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Week 12 waiver wire: Streaming defenses to target

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Defenses in fantasy football are a fickle beast to figure out. Touchdowns can sway the course of a defense's fantasy season, but are nearly impossible to predict. This is why many fantasy players are fans of a strategy called "streaming defenses." If you've been playing for years, this is nothing new to you, but for those unaware, what this entails is using a waiver claim most weeks to acquire a defense with an enticing matchup. This doesn't always work, but for many players it's a better option than rolling the dice with an average defense week after week.

So with this in mind, I'm here to serve up several options if you're looking to stream defenses in Week 12. Many questioned my suggestion of the Packers last week, but they scored 30 fantasy points against Chip Kelly's Eagles. But enough about that, let's get to the Week 12 picks and try to find some more prime streaming defenses.

Bye weeks: Carolina Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers

Green Bay Packers D/ST (31.2 percent owned) at Minnesota Vikings

I'll admit that while I was a fan of the Packers defense last week (and started them in several leagues), I did not expect them to wallop the Eagles so thoroughly, putting up 30 fantasy points in the process. However, you'd be foolish to not like their Week 12 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.

Clay Matthews' shift to a hybrid inside/outside linebacker has been a huge boon for this defense that is the healthiest it has been all season. They've forced seven turnovers in their last two games, and facing rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in the cold Minnesota weather could be a recipe that adds several more turnovers to that total on Sunday. On the season, the Packers' 23 turnovers are only one behind the league-leading Texans' 24. The Packers D/ST would have scored even more points had it not been for a handful of garbage time scores in their most recent games, which bodes well for this matchup as Minnesota's offense is far less explosive than either the Bears or Eagles. If you picked up the Packers recently, ride them for one more week.

Indianapolis Colts D/ST (13.7 percent owned) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars have been playing better lately, but they're still conceding plenty of points to opposing fantasy defenses. They've allowed the most fantasy points to defenses on the season, and the fourth-most over the last four weeks. Rookie signal-caller Blake Bortles has been prone to turning the ball over, as he's averaging just under two turnovers per start.

The Colts defense hasn't been the best fantasy play of late, but that's partly because they had to face a red-hot Ben Roethlisberger without their best cover corner (Vontae Davis) and also had to take on Tom Brady and the red-hot Patriots. A home matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars could be just what the doctor ordered for this defense and fantasy owners looking for a good matchup-based play.

Buffalo Bills D/ST (63.5 percent owned) vs. New York Jets

With Michael Vick as the starter for the Jets, they've been a less-enticing matchup for streaming defenses, allowing an average of just six fantasy points per game over the last two weeks (seven points to the Chiefs, five to the Steelers). Nevertheless, I still like the Bills this week against the Jets in Buffalo.

The Bills boast one of the best pass-rushes in the NFL, as well as one of the stiffest rushing defenses. If they can shut down the Jets rushing attack and force Vick to start dropping back and slinging the rock, I like their chances of securing a few turnovers and sacks. The Bills scored double digit fantasy points the last time they faced the Jets, but that was also with three turnovers courtesy of Geno Smith, who will be riding the pine this time around.

Philadelphia Eagles D/ST (71.3 percent owned) vs. Tennessee Titans

If you stuck with the Eagles defense agaisnt the Packers last week, woof, my heart goes out to you. However, things could be on the upswing for you with the Titans rolling into Philadelphia for Week 12.

Prior to their game against the Packers, the Eagles had been pressuring opposing quarterbacks on 33 percent of their drop backs -- the best mark in the NFL (per ESPN.com). Zach Mettenberger is not Aaron Rodgers, and he will not be able to exploit the Eagles' blitz packages and single high safety defense like Rodgers did on Sunday. This could lead to a number of sacks and potentially turnover-producing plays for the Birds. Even though they might have burned you in Week 11, stick with the Eagles in Week 12 for what should be a bounce-back game.

Kansas City Chiefs D/ST (69.1 percent owned) at Oakland Raiders

I'm stretching my own rules here by including three defenses owned in such a high percentage of leagues, but I wanted to at least talk about these games since there aren't a ton of enticing matchups on the schedule this weekend. One of the few noteworthy matchups is the Chiefs heading into Oakland on Thursday Night Football.

The Raiders have been playing better as of late, but they're still the Raiders and have a rookie quarterback under center. The Chiefs have been one of the best statistical and fantasy defenses in the league this year, and even though they're coming off of a big win on Sunday and could be heading to a trap game, I would still be confident rolling out their defense against the Raiders.

Frisky and risky streaming plays:


St. Louis Rams D/ST (54.7 percent owned) at San Diego Chargers -- The Rams defense just posted 10 fantasy points against Peyton Manning, and now get to face a banged up Philip Rivers and his struggling Chargers offense. This is the definition of a frisky fantasy play ... but I kind of like it.
Houston Texans D/ST (64.2 percent owned) vs. Cincinnati Bengals -- Andy Dalton's excellent performance on Sunday in New Orleans has the look of the beginning of a classic Dalton hot streak to me. He's done it a few times before, stringing together a handful of great starts to silence his critics (briefly). I have no stats to back this, just a gut call, which is why I'm slightly worried about the Texans D/ST in Week 12.
Baltimore Ravens D/ST (38.3 percent owned) at New Orleans Saints -- What happened to the Saints at home? They've lost two straight games, and will now be without talented rookie Brandin Cooks, who had been on fire in the Superdome. I typically don't like starting defenses against Drew Brees, but this matchup has the potential to go big either way for the Ravens. I wouldn't be surprised if they scored 15 fantasy points, or negative five points, thus the "risky" tag.

-- Alex Gelhar is a fantasy and features writer for NFL.com. Follow him on Twitter @AlexGelhar.

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