3 Defenses You Can Stream Quarterbacks Against in 2020
Everyone wishes they had an “easy button” for their lives: a magical problem-solver that you don’t need any knowledge to operate, just a finger to press it, and – POOF – the trouble is gone. In reality, though, things aren’t that easy. You have to actually put in time and effort to finding and implementing a solution – mostly because magic buttons don’t exist, but even if they did there’s a non-zero chance they’d tear a hole in the fabric of space and time.
That’s the trouble with figuring out which fantasy football players to start against which defensive matchups in your leagues or DFS lineups: there’s no easy solution. You have to do the research, weigh different factors against each other, and ultimately make a decision that you feel the most comfortable about.
Fortunately for you, we’re helping with some of the research ahead of time. This article will identify a few defenses that should be susceptible to fantasy quarterback scoring in 2020 and why, so that you know how to pick the best teams to stream against this season. When targeting a defense with our fantasy passers, we want: a defensive secondary lacking in previous production, a roster that didn’t address its needs in free agency or the NFL Draft, and (ideally) an up-tempo offense that will keep the game close so opponents can’t just run the ball and run off the clock.
We can’t give you an “easy button”, but we’ll definitely get you a leg up on the competition.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With any luck, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers check all three of our boxes.
The Buccaneers did invest their second-round draft pick this year in safety Antoine Winfield Jr., but The Draft Network’s Joe Marino does note his strengths are primarily as a downhill tackler and his “lack of top athleticism and length does temper his projection a bit”. As the only draft pick spent earlier than the sixth round on Tampa Bay’s entire defense, Winfield alone won’t overhaul the Bucs’ outlook. The only defensive free agent moves Tampa made, too, were either re-signing players from last year or bringing in coverage liability/inside linebacker depth in Kevin Minter.
It’s not as if moves didn’t need to be made, either. The Buccaneers allowed the 10th-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, including the fourth-most passing attempts per game (39.4) and the third-most passing yards per game (288.0). Tampa Bay ran the 10th-most offensive plays in neutral or positive game scripts in 2019, too, so adding a bundle of offensive pieces – including quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski – should continue the pass-friendly game scripts for their opponents.
With cornerbacks Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting and free safety Mike Edwards projected to start, each having allowed Passer Ratings of over 102.0 when targeted last year (Edwards had a Passer Rating Allowed of 137.2), Tampa Bay remains an excellent target for opposing passing games.
In 2019, the Cardinals gave up the most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, allowing the most yards per game (299.1) and passing touchdowns per game (2.4), despite offering just the 15th-fewest passing attempts per game (34.6). Teams passed early and efficiently on Arizona, got ahead, and then didn’t need to keep passing to win. With improvements to their offense – including third-round rookie offensive tackle Josh Jones, trade target wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and likely natural steps forward for quarterback Kyler Murray – teams likely won’t have the luxury to stop passing against the Arizona Air Raid offense in 2020, driving up the value of this matchup even further.
On the defensive side, the Cardinals only added first-round rookie linebacker/defensive back Isaiah Simmons and free-agent linebacker De'Vondre Campbell. While both are somewhat pass coverage-minded acquisitions, they won’t address the real need in the secondary, where number-two corner Byron Murphy allowed a whopping 131.5 Passer Rating when targeted and number-three Robert Alford is coming off a season-long broken leg injury.
Whether it’s volume or efficiency, the Cardinals are likely to be a top team to start fantasy quarterbacks against yet again in 2020.
The NFC South has been a high-flying offensive environment and it should remain so in 2020, with the Carolina Panthers also obtaining a top-tier perch in our fantasy QB defenses to target.
The Panthers had one of the largest defensive losses in the league this year, with linebacker Luke Kuechly’s retirement leaving a gaping hole in the middle of their defense. Pass-rushers Bruce Irvin and Mario Addison also walked during free agency, as did interior defensive lineman Gerald McCoy and starting cornerbacks James Bradberry and Ross Cockrell. To plug those holes, Carolina signed defensive lineman Stephen Weatherly and defensive back Juston Burris. They also drafted nose tackle Derrick Brown in the early first round, in addition to spending four draft picks in the defensive secondary – but only second-round strong safety Jeremy Chinn is projected as a starter among those.
The 2019 iteration of the team only allowed the 16th-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, but they did allow the second-most pass attempts per game (39.6) despite running the fifth-fewest offensive plays in neutral or positive game scripts. Largely the lack of fantasy value despite all the opportunity came from allowing the 13th-fewest passing yards per game (249.6) and the 11th-fewest touchdowns per game (1.3), indicating that opposing offenses avoided the Panthers’ dangerous front-seven and picked on the secondary instead.
With such disruption to roster continuity and projected starting cornerbacks who allowed Passer Ratings of 126.9 (Donte Jackson) and 153.7 (Burris), however, there should be quite a bit of positive regression for opposing quarterbacks this year. Add in an impending scheme change to a 3-4 front, and you have the makings of a complete defensive disaster for the 2020 Panthers.