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Week 12 waiver wire: Streaming defenses to target

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With 11 weeks in the books, offenses to stream against are becoming easier to identify. We know which teams feature bad quarterbacks, are riddled with injuries, or simply can't move the ball down the field. All of this helped us hit on the vast majority of our streaming candidates last week. The Steelers and Lions were both top-three scoring units, while the Giants and Dolphins netted us seven points each. There were a few disappointments (*cough* Dallas *cough*) but for the most part streamers were happy with the results. Week 12 is an interesting one, as three teams are on a short week with the Thanksgiving Day slate rearing its head. Still, there are seven low-owned stop units I think fantasy owners can trust as the fantasy playoffs loom.

As always, I'll rely on the streaming D/ST qualifications previously established by Matt Harmon and Matt Franciscovich in this column: good matchups, home teams, favorites, and obviously talented defenses. Let's get to it.

Week 12 Streaming Defenses


New York Giants D/ST (8.4 percent owned) vs. Cleveland Browns


Those who played the Giants against Jay Cutler and the Bears last week can take a break on waivers this time around and just trot out Big Blue again. Why? Oh, they take a little trip west to the Factory of Sadness for a date against the Cleveland Browns. While the future might be bright for Hue Jackson's team, the present offering is ripe for the picking when it comes to fantasy defenses. The starting quarterback doesn't matter, either, as Josh McCown and Cody Kessler are the second-most and third-most frequently sacked quarterbacks to play at least 25 percent of their team's snaps, per Pro Football Focus, while McCown owns the worst interception rate (4.92) among qualifying passers. This offense has allowed double-digit fantasy performances to opposing defenses in each of it's last two games, and at least seven fantasy points in four of the last five.

Buffalo Bills D/ST (33.1 percent owned) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars


The Bills ownership percentage took a sharp turn downwards with the team coming off a bye in Week 11. If for some reason this group is available in your league, pick them up immediately. They welcome a Blake Bortles-led offense that has allowed three consecutive top-five weekly fantasy performances into their home stadium in Week 12. Bortles is a broken quarterback with no running game to help control the clock, keep defenses honest or keep the ball out of his turnover-prone hands. The Bills should feast on his inaccurate throws and create turnovers on their own through their ferocious front seven. This one's almost too easy.

Baltimore Ravens D/ST (29.5 percent owned) vs. Cincinnati Bengals


Not surprisingly, the vaunted Baltimore defense got worked in Week 11 on the road against the Cowboys' elite offense. However, a bounce-back game looms on the horizon when the Ravens return home to face Andy Dalton and the Bengals. Things have gone from bad to worse for Cincinnati, as not only did they lose their Week 11 game against the Bills, but they lost A.J. Green (torn hamstring) and Giovani Bernard (torn ACL) for the season (there's a slim chance Green returns, but let's be real, he's dunzo). This means an already struggling offense must go on the road without two of its top playmakers against one of the league's best defenses. Yeah, this is the kind of situation streaming players dream about.

Miami Dolphins D/ST (28.3 percent owned) vs. San Francisco 49ers


After four straight games with multiple sacks, the Dolphins struggled to take down Jared Goff in the rain in Los Angeles last week. However, a home matchup against Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers should help this front seven right the ship. Kap has protected the football pretty well as the starter (just two interceptions), but has been sacked three-plus times in four of his five starts. He's sacked on 7.5 percent of his dropbacks, sixth-most in the NFL among quarterbacks to play 25 percent of their team's snaps. The Dolphins are riding a five-game winning streak and could make it six with a strong defensive performance against one of the NFL's weaker offenses.

Tennessee Titans D/ST (5.3 percent owned) at Chicago Bears


Over the last two weeks, streaming defenses against Jay Cutler has resulted in a combined 31 fantasy points. Alshon Jeffery is still suspended and Zach Miller just went down for the season with a broken foot, leaving Cutler's pass-catching cupboard extremely bare. Cutler is the only quarterback in 2016 to play 25 percent of his team's snaps and post a sack rate of greater than 10 percent (10.83 to be exact). He also owns the fourth-highest interception rate (3.65 percent) in the NFL. All told, these stats indicate that the Titans, even on the road, should have plenty of opportunities to rack up fantasy points against a Bears offense in freefall.

Detroit Lions D/ST (5.2 percent owned) vs. Minnesota Vikings


The Lions 19 fantasy points in Week 11 came thanks to a Blake Bortles pick six and a punt return for a touchdown, as the team wasn't able to sack Bortles once. However, what had been an improving defensive line could get back on track when Minnesota comes to town on Thanksgiving Day. Sam Bradford has been sacked two or more times in six straight games behind an offensive line that seemingly starts a new player every week due to injuries. This is a bit of a "Narrative Street" theory, but Detroit often plays some of its best football on Thanksgiving, so the team (currently atop the NFC North) could get up for this contest and look to make a statement in the division standings. With no running game to rely on, Bradford will likely have to take to the air frequently (40-plus attempts in three of his last five games), affording the Lions plenty of chances for sacks and interceptions.

New Orleans Saints D/ST (2.0 percent owned) vs. Los Angeles Rams


Every game, all season

I know, I know, the Saints defense seems like a laughable fantasy option. On the season this group has more negative fantasy performances than double-digit outings. However, the group as a whole is trending up (slightly), averaging 6.25 fantasy points per game over the last month with nine and 10-point outings in that span. This mini-resurgence is thanks to the team's pass-rush finding a groove, with eight quarterback sacks in the past two weeks. New Orleans plays much better at home than on the road, and welcomes the inept Rams offense into the Superdome this weekend. Jared Goff's first start wasn't a disaster last week, but he also didn't look like a savior who will turn this offense around immediately. Expect the Saints defense to pressure the first-overall pick early and often on Sunday en route to a solid streaming fantasy day.

-- Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar

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