Dreaming of Streaming Update: Week 14
December 5, 2014 | C.D. Carter
Let’s get back to the basics of streaming defenses: We look for defensive units set to face inaccurate quarterbacks who will likely have to throw early and often. If said defense has a solid secondary, that’s a plus, but it’s hardly a requirement.
Turnovers, after all, are our goal. Nothing more or less.
And as you agonize over your Week 14 defensive play, weighing this factor and that factor, vascilating between options that could win or lose your opening playoff matchup in the league you’ve wanted to win more than you care to admit, remember the basics — the nuts and bolts of streaming defenses.
Invest in units that face terrible quarterbacks who will be forced to do football things. With that in mind, I have some quick thoughts on Week 14 options that fit this bill, and a couple that don’t.
Giants: Jake Locker, in his 24 games as Tennessee’s starter, has posted a sub-60 percent completion rate 11 times. Yes, Locker — who the franchise has given up on, and rightfully so — has failed to crack 60 percent throwing in almost half of his pro starts. He’s a potential disaster against any defense. New York is on the road here, making them a less-than-optimal streaming play, but Big Blue’s ceiling is stupid-high in this one. Here are my Week 14 defensive ranks. If you can’t grab one of the top-8 plays, I think you should consider the Giants.
Vikings: I’ve already noted that the Vikes are my No. 1 defense for Week 14. No team takes on a worse quarterback this week, and they’re at home, where Minnesota has played mostly shutdown defense over the past month. Here are Smith’s completion percentages over his past nine starts for New York: 82.1, 60.5, 50, 51.5, 33.3, 53.5, 58.8, 25, 53.8. Smith completes 36.3 percent of his throws when under pressure. If Geno is forced to throw at all against a quietly solid Vikings’ coverage unit, I think Minnesota could put up fantastic numbers for those who picked them off their local waiver wires.
Chiefs: Arizona’s post-Palmer offense is a train wreck. That’s clear to anyone with two functioning eyeballs. Drew Stanton is also famously inaccurate — precisely the sort of quarterback we target. The problem in Week 14: Will Stanton be forced to make plays against Kansas City? It’s a fair question, as the Cardinals are at home and their tough defense takes on the mostly-moribund Chiefs’ offense. I’d expect Bruce Arians to play this very close to the vest and refuse to allow Stanton to throw much at all, if he can help it. That makes Kansas City’s defense a fairly risky play, in my estimation.
Packers: A note of caution on Green Bay’s defense as they head into what looks like a Monday night massacre against the Falcons. It’s reasonable to expect Matt Ryan to be under considerable pressure against the Packers, though that in and of itself won’t necessarily translate to turnovers and generally good things for the Packers’ defense. Ryan is completing 68 percent of his throws when under pressure, per Pro Football Focus. Only four quarterbacks are more accurate when pressured. Ryan also has a very low under-pressure 13.3 percent sack rate in 2014, meaning he’s getting rid of the ball instead of taking sacks. By contrast, Alex Smith is sacked 23.6 percent of the time when he’s pressured in the pocket. These numbers show that Green Bay has a somewhat low floor that should seize our attention, especially if we have other streaming options on our bench or on the waiver wire.
Here is last week’s rundown of the best defensive streamers for the fantasy playoffs. Those options still hold up today.