I’ve been asked countless times why shouldn’t I just roll with one defense all season? Fair question. I usually respond with a question.
Why would I pick just one?
Picking one defense is like going to the same diner every week. Sometimes the food will be great, other times it will be just OK, and rarely, it may even be vom-worthy. Trust me, even the best defenses lay an egg at some point during the season. Playing weekly matchups allows the owner to spend their draft picks on impact offensive contributors. The math has been done, streaming defenses properly nets you top-5 defensive production over the course of a full season without having to waste a high pick on Seattle’s 12th man, for example.
So how does the restaurant analogy come full circle when it comes to streaming defenses? Streaming defenses is like going to a new restaurant every week. Variety is fun! The wait times might be long at the hot place in town but the restaurant (or defense) with the best value might be wide open for the taking. I don’t know about you, but if I have to choose between a packed restaurant with high expectations or a smaller restaurant with local owners, better deals, and a chance at amazing food, I know where I am going.
In standard formats, only three of the top 10 defenses (Patriots, Bengals, Panthers) are 100% owned. The other 7? Texans (58.2%), Falcons (9.2%), Bears (8.9%), Bills (43.9%), Lions (8.8%), Vikings (2.2%) and Eagles (7%). Three weeks is a small sample, but when 3 of the bottom 4 units are universally owned, something needs to change.
How did I do last week?
The Chargers allowed only 10 points to the Bills and got to EJ Manuel three times. In total they scored 9 fantasy points in standard, almost as many as the 100% owned Seattle defense has scored all season. The Cowboys didn’t get past the Rams offensive line all game to sack the QB but they did have two interceptions, one fumble recovery and a defensive TD; good for 12 points. Not bad for a defense that is 4% owned and is considered one of the worst in football. The Texans were my flop of the week. I thought they would be all over Eli and the Giants. Instead, they allowed 30 points, only sacked Eli once and scored just three fantasy points. This week they have the Bills, but I wasn’t impressed with them last week. I will be looking for a better matchup than that. The Indianapolis Colts on the other hand left you happier than a kid in a candy store. Indy allowed 17 points to the Jags, with two picks, one fumble recovery and a TD. They also recorded 4 sacks and are currently 14.5% owned. Finally, the Patriots (now 100% owned after waivers last week) disappointed, with only one pick and no sacks against the Raiders. This matchup was supposed to be better than prom night for the New England Patriots but instead they were held to just six fantasy points. Still overall, the Patriots are currently the number one fantasy defense after three weeks.
Convinced? Join the party. Below are defensive options whom are widely available. You should be able to pick them up in the majority of leagues. Good luck in week 4!
Week 4 Targets:
San Diego Chargers: The first thing I do when writing this is to see which team is playing Jacksonville. Ding ding ding! It’s San Diego’s turn. The Jaguars with Bortles under center may be a different team but every opposing defense through three weeks has scored at least 14 fantasy points! I will take my chances with the San Diego Chargers. Not only are the Chargers a team that likes to sack opposing QB (at least two sacks in every matchup this year) but the Jaguars have a terrible offensive line. In three games, Jaguars QB’s have already been sacked 17 times, including 10 times in week 2 by Washington. I expect San Diego to attack Bortles (if he starts) and get to him at least 5 times.
Indianapolis Colts: Again, the Colts show up, partly because of their defensive play, but also because of their schedule. This week, the Colts get the Tennessee Titans. The Titans have allowed multiple sacks all three weeks and Jake Locker has also thrown two picks in each of the past two games. Indy is a safe pick for some points.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Coming off a great Sunday night performance against Carolina, the Steelers are at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this weekend. Along with 7 sacks given up in three weeks, the Bucs have trouble holding on to the rock. Opposing defenses already have five lost fumbles, and McCown has thrown an interception in every game this season. The Steelers should have a nice home-cooked defensive feast in week 4.
Chicago Bears: If you look at who Chicago plays this weekend, you might think I am crazy. Chicago is my surprise pick of the week. The Bears host Aaron Rodgers and the Packers this week. That being said, the Packers offensive line is struggling through three weeks and also giving up lots of sacks. Opposing defenses have gotten to Rodgers 9 times thus far and the Bears have 8 sacks of their own. Rodgers might get his yards, but I think they will pressure him enough early to at least leave you with a positive fantasy performance when the day comes to an end. Only 8.9% owned right now so they should be available in your fantasy league.
Remember that while going to the same restaurant might be a tradition every week, at some point you are going to get sick and tired of the same food. Try new places, take risks, and try some places that might not look pretty from the outside. Sometimes, those places are the ones with the best food.
Have a great week!
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/8k7DDm
Jared “Minnesota Nice” Hines is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @Jared_Hines27!