Dreaming of Streaming: Re-Examining Our Formula
April 17, 2015 | C.D. Carter
You may or may not remember me as the guy rambling on and on in 2014 about how we wanted streaming defenses playing at home, favored by Vegas, squaring off against a turnover-prone quarterback.
We went in a new and logical direction in 2014, emphasizing home teams, favored teams, and teams playing against offenses that tended to give up the pigskin the most. No formula guarantees weekly fake football glory, of course, but our 2014 Streaming Scores served us pretty well.
Defenses that were given top-5 weekly Streaming Scores averaged 10.2 fantasy points per week, or 2.7 more fantasy points than the vaunted Seattle Seahawks notched on a weekly basis. Some of the defenses with top Streaming Scores were widely owned, but I made sure to point to widely-available defensive units for those in deeper leagues or leagues with savvy opponents. The highest weekly Streaming Scores usually had something for everyone.
I based our streaming formula in large part on Vegas favorites because we knew that in 2013, 63.6 percent of defenses that scored top-12 weekly finishes were favored to win. An astounding eight in 10 teams that finished as top-12 defenses won their game that week.
Then the question naturally arose: Is every Vegas favorite created equal? Are defenses more likely to serve as solid streaming options if they’re favored by more than a point or two? What about overwhelming favorites — are teams expected by Vegas to blow out their opponents great streamers?
Here’s the short answer.
How, you might ask, did Vegas favorites fare in 2014? I went and crosschecked weekly favorites and top-12 D/ST finishes until my eyeballs hopped out of their sockets and walked away. Here’s what I found.
|Week||Top 12 D/STs who were favored||Percentage of Top 12 D/STs who were favored|
The above findings are fairly encouraging: they fall in line with what we found last summer — that roughly 60 percent of top-12 defenses are favored to win their weekly matchups. Some weeks looked grim for this theory — here’s looking at you, Opening Day — while other weeks made favoriting the favorites look downright genius. Thanks, Week 6.
Examining Vegas favorites was only one piece of our degenerate puzzle though. The other big piece was finding teams that were committing turnovers by the handful.
This element is why we begged off targeting the post-Carson Palmer Cardinals: Bruce Arians’ scheme was not prone to turnovers, and Arizona’s annoying little game of keep-away was less than ideal for opposing defenses looking to pile up turnovers and sacks.
|Team||Fantasy points allowed to opposing D/STs||Turnovers allowed/rank||Sacks allowed/rank|
|Jaguars||13.3||26 (10th)||71 (1st)|
|Rams||11.2||27 (9th)||47 (8th)|
|Buccaneers||11.1||33 (2nd)||52 (3rd)|
|Washington||10.1||31 (3rd)||58 (2nd)|
|Raiders||9.8||29 (6th)||28 (27th)|
|Titans||9.7||26 (10th)||50 (6th)|
|Jets||8.5||24 (14th)||47 (9th)|
|49ers||8.3||22 (21st)||52 (3rd)|
|Bears||7.9||29 (6th)||41 (14th)|
|Vikings||7.8||20 (24th)||51 (5th)|
The above list is a veritable greatest hits of offenses we targeted on the regular in 2014. Washington, Jacksonville, Oakland, and Tennessee were among our top-5 Streaming Score targets more often than any team in the league last season. And for good reason: every team either hemorrhaged turnovers, sacks, or both.
One of the best parts about streaming defenses — besides the occasional Island Game heartburn for yours truly — is that the best streaming targets make themselves known early in the year. Not every squad listed above was a no-brainer streaming target — the 49ers allowed less than five fantasy points seven times — but identifying the most generous teams doesn’t take long.
That allows for planning, and as we know, obsessively planning ahead is the hallmark of a good defensive streamer. And crippling degeneracy.
Remember that fantasy writer Jonathan Bales has taken a close look at the correlation between pressure and turnovers and found that teams that apply the most pressure to opposing signal callers record far more forced fumbles and interceptions than defenses that record the fewest quarterback pressures.
In fact, you can explain almost half of NFL interceptions with how often teams pressured the passer. That, as Bales wrote, is incredible, and it’s something we paid close attention to during the 2014 NFL season.
We’re a long way from even broaching 2015 streaming strategy or Week 1 plays, but I think this review shows that we’re on the right track, and that perhaps sacks and turnovers should be slightly more emphasized than the Vegas favorite.
I’ll unveil new streaming data in the next couple months. Until then, keep reviewing your worst fantasy football lineup mistakes of 2014 and see your dentist about that teeth grinding problem.