Fantasy Football Defensive Streaming: Week 8 Edition

Week 7 was a tough outing for defensive streamers, with both Washington and Pittsburgh falling short of expectations. Let's dust ourselves off and get back at it for Week 8.

It’s always risky rolling with a defensive streamer on the road. And even though the Steelers were traveling to Arrowhead last week to face the Chiefs, it still felt like a good spot for Pittsburgh’s defense, considering the lack of healthy offensive options for Kansas City.

In the end, the Steelers forced zero turnovers and sacked Alex Smith just twice, notching a meager two fantasy points. Washington appeared to be in another solid spot as home favorites going up against turnover-prone Jameis Winston. They also failed to live up to expectations however, registering just one sack and forcing only one turnover on the day.

The Dolphins’ defense was a Week 7 bright spot, taking full advantage of extremely positive game flow, finishing with 12 fantasy points -- good enough for the sixth-best fantasy outing on the week.

After an initial glance at the Week 8 matchups for streaming defenses, no true “home run” options stand out. However, using metrics here at numberFire to our advantage, I’ll throw out some usable plays for those looking to stream the position. 

Atlanta Falcons

Owned – ESPN: 46.1%, Yahoo: 52%
numberFire Positional Rank: 13th

Since Week 4, the Atlanta Falcons’ D/ST has posted three double-digit fantasy point outings, including a top-10 finish against Tennessee last week. This group now has eight forced turnovers during that four-week span and has become a fairly trustworthy defensive streaming option.

Targeting Jameis Winston is still a good idea even though it didn’t work out last week. Despite having his best game on the season against Washington in Week 7, Winston is still completing just 59.1 percent of his throws, making him a worthwhile target when selecting defensive streamers.

Doug Martin has played very well recently, topping 100 yards in each of his last three games but now faces an Atlanta run defense that ranks in the top-10 according to our metrics.

As seven-point favorites at home facing the 29th ranked offense per our numbers, Atlanta could easily force extremely negative game script on the Bucs’ offense, and in doing so force Winston into difficult situations. On a slate with few top streaming options, Atlanta is certainly in play. 

Minnesota Vikings

Owned – ESPN: 47.4%, Yahoo: 30%
numberFire Positional Rank: 10th

Despite forcing just one turnover over the last two games, the Vikings’ D/ST has been a consistent fantasy producer, scoring at least six fantasy points in each of their last five games. Minnesota ranks in the top-10 in both sacks and quarterback hits, two statistical categories with a direct linkage to defensive fantasy production.

The Vikings travel to Chicago this week, but do so as two-point favorites, currently. As we discussed earlier, deploying defenses on the road can be a risky endeavor, this example being no different. However, facing a Bears’ team with the 31st ranked offense when adjusted for strength of schedule using our metrics, Minnesota appears to be in a prime position.

Jay Cutler has done a serviceable job avoiding sacks and turnovers so far this season, but if his career numbers mean anything -- including a 3.3 percent interception ratio -- a regression to the mean is certainly a possibility. Having Alshon Jeffery back in the mix improves the Chicago offense, but the Vikings pass defense is a strength, ranking 11th in the league. 

Tennessee Titans

Owned – ESPN: 18.8%, Yahoo: 6%
numberFire Positional Rank: 5th

It’s understandable to be a bit wary of using the Titans D/ST this week, but they have quietly been playing pretty good defensive football over the last few weeks.

Ranking 29th in rushing yards allowed is obviously an area that needs improvement, but the pass defense has allowed the second-fewest passing yards behind only the vaunted Denver Broncos. As a whole, the Titans rank 11th on defense according to our numbers, and facing a Texans’ team ranking 26th in total offense this week vaults them into the streaming discussion.

With Arian Foster going down with an Achilles injury, Houston is on the verge of becoming a very one-dimensional offensive group. The Texans will turn to some combination of Alfred Blue, Chris Polk and Jonathan Grimes in Foster’s absence, none of which instill a great deal of fear. And while he has only thrown three interceptions this season, Brian Hoyer has completed just 58.9 percent of his throws, meaning more turnovers could be on their way.

As of now, Vegas has yet to release a line for this game, but it’s not crazy to assume a low over/under with a tight spread, making Tennessee an option worth considering.