Dreaming of Streaming: Week 1
August 27, 2014 | C.D. Carter
Quantification is the key to fantasy football happiness.
That’s how I see it, anyway. I’m committed to waging war against the gut call in fake football — this season more than ever — and a tactical weapon in that war is something I’m going to call Streaming Scores.
Streaming Scores take into account myriad factors in how a defense might fare against their upcoming opponent, including Vegas projections (favorites and over/unders), home field, strength of opponent, and a defense’s prowess for putting pressure on the passer and creating turnovers.
After all, these factors proved to be critical elements in picking startable defensive streamers in 2013. More than six in 10 teams that were favored to win on a given week achieved top-12 defensive numbers, which is all we’re looking for in streaming defenses. We’ll hit on a top option here and there, but it’s this process — and the subsequent Streaming Scores — is designed to find safe weekly streamers.
Defensive scoring is fickle, however, so we’re going to swing and we’re going to miss here and there. Defensive/special teams touchdowns and turnovers are two incredibly difficult things to accurately project. Plainly and simply, variance is the nature of this beast.
The Streaming Score formula might require tweaking in the coming weeks and months, and I’ll use those scores to identify the best streaming options while providing context below the rankings, as seen below.
I would never charge that defenses with the highest Streaming Scores will never have disastrous outings, or that teams with low Streaming Scores don’t have a chance of notching a bushel full of fantasy points. I think it’s good process though, and that’s really all that matters in this silly game.
I’ve split the Streaming Scores into three sections: elite plays, good plays, and defenses to avoid.
|New York Jets||Oakland Raiders||7|
|Detroit Lions||New York Giants||6.5|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Jacksonville Jaguars||6.5|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Cleveland Browns||5|
|Oakland Raiders||New York Jets||5|
|St. Louis Rams||Minnesota Vikings||5|
|New England Patriots||Miami Dolphins||4.5|
* This is where context is critical: The Jets’ secondary is an absolute injury-riddled mess. Gang Green’s Streaming Score is so high because they’re at home, they’re favored, and they’re playing a Raiders’ offense that projects to be a turnover machine. After all, Oakland’s offense will be headed by the turnover cyborg, Matt Schaub. If New York’s secondary can look passable at all in 2014, I think this is the week.
* I’m wary of Oakland as a streamer. Geno Smith, if you remember, was a streaming defense dream come true during Jets losses in 2013, but posted high-end quarterback production during Jets wins. Vegas likes the Jets here, so I’m hesitant to go all in on the Raiders.
* I don’t think you can go wrong streaming Washington or Houston in Week 1. If I had to choose between the teams with identical Streaming Scores, I’d go with Houston since they are at home and favored by Vegas.
* I see New England as a potentially elite defense that could quickly turn into a no-brainer every-week starter. They start the season at Miami and while they’re favored, the Dolphins don’t project to be a particularly turnover-prone team. The Pats could make their streaming money with pressure on Ryan Tannehill, who will be once again forced to operate behind a sub-par offensive line.
* The Eagles head into Week 1 as the biggest favorite of any team in the league, getting the Jaguars at home. Remember that overwhelming Vegas favorites only have a coin flip’s chance of finishing the week as a top-12 fantasy defense, and that the Jacksonville offense has shown signs of serious improvement against first-team defenses this preseason. I still see Philly as a preeminent streamer for the opening week.
|Baltimore Ravens||Cincinnati Bengals||3|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Baltimore Ravens||3|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Tennessee Titans||3|
|Chicago Bears||Buffalo Bills||3|
|Carolina Panthers||Tampa Bay Bucs||2.5|
|New Orleans Saints||Atlanta Falcons||2.5|
* The Saints’ starting secondary has looked ferocious in limited preseason action. While New Orleans’ throw down against Atlanta is projected as one of the week’s highest scoring affairs, I wouldn’t argue against rolling with the Saints’ defense.
* I was surprised that the Bears’ defense didn’t rank among Week 1’s elite plays. The Bill’s ultra run-heavy attack isn’t conducive to a bunch of turnovers, however. Buffalo’s first-team offense has looked horrendous this month, failing to score a touchdown through three preseason tilts. Chicago is at home and they’re favored. I see them as a high-floor option with a limited ceiling.
* The Chiefs’ defense — our saving grace in 2013 — has been vulnerable to big plays over the top of the secondary this month, just as they did for most of the second half of last season. Perhaps that’s not a huge concern against a team like the Titans, though the emergence of Justin Hunter as a wicked downfield threat could prove problematic for the Kansas City secondary. I would avoid KC if I could.
|Arizona Cardinals||San Diego Chargers||2|
|Seattle Seahawks||Green Bay Packers||2|
|Miami Dolphins||New England Patriots||1.5|
|New York Giants||Detroit Lions||1|
|Denver Broncos||Indianapolis Colts||1|
|Cleveland Browns||Pittsburgh Steelers||1|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Philadelphia Eagles||1|
|San Diego Chargers||Arizona Cardinals||1|
|San Francisco 49ers||Dallas Cowboys||1|
|Buffalo Bills||Chicago Bears||1|
|Minnesota Vikings||St. Louis Rams||1|
|Tennessee Titans||Kansas City Chiefs||0|
|Green Bay Packers||Seattle Seahawks||0|
|Tampa Bay Bucs||Carolina Panthers||0|
|Atlanta Falcons||New Orleans Saints||-.5|
|Indianapolis Colts||Denver Broncos||-1|
* Seattle’s Streaming Score doesn’t mean I wouldn’t start them against the Packers on Opening Night. It is reflective of the Packers’ point-scoring prowess with Aaron Rodgers back at the helm. It’s tough not to like the Seahawks on Opening Night in the Thunderdome, in any case.
* The 49ers-Cowboys matchup is expected to be among the highest scoring (50.5 points) in Week 1. San Fran’s Streaming Score is low for a reason, and I’d stream any of the elite Streaming Score teams over the Niners when they travel to Dallas.