Fantasy Football Defensive Streaming: Week 1 Edition
Welcome back ladies and gentlemen. Week 1 of the fantasy football season is officially in sight, and if you’re anything like me, I’m sure you’re all chomping at the bit to get going.
For the 2015 season, I will be giving out streaming defensive recommendations each week, in an attempt to help you manipulate your league’s waiver wire to find teams with low ownership rates and juicy weekly matchups.
Last week I reviewed my streaming picks from last season, in which we found top-12 fantasy defenses on a fairly consistent basis.
As was the case last in 2014, I will be limited my recommendations to defenses with 50 percent or lower ownership rates in both ESPN and Yahoo fantasy leagues for that given week. Ownership rates can vary from site to site, but for the most part, these stipulations will remain true.
So without further ado, let’s jump into it!
New York Jets
Owned - ESPN: 90.5%, Yahoo: 37%
numberFire Projected Rank: 7th
So right off the bat we have the ownership caveat coming into play. In ESPN leagues, the chances are slim that the Jets are available on your waiver wire. But on Yahoo, you have a much better chance.
Matchup-wise, the Jets are in one of the best spots we have available to us in Week 1. They face the Cleveland Browns, one of the least frightening offensive units you will find, at home in the Meadowlands, and as a three-point favorite according to Vegas projections.
All indications point to Josh McCown starting for the Browns at quarterback, which should do nothing to scare us off. If you take away his 2013 season in Chicago, McCown has thrown 48 touchdowns to 59 interceptions. Throw in the fact that Cleveland’s wide receiver situation is a mess, and you can expect the Jets to load up the box to stop the run.
If the Jets’ offense can muster up a few points of their own, there’s a good chance McCown may be forced to air it out late in catch-up mode, meaning turnovers could abound.
Owned - ESPN: 40.3%, Yahoo: 72%
numberFire Projected Rank: 3rd
Much the opposite of the Jets’ DST, the Panthers are much more obtainable in ESPN formats and are still available in nearly a third of Yahoo leagues.
Last season, defenses that faced Jacksonville finished as top-12 fantasy options in 12 of the possible 16 weeks, and as top-six options in six of those 16 weeks! The Jags were literally a streaming defensive’s best friend. And although it’s not always good process to assume year-to-year event consistency, Jacksonville still figures to be one of the worst offenses in the league.
Chances are Blake Bortles will almost assuredly improve on his rookie campaign -- in which he ranked dead-last in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) -- but he’ll have to do so with a rookie running back, an unproven (yet promising) wide receiver group, and without the team’s big-money offseason acquisition Julius Thomas.
He also needs to improve his sacks allowed percentage from last season (10.4%) in which he was second-worst behind only the human crash dummy, Robert Griffin III.
According to Vegas, the Panthers are a 3.5-point favorite in a game with a 41-point over/under -- tied for the third lowest of the weekend. Feel good about rolling with Riverboat Ron’s crew for a safe floor and possibly a high ceiling.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Owned - ESPN: 6.4%, Yahoo: 4%
numberFire Projected Rank: 12th
This play comes with a definite element of risk.
Aside from Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David, Tampa Bay's defense is fairly devoid of overall talent. Here at numberFire, we have them projected as just the 24th best overall defense this season. So why should we stream the Bucs in Week 1?
There are a few reasons to buy in.
First, they will be facing a rookie quarterback playing in his first regular season game on the road. And despite the fact that Marcus Mariota has a very bright NFL future, it may be unfair to assume a high-level of success immediately, especially given the lack of proven playmakers around him.
Second, they get the Titans’ rookie quarterback at home and as three-point favorites in a game in which the Titans are projected to score just 18 points according to Vegas.
Tampa Bay will be starting a rookie quarterback starting his first NFL game as well, meaning the game script could get wonky either way. But you don’t need to strain too hard to see a scenario where the defenses, especially Tampa Bay’s, take over this game with sacks, forced turnovers, and hopefully touchdowns.