Dreaming of Streaming: Three Defenses I’m Targeting on Draft Day August 4, 2013  |  C.D. Carter

It’s your brain, polluted with so much fear and anxiety on fantasy football draft day, that twists itself into pretzels of illogic and forces you to take a defense in the eighth or tenth or twelfth round, effectively undermining your squad before it’s even assembled.

You fall into the trap of what’s known as lineup filling – that insidious phenomenon. The reasoning goes a little something like this: You’ve already picked up a couple running backs, a nice wide receiver duo, a serviceable tight end and a quarterback, so, naturally, it’s time to fill that D/ST spot in your lineup.

Oh, and the Seattle Seahawks defense is available, so why not take the plunge and get a weekly advantage on your hated fantasy nemeses?

See how C.D. Carter selects his weekly dreamy streamers…

All you’ve done is drain your fantasy team of depth while sacrificing a very valuable pick. There is no year-to-year correlation as to which fantasy defenses will put up the most points.

The annual turnover of elite fantasy defenses isn’t predictable, in other words, so merely by guessing, you’re either foolish or overconfident. Maybe both.

The best approach to fantasy defenses, as you know if you read my “Dreaming of Streaming” columns last season, is to play the waiver wire, sometimes weeks in advance. This is hardly groundbreaking, though it’s critical to long-term success.

I’ll write more about year-to-year fantasy defense performance later this month. Today I’ll share three defenses I’m targeting in every draft, with the lone criteria being this: Who are they playing Week 1?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Jets

Fantasy football’s most generous secondary in 2012 saw giant upgrades in the acquisitions of all-world cornerback Darrelle Revis and former 49ers’ safety Dashon Goldson. The team’s run defense was suffocating in 2012 (allowing 3.6 yards per carry), and there’s no reason to believe things will be much different in 2013. Tampa defense end Adrian Clayborn, whose season ended abruptly with a Week 3 ACL tear, is expected back for Week 1.

We like our defensive streamers to have home matchups, but I’m downright giddy to deploy Tampa against a Jets’ offense that will be somewhere between woeful and hapless.

Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars

Again, we’re targeting one of the worst – the worst, in fact – fantasy defense from last season. Like the Bucs, Kansas City has added to their defense and will likely have a vastly improved offense that won’t put constant, back-breaking stress on the defense. When Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel are your signal callers, your defense will see quite a few tough situations against opponents with a pulse.

The Jaguars will once again have Chad Henne or Blaine Gabbert behind center on opening day, and unless you believe the Jaguars’ offensive additions of rookies Denard Robinson and Ace Sanders will make the team a sudden point-scoring juggernaut, you should feel fairly confident in rolling with the Chiefs. The Jags, who will be without Justin Blackmon on Opening Day, gave up 11.4 fantasy points per game to defenses in 2012 – the fourth worst in the NFL.

Indianapolis Colts vs. Oakland Raiders

The Raiders, as you may know by now, are perhaps the league’s most talent deficient team, with professional clipboard holder Matt Flynn at quarterback and a new running game approach installed for the third time in three years.

The Colts’ defense, while useful in a few games last season, was pretty dismal, ranking as the NFL’s 21st-ranked pass defense and 29th-ranked run defense. Reports out of Colts’ training camp say the defense has had its way with Andrew Luck’s offense, and the defense is now a year removed from an incredibly awkward transition from the 4-3 to the 3-4. Their personnel never fit the desired scheme, and it certainly showed on the field, as confusion reigned, especially early in the year.

“We’re definitely closer to a true 3-4 now. From the standpoint of knowledge of all the calls we had defensively and players and their physical ability, we’re way ahead of where we were last year,” Indianapolis defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said in a recent interview. “It was frustrating at times last year (not being able to implement the full scope of the 3-4). You want to expand the system and keep growing it, but they didn’t know it from the knowledge standpoint, so you’re limited in the calls you can make.”

Oakland’s offense allowed double-digit fantasy points to five of their last eight 2012 opponents, at a clip of 8.4 points per contest.


10 Responses

  1. Josh says:

    With Oakland’s O-line taking a beating, sounds like Colts might be the best play… But it’s so fun to root against the Sanchize.

  2. Don says:

    How about in a 14 team league that requires you to draft & roster 2 Ds all year!! In a 17 round draft, where would you take your first DST?

    • C.D. Carter says:

      I think you can still wait until the 12th or 13th round and end up with two viable defenses. I’d targets the Browns, Rams, and KC. The Texans have a super soft end-of-season schedule, fwiw.

  3. Matt says:

    Here’s where I disagree:

    There are some defenses that have been consistent over the last few years in fantasy football. Although I do agree that drafting a defense earlier will cause owners to lose out on depth, in most cases you can supplement that depth through the waiver wire as well.

    Also, the further you get into the draft, the more it becomes a guessing game when drafting for depth. It’s much more difficult to predict which rb or wr or te will be productive for you. A fair percentage of players drafted late are often dropped anyway. And finally, there are only 32 defenses to choose from and only around a third of them are consistent enough to start every week. Compare that to the fact that there are tons of different backup players to choose from and even more surprise players you could pick up from the waiver wire later on.

    I think drafting a defense a little earlier in the last round helps much more than it hurts you in the long run.

  4. Fabrizio says:

    Did a 10 team draft the other day, and I didn’t even draft a defense or a kicker. It’s still preseason.

  5. streamin' willie beamin says:

    i also kinda like Detroit or St. Louis in a pinch. After the three you listed, of course.

    Detroit made an effort to shore up their D this offseason (Ziggy + secondary additions), and they play the Vikes week 1. If they chase Ponder, watch out – Cassel replaces him! I know AD is a machine, but Greg Jennings probably won’t adequately replace Harvin and they can’t just rely on one guy all game, can they?

    St. Louis made mincemeat out of the NFC West last year. They play the Cards week 1. Palmer is surely an upgrade over frankenquarterback, but with their O-Line and broken running backs, it might not be a terrible play.

  6. Jeff Collins says:

    Does your theory of streaming D differ in a 16tm league, if so how? Knowing some teams will take 2 D’s there are usually around 10 teams on waviers making it more difficult to stream.


    • C.D. Carter says:

      The best streaming defense content can be found in “Fantasy Football For Smart People.” Excellent read from Jonathan Bales.

      You can certainly still stream in that league, though you might have to pay closer attention to favorable matchups several weeks in advance. Don’t draft two defenses, whatever you do.

      • Jeff Collins says:

        Will never take 2 D’s or 2 TE’s for that matter. Give me as many RBs and WRs as possible. Usually only take 1 QB also.

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