3 Fantasy Football Defensive Streaming Options for Week 13
Last week was a strong week for defensive streaming. Our top two picks -- the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions -- both had good performances, and the deep option in the Atlanta Falcons didn't kill lineups.
Last week, I reluctantly agreed to look ahead, so those recommendations will remain at the end of the column with any changes if applicable. I don't endorse holding more than one defense except in leagues with very deep benches (in other words, no running backs or wide receivers of interest are available), since it's almost always a better idea to add a handcuff running back at this point in the season or even an upside wide receiver. However, to appease those defense hoarders out there, we'll look ahead anyway.
Time to look to Week 13 (and beyond) for fantasy football streaming defenses. All recommendations are available in over two-thirds of ESPN fantasy leagues. The Carolina Panthers and the Philadelphia Eagles are top options if available (which they are in over half of leagues).
ESPN Ownership: 20.5%
The Green Bay Packers are coming off a very poor performance across the board in a loss to the NFC-leading San Francisco 49ers, but a matchup with the New York Giants could cure what ails them on both sides of the ball.
The Packers are giving up yards and points at an above-average (in a bad way) rate relative to other teams in the NFL. For fantasy purposes, that's less important than it is for real football, as sacks and turnovers are the primary drivers of fantasy production. The Packers rank 10th-best in the NFL this season with a turnover on 13.2% of their defensive drives. They also rank middle of the pack in terms of generating quarterback pressure, with 22.8% of opponents' drop backs resulting in pressure. That is resulting in a sack on 7.1% of drop backs, which is the 13th-best rate in the league.
The clear upside for the Packers this week is that the Giants are underwhelming on offense in most aspects, including scoring at the fifth-worst rate in the league, with just 26.6% of their drives ending with points. The real money will be made on turnovers, though, as the Giants turn over the ball on a league-leading 20.2% of their possessions. The G-Men are also allowing a sack on 7.7% of their drop backs, which is an above-average rate. The Packers are in a good spot as 6.5-point favorites in this game, even on the road.
New York Jets
ESPN Ownership: 23.7%
The New York Jets are not an intimidating defense, but they should offer a nice floor this week thanks to their matchup against the league-bottom Cincinnati Bengals, who already announced they are returning Ryan Finley to the bench in favor of Andy Dalton.
The Jets are not having much success in generating pressure or sacks on opposing quarterbacks this season, with just a 6.0% sack rate and pressure on 21.0% of opponents' drop backs, both below average. The Jets are also not coming up with takeaways at a high rate, with just 9.6% of their defensive drives ending in one, a bottom-10 rate in the league. On the plus side, they are quietly effective at limiting opposing offenses. The Jets surrender a score on just 32.6% of their drives, a top-10 rate in the league, and they are also top 10 in yards allowed.
The good news for the Jets is that they are 3.5-point favorites in the game, and the Bengals are abysmal in many regards on offense. The Bengals allow the sixth-most sacks, on 8.6% of their dropbacks, and they rank third-worst in turning the ball over at 17.5% of their offensive possessions. Cincy also scores at the fourth-lowest rate in the league, on just 25.0% of their drives, and they have accumulated the seventh-fewest yards thus far in 2019.
The matchup should provide the Jets a nice floor for fantasy football purposes, and the Bengals' proclivity to take sacks and turn the ball over should offer some upside, as well.
ESPN Ownership: 20.1%
There is no harm in streaming the same defense two weeks in a row and saving a dollar of FAAB, and the Detroit Lions, who have taken advantage of their recent favorable matchups, line up this week against a division foe in the Chicago Bears, a team that can implode offensively in any given week.
The Lions have been rough this year -- to the tune of top-five in yards allowed and top-10 in opposing scoring rate at 40.0% of their possessions. The Lions are just below average in turnover rate, with just 10.4% of their defensive drives ending in a takeaway. It even gets worse, as the Lions are bottom-10 in both quarterback pressure rate and sack rate. There isn't much to hang your proverbial hat on here, except the matchup, which offers some upside.
The Bears are a poor offense, to put it nicely, scoring at the sixth-worst rate in the league (26.8% of their drives) and recording the fourth-lowest yardage total through 11 games. The good news for the Bears is that they are protecting the ball, with just 8.9% of drives ending in a turnover, which is a top-10 mark in the league. The bad news is that the Bears are allowing sacks at an above-average rate.
This is far from a sexy pick, but anyone who is following football this year knows that Mitchell Trubisky is not far from an implosion in any week. The Lions are a fine desperation play in deep leagues.
The Packers are owned in just 20.5% of ESPN leagues since they played the San Francisco 49ers after their Week 11 bye, and they get to play the Giants in Week 13, followed by Washington in Week 14. They also get the danger-prone Bears in Week 15, which isn't bad, either.
The aforementioned Lions get matchups with the Buccaneers and Denver Broncos in Week 15 and Week 16, respectively. This is only relevant to teams who are sitting very pretty (preferably with a first-round playoff bye). The Lions are also not a strong defense in many regards, so this is only for those with limited other options.
For the dumpster divers out there, it's worth noting that the Giants have a very favorable playoff stretch with the Miami Dolphins in Week 15 and Washington in Week 16. Even worse, the Dolphins may cause owners to tempt fate as their Week 14 through Week 16 schedule goes as follows: Jets, Giants, and in the fantasy championship ... the Bengals. Hey, if you're in a deep league, there are worse options.