Dreaming of Streaming: Week 17 Update
December 26, 2014 | C.D. Carter
There’s an understandable but oh-so-reflexive inclination to go all in on a defense facing off against a backup quarterback. There are myriad factors in play when selecting fantasy defenses, as we well know, and the mere presence of a second-string signal caller shouldn’t make us champ at that proverbial bit.
Alex Smith apparently suffered a lacerated spleen last week against Pittsburgh, and will miss Week 17’s tilt against the Chargers. Chase Daniel will start in Smith’s stead, much to the delight of Alex Smith Hater Nation that seems to grow by the week.
I don’t think this makes the Chargers’ defense a much better play. In fact, it might not make San Diego any more appealing than if Smith were starting. The Bolts faced off against Daniel last December, and the athletic backup threw for 200 yards and a score, limiting the Chargers’ defense to a meager 3.9 fantasy points. The Chiefs offense, much like Arizona’s, is anything but prone to turnovers — something that’s easy to forget when a backup quarterback is forced into action.
San Diego has one of Week 17’s lowest defensive Streaming Scores, and for good reason. Kansas City has limited opposing defenses to six or fewer fantasy points nine times in 2014. Defenses average just 5.8 fantasy points against the Chiefs’ ultra-conservative offense. The Chiefs are favored in this one, making it at least somewhat unlikely that Daniel will be forced into throwing into the teeth of the Chargers’ secondary in obvious passing situations.
Then there’s this little tidbit: Only four teams force fewer turnovers per game than San Diego. The Bolts notch an average of 0.9 turnovers on the road. It all spells disaster for anyone who goes in on the Chargers because Daniel will be under center for the Chiefs.
Below are a couple more observations as we head into Week 17. I hope you found defensive Streaming Scores to be helpful in 2014, even if it took half a season for the top scores to consistently notch top-10 fantasy performances. I see Streaming Scores as a way to strip away some of the guesswork in choosing streaming defenses, and that, dear streamer, should be paramount.
* Don’t be scared away from deploying the Denver defense against Oakland in Week 17. This has happened before: Derek Carr and company look to be a functional team at home, only to fall to pieces on the road. Here are fantasy point totals for defenses facing the Raiders away from Oakland: 6, 8, 11, 15, 10, 30, 17. That’s remarkable, especially seeing that the Raiders allow just 4.2 fantasy points to defenses in home contests. That split tells use everything we need to know about the Broncos viability in Week 17. Denver has a middling Streaming Score of three, but I have them locked in as a top-5 Week 17 option. Oakland commits an average of 2.2 turnovers on the road. That’s remarkable.
* I wanted to go all in on the Patriots‘ defense against Buffalo this week, but with the news that New England may or may not rest their starters, I think it’s best to fade the Pats’ defense. Buffalo hasn’t been all that generous to opposing defenses anyway, giving up double-digit fantasy points to a defense just once since Kyle Orton took over as starter. Strangely enough, Buffalo gives up just 1.1 turnovers on the road, almost a full turnover more than they allow at home. Only three teams allow fewer schedule-adjusted fantasy points than the Bills. With so many solid defensive options in Week 17, I’m finding it fairly easy to fade the Pats in both seasonal and daily fantasy formats.