Philadelphia’s recent strong defensive play evaporated in a smoke that suffocated a million fantasy seasons, as the Eagles’ vulnerable secondary was lit aflame by none other than Matt Cassel. The Eagles didn’t seem all that interested in defending anyone.
It was the nightmare scenario foretold by Vegas odds makers, who set the Eagles-Vikings game at 53 points — the highest Week 15 over-under. Philly’s defense, it turned out, was a streaming play that would rely on a score (or two) to post a decent line. We never want to rely on that.
I apologize for recommending the Eagles. It wasn’t simply a case of deploying a great streaming play and getting torched. It was illogical, and I’m sorry for that. I live and die by my streamers, for whatever that’s worth, and I lost a semifinal game by 1.5 points, thanks in large part to Philadelphia’s defensive disappearance.
So I feel your pain.
Jacksonville’s defense, meanwhile, scored a decent eight points on the strength of four sacks, an interception, and a fumble recovery. They were hardly spectacular, but they looked like the ’85 Bears compared to Philly’s defenders.
Detroit Lions vs. New York Giants: This is the most glaringly obvious streaming play of 2013. We’ve targeted Eli and company since late-September, and Big Blue has given us no reason to stop now. The Giants have given up double-digit outputs to defenses seven times this season — one of the more incredible stats of 2013.
Victor Cruz is expected to miss this week’s game. Not that his presence made the Giants’ offense that much better.
No team, not even the Jets, give up more points to opposing defenses. Forget about how the Lions have become an epic disaster and just roll with them against the most reliable thing in streaming.
The Lions’ defense is owned in about one in five leagues.
Cleveland Browns at New York Jets: The streaming deities have blessed us with two streaming options going against the two New York teams. Geno Smith’s offense hasn’t been quite as generous to opposing defenses in recent weeks, but the Jets are still giving up 11.8 fantasy points per game to defenses. They’ve given up eight turnovers during that stretch.
Cleveland sports a top-10 run defense, according to Pro Football Focus, along with a respectable pass rush. The one warning sign for those rolling with the Browns against Gang Green: Shutdown cornerback Joe Haden was forced from Week 15′s game with a hip pointer, and while x-rays showed no extensive damage, there’s a decent chance he’ll miss Week 16′s trip to New York.
The Browns, even if Haden sits, are an obvious top-10 play.
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars: Things have gone awry for the once mighty Titans defense — a top-7 unit in the first half of the season. Tennessee has now averaged a measly four fantasy points over their past five contests. They faced Peyton’s Perfect Machine during that span, which never helps.
The Jaguars reverted to their old, streaming-friendly ways last week against Buffalo, turning the ball over thrice and giving up five sacks to a rejuvenated Bills’ front seven. Jacksonville’s offense is ravaged by injuries, with Cecil Shorts likely to be shut down for the season’s remainder. I don’t see that as a huge upgrade for the Titans’ defense, but it makes them all the safer for championship week.
The Jags have the NFL’s worst run blocking unit, according to PFF, so expect Chad Henne to be forced to chuck it quite a bit against the Titans’ stellar secondary.
For the record: I’d prioritize the Lions, then the Titans, then the Browns for your title bouts.