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Week 7 waiver wire: Streaming defenses to target

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Fantasy football is a week-to-week proposition, not a season-long one, and the defense is the most matchup-dependent play around. Playing the matchups and streaming is the way to go; taking a low cost/investment approach to the position. Of course, this requires a little more work, as you'll need to scour the waiver wire each week for a starting D/ST and assess which matchups are the most beneficial.

Week 6 lacked the usual amount of week-winning D/ST scores that we're used to seeing. Seven units checked in with double-digit point totals. Of those, only the Texans and the obvious Broncos D/ST were owned in more than 23 percent of NFL.com leagues.

While still proving a nightmare to try and predict with 100 percent weekly accuracy, streaming defenses is the way to go. We march onward with several Week 7 suggestions. We're in a bit of a rough spot with bye weeks in full swing, and very few streamers in good spots.

Some qualifications when searching for a streaming defense:

» Good matchups. Of course, this is where we look first. You'll want a defense playing a poor offense, particularly one with a lackluster quarterback.

» Home teams. The margin for error is smaller for defenses playing on the road, than it is for those in the comforts of their own stadium. That's not to say that a road team cannot be a useful streamer if the matchup is juicy enough, but you're safer to side with a home team, if all other factors are near equal.

» Favorites. This one is the biggest deciding factor. Last year, Denny Carter ran the numbers and found that teams favored to win on a weekly basis achieved Top 12 status 63.6 percent of the time in 2013. Logically, it checks out. When a team is winning, they have a better chance to create havoc for the opposing offense. Defenders can key off on the other teams now necessary pass heavy approach, creating sacks and turnovers. Predicting favorites is difficult, unless you can see the future, but you can go with a general idea.

» Good defenses. Ironically, this is the last part we look at. Inherently most of the week-in-week-out starting defenses are already owned by the other teams in your leagues. However, even if a somewhat superior defense is playing on the road, or a league average offense, we'll fade them for a lesser squad playing a poor offense at home. Of course, we'll still always break ties in favor of the better unit, but defensive production is historically volatile. Don't balk at using a poor defense as your fantasy streamer.

With that in mind, let's look at some of the best defenses to stream in Week 7. We'll go highest to lowest in terms of NFL.com ownership percentage.

Miami Dolphins D/ST (22.7 percent owned) hosting Houston Texans

The Dolphins defense, along with all other Miami assets, was among fantasy's biggest disappointments over the first four weeks. Many expected that the addition of Ndamukong Suh would vault them to the highest ranks of fantasy D/STs, but they averaged 3.25 fantasy points per game in the first quarter of the season. The bye week and the removal of Joe Philbin seemed to help all tides rise on this team. The D/ST recorded the best Week 6 output, positing 24 points against the Titans

If the Dolphins are really back in our circle of trust, they'll be so only as a streamer, but they could be in for another massive week. Miami's D/ST was 61.5 percent owned headed into Week 1, but plummeted to 22.7 percent after their miserable start. Available in the ranks of the streamers, they have a great matchup with Houston coming to town this week. Yes, Brian Hoyer had a solid game against Jacksonville, but don't fool yourself into thinking he's not capable of a back-breaking turnover at any time.

Minnesota Vikings D/ST (11.4 percent owned) at Detroit Lions

Of all the picks this week, I feel the least confident about this one. The Vikings defense was solid, but didn't brutalize the Chiefs sputtering offense. They were without star pass rusher Everson Griffen, a surprise inactive, and that made a big difference.

We're also not sure what to make of this Lions offense. They were a conservative, mismanaged mess early in the year, but rational coaching seemed to take hold as they took shots down the field on Sunday. The Bears felt the wrath of an offense in full swing, but will that unit be the constant? Only take on the Vikings D/ST in that exploration task if none of the other options are available.

Pittsburgh Steelers D/ST (10.7 percent owned) at Kansas City Chiefs

Don't look now, but the much maligned Pittsburgh defense turned itself back into a respectable unit over the last few weeks. No longer giving up passing yards in chunks, the team has been a little more "bend but don't break" of late. Pittsburgh is getting some big plays the last three weeks too, averaging 11 points as a fantasy D/ST and snaring over two turnovers a game.

The Chiefs offense, unsurprisingly, only managed 10 points and averaged 6.9 yards per play last week. The Chiefs also gave up another two sacks to add to a mounting season total. We'd like Pittsburgh better if they weren't on the road, but Kansas City has quickly turned into an offense we look to target for streaming defenses. Pittsburgh has been coming through for us the last few weeks, too. No need to back off now.

New York Giants D/ST (8.3 percent owned) hosting Dallas Cowboys

The Giants D/ST let us down in a big way with a flop two weeks ago against the 49ers. Despite being a favorite and playing at home against a turnover-prone quarterback, the Giants posted two fantasy points. We may have to go back to the well with them hosting the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7.

Dallas already declared they'll start Matt Cassel coming off the bye week. Of course, there is a "can't be worse than Brandon Weeden" narrative out there, but we've seen that it can, in fact, be worse. Last we saw Cassel in the regular season, he tossed four interceptions at home, and then proceeded to lose the Bills quarterback competition, resulting in his release. The Giants are in play for sure against an old, turnover-prone quarterback who's been with his current team for less than a month.

Washington D/ST (2.0 percent owned) hosting Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Every game, all season

In yet another "don't look now" situation, Washington is a top-seven fantasy defense. The D/ST posted double-digit point totals in each of the last three games. They put pressure on the quarterback, and have the front seven to take chances on the back end. For all the problems in Washington, it seems they've finally slapped together a good defense.

Washington ceded two big games back to back to Devonta Freeman and Chris Ivory, and welcome a hot Doug Martin into their building coming off a bye. However, Carolina's Week 4 game showed us that Martin can still carve through a defense, while Jameis Winston does enough to keep a fantasy D/ST afloat. Washington is one of my favorite streaming defenses this week, and will anchor some of my DFS lineups.

Wake up and watch with the world. The NFL is live on Yahoo. For the first time ever the NFL is streaming a live game on Yahoo. Bills vs. Jaguars live from London, Sunday October 25th 9:30 am ET.


Matt Harmon is an associate fantasy writer/editor for NFL.com, and the creator of #ReceptionPerception, who you can follow on Twitter @MattHarmon_BYB.

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