Defenses in fantasy football are a fickle beast to figure out. Touchdowns can sway the course of a defense's fantasy season, which is why the Eagles are surprisingly at the top of the fantasy heap thanks to their seven defensive and special teams touchdowns on the season. 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 a couple options if you're looking to stream defenses heading into Week 10. Most of my recommendations last week panned out for at least decent fantasy production (apologies if you started the Chargers, though). But enough about the past, let's look to the future and find some defenses to stream.
Bye weeks: Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, San Diego, Washington
This is a case where riding the hot hand isn't a terrible idea, even on the road. The Miami defense has posted three double-digit scoring performances in a row, with two of those reaching the 20-point plateau. They've forced at least three turnovers in each of those contests, and only scored two touchdowns (both in the same game), so their production isn't reliant on finding the end zone. The Lions are a team that has had issues at times protecting the football (10 giveaways this season), so if this Miami squad is truly riding a wave of momentum they could force the Lions to cough up the ball a few times. Add in a surging pass-rush behind the likes of Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon, a stout run defense and an emerging secondary and you have the makings of a solid spot-start at defense once again.
Even though the Ravens allowed six passing touchdowns to Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday night, their defense still managed a solid seven fantasy points (thanks to a Jacoby Jones kickoff-return touchdown). Their pass rush has been hot over the last month, notching 15 sacks over the past four games. Now they get to face a rookie quarterback in Zach Mettenberger who will be making his second NFL start ... on the road in Baltimore, no less.
The Ravens defense is rostered in just under 50 percent of NFL.com fantasy leagues, so if you're able to scoop them up they could make for a solid start in Week 10. Most of Mettenberger's production from Week 8 came in garbage time, and this Ravens defense will likely be fiesty after taking a shellacking from the Steelers. This could all spell for a rough afternoon for Mettenberger.
There are reasons to shy away from this matchup -- it's in London, the Cowboys just suffered injuries to Rolando McClain, Justin Durant and Tyrone Crawford, etc. -- but if you're in need of a defense, you can look to the 'Boys. They've had at least one interception in seven of their last eight games, and with the way Bortles is taking chances they could make it eight of nine come Sunday. And let's not forget the Jaguars are allowing the most sacks in the NFL (35) behind a patchwork offensive line.
The Pittsburgh defense isn't what it once was, but this unit deserves to be rostered in more than 17 percent of fantasy leagues. The Steelers D/ST has averaged just north of nine fantasy points per game over their last three contests, and that includes facing Andrew Luck and Joe Flacco during that stretch.
With a trip to face the turnover-prone Jets on the horizon, the boys in black and yellow are a great option to stream in Week 9. Their pass rush has been picking up steam with six sacks in the last two games, and with their offense lighting up the scoreboard in recent weeks the Jets will likely have to play catchup -- potentially paving the way for more turnovers. Ryan Shazier's injury doesn't appear to be serious, and if he suits up again this defense will be in even better shape, as three of their four best fantasy performances have come with him on the field.
The Packers defense posted a goose egg in the scoring department against Drew Brees in New Orleans prior to heading into their bye. Coming out of said bye, they get a date with Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears in Lambeau Field -- a place that has been the equivalent of a fantasy wasteland for Cutler
In his career against the Packers in Green Bay, Cutler has two touchdowns with 10 interceptions, and has thrown for fewer than 170 yards in each of his last two visits to Lambeau Field. Moreover, of the 55 games the Bears have played in Lambeau Field, only one quarterback has ever thrown for more than 300 passing yards there (Erik Kramer, in 1995). Yes, the Packers have been gashed by the run all season long, but their defense could see the return of Datone Jones, Morgan Burnett and Sam Shields on Sunday night. That's a huge boon for a unit that already has a pretty good looking matchup on paper.
Frisky and risky streaming plays: