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 heading into Week 11. Five of my suggestions last week finished in the top-10 in fantasy scoring in NFL.com leagues, so hopefully we can find some more units ready to produce again. Let's get to it.
Streaming defenses to target:
The Packers kept their streak of terrorizing Jay Cutler in Lambeau Field alive on Sunday, putting up 17 fantasy points in the process. The bye week came at the perfect time for this unit, as they saw the return of Sam Shields, Morgan Burnett and Datone Jones to the lineup in Week 10, but that alone wasn't what triggered their dominance.
The reason I'm keen on this defense for a Week 11 matchup with the Eagles is because Clay Matthews' move to middle linebacker might be more than a one-week scheme. The Packers run defense had been abysmal, so coming out of the bye defensive coordinator Dom Capers moved Matthews to the middle to help solve the problem -- and it worked. The Packers held Matt Forte to just 3.2 yards per carry and Matthews was wreaking havoc all game. He still can rush the passer from the middle, but by moving him there it allows Green Bay to bring in another pure pass-rusher to fill Matthews' OLB position, like Nick Perry. More pass-rushers could mean more sacks for a unit that is already solid at attacking opposing quarterbacks. I like the Pack's chances of notching a solid point total again next Sunday against a Philadelphia offensive line that is still getting back to full strength. Oh, and Mark Sanchez is starting under center, too.
Over the past five weeks the Cleveland defense has averaged 10.6 fantasy points per game, with their lowest single-game total still a respectable seven fantasy points. While Houston is coming off of their bye week, they'll be starting unproven quarterback Ryan Mallett under center which could work out in the Browns' favor.
The Browns won't have much tape on Mallett, but on the flip side he still doesn't have many first team reps. Cleveland is playing well under head coach Mike Pettine, and with the extra time to rest and prepare after playing on Thursday last week, I like their chances to put together another nice game. They have the potential for double-digit fantasy points once again.
The Washington defense has been much more formidable statistically than in fantasy, as the unit has only posted two double-digit outings this season, despite having one of the best run defenses in the NFL. Injuries to the secondary have limited Washington's ability to force turnovers, but you have to like their chances this coming weekend against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers offense is currently allowing the third-most points to opposing fantasy defeneses, and just made Atlanta's listless unit look competent with a solid 11 fantasy points on Sunday. The emergence of Bashaud Breeland could bolster Washington's secondary, and help them take advantage of miscues from Josh McCown, who still appears to be shaking off the rust he accumulated while recovering from a thumb injury he suffered in Week 3.
Over the Bears' past two games they've allowed their opposing defenses to score 30 fantasy points combined! Brandon Marshall suffered an ankle injury on Sunday, which would further hinder this unit's offensive potency. The Bears do get to return to Soldier Field, but the Vikings defense could surprise some people and put up a decent fantasy stat line.
Many fantasy owners rode the hot hand with the Dolphins last week, and were likely disappointed by their output of just six fantasy points after three straight double-digit performances. If you still have the Dolphins on your roster, they could be worth a start once again on Thursday Night Football against the Buffalo Bills.
The Dolphins have had three or more sacks in five straight games, and have forced 11 turnovers over their last four games (they could have had more, too, had they held on to a couple errant Matthew Stafford passes on Sunday). The Bills are coming into this game playing pretty good football, but they've turned the ball over 10 times through the last four games. It's a divisional game, and both offenses have star players battling injuries (Lamar Miller, Sammy Watkins, Fred Jackson) which could make this a low-scoring affair, further boosting the Dolphins fantasy potential.
Unfortunately, both Shazier and Polamalu have been ruled out for this Monday night contest, but I still like the Steelers chances to produce some fantasy points. The Titans have struggled to move the ball recently with rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger still adjusting to the NFL game, and the Steelers could force him into a few costly mistakes.