If you are competing for a fantasy championship this week, then you will commit an enormous percentage of your focus toward determining your starters at QB, RB, WR, and TE. But many owners have become increasingly aware that streaming a defense can also be extremely beneficial toward your chances of winning. Some of the more proficient units may not be available on your waiver wires. But here are three alternatives that could deliver favorable results, if you prefer to stream a defense during this critical week.
Buccaneers at Saints
The disparity between the Saints’ performances on the road versus what they have achieved at home have been well-documented. They have been far more proficient when playing inside the Superdome, where they are 7-0, and have delivered their most dominating defensive performances throughout the season. Fortunately for stream-oriented owners, their final home contest of the season provides an excellent opportunity to reap the benefits of what should be another effective effort. The Saints enter the contest ranked fourth overall in total defense, while allowing 307 YPG. Their defensive unit is also fifth in scoring, permitting 19 PPG. New Orleans has the NFL’s third best pass defense, yielding 196 YPG. Only five teams have surrendered fewer TD passes than the 18 that have been permitted by the Saints. Their 47 sacks have been exceeded by just three teams, and they should produce more against the NFL’s least productive attack. The Buccaneers have sunk to dead last in total offense, averaging just 276 YPG. Their passing game is also the league’s worst, averaging only 174 YPG. While the Bucs will attempt to establish their ground game by handing off to Bobby Rainey, New Orleans should be sufficiently stingy to overwhelm the Bucs. Even without rookie FS Kenny Vacarro, the Saints are vastly superior, and will have massive motivation to perform well. They need to win in order to improve their standing amid the various playoff scenarios. Plus, they will want to rebound dramatically from last week’s critical loss in Carolina. The Saints are available in 54% of all ESPN leagues, and will manufacture fantasy points for its owners to be the best waiver wire addition this week.
Other Favorable Matchups
Texans at Titans
The Titans’ defense is available in 64% of ESPN leagues, and should attract the attention of stream-conscious owners. Not only are they proficient in multiple facets of neutralizing their opponents, but they also have an exceptional Week 17 matchup. Tennessee currently ranks 10th against the pass, and has actually been more effective than that would initially lead you to believe. The unit ranked seventh before Peyton Manning carved them up for 397 yards and four TDs in Week 14. However, nobody else has successfully cracked the code regarding how to generate significant numbers against this unit through the air. The Titans have yielded just 15 scoring throws this season, which is tied for the fewest among all teams. They have also forced 10 fumbles, intercepted 11 passes, and have been sufficiently effective to overcome their shortcomings in stopping the run. This week they will lineup against a Houston team that enters the contest on a 13-game losing streak. The Texans' -17 turnover ratio speaks volumes about the substandard performances of their offense, which has been destroyed by injury and extreme deficiencies at QB. Their top four RBs have now been sidelined by injuries, and they are down to their third TE. Plus, they will forced to use turnover maven Matt Schaub under center, or place the offense in the hands of T. J. Yates. All of which make the Titans a perfect streaming solution in Week 17.
Jets at Dolphins
The Dolphins' Week 16 trip to Buffalo certainly qualifies as an unmitigated disaster. But Sunday’s matchup with the Jets should provide far more favorable results. Miami thoroughly neutralized their division rival in Week 13, limiting the Jets to just 177 total yards and three points. They also forced Geno Smith into a nightmarish performance. Smith’s QBR was only 1.6, as he completed four of 10 passes, had one throw intercepted, and compelled Rex Ryan to replace him with Matt Simms. The Dolphins sacked both QBs four times, and should generate similar results during their home finale. While Miami’s overall rankings are not necessarily impressive at first glance, they have been respectable overall (ranked 17th) and versus the pass (ranked 16th). Plus, they have become more resistant against the run in recent weeks. Their 42 sacks are the NFL’s ninth highest total, and only six teams have produced more INTs than the 18 that Miami has generated. Plus, only four teams have surrendered fewer TD passes than the 17 that Miami has allowed, and the Jets are hardly a candidate to create issues for them this week. New York is only 26th in total offense, averaging just 314 YPG. The Jets are even worse in scoring, as their 18 PPG average places them 30th. New York did not reach double figures in rushing TDs until Week 16, and 19 teams have produced more than the 10 that Gang Green has manufactured. But the Jets have even greater deficiencies in their passing attack. They are currently ranked 30th in that category, while averaging 181 YPG. They are tied for the NFL’s worst turnover ratio, with an unsightly -17, that has been propelled by the 22 INTs that have been hand-delivered to opponents. Miami is available in 72% of all ESPN leagues, and can boost your chances of securing a championship this week.