3 Fantasy Football Defensive Streamer Options for Week 3
If you’ve ever heard the notion that “all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares”, then you’re familiar with syllogisms.
The syllogism was first defined in European writings by the legendary philosopher Aristotle back around 350 BCE. Essentially the idea is to present two true statements and then use logic and deductive reasoning to synthesize a greater truth out of them. For instance, the classic “All men are mortal, and Socrates is a man; therefore, Socrates is mortal” is a perfect example of a syllogism. Syllogisms can also hold negative propositions, however – as in our example at the top (this might be a contraposition? Help me out here if you’re a logic nerd, dear reader).
In the same way, I think deductive reasoning and logic can help us nail down some deeper truths about defensive streaming in fantasy football heading into Week 3. For instance: “Good process often leads to good results.” Makes sense, right? Now, “Good results often indicate good process.” Makes sense too. The synthesis of that should be “Therefore, in order to get good results, one should follow a good process”, but have you seen what it’s like out there on the waiver wire right now?
I can’t always promise my logic won’t lead to fallacies, but I can promise that we’ll find a few “greater truths” tucked in here and there over the course of this column. Which defenses under 40% rostership should you look to stream in Week 3?
Cincinnati D/ST at DAL: 4 points, t-21st
Cleveland D/ST vs. NYJ: 3 points, t-24th
New York Giants D/ST vs. CAR: 7 points, t-14th
Things are settling in a little bit better, as we’ve avoided any true bottom-of-the-barrel streaming options this past week now. Still, a lot of surprise performances have pushed our averages way, way down (I mean, who was going to expect the Atlanta D/ST of all teams to force the Los Angeles Rams into another three-plus-takeaway game?
The Dallas Cowboys neutralized the Cincinnati D/ST’s dominant-on-paper pass-rush for the second straight week, despite Cincy allowing fewer than three touchdowns once again. They picked up just one sack and no takeaways, however. Tough start against easy opponents that makes me concerned for the rest of the season. The Cleveland D/ST were looking really good for a while but never picked up enough stats to hold their fantasy value once the New York Jets got their game-winning drive machine rolling.
Our lone bright spot was the New York Giants D/ST, whose two sacks and two takeaways led to a solid showing. Nothing to write home about, but this is the kind of average performance we’re aiming for at a minimum. Now that I’ve spoken it into the world, let’s see if we can manifest this effect for Week 3.
vs. Houston Texans
Spread: CHI -2.5
Roster Percentage: 5%
We shouldn’t be excited about the prospect of starting the Chicago D/ST in this matchup, probably. The 2022 Chicago Bears are a really tough process play considering that we try to find home teams who are sizable favorites by the betting lines as our baseline. That won’t happen often for these Bears, who look the most like their 1985 iteration on offense. Still, they’ve been solid as a defensive unit as well, ranking 12th in Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play through two weeks and the second-highest pressure rate among NFL defenses. Over the last two weeks, they’ve converted 5 of those pressures into sacks and forced more than one turnover per game to boot.
Chicago should provide the ceiling potential; their matchup with the Houston Texans provides the high-end floor. So far in 2022, the Texans have mustered just under 15 points per game, allowing three sacks in each contest. They have the third-worst offense by Pass NEP per play, and quarterback Davis Mills is suffering the 13th-highest allowed pressure rate among the 34 quarterbacks to drop back 20 or more times this year. For what it’s worth, Mills has a bottom-seven turnover-worthy play rate (per PFF), so his propensity to play safe should limit any Bears takeaway expectations in Week 3.
The Bears look to be the safest D/ST streamer this week, with Houston’s Mills limiting their offense’s “boom” potential. With a total of 40.5 tying for third-lowest on the slate and Chicago’s peripherals looking stunning, we can forgive a meager field goal of favoritism in the spread. Our model projects the Bears' defense for 8.0 fantasy points. That’s the fourth-most among Week 3 defensive options.
New York Giants
vs. Dallas Cowboys
Spread: NYG -2.5
Roster Percentage: 7%
Double-dipping hasn’t worked for us yet this year (RIP Bengals) and neither has streaming against the Cooper Rush edition of the Cowboys, but we’re gonna give it another go and keep the New York Giants D/ST rolling in Week 3.
The G-Men were our lone pseudo-hit in Week 2, and the process really worked for being on them. A low-scoring total, a favorite at home, and bad weather is a dream come true for context; add in that the Giants now reside in the top-third of the league in defensive pressure rate generated and top-half by Defensive Pass NEP per play, and things look even nicer. With rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux and veteran Azeez Ojulari hopefully returning soon to terrorize the edge of the offensive line, this pressure should likely return better sack conversion in the near future (New York is bottom-10 in sack rate).
Despite not getting bit by the Bengals, Cowboys’ quarterback Rush still played pretty fast and loose in Week 2. He is currently middle-of-the-pack in turnover-worthy play rate and allowed pressure rate, still without a big-time throw to his name this year. There’s a path to Dallas limiting the passing attack to high-percentage throws and just letting the game flow through the backfield again, but I like the Giants’ potential to disrupt those plans in primetime on Monday night.
Our model projects the Giants D/ST for 8.0 fantasy points – the fifth-most among Week 3 defenses. The 39.5-point total is second-lowest on the slate, New York is almost a field goal favorite here, and Dallas still gives up a top-10 mark in points per game to defenses. The Giants are a great deep streaming option with very low rostership.
at Washington Commanders
Spread: PHI -6.5
Roster Percentage: 33%
The Philadelphia D/ST is the highest-rostered unit in the column this week, and they’re actually the riskiest play in my mind. Through two weeks, the Philadelphia Eagles have displayed a Jekyll-and-Hyde-like vacillation between “just good enough” and “just plain good”, all precedented by their ability to force turnovers. They’re averaging 8.5 fantasy points per week, but they were only in the positives in Week 1 due to a defensive touchdown. They’ve also forced just a measly three sacks, with their 3.5% sack rate laughably bad even compared to the unlucky Giants; the Iggles’ 9.0% pressure rate to this point in 2022 is the second-lowest in the league.
Why you’d consider starting this defense is necessity, but also the matchup. The Washington Commanders so far are averaging three sacks allowed per week, as well as 2.5 giveaways (including a safety). The only reason they aren’t perceived as a better matchup for fantasy is that they have the potential to post buckets of offensive points and yards. Quarterback Carson Wentz drops back so often that Washington’s below-average pressure rate allowed shouldn’t be a major issue, and he’s top-10 in turnover-worthy play rate to boot.
Your fantasy hopes live and die with the interception this week if you start the Philadelphia D/ST, but our model projects them as the 13th-best defensive fantasy option, with a projection of 6.9 fantasy points. The total is a concerning 48.5 points, though they are favorites by nearly a touchdown on the road and could see a ton of passing volume to prey on in a shootout.