3 Fantasy Football Defensive Streamer Options for Week 5
I’m not a “dog person,” but in my line of work one does come across a lot of canine companions. It always brightens my day when a dog I know is sitting at the end of the driveway, and they shove their face into my hand for a pet. They are all, in fact, good dogs.
The only thing is that any dog might one day bite you, no matter how many days in a row you’ve itched their face for them. The dog might’ve had a bad morning, or maybe its hearing starts going and they don’t see you approach. Perhaps they’ve gotten a little senile and forgot that you’re the friendly person who brings them a treat, instead confusing you for a bad person who takes things and hurts their humans.
Much like even the best of dogs, a solid defense in a compelling matchup can still bite you. The inherent risk of randomness is one of the appeals of playing fantasy football -- and streaming defense in particular. It demands you always be vigilant to look for the best possible situations and assume nothing.
We hope to reduce that randomness and keep our fantasy lineups safe, however. Which defenses under 40% rostership should you look to stream in Week 5?
New York Giants D/ST vs. CHI: 16 points, 2nd
Detroit D/ST vs. SEA: -2 points, 32nd
Indianapolis D/ST vs. TEN: 3 points, t-24th
For the second straight week, we identified a top-two defense. This week it was the New York Giants in the absolute best matchup for streamers in the league: the Chicago Bears. Chicago still cannot get anything going on offense, and the G-Men forced them into six sacks and three takeaways.
On the other side of the coin, our riskier gambles did not pay off. The Detroit Lions are atrocious and couldn’t stop their way out of a paper bag, while the Indianapolis Colts just aren’t the same without defensive signal-caller Shaquille Leonard and an offense perpetually stuck in neutral.
vs. Chicago Bears
Spread: MIN -7
Roster Percentage: 42%
The Minnesota Vikings were lined up for an incredible game last week before a few key drives by their opponents led to a shootout atmosphere. Still, they capitalized on a bad offense and earned fantasy managers 6 points on two sacks and two forced fumbles.
This unit is still one of the worst in the league in terms of getting pressure (seventh-lowest pressure rate), but they have made the most of their pass-rush (12th-most sacks per pressure; sack conversion rate) and have buckled down the secondary somewhat (22nd by team adjusted net passing yards per attempt; ANY/A). I will readily admit that the bubble could burst on the Minnesota defense at any point, especially with top playmakers Harrison Smith, Eric Kendricks, and Patrick Peterson all at the waning points of their careers.
Still, it’s hard to ignore just how bad the Chicago offense has been. Among 31 quarterbacks to drop back at least 100 times in 2022, Justin Fields is by far the tastiest matchup on paper thanks to a 5.8% turnover-worthy play rate (1st; per PFF) and 41.0% allowed pressure rate (also tops). The Bears finally got a few things going in Week 4, but it’s still too early to say that they will be able to sustain any success considering their bleak track record through almost a quarter of the season.
Our model projects the Minnesota D/ST for 9.6 fantasy points, the most among D/STs in Week 5. As home favorites by a touchdown, they have one of the highest floors and best processes surrounding them. They’re easily the top streamer if still available in your league.
at New York Jets
Spread: MIA -3.5
Roster Percentage: 22%
Things have not all been perfect for the Miami Dolphins of late, but the defense remains a compelling unit heading into a Week 5 divisional tilt. Despite going on the road this week, Miami is the favorite by more than a field goal and is fairly widely available in fantasy leagues.
Sure, they rank second-worst by pressure rate among defenses, and -- yeah, of course -- they are allowing the third-most ANY/A. However, like the Vikings, Miami is being opportunistic with their sacks and is also a top-12 unit in that category right now. Do I love recommending them? No.
What I do love is the return of quarterback Zach Wilson to the starting lineup for the Dolphins’ Week 5 opponent: the New York Jets. Wilson came back from injury this past week and promptly tossed a pair of interceptions despite leading the Jets to a comeback victory. We don’t care about the real-life W; we want those turnover points. If Wilson qualified among quarterbacks right now, his 9.3% turnover-worthy play rate would almost double Fields’, and his 35.0% allowed pressure rate would be third-highest.
Our model projects the Miami D/ST for 8.6 points, the fifth-highest fantasy projection of the week. The Dolphins are a decent favorite on neutral ground, and capable quarterback Teddy Bridgewater should ensure they stay in a positive game script.
vs. Houston Texans
Spread: JAX -7
Roster Percentage: 16%
Unironically, the Jacksonville Jaguars are incredibly fun to watch in 2022 after their debacle of a down year last season. Despite their struggles, the Jags have made very few moves on defense over the offseason -- because they didn’t need to.
Coming into the year, everyone expected Jacksonville to remain #DownBad, but they are currently a top-tier defensive unit. Fourth-highest in pressure rate and sixth-highest in ANY/A, they even have a higher ceiling than they’ve shown thanks to a sack conversion rate currently ranked sixth-worst. If they can just get more of their pressures to land on the quarterback, they could look even more dangerous than they currently do.
This week they face the vulnerable Houston Texans, who are one of the best matchups for fantasy defenses. Quarterback Davis Mills presents just middle-of-the-road peripherals, but this Houston team is full of fresh faces and role players who haven’t quite gelled yet -- and may not all season. Fumbles and offensive ineffectiveness have plagued the Texans to-date, and that should continue in Week 5.
Our model projects the Jacksonville D/ST for 7.8 fantasy points this week, seventh-best in our rankings for defenses. They are touchdown favorites at home and should be in control of the game, forcing Houston to take bad chances to keep up.