Two weeks into the 2018 NFL season, we now have some stats and game performances to work from when it comes to streaming D/STs moving forward. To this point, some D/STs have turned out to be revelations, some shown to be frauds, and others as good as advertised. If you are only here looking for a D/ST to stream this week then feel free to scroll down. If not, then stick around. You might just learn something.
So, now that we have a decent baseline of expectations to work from there are couple more things that we want to look for now when it comes to streaming D/STs: matchup and game script.
Matchup – Breaking down this factor is straight forward. We want to look at the opposing offense that our D/ST will be facing and how they stand to fare fantasy scoring-wise against that offense. For illustration purposes, I will list some examples of bad, good, and neutral matchups:
- New England/Green Bay/New Orleans/Philadelphia/Pittsburgh.
- The reasoning behind these D/ST matchups is simple – those NFL offenses are good. Depending on your league’s D/ST scoring format, your saving grace lies on defensive TDs and turnovers because outside of a poor offensive showing, these teams will likely put up both respectable points and yards thus lowering your D/STs scoring floor. Avoid D/ST matchups like this on a weekly basis.
- Buffalo/NY Giants/NY Jets/Arizona Cardinals/Houston Texans
- The reasoning behind these matchups lies in how good these offenses are not, and 2-of-4 listed in particular, playing with a rookie quarterback. Simply put, bad offense plus young quarterback equal turnovers and sacks. A D/ST matchup of this nature takes the hopes of needing TDs or multiple turnovers out of the equation, leaving other sources in play for having a good D/ST scoring return. Target these D/ST matchups whenever possible.
- Carolina/Atlanta/San Francisco/Seattle/etc.
- This is where most weekly D/ST matchups will end up. The teams I listed above have good-not great offenses and have the propensity to turn the ball over a bit more than expected when paired against a capable defensive unit. If certain players are out with injury or an opposing offense is in a funk, this could lead to a change in play calling and personnel that could play right into your D/ST's favor. However, these matchups are as risky as they are rewarding. The opposing offense could easily put up a dud or as easily look like a powerhouse which means your D/ST could find itself with either around three fantasy points or 17 fantasy points that given week. This is the type of matchup to avoid if possible, because the range of outcomes can be very large a.k.a. not good for streaming D/STs against.
Game Script – For D/ST streaming purposes, this factor weighs more heavily on those neutral type matchups. Being able to determine possible game scripts is how you carve out as much scoring upside as possible in those neutral matchups. It is about finding the D/STs with the best chance for more positive game scripts, or in other words, more advantageous situations for scoring fantasy points. For example, your D/ST is Team A, which has a poor run defense, and their weekly opponent Team B gets ahead by 2-plus scores. Barring a major momentum shift in favor of Team A, the plan of action for Team B will be to play a bit more conservatively by leaning on their running game and bleeding the game clock down against Team A’s lackluster run defense. This would be classified as a negative game script for Team A’s scoring potential because in this instance their opportunities to get sacks and turnovers becomes more limited. When choosing a D/ST to stream you want to avoid matchups with higher chances of negative game scripts. While the offense vs. defense matchup is the biggest game script factor in choosing a D/ST to stream, a few others to take account of are: active personnel, play calling, and game weather. If the other team’s starting QB, TE, RB, etc. is not playing this would affect the overall ceiling of the offensive unit and how the offense would run plays in that specific matchup leading to a better outlook for a more positive game script for your D/ST. As far as weather, a game-day forecast with high wind, rain, or snow would lead to less passing and kicking attempts being put at the mercy of the elements which means less scoring opportunities for your D/ST as the opposing offense will likely be playing more conservatively.
Hopefully, that was easy enough to explain and understand. With that said, here are the D/STs worth streaming in Week 3:
“I Just Need Some Points” (D/STs Owned In 70-20% Of Yahoo Leagues)
New England Patriots – vs. Detroit Lions
While the Lions didn’t play as badly last week as they did in Week 1, this is a team that still can’t run the football. I expect the Patriots to play ball-control in this matchup as they try and build an early lead. I expect another high-volume passing day for Matthew Stafford as the run game struggles to get going once again, which means chances for sacks and interceptions by the Patriots. With an underrated pass rush and a better defense than the 49ers, I think New England’s D/ST comes up with a solid fantasy outing.
Miami Dolphins – vs. Oakland Raiders
After including the Dolphins as a viable streaming option in their matchup last week, I am willing to endorse them against the Raiders this week as well. Now having forced five interceptions through the first two weeks against middling offenses, I expect a similar result against a quarterback in Derek Carr who has thrown just one touchdown to go with three picks to this point. Just like last week, if the Dolphins can do just enough on offense then their D/ST has a chance to produce fantasy points.
“So, You’re Saying There’s A Chance” (D/STs Owned In 20-10% of Yahoo Leagues)
Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Carolina Panthers
Proving to be one of the better D/STs to stream in recent years, the Bengals are on that same track again this year (no more than 23 points allowed, six sacks, three picks, two fumbles, one touchdown). Against a Panthers team that is already playing without one of the league’s best TEs and with an injury struck offensive line, the Bengals are set up to fall into at least some fantasy points this week. With points totals of 16 and 23 through two weeks, the Panthers are a viable streaming target despite the Bengals to be without playmaking RB Joe Mixon to give their offensive some extra juice. As always, you could do worse this week.
Arizona Cardinals – vs. Chicago Bears
As a disclaimer, betting on the D/ST of an 0-2 team that has scored just six points while allowing 58 through two weeks is not the smartest decision. However, this Cardinals defense has talent and I don’t think the Bears are an offensive force despite their numerous offseason acquisitions quite yet. This could be a game that sees the Cardinals lose in a low-scoring affair with their D/ST coming through for a surprising fantasy result.
“You Might Want To Look Away” (D/STs Owned in <10% Yahoo Leagues)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
It isn’t pretty down at the bottom this week but taking a shot on the Bucs is about the best bet in this range. Probably too under-owned for a D/ST with as much talent as the Bucs, they have put up respectable numbers against both the Saints and the Eagles to start the season. Against a Steelers team without Le’Veon Bell and a Big Ben who has six turnovers through two weeks, the Bucs could keep up offensively and make some noise on defense as well. If you want to bet on talent and recent performance, the Bucs are your D/ST for this week.