Not much of a fantasy football lesson this week, but we will briefly look at two defensive performances from Week 4 that illustrated some previously mentioned fundamentals: the Vikings “good” D/ST and the Colts “bad” D/ST. As always, if you are just looking for a D/ST to stream then feel free to scroll. If not, then stick around. You might just learn something.
Again, props to the smart cookie in your league who drafted the Vikings D/ST so he could set-and-forget his D/ST roster spot all season. Okay, jokes aside, let’s take a closer look at how that is going. That same owner has now set-and-regret the Vikings D/ST to the tune of a net total of less than five fantasy points since Week 1, culminating with a negative point total (in most formats) in Week 4 (Spoiler alert: the Vikings D/ST are still owned in over 90-percent of Yahoo leagues). It goes without saying, that there have been an abundance of D/ST options each week that the Vikings D/ST owner could have gone with in better matchups that would have provided substantially more value and upside, for free, off the waiver wire had they simply gone and picked one up. Instead, they stood their ground and watched the Vikings allow 29 points to the Packers (not surprising), get blown out by the Bills (too soon), and let the Rams hang 38 points on them in a loss (adding insult to injury). Were they paying attention to their D/ST's matchups, they could have avoided 2-of-3 poor D/ST outings. But remember, they are a “good” fantasy football player. The point here is that although the Vikings D/ST might be one of the most talented, it is still prone to be beat up on by elite NFL offenses and can fall victim to their offensive counterpart’s shortcomings in any given week (again, see: Buffalo Bills in Week 2). The lesson: matchups. Your D/ST will live or die by them. For the record, the Vikings will likely put up a great outing against the Cardinals in Week 6 to hopefully attempt in drowning that out that loss to the Bills.
Checking back in on our former Steelers D/ST owner who first profited off their Week 1 matchup, we can see they have ridden the Colts D/ST (no pun intended), a perceived “bad” defensive unit, to three straight weeks of solid fantasy production – all poor matchups on paper. Yes, the Colts are shorter on defensive talent and big names than other NFL teams but that same lack of resources doesn’t change the fact that they are 2nd in the league in sacks – with seven coming last week in a great matchup with the Texans. This fantasy owner did what the Vikings D/ST owner did not: play the matchups. The Colts won over the game script in Week 2 against the Reskins, they took advantage of a hobbled Eagles offense in Week 3, and they feasted on the awful Texans offensive line in Week 4. Those are some strong outings for a “bad” defense, but this was one of the cases where real life football did NOT equal fantasy football. Now this owner likely won’t be playing the Colts against the Patriots in Week 5, which is a smart play, but hopefully those three weeks of playing the D/ST matchups has them on the fast track to the fantasy playoffs. With that said here are the D/STs worth streaming in Week 5:
“I Just Need Some Points” (D/STs Owned In 70-20% Of 10-Team Yahoo Leagues)
Carolina Panthers – vs. New York Giants
The Panthers are a strong play this week against a Giants team that has allowed 2-of-4 D/STs to score 10-plus fantasy points so far this season. In the case they were dropped during their Week 4 bye or not picked back up, the Panthers are worth streaming at home this week against a struggling Giants team.
New Orleans Saints – vs. Washington Redskins
After an awful Week 1 outing, the Saints have rebounded to garner three sacks in each game since then to go with three turnovers in that same span. While they were scorched through the air in Week 1, the Saints defense ranks in the Top 5 in rushing yards allowed, yards per attempt, and yards per game on the season. Heading into a matchup with the Redskins, who would prefer to run the football, the Redskins likely won’t find much running room in a game script that should see them forced to throw to keep up offensively. The Saints D/ST still doesn’t have that much trust from me, but they have righted the ship somewhat. I’d give them a chance this week.
“So, You’re Saying There’s A Chance” (D/STs Owned In 20-10% of 10-Team Yahoo Leagues)
Dallas Cowboys – vs. Houston Texans
As expected, the Texans offensive line gave up some sacks to the Colts last week – seven of them to be exact. Enter the Cowboys, ranked third in the league with 14 sacks, who should be able to provide similar problems for this Texans o-line in Week 5. If the Cowboys can get a lead in this game and milk the clock with their rushing attack, this matchup could be even more favorable for the Cowboys. With that said, I don’t trust the Cowboys offense that strongly enough to believe they will pull that off flawlessly. You are strictly playing the matchup here, but I think that is enough for the Cowboys D/ST to return serviceable fantasy value.
Arizona Cardinals – vs. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers offense has allowed three-plus sacks in 3-of-4 games and thrown five interceptions so far this season. With the Cardinals finally showing signs of life on offense last week, their D/ST should be in better spots as the season progresses - if their offense can continue to improve. Against a 49ers team without their starting RB and QB, the Cardinals are in a spot to take advantage and get their first win of the season. Make no mistake, this is an upside-based play, but it does have less risk involved compared to other D/ST options this week.
“You Might Want To Look Away” (D/STs Owned in <10% 10-Team Yahoo Leagues)
San Francisco 49ers - vs. Arizona Cardinals
In my notes about the Cardinals offense showing “signs of life”, I was telling the truth. They scored their season-high in points last week, in a loss, with 17 points. That alone should tell you that the Cardinals are getting somewhere on offense, but I don’t think they are there yet heading into this week. Could the Cardinals finally unleash David Johnson this week and let Josh Rosen throw bombs all over the field? Sure, but that Cardinals coaching staff and offensive line hasn’t done much to help the cause so far. The 49ers do have a chance to make some noise in this spot against the league's most generous team for opposing D/STs but unfortunately, they might not. A definite high risk-high reward play.