3 Fantasy Football Defensive Streamer Options for Week 6

We’re already a third of the way through the regular season for most fantasy leagues. If memory serves, we usually know which teams are good and which aren’t by this time in the year – but 2022 has been weird.

Twenty of the league’s 32 teams have two or three wins through five games, suggesting a striking level of parity. In addition to more potential evenness in team strength, injuries have ravaged a lot of starting lineups throughout the NFL, leading to surprise upsets and impossibly unpredictable outcomes for fantasy managers. This season is proof that you can’t win your league in the draft; you can only avoid losing it.

When the NFL gets unpredictable, it becomes crucial to know how to navigate the waiver wire and master the art of the stream. Which defenses under 40% rostership should you look to stream in Week 6?

Last Week

Minnesota D/ST vs. CHI: 4 points, t-15th
Miami D/ST at NYJ: -2 points, 32nd
Jacksonville D/ST vs. HOU: 3 points, t-12th

This week ended up rough due to weird outcomes in spite of good processes. Minnesota held the Chicago offense to just 10 points at halftime. That said, no turnovers forced and no sacks until late allowed Chicago to storm back in for another 12 points in the second half as they kept their opposition from grinding them down.

Miami lost backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a concussion early in the game, and third-stringer Skylar Thompson couldn’t muster enough to keep the favored Dolphins ahead. The expected script flipped entirely, allowing the Jets to drop a 40-burger on what should’ve been a solid defensive play.

Our top play of Week 5 was a Jacksonville defense that remains a clear top option against a Houston offense that is still clearly overmatched in the professional ranks. If not for a lucky late-game Texans plunge into the end zone, the Jaguars would’ve given up 10 points or fewer in three of their five contests, and this would’ve been an even better result.

Washington Commanders

at Chicago Bears
Spread: CHI -1.5
Total: 38.5
Roster Percentage: 3%

You could really go either way with this matchup depending on if you are looking for a floor play or a ceiling option.

The Chicago D/ST has some potential upside against a Washington Commanders offense prone to turnovers and sacks, but the Commies can also move the ball well through the air when they need to. Instead, I’m going with the floor play of the Washington D/ST against quarterback Justin Fields and his Chicago Bears.

The Commanders don’t have a particularly fearsome defense when it comes to forcing turnovers. In five games this year, they have one takeaway that came back in Week 1.

In spite of that, they have averaged just under three sacks per game thanks to the fourth-best pressure rate in the league. Where they struggle is an unfortunate sixth-worst adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A), which has resulted in allowing 25.2 points on average to opposing offenses.

This might sound like Washington is actually the riskier play given their potential to allow competent passing offenses to beat them. To that, I simply submit the Chicago passing attack as evidence.

Among the 35 quarterbacks to drop back 50 or more times this year, Chicago’s Fields allows the most pressures per drop back and has the highest turnover-worthy play rate (per PFF). His big-time throw rate is also just the ninth-highest despite a sizable 9.6-yard average depth of target (aDOT; eighth-highest).

Our model projects the Washington D/ST for 8.3 fantasy points, the fifth-most among defensive streamer options in Week 6. Being road underdogs isn’t ideal for our process, but the rock-bottom total of 38.5 is absolutely intriguing enough with their peripherals to justify a stream here.

Cincinnati Bengals

at New Orleans Saints
Spread: CIN -1.5
Total: 43.5
Roster Percentage: 28%

This is a tough slate for defensive matchups across the board. Inevitably, something fluky will happen, and some defense will rise to the top of the pile that we didn’t expect.

What I’m aiming to do for this week, though, is to help you find defenses with a high percentage chance of being startable and a low chance of flopping. That means we also shun the process with my second recommendation, a road favorite in a middling scoring environment.

That’s right, let’s get weird and take a look at the Cincinnati D/ST.

Cincinnati is surprisingly not a horrendous unit after they got gashed up and down the gridiron last season via the pass. In 2022, they have a middling pressure rate and have largely gotten unlucky on sacks (third-worst sack conversion rate). Despite not being able to get home with the pass rush, they still allow the eighth-least ANY/A and have forced eight takeaways in five games.

Eventually, once edge rushers Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard pick up speed, these Bengals should be even better than they currently are.

In addition, the New Orleans Saints present a soft landing for a fantasy defense, allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to the position this year.

Quarterback play has been rough for the Saints this year, with starter Jameis Winston inaccurate and injured and Andy Dalton uninspiring at best. Both are in the top six of qualifying quarterbacks by turnover-worthy play rate, so there is a sneaky ceiling for Cincinnati no matter which passer gets out there this week.

Add in that running back Alvin Kamara and wide receiver Michael Thomas have been banged-up too, and the Bengals should be one of the steadier options in a choppy D/ST sea.

Our model projects the Cincinnati D/ST for 7.9 fantasy points, the seventh-highest fantasy projection of the week. The Bengals are more than a field goal favorite on the road, and the total isn’t terrifying considering the landscape of this week’s matchups.

Cleveland Browns

vs. New England Patriots
Spread: CLE -3
Total: 42.5
Roster Percentage: 15%

I feel the least good about this recommendation, but there is a chance the Cleveland Browns’ defense looks better at the end of this week than at the beginning.

Their opponent – the New England Patriots – did just pitch a shutout in Week 5, but that was against a horrifically bad defense and a devastatingly injured offense. The Browns are hoping to get their edge rushers back and healthy here, and they have added linebacker Deion Jones in a trade. Meanwhile, the Pats are down the services of one of their top-notch backfield duo, Damien Harris.

Cleveland isn’t an impressive defense this year, and there’s no hiding that;. In all three of the categories that I track for fantasy defenses (pressure rate, sack conversion rate, and ANY/A), they rank 20th or worse.

Also, New England quarterback Mac Jones (when healthy) is one of the worst matchups for a fantasy defense due to a decent big-time throw rate and a minuscule allowed pressure rate. That said, his turnover-worthy play rate is top-three among qualifying quarterbacks, and there’s a non-zero chance that backup Bailey Zappe -- he of the 0.0% big-time throw rate -- still gets the start this week.

Our model projects the Cleveland D/ST for 7.3 fantasy points this week, 11th in our defense rankings. They're home favorites in a stadium that often has extreme weather could work in our favor, but I’d feel a lot better about this play if Zappe is confirmed as the starter, Cleveland gets Myles Garrett back healthy this week, and/or you’re in a deeper format.