3 Fantasy Football Defensive Streamer Options for Week 16
The end is nigh. The season is wrapping up. Hopefully for you that end is coming with a bang as you romp through the playoffs, rather than a whimper as you just try to avoid your league’s “Toilet Bowl”.
As always with fantasy prognostication, there are missteps along the way. Nonetheless, you hope that good enough process overall can get you over those hurdles and it all becomes worth it in the final run of the fantasy calendar. Whichever matchup you’re staring down – one for all the marbles, or just one to not lose your marbles – I hope that I’ve helped you, or at the very least entertained you just a bit over this season.
For one of the last times this year, let’s ask: which defenses under 40% rostership should you look to stream in Week 16?
Denver D/ST vs. ARZ: 12 points, 5th
Cleveland D/ST vs. BAL: 13 points, t-3rd
Carolina D/ST vs. PIT: 1 point, 26th
Just like we drew it up: last week we hit on two top-five defensive units, though our deep play was a dud.
The Broncos' pass rush and secondary were indeed more than the Cardinals could handle, as quarterback Colt McCoy coughed up three interceptions and three sacks. Arizona as a whole could muster only 15 points and fewer than 250 offensive yards against Denver, locking in a strong week.
Baltimore's offense was also a fantasy feast last week, picking up just three points in spite of more than 300 offensive yards against the Browns' defense. They also turned the ball over three times (including a blocked kick) and gave up three sacks; three was a lucky number for Cleveland.
The Panthers, on the other hand, were methodically dissembled by the lowly Steelers. They racked up just one sack, allowing 24 points and more than 300 yards. As we said: this team has a low floor, but the matchup provided some compelling upside.
vs. New Orleans Saints
Spread: CLE -2.5
Roster Percentage: 28%
The one thing that the Cleveland Browns have indisputably had going for them in the 2022 season is their defense. In spite of losing players to injury at points through the year, these Browns have pulled together and assembled a defensive unit that ranks top-10 in pressure-to-sack conversion rate and sits at a league-average passing adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A). Last week, we watched them post a top-three positional fantasy total against a team in injury crisis mode; Week 16 should be roughly similar.
With offensive linemen going on injured reserve and their star rookie wideout banged up, the New Orleans Saints could be in a bad spot when they visit “The Land” in Week 16. Quarterback Andy Dalton inspires absolutely no confidence, failing to pass for more than 275 yards in a game since the middle of October. That said, Dalton doesn’t make for the best D/ST streamer target, ranking in the bottom five --among the 52 quarterbacks to drop back 50 or more times -- in turnover-worthy play rate (per PFF) and bottom-15 by allowed pressure rate.
What truly makes this a playable day for the Browns’ defense is an expected winter storm that should hover over Cleveland. AccuWeather projects a high of 12 degrees at game time, with a 40% chance of precipitation and strong winds coming off the lake. These conditions will likely make moving the ball a nightmare -- and keep the Browns and Saints well away from a high-scoring environment.
Our model projects the Cleveland D/ST for 9.0 fantasy points, the second-most among defensive options in Week 16. With New Orleans allowing the eighth-most fantasy points per game to defenses and nasty weather expected on the shores of Lake Erie, this should be a game with a high floor for the Browns.
at Carolina Panthers
Spread: DET -2.5
Roster Percentage: 5%
It’s heartening to see that the Detroit Lions posted a solid D/ST day last week in a good spot, and -- even though we don’t necessarily stream based on defensive strength -- that helps us confirm their potential. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about the Lions’ defensive production (16th in pressure rate and 18th in ANY/A are about league-average). Still, they are on a tear and come into Week 16 with a choice matchup.
The Carolina Panthers will host and oppose Detroit, having finally returned quarterback Sam Darnold to the starting lineup in Week 15. Last game, they allowed seven fantasy points to their opposing team defense, posting just 16 offensive points and 209 yards while allowing four sacks. Darnold, like Dalton, isn’t a premier streaming target for us under center, but he is allowing roughly league-average pressure in a small sample size. With more drop backs under his belt, there’s a chance he could regress in terms of control and allow more turnovers, as well.
Our model projects the Detroit D/ST for 7.7 fantasy points, the 10th-highest fantasy projection of the week. The only flaw in their profile this weekend is a high projected game total.
at New York Jets
Spread: JAX -1.5
Roster Percentage: 8%
Perhaps the best confluence of process and matchup this week actually comes in the lowest-projected package. The Jacksonville Jaguars have created an impressive and young defense, one currently maintaining a top-third pressure rate and top-five ANY/A, and they enter Week 16 as road favorites in a game with a lowly 37.5-point total. Even better, the weather is expected to be fairly harsh, too: Thursday night should be a wet one, with showers expected to drench the contest.
On top of that, the Jags will visit the New York Jets in this game. New York’s season has officially beached itself due to poor offensive play. Over their last two games -- with quarterback Mike White playing one and Zach Wilson the other -- the Jets have allowed an average of 12 fantasy points to opposing defenses. Wilson, as a passer, remains the least-dangerous quarterback by big-time throw rate, is top-five in turnover-worthy play rate, and allows the eighth-highest pressure rate.
Jacksonville’s ferocious pass rush and the inclement weather should keep Wilson and the Jets grounded but your fantasy team flying high.
Our model projects the Jacksonville D/ST for 7.2 fantasy points this week, which is 16th-highest in our rankings for defenses. Though they come in lowest in our projections among streamers this week, the Jaguars have the best of both worlds of our other options: a low-scoring environment, bad weather and facing a feeble offense.