I won’t soft soap it: defensive streamers the world over took a licking last week.
Not even the Vikings’ defense, the one with the streaming matchup made in the shiniest part of fantasy football heaven, could save us. Three interceptions and a fumble recovery made Minnesota a viable option, but it was clear early on that I had failed to factor in one critically important part of playing against the Browns: They have nothing to lose.
It’s that sort of let-it-fly mentality that should terrify defensive streamers to our very cores. That approach can certainly lead to all sorts of turnovers, but it’ll often yield yardage, and lots of it. Cleveland chucked the ball 54 times against the Vikings’ zombie-like secondary, which is now allowing 317 passing yards per contest.
I stand by my picks of the Vikings and Giants – and my Friday additions of the Saints and Jets – because, as always, I let the numbers guide me. Take a look at the trove of stats that compelled us to use those defensive units and remember that just as a killer poker hand will lose, so too will excellent fantasy football plays.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. New York Giants: The highest scoring defense in fantasy football is owned in one-third of leagues. Yes, one in three. As in: 33 percent.
The Chiefs shut down Chip Kelly’s offense as much as it can be shut down last Thursday night, recording six sacks, five turnovers, and the fluky but all-important defensive touchdown. Kansas City is a legit elite defensive unit, and now they get one of the NFL’s deadest offenses on their home field.
Let the Chiefs’ defense wash over you, as they surely will over Eli Manning.
Kansas City, thanks in part to playing the minor league Jaguars in Week 1, has allowed 11.3 points per game while creating a veritable avalanche of turnovers. They now have five interceptions, four fumble recoveries, and two defensive scores. Their front seven has proved dominant, sacking the quarterback a league-leading 15 times.
|Kansas City Chiefs||Rank|
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus
The Giants, after last week’s apocalyptic meltdown in Carolina, are now ranked as the fifth worst passing team in football, according to PFF. Big Blue now sports the league’s fourth worst overall offense, with the second worst pass protection.
This game features the NFL’s most turnover-happy offense against its most turnover-happy defense.
There’s no reason to think Manning will suddenly have time to operate in a hostile atmosphere, against the NFL’s best defense. Defenses are gouging New York to the sweet, sweet tune of 19.3 fantasy points per game. Roll with Kansas City as a top-3 Week 4 play.
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars: Blaine Gabbert, to our great delight, is back in the saddle for Jacksonville after Chad Henne looked – shockingly – like himself over the past couple weeks.
The Jaguars are reportedly abandoning everything they touted in the preseason: their up-tempo offense that was supposed to run 70-80 plays a game, and their zone blocking scheme championed by offensive coaches.
Jacksonville is predictably the worst passing attack in the NFL. What might surprise you is that the Jags also have the league’s least effective running game, according to PFF. Their running attack – if you can call it such – is worse than Pittsburgh’s, somehow.
The Colts’ defense in Week 1 disappointed those who thought Indy was the locked-and-loaded No. 1 fantasy defense against the Raiders. They might’ve been against clipboard-holding savant Matt Flynn, but Terrelle Pryor shredded the Colts and made them a middling Week 1 play.
The Colts were fantasy’s No. 7 defense against the 49ers in Week 3, making critical early-game adjustments to stop the San Francisco run game that had great success in the first quarter. Indy’s defense isn’t all that impressive through three games, though the good news for streamers is that that hardly matters.
All that matters is that the Colts are playing against a Jacksonville offense giving up 14.3 fantasy points per game to opposing defenses.
Read this and salivate: The Jaguars are now averaging 230 total yards of offense per game. That, at the very worst, gives Indy’s defense a high fantasy floor going into Week 4.
Tennessee Titans vs. New York Jets: I think both of these teams could be fine streaming options as they square off against each other. The Titans sport a top-6 pass defense, so I wouldn’t expect Geno Smith to shred that secondary like he did against Buffalo’s bottom-5 coverage unit.
New York maintained the league’s stringiest run defense, per PFF. They now allow 79.5 rush yards per game and largely shutting down the Bills’ rushers Week 3. Gang Green allows the eighth fewest pass yards per contest. Jake Locker won’t look like Warren Moon this week.
Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills: Probably owners will flock to the wire to snag the Ravens’ defense after their league-leading 23 fantasy points against the Texans in Week 3. Baltimore, owned in 84 percent of leagues, is the third highest scoring defense in fantasy, sporting the NFL’s fourth best run defense (74.7 yards per game).
I’d like them better at home, of course, but even in Buffalo, Baltimore is an easy top-10 option. The Bills, it should be noted, has hardly been friendly to opposing defenses. They’re allowing 4.5 fantasy points a game to fantasy defenses.