NFL

Fantasy Football Defensive Streaming: Week 15 Edition

Here are a few defensive streaming options to help boost your fantasy championship title campaign.

Sometimes you just get burned by a superior individual talent.

Going by the oft-used saying “process over results,” the Detroit Lions’ defense was a great play last week regardless of the outcome. Todd Gurley's talent won out in the end, as he notched two second-half touchdowns. In the process, he put a major damper on the Lions’ fantasy day. They finished with just three fantasy points, 22nd best on the week.

The other two picks from last week, Chicago and Tampa Bay, both under-performed relative to their projected matchups, scoring just five and two fantasy points each, respectively.

Kirk Cousins avoided another road-game meltdown, turning the ball over only once, severely limiting the Bears’ fantasy upside. And Drew Brees, historically a much worse quarterback on the road, shredded Tampa Bay’s secondary, passing for 312 yards and 2 touchdowns with no turnovers.

I’m hopeful that despite last week’s rocky showing, the majority of you reading this are still alive in your fantasy playoffs. As we head down the home stretch, here are a few defensive streaming options to help you advance through another round.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Owned – ESPN: 37.5%, Yahoo: 38%
numberFire Positional Rank: 1st

In the midst of a late-season playoff push, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense is getting most of the attention, and rightfully so. But the play of the team’s defense should not go unrecognized.

Ranking eighth in overall team defense according to our metrics here at numberFire, Pittsburgh has allowed 100 or more rushing yards just five times this season and have forced multiple turnovers in eight games. They also have 38 sacks this season, fifth-most in the league.

This week against Denver presents an interesting matchup. As our own Dan Pizzuta noted yesterday, Brock Osweiler has been sacked on 9.1 percent of his drop backs this season, compared to Peyton Manning's 4.5 percent sack rate.

Dealing with a slew of injuries, the Broncos’ running game is a bit of a mystery, as a combination of Ronnie Hillman, C.J. Anderson and Juwan Thompson will likely see carries this Sunday. No matter who gets the majority of rushing attempts, they will be facing a Steelers’ run defense that ranks first according to our numbers.

As six-point home favorites, the Steelers could easily force Denver into a pass-happy game script, leading to a plethora of sacks and fantasy scoring. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Owned – ESPN: 19.2%, Yahoo: 15%
numberFire Positional Rank: 8th

As I mentioned above, playing Tampa Bay’s defense last week against New Orleans didn’t quite work out the way I anticipated. There’s always risk associated with rostering a poor pass defense against a historically strong quarterback, home or away.

This week, the Buccaneers get the St. Louis Rams, a team that, up until last week against Detroit, had failed to score more than 13 points in their last four consecutive games. While Tampa Bay struggles against the pass (ranking 25th according to our metrics), they have been much tougher against the run (ranking 8th).

It’s difficult to envision a scenario where Case Keenum lights up the Buccaneers' secondary the way Brees did last week. And while Todd Gurley is skilled enough to succeed against nearly any defense, he will be facing a big step up in competition this week against Tampa Bay.

The Buccaneers are on the road this week, which is generally an avoidable situation when streaming defenses, but it's not unreasonable to believe that Tampa Bay will rebound from last week’s disappointing showing against an extremely one-dimensional Rams’ offense. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

Owned – ESPN: 5.7%, Yahoo: 3%
numberFire Positional Rank: 13th

Jacksonville’s defense feasted on a lifeless Indianapolis Colts offense last week, finishing as the second-best fantasy defense on the week with 20 fantasy points. Two touchdowns (a punt return and fumble recovery) obviously aided their fantasy output, but with 15 sacks over their last five games, the Jaguars have become a fairly reliable option.

Scoring eight or more fantasy points in four of their last five games, Jacksonville gets to face the sickly remnants of a once potent offensive football team in the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

While Matt Ryan has completed 63.5 percent of his throws over the last four games, he has just 5 touchdowns compared to 7 interceptions. The Falcons rank 16th in total offensive efficiency according to our metrics and have committed 12 total turnovers since their Week 10 bye.

There’s a decent amount of risk accompanying this pick, but assuming Jacksonville’s offense remains hot, positive game script could be their defense’s best friend. 

The 49-point over/under is certainly high, but as 3-point favorites at home, Jacksonville makes a nice streaming option this week against the flailing Falcons.