjusted NEP.
The Jaguars have also struggled mightily to protect the football and their quarterbacks this season. Jacksonville is tied for the league lead in turnovers at 15, and have allowed a league-high 29 sacks this season. That's just flat-out awful.
The Dolphins' defense comes into this week red hot. Last week, they posted a top-five fantasy defensive performance on the back of three sacks and three turnovers, while holding the high-powered Bears' offense to just 14 points last week. That marked Miami's fourth double-digit defensive scoring week in just six games this season.
Miami is a 5.5-point favorite in a game with an over/under of just 43.5. The Fins have number-one overall fantasy defense this week. If they're available in your league, run to the waiver wire and put in your claim right now.
Owned - ESPN: 8.2%, Yahoo: 21% Week 8 numberFire Rank: 9th
When Kirk Cousins took over as the starting quarterback for the Redskins, the move was met with wild approval. Many thought Cousins would outshine Robert Griffin III and ultimately keep the starting gig when Griffin returned from his ankle injury.
Unfortunately for Cousins, things didn't work out the way he planned. The Redskins' quarterback threw nine interceptions in just five starts and was benched for Washington's third-stringer Colt McCoy, who promptly led the Skins to a comeback victory.
Don't let McCoy's Week 7 performance fool you - he's simply not a very good quarterback. In 21 career starts, McCoy has only eclipsed 300 yards once and has never thrown for more than two touchdowns. In fact, McCoy has more career starts in which he has thrown zero touchdowns (six) than he has where he threw two touchdowns (five). The former Texas Longhorn has thrown just 22 career touchdowns and has amassed 20 career interceptions. He also has an abysmal career passer rating of 76.1.
While many people (myself included) expected the Cowboys to be historically bad on the defensive side of the ball this season, they have actually been very effective all season long. Dallas has the 11th best defense in the league according to our metrics and have held their opponents to less than 24 points each of the past four games.
Although McCoy isn't a rookie like the aforementioned Carr and Bortles, he's just as bad. The Cowboys are 10-point favorites in what is expected to be a blowout win at home, and should have a very high floor against the awful McCoy.
Kansas City Chiefs (vs. St. Louis Rams), New York Jets (vs. Buffalo Bills)