​3 Fantasy Football Defensive Streamer Options for Week 9

Minnesota's defense is trending in the right direction and has a promising matchup against Washington this week. Which other defensive units should we consider rostering?

Typically, with my intros, I like to tell a little anecdote, make a joke, or give an analogy that I can then relate to fantasy sports and finding a defensive streamer option. This week, though, I’m flipping the script around and relating fantasy to real life.

That’s because Election Day in the United States is coming soon and -- much like the waiver wire -- your ballot is a critical part of determining the trajectory of the next period of time. In this case, not just the next week but the next year or two or four or six, depending on the offices you’re voting for.

It’s so much more important that you take the time to exercise your political voice than reading another 15 articles about which defense will get you one more point. The replacement-level value for not getting to shape your communities’ futures is below the floor, unlike most waiver wire D/STs (except for the Detroit Lions; we don’t trust them).

Wherever you are, there is something to vote for next week, and many states allow you to take time off from work to cast your ballot, as well (check local laws to make sure). Most states have information about your personalized ballot and how to find your polling place on the Secretary of State’s website (this is Minnesota’s, so you know what to look for in your state). All of those resources can help you make a difference simply by speaking up.

And while you wait in line, or after you’ve attained your red circle “I Voted” badge of honor, I’ll be here with you, ready to discuss another important (but significantly less so) question: which defenses under 40% rostership should you look to stream in Week 9?

Last Week

Indianapolis D/ST vs. WAS: 4 points, t-19th
Jacksonville D/ST vs. DEN: 5 points, t-14th
Seattle D/ST vs. NYG: 14 points, t-1st

This was a fine week for results. If you went with either of our safer recommendations, you got a very reasonable (if not totally start-worthy versus the field) defensive unit in the Indianapolis Colts or the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Colts forced two sacks and an interception in a low-scoring duel, while Jacksonville did about the same but picked up an extra sack.

The real victor from last week’s column was the Seattle Seahawks, who allowed just 13 points against a threadbare New York Giants. Their pass rush added to the fantasy joy by turning in five sacks and two fumble recoveries -- a ceiling I didn’t know would exist against such a run-heavy offense. Opportunism trumps talent in defensive units; work those matchups.

Minnesota Vikings

at Washington Commanders
Spread: MIN -3.5
Total: 43.5
Roster Percentage: 22%

There’s something going on with the Minnesota Vikings defense, and it’s a series of signals that this unit is turning the corner in a big way for fantasy viability.

It’s impossible to depend on turnovers in any given matchup, but it is notable that the Vikes have forced opponents into 2.3 giveaways per game over their last four games. A more stable signal for a defense comes in the form of pressure and sacks, and Minnesota has avalanched opposing passers, dropping them for a loss 3.5 times a game over the same span.

Based on their peripherals, the Purple People Eaters should regress in these categories somewhat. They are ninth-highest in pressure-to-sack conversion rate, but bottom-12 in pressure rate. In addition, the Vikings are allowing bottom-six in adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A), which helps to signify a daunting secondary. Still, we’ll take opportunistic defenses in good matchups, and that’s what we have this week.

With backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke in the starting lineup the past two weeks, the Washington Commanders have averaged 20.0 points, 1.5 sacks allowed, and 1.0 giveaway, achieving over 350 total offensive yards both times. Heinicke himself has actually shown marked improvement from his previous performances in the NFL, and currently has the third-lowest allowed pressure rate and lowest turnover-worthy play rate (per PFF) among 41 passers to drop back 50 or more times in 2022.

Why is this a reasonable matchup then? Heinicke’s big-time throw rate is a meager 13th-worst among these players. He’s controlling the ball through short and safe throws, meaning that if the Vikings get out to a solid lead -- as they’re expected to -- Heinicke won’t likely be able to get his team back into the game well.

With the third-least effective rushing attack by numberFire’s Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP), either Minnesota will have a very high floor or an even higher ceiling if Washington throws caution to the wind in a comeback attempt.

Our model projects the Minnesota D/ST for 7.9 fantasy points, the seventh-most among defensive streamer options in Week 9.

Kansas City

vs. Tennessee Titans
Spread: KC -12.5
Total: 46.5
Roster Percentage: 31%

This recommendation checks basically every box of the streaming process. Kansas City at home? Check. Big-time favorites? Check. Moderate-to-low projected total points? Check indeed.

In addition, the KC defense itself is a fairly strong unit to bank on. So far this season, they rank 10th-best in pressure rate and 12th-best in ANY/A, and they are one of just nine defensive units forcing offenses to throw shorter than 7.0 yards on average to combat them. This game should be a walk in the park, and Kansas City will have all the clock in the world to wait for their opponents to try to throw and make a mistake.

Whichever passer gets the start for the Tennessee Titans here is in trouble. Ryan Tannehill will likely lead the way if healthy, but he has absorbed the fourth-highest pressure rate among qualifying passers through Week 8. With that much heat on him and KC able to add more than the average defense, some sacks are bound to break through in Week 9.

If rookie Malik Willis sees the field again in this game, KC streamers should be salivating. If he qualified, Willis would have the worst big-time throw rate and highest allowed pressure rate, and his turnover-worthy play rate would be the fifth-highest.

Our model projects the Kansas City D/ST for 8.2 fantasy points, the sixth-highest fantasy projection of the week. Should Willis be confirmed to start against them in Week 9, I’d expect Kansas City to immediately become a top-five option.

Miami Dolphins

at Chicago Bears
Spread: MIA -4.5
Total: 43.5
Roster Percentage: 44%

The Miami Dolphins are back in our column, though they technically are so rostered that they shouldn’t qualify. That said, they are still fairly widely available and come into Week 9 as the only top-tier defensive option on the wire in more than 10-20% of Yahoo! leagues, so I felt it would be a mistake to not mention them, especially as the trade of edge rusher Bradley Chubb to the team makes them even more intriguing.

The ‘Phins have been on an upward trajectory of late, climbing to rankings of 12th in pressure-to-sack rate and 9th in ANY/A despite generating pressure at the fourth-lowest rate in general. Against a team affording defenses a ton of pressure, we want those units that can seal the deal on free sacks -- pressure rate of their own or not.

The Chicago Bears are just such an offense, with quarterback Justin Fields holding the dubious honor of the highest turnover-worthy play rate and second-highest allowed pressure rate among qualifying passers. The only thing keeping him from being the best matchup for fantasy defenses is a middling big-time throw rate. That said, Miami is largely able to limit massive plays, and game script should force the Bears into desperate plays rather than well-designed downfield attempts.

Our model projects the Miami D/ST for 8.5 fantasy points this week, the third-highest in our rankings for defenses. They’re the top streaming option this week if still available in your league.