We should head into every week holding two diametrically opposed ideas firmly in our minds: Trust the numbers, and know that they lie.
That duo of indisputable truths was on full display in Week 11, as many streamers put their full faith in the Giants’ defense, while others rolled with the Bills. Examining season-long numbers made the former, playing Big Blue against the Packers, a seemingly foolhardy play. The latter choice, deploying Buffalo’s defense against Gang Green, made statistical sense.
Both options paid major dividends for owners last week, as the Bills finished with 19 fantasy points — second most in Week 11 — and the Giants tallied 16 points, fourth best among all defenses.
Green Bay’s offense had held opposing defenses to negative fantasy points thrice this season, only allowing a single unit — the Bengals’ defense — to rack up double digit points. In this way, the numbers lied, or bent the truth, at best. New York’s defense had totaled six fantasy points through the season’s first six weeks. Astounding, I know.
The Week 11 difference, of course, was that third-stringer Scott Tolzien was under center, facing a Giants’ defense that had shown vast improvement over the past month. New York, in fact, is fantasy’s No. 3 defense over the past four weeks.
The Jets, meanwhile have allowed double digit fantasy points to enemy defenses in six of their past eight contests, proving especially generous on the road. Trusting the numbers would’ve led you to the Bills’ defense.
Gang Green’s defense also made all the statistical sense in the degenerate world, and they were held to precisely zero Week 11 points. This might be a case study in understanding that trusting the numbers is putting process over results — a key for all fantasy footballers, especially those who stream.
Let’s take a look at how deceiving the numbers are in Week 12. Here are my full Week 12 rankings.
Baltimore Ravens vs. New York Jets: Geno Smith’s crew has officially entered the competition for best streaming defense targets for the remainder of the 2013 campaign. The Jets are hemorrhaging turnovers of late, allowing nine of their past four games.
The Jets are averaging 2.8 turnovers per game on the road, and now face the league’s sixth best run defense, according to Pro Football Focus. That means, in short, Jets’ coaches won’t be able to take the pigskin out of Smith’s hands. That’s fantastic news for anyone who can snag Baltimore’s defense from the waiver wire this week.
Baltimore is available in about 30 percent of leagues. They’re a locked-in top-3 option.
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants: Rolling with Big D’s defense is truly a trusting of the numbers, which, as far as I can tell, are not lying. Even Green Bay’s banged-up defense, getting little help from its offense last week, managed six points against Big Blue.
Remember: the Giants were giving up 12.8 fantasy points to defenses as recently as Weeks 6-10. It was much worse before that stretch, as the unstoppable turnover machine known as Eli Manning made streaming so very easy.
Dallas’ defense is bad. Really bad, in fact. They’re third worst against the run, 12th worst in pass coverage, and sport a middling pas rush. The Cowboys are allowing a league-high 439 total yards per game. For some perspective, consider Tampa’s less-than-dominant defense is giving up about 100 fewer yards per contest.
The numbers might not be lying, but fibbing. They’re not entirely truthful, but that doesn’t mean Dallas isn’t a top-12 Week 12 play.
Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: The Texans, like any Jacksonville opponent, has the week’s highest fantasy floor. Chad Henne and company showed signs of offensive life against Arizona last week and still gave up nine fantasy points, thanks to a pair of interceptions.
Houston’s defense hasn’t tallied more than seven fantasy points since all the way back in Week 4 against Seattle. We’re not deploying a red-hot defenses here, but that doesn’t matter against an offense that, while improved, has averaged a measly 268 total yards per game over their past three.
Houston’s high floor stems from the team’s top-five pass rush facing off against the Jags’ middle-of-the-road pass blocking unit. The J.J. Watt-led defensive line could — and should — tally at least a few sacks against Jacksonville.
The Texans’ defense is available in about a third of leagues.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers: This is best described as a high ceiling, low floor defensive streaming play. Minnesota’s defense is shreddable, as they’ve shown over and over in 2013. Deploying this unit against Tolzien and the Packers is essentially banking on turnovers and perhaps a defensive (or special teams) score.
The Vikings’ bottom-three secondary, ravaged by injuries and plagued by consistently awful play, will be susceptible to any signal caller. Tolzien, for all his various and inevitable mistakes, has played well in his two games under center, throwing for 280 and 339 yards, respectively. Minnesota is a risky but worthwhile play in deeper leagues.