An enormous percentage of your focus each week is involved with decisions about QBs, RBs, WRs, and TEs. That makes the amount of planning that you dedicate to team defenses far less extensive. While that is understandable, it still behooves you to maximize your chances of winning by examining all of your existing options. Particularly since our fantasy seasons have now progressed into the most critical weeks. Some of the most proficient defensive units will not be available on your waiver wires. But since bye weeks are no longer a factor, they will not impose an additional limitation to your options. Here are three units that should deliver favorable results, if you prefer to stream a defense in Week 13.
Falcons at Bills
A quick glance at three major categories – total defense, rushing defense and passing defense, might not lead you to consider the Bills. As they rank 15th, 23rd, and 12th respectively in those areas. However, when you become less yardage oriented in your assessment, it becomes apparent that this is an excellent unit for owners to secure both this week, and beyond. Their persistence at harassing opposing signal callers has been beneficial, and enabled them to generate success in attaining fantasy points. The opportunistic Bills are currently tied for the league lead with 37 sacks, and are also tied for first with 16 INTs. Now, they return to face an Atlanta offense that ranks just 24th in scoring, averages 20.6 PPG, and has failed to surpass 13 points in four of the past five contests. The team’s offensive line has been unsettled, and even though the Falcons can still amass yardage through the air, issues along the line have combined with injuries to negatively impact Matt Ryan and the aerial attack. Since Week 8, Ryan has thrown just five TD passes, while tossing nine INTs. Ryan has also been sacked 24 times, including a season high five in Week 12. Atlanta certainly cannot rely upon their anemic ground game to slow down Buffalo’s pass rush, as they rank just 31st, while averaging 74.7 YPG. Plus, their 20 turnovers represents the NFL’s seventh highest total. Buffalo is currently available in 89% of all ESPN leagues, and should provide a huge scoring boost to any owners that employ them this week.
Other Favorable Matchups
Jaguars at Browns
Cleveland’s aggressive defense has performed well for first year DC Ray Horton, and have often made it difficult for opponents to have sustained success against them. The Browns have been sturdy against the run and the pass, which has propelled them to a ranking of fourth in total defense (306 YPG). They are permitting just 98 YPG on the ground, which makes them the NFL’s sixth stingiest unit against the rush, and the Browns’ numbers against the pass (208 YPG) have enabled them to rank an even more impressive fourth. Cleveland has further inhibited opposing aerial attacks by generating 31 sacks, and this unit will create massive issues for Jacksonville’s highly flawed offense this week. And for the Jaguars’ ultra-challenged ground game in particular. The Jaguars are currently dead last in rushing (66.8 YPG), and there is every reason to believe that Maurice Jones-Drew will struggle mightily in this matchup. That will ultimately force Jacksonville to rely upon Chad Henne far more than would be preferable. The results at that point are highly predictable, and they bode well for Cleveland. Cecil Shorts will be smothered by Joe Haden, Which could often leave Henne with underwhelming options “led” by Ace Sanders and Marcedes Lewis as the remaining sources of generating yardage. Cleveland is owned in just 19% of all ESPN leagues, and they will supply streamers with highly favorable results this week.
Raiders at Cowboys
This is similar to the situation with Buffalo, as owners must look beyond the yardage allowed by Dallas when assessing the unit's viability as a stream-worthy defense this week. The Cowboys have surrendered significant real estate in multiple contests, which results in an undesirable ranking in the three most prominent defensive categories. However, only three teams have generated more takeaways that the 23 that Dallas has manufactured after 11 contests. And, their 11 fumble recoveries represent the NFL’s second highest total. Most importantly, this week’s matchup elevates them into a very enticing position for potential owners, as they will be facing an Oakland offense that will have be limited in its ability to exploiting the Cowboys. Matt McGloin will be making his third career start, the Raiders must fly across several times zones on a short week. The Raiders rank just 26th in scoring, averaging 19 PPG. While they have manufactured success on the ground, their passing attack ranks 29th, averaging only 193 YPG. Denarius Moore and Rod Streater are easily the team’s most effective WRs, and both could both be out during this contest. As could starting TE Mychal Rivera. And in each case, the aforementioned short turnaround will be working against them. Finally, the team's normally reliable source for points - Sebastian Janikowski - has already missed a whopping seven FGs, which further bodes well for the Cowboys’ prospects of limiting Oakland’s point total. Dallas remains available in 64% of all ESPN leagues, and can definitely help your rosters this week.