Streaming Defenses: Week 1 Fantasy Football Targets
When it comes to drafting a defense, I’m not someone to start the run. I’d rather wait until the end of the draft and play the defense with the great matchup. This practice is commonly known as streaming defenses. Every week, you target a mediocre defense with a great matchup against a weak QB or offensive line.
We have been writing this streaming feature for eight years—offering readers several defenses who are available on the waiver wire each week—and they averaged D/ST5, D/ST6, D/ST7, D/ST10, D/ST8 and D/ST7 numbers from 2009 to 2016. Generating top-10 D/ST numbers off the waiver wire allows fantasy owners to basically ignore the position on draft day, instead focusing on more important areas.
Last season, our defensive streaming suggestions averaged over 10 fantasy points per week, on par with D/ST10 numbers.
Generally, defenses have to be available on the waiver wire in at least 40 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues to be eligible. This ensures we are talking about defenses that are readily available.
A good strategy is to target a defense with a home matchup or facing a below-average (or rookie) QB. Week 1 is finally here, so let's look the suggestions for Kickoff Week:
Buffalo Bills vs. NYJ
You're going to notice a trend pretty quickly—when we can, we're going to want to target the Jets. They are a mess offensively, especially since they lost Brandon Marshall to free agency and Quincy Enunwa is out for the year and they're rolling with oft-injured Josh McCown at QB.
The Bills added Sean McDermott as their defensive coordinator and switched up schemes, which puts Jerry Hughes in a great spot for production. Last time Hughes was a hand in the dirt end was in 2014, where he recorded 10 sacks. Even as a rush OLB, he still managed a 12 percent pressure rate—in 2014, it was up over 13 percent. Shaq Lawson and Eddie Yarborough also have sack upside.
Preston Brown takes over as captan of the linebacking group. He was second on the team last year with 135 tackles and three turnovers. Lorenzo Alexander should man the SAM role and will continue rushing the QB. Alexander produced 12.5 sacks and four turnovers.
The secondary takes a hit with the loss of Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby. Nickell Robey is still in town and he had two INTs and a fumble recovery. Micah Hyde is a big addition, as he'll man safety and he produced three INTs and nine defended passes for Green Bay in 2016.
The Jets are a dumpster fire and last season they ranked 31st in aFPA to opposing defenses—I don't see the ranking getting any better. The Bills defense checks all the boxes—a great matchup at home against a bad offense, low implied team total (18), and bad QB, while available in 75 percent of leagues.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ HOU
I think Jacksonville is going to be an underrated defense all season. Houston's offense is still trying to find an identity, and they are starting an average to below-average QB, so I'm not afraid to attack this offense.
Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler combined for 10 sacks, while Malik Jackson added 6.5 of his own last season. Plus, they brought in Calais Campbell, a guy who has averaged nearly eight sacks per game since 2013. This is going to be an aggressive unit. If the Jags are in nickel most of their snaps, they can take advantage of Ngakoue against the right side of Houston's line, which is their weak side.
Telvin Smith and Myles Jack are going to be the play-making linebackers. Smith recorded 118 tackles and was responsible for three turnovers. Jack produced a sack last season in limited snaps, so, in an expanded role I really like the upside for production.
Jalen Ramsey led the secondary with two INTs and 14 defended passes. They also added up and coming shutdown corner AJ Bouye and safety Barry Church in free agency. Even if Houston moves around DeAndre Hopkins, Hopkins faces a top cover-corner on each side.
The Texans were a bottom-10 offense in aFPA allowed to defenses last season, so with Tom Savage at the helm, the Jaguars are in a good spot to produce turnovers and sacks and are available in 64 percent of leagues heading into Week 1.
Continue reading for three more streaming defenses, plus two more options for deep leagues...
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