Congratulations. You let Blaine Gabbert wash over you.
Interceptions for touchdowns, no matter when or where, are flukey by their very nature, though against the most generous offenses, they’re more likely. This, dear sister and brother, is why we stream defenses: we smartly play the odds, doing what the numbers tell us to do. No more or less.
The Rams’ defense, an objectively terrible unit, was Week 5’s No. 7 defense against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have become a streaming target unlike any in recent memory. Gabbert and his bumbling brood of bums are a fantasy godsend for opposing defenses, allowing 16.3 fantasy points per game. Only the artists formerly known as the Giants are worse.
Last week was a good one: three of our streaming options — the Rams, Browns, and Panthers — ended the week as a top-12 option. Atlanta was shellacked by a shockingly proficient Jets’ offense. I mentioned last week that that Falcons had both the highest upside of any streamer, along with the lowest fantasy floor. So it goes.
Before we proceed with Week 6’s dreamy streamers, let’s take a quick look at fantasy’s top-12 defenses through five weeks. Hallucinating advocates of the early-round defense strategy might point to Seattle’s No. 2 ranking as justification for their draft day antics, their plain and simple roster filling.
Forget that they have 24 fewer points than the Chiefs, who went un-drafted in all but the deepest of fantasy leagues. The charge that Seattle’s high ranking is a solid argument for their late fifth round average draft position ignores opportunity cost. By picking the Seahawks in the fifth, you missed out on guys like Pierre Garcon, Jordan Cameron, Tony Gonzalez, Torrey Smith and Michael Vick. You may have heard of them.
|Kansas City Chiefs||89||1|
|New England Patriots||49||11|
|New Orleans Saints||48||12|
A brief but incredibly important note before we look at streaming options: If you’re in the 5 percent of leagues in which the Denver Broncos’ defense is available, do everything you can to pick them up. Perhaps your league mate had a sadness blackout after Denver’s defense was annihilated by Tony Romo and his pass catchers. Perhaps you’re in a four-team leagues.
Whatever the case, Denver is Week 6’s no brainer No. 1 defensive play, as they prepare to let the Jaguars wash over them.
New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers were a far tastier streaming target a few weeks back. They’re healthier now, and with Le’Veon Bell looking like a Adrian Peterson compared to Felix Jones, Pittsburgh isn’t the soft target they were in the season’s first three weeks, when they were allowing 15.3 fantasy points to defenses.
The Jets, who have been a top-15 defense twice this year, aren’t nearly the best streaming options we’ll see this season. In fact, they’re probably one of the weaker options we’ll find. Gang Green sports the league’s top-rated run defense, according to Pro Football Focus. A home matchup against Pittsburgh’s sieve of an offensive line makes the Jets a prime streaming option. They’re available in 91 percent of leagues.
Cleveland Browns vs. Detroit Lions: It may be daunting to roll with a defense going toe to toe with Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Reggie Bush. It’s less daunting when you understand that Cleveland’s defense is a borderline elite unit, with a 3-4 attack that has stymied running attacks and put the clamps on the league’s most prolific pass catchers.
Browns’ cornerback Joe Haden has created his own little version of Revis Island, where even the likes of A.J. Green go to wilt away. No one can shut down Megatron one on one, but if anyone can limit the size-speed freak, it’s Haden. Only eight teams have allowed fewer passing yards than the Browns through five weeks. No defense had permitted fewer touchdown passes than the Browns, who have allowed a grand total of two.
Pro Football Focus rates five defenses — Kansas City, Seattle, Baltimore, Miami, and San Francisco — better than the Browns.
This is far from a matchup-based streaming play. Detroit is allowing a meager 4.4 fantasy points per game to opposing defenses. We’re using Cleveland’s defense this week because they’re a vastly underrated unit playing at home against an offense that hasn’t exactly sparkled as of late. If Megatron sits again in Week 6, the Browns become a top-5 fantasy defense.
Houston Texans vs. St. Louis Rams: The failures of the Texans’ offense have made life hellish for a Houston defense that could be dominant if not for the turnover machine that is Matt Schaub.
I know the Texans are owned in nine in 10 fantasy leagues — you don’t have to remind me on Twitter with four exclamation points — but I had to include them in this space. Do yourself a solid and snatch Houston off your local wire if they’re out there. St. Louis’ offense is a total and utter debacle, with Sam Bradford looking lost in an scheme devoid of difference makers or, you know, a running game.
Houston has 14 sacks, the 10th most in the NFL. JJ Watt and company could further unravel Bradford’s ever-unraveling 2013 campaign.
Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills: There’s someone named Thaddeus Lewis, and according to Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone, he’s going to start under center for the Bills against the Bengals this Sunday.
Lewis, who wasn’t terrible in his lone professional start as the Browns’ signal caller (204 yards, a touchdown and an interception in 2012’s Week 17), will lead Buffalo’s offense six days after being signed to take EJ Manuel’s place. Probably we’ll target Buffalo for the 4-6 weeks Manuel is on the shelf.
The Bills, who have allowed the fifth most sacks in the NFL, face the league’s 10th rated defense, according to PFF, and with little threat of a viable vertical game, expect the Bengals’ front seven to tee off on Lewis a week after sacking Tom Brady four times while generally making him appear confused and frustrated.
And don’t expect Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller — yes, somehow in that order — to find room to run against a Cincy defense allowing less than 100 ground yards a week. The Bengals are available in 20 percent of fantasy leagues.