Dreaming of Streaming: Heavy Favorites and Streamers
August 21, 2014 | C.D. Carter
Creating a formula for the optimization of anything requires — first and foremost — to figure out what we need to emphasize and what we should take pains to de-emphasize.
And so it is with improving the streaming defense process — a goal of mine for going on three years now.
We know that targeting defenses that apply consistent pressure to quarterbacks make for dreamy streamers, and we understand that weekly winners very often end up as Top 12 fantasy defenses.
Most importantly, we’re now aware that teams Vegas favors to win on a weekly basis achieved Top 12 status 63.6 percent of the time in 2013. This gives us a clear and potentially critical starting point in selecting weekly streaming options from our local waiver wires, though we shouldn’t discount a defense if a team is a slight underdog in a given week.
This raises the question: Is every Vegas favorite created equal? Are defenses more likely to serve as solid streaming options if they’re favored by more than a point or two? What about overwhelming favorites — are teams expected by Vegas to blow out their opponents great streamers?
Should the creation of a formula meant to identify the week’s best streaming defenses give extra weight to teams that are favored by a huge margin? I went back to every Vegas line from 2013 and examined defenses that were favored by five or more points, and defenses favored by seven or more points.
The five and seven-point thresholds are arbitrary, though they seem to indicate two levels of expectations. An NFL team favored to win by more than a touchdown would seem to fit the description of a heavy favorite.
The results were actionable, if only slightly.
Forty-nine percent of teams favored by at least seven points ended the week as Top 12 fantasy defenses, and 52.8 percent of teams favored by at least five points posted Top 12 numbers.
That’s a significant drop from the 63.3 percent of all favorites who notched Top 12 weeks in 2013. It’s good for us to know that just because a team is expected to win handily — perhaps forcing the opponent to throw into an awaiting secondary while pass rushers pin back their ears — doesn’t mean they’ll be a more likely dreamy streamer than a team favored by two or three points.
That settles it: Heavy Vegas favorites will not be be our streaming targets simply because of a hefty point spread in their favor. That logic would’ve had us all streaming the Broncos in Week 6, when Vegas liked Peyton and company to beat the visiting Jaguars by 27 points.
Denver was the 13th highest scoring defense that week. It’s anecdotal, I know, but it’s worth remembering that an overwhelming favorite isn’t the end-all-be-all of streaming options in fantasy football.