Dreaming of Streaming: Every-Week Starters
August 8, 2014 | C.D. Carter
If my avalanche of numbers didn’t convince you, and if you’re still a disciple of the Best of Everything approach, I have a few hundred words of advice for you.
For those committed to forsaking the stream — for refusing the dream — I think you can do a whole lot better than to target the first couple defenses listed in your default draft queue. The following is for those who want to set it and forget it when it comes to their weekly defensive choices, but don’t want to sacrifice boatloads of draft day equity along the way.
I don’t endorse it, of course, as defensive points are inherently difficult to predict and very much replaceable on a weekly basis. But if you must…
New England Patriots
Going in the middle of the 11th round of drafts, I think the Patriots’ defense has as good a chance as any to end 2014 as fantasy’s top defense.
For a secondary that allowed the 11th most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in 2013, New England allowed a surprisingly low .40 fantasy points per attempt (FPAT) to opposing signal callers. That’s borderline elite. Curiously, the Patriots shut down Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, while giving up huge games to Ryan Tannehill, Jason Campbell, and Geno Smith.
The team’s front seven is finally healthy and they’ve added Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner to the already-solid secondary that includes Devin McCourty. The Pats are firmly on my list of defenses to avoid in streaming quarterbacks, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them post consistently high-scoring defensive outputs. Their 11th round ADP is way too high for me, but it’s much better than taking Seattle in the eighth round.
Five of New England’s first eight games are decidedly favorable matchups.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams’ defense is also going in the 11th round of drafts, and with a couple great matchups to start the season, don’t expect them to be on any waiver wires come late September.
Last year’s sixth highest scoring fantasy defense, the Rams posted six games of double-digit production thanks to their vicious front four that took pressure off of a spotty secondary. With Robert Quinn as the anchor of St. Louis’ terrifying pass rush — not to mention Chris Long and newly signed Alex Carrigan — the Rams should be able to counter the occasional high-scoring affair with a bushel full of sacks.
The Rams, according to Pro Football Focus, had the NFL’s second best run defense last year. That’s not exactly what we’re looking for when we choose an every-week defense — turnovers are our goal — but it’s good to know that St. Louis isn’t likely to be gashed on the ground.
I’d rather have the Patriots if I have to start the same defense every week, but St. Louis is bound to put up solid production throughout 2014.
New Orleans Saints
I think the Saints represent a sort of middle ground between those determined to get the Best of Everything and those committed to streaming defenses.
New Orleans can be had at the end of the 14th round, making them a (potentially) far better value play than the defenses listed above. With defensive end Cam Jordan wreaking havoc up front and a secondary bolstered by a now healthy Kenny Vaccaro and big-ticket free agent signing Jarius Byrd, the New Orleans defense is set up for nuclear performances now and again.
The Saints were a bottom-5 run defense in 2013. There’s not much reason to believe that will change very much in 2014, but if you’re looking for serious turnover (and touchdown) potential, I don’t think you can do much better than the Saints. The always-potent New Orleans offensive machine will ensure teams are forced to throw against what I think could be a top-flight secondary.
And if they tank, so what? The Saints’ defense is essentially free.