Those numbers seemed to be speaking the truth, or some version of it, anyway.
I wrote last week about the ability to hold two competing ideas in our degenerate brains: trust the numbers, and know that they sometimes lie straight to our faces. It was an important note in Week 12, as I recommended the Dallas Cowboys’ defense almost entirely because I trusted the Giants wouldn’t magically solve their insidious turnover problem.
Dallas didn’t exactly light the fantasy scoreboard aflame, but they finished as a top-12 Week 12 defense thanks to Victor Cruz’s first quarter fumble that led to a Cowboys defensive score.
I would’ve been loath to suggest playing the Cowboys’ defense if we had only had a few weeks of data with which to work. A much smaller sample size would’ve led me to believe that Big Blue’s turnover proneness was the very definition of bad luck, of flukiness. The massive data sample is why our decision making often seems better in the waning weeks of the NFL season.
The numbers had been far too consistent — New York’s turnovers and sacks allowed far too predictable — to wave a dismissive hand at anyone playing Eli and company.
Let’s get to Week 13′s best streamers, and see if we can sneak you into those fantasy playoffs.
Cleveland Browns vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: The Texans’ defense (almost) couldn’t have played worse against Jacksonville last week, and still ended the week with eight fantasy points. More than a sign of some form of an offensive resurgence in Jacksonville, I think we should see this as a sign of fantasy goodness to come.
The Browns sport a top-10 run defense, according to Pro Football Focus’ metrics, so I’m not too fearful of the Jaguars running roughshod over Cleveland’s front seven like they did against Houston.
Jacksonville’s offense — and defense — has undoubtedly improved over the past month. They’re still a streaming target, however, as they’ve given up less than eight points to defenses only once this season.
Cleveland is a locked-in top-5 option. They’re available in 90 percent of leagues.
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets: It’s been about a decade since Geno Smith last looked competent in the pocket. The mere presence of Josh Cribbs behind center is a symbol of the dark place in which Gang Green’s offense now resides.
Defenses over the past four weeks have scored an average of 15.9 fantasy points against the Jets.
I expect the Cameron Wake-led Miami pass rush (second best in the NFL) to wreak absolute havoc on Smith this week. The Dolphins are vulnerable against the run, to be sure, but that’s the beauty of streaming a defense that doesn’t have to fear the pass. There’s no reason Miami won’t be able and willing to stack the box against whoever is toting the rock for New York.
Miami, available in 86 percent of leagues, is a top-10 Week 13 play.
New England Patriots at Houston Texans: I’d hate for you to pass on the Patriots’ defense if you’re in one of the 20 percent of leagues that have New England on the waiver wire.
Houston has committed, once more, to Case Keenum behind center in what should be a bloodbath. Keenum looked perplexed against the blitz last week against Jacksonville, just as he was befuddled by any sort of pressure the previous week against Oakland.
Keenum said after Week 12′s loss that he felt “uncomfortable” behind center, and in an interview with the Houston Chronicle, quarterbacks coach Karl Dorrell said Keenum needs to “understand fundamental defense” before he can be a proficient signal caller.
Roll out your Patriots.