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Week 17 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, here are some lesser-owned defenses to target for Week 15.

Houston Texans D/ST (66.1 percent owned) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

For starters, any defense playing against the Jaguars is worth streaming in fantasy football. But when that defense is also playing inspired football, they become one of the top streaming options of the week.

The Texans forced Joe Flacco into one of the worst performances of his career last week, and this week get to face a banged up Blake Bortles in Reliant Stadium. Oh, and let's not forget J.J. Watt desperately wants to get to the postseason and will let nothing stop him from doing everything he can to get there. I wouldn't be surprised if Watt single-handedly wins this game for the Texans with one or two game-changing plays on defense.

Baltimore Ravens D/ST (54.6 percent owned) vs. Cleveland Browns

Johnny Manziel has officially been ruled out, which might pave the way for Connor Shaw to start for the Browns. Regardless of whether it's Shaw or Brian Hoyer under center, the Ravens are a streaming option even after their dud last week.

The Ravens will be battling for a trip to the postseason on Sunday against a Browns offense that has scored a mere three touchdowns in the last four weeks. If you're still holding onto the Ravens (and still playing fantasy football) you can roll them out once more in Week 17.

Green Bay Packers D/ST (48.8 percent owned) vs. Detroit Lions

I was originally going to put the Packers down among the "frisky and risky" plays, but what the hell. It's Week 17, and the way this defense has been playing combined with Matthew Stafford's recent road struggles has me liking their chances at Lambeau Field this weekend.

Over his last three road games, Stafford has thrown zero touchdowns, four interceptions and averaged a paltry 230 passing yards per game. Putting him in the cold at Lambeau Field in front of a raucuous crowd could be a recipe for disaster. I like the Packers as a streaming option this week, but there's definitely some risk as Calvin Johnson could wreak havoc against a secondary that struggled to cover Julio Jones a few weeks ago.

Dallas Cowboys D/ST (9.2 percent owned) at Washington Redskins

Can the Dallas defense put up three straight dominant fantasy performances? My guess is yes, considering their Week 17 opponent is the hapless Washington Redskins.

Yes, I know Washington beat the Eagles last week in a surprise upset, but that could make them primed for a letdown. Not to mention the fact that their offensive line still has issues and RGIII is, well, RGIII. He could force a few turnovers, which Dallas will likely jump on as they did against Andrew Luck last week. The Cowboys will be riding high off of last week's win, likely looking to make a statement as they head into the playoffs for the first time in five years.

Good matchups: NE vs. BUF, SEA vs. STL, DEN vs. OAK, MIN vs. CHI

Matchups to avoid:DET at GB, PHI at NYG, NYG vs. PHI

Frisky and risky streaming plays:


New Orleans Saints D/ST (7 percent owned) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- The Saints had an abysmal performance fantasy-wise last week, but this week get to face the struggling Buccaneers offense. Could the Saints play inspired football for head coack Sean Payton? If they do, they could be a sneaky streaming play or cheap daily-league option.
Kansas City Chiefs D/ST (66.3 percent owned) at San Diego Chargers -- A lot of risk in this one again, as both teams will be playing for a shot at the postseason. But if you're desperate for an option and the Chiefs happen to be available, the combination of the Arrowhead mystique plus an injured Philip Rivers could make this a nice streaming option.

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

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