Fantasy owners who had to stream the Vikings (12.00 fantasy points), Bengals (17.00 fantasy points), or Washington (10.00 fantasy points) defenses in Week 12 were rewarded with solid outings. Of course, the Bengals were a recommended option in this space last week, but more on that in a bit. Getting solid fantasy production out of your D/ST is becoming more vital as the fantasy playoffs approach. And for the most part, the best units are already owned. That's why I toss out a few of the top streaming options each week for fanatsy owners in need.
Some of the streaming D/ST qualifications that I use here each week include good matchups, home teams, favorites, and obviously good defenses.
Now, we look ahead to Week 13 for some recommendations with the caveat that defensive fantasy points are one of the most difficult things predict with complete accuracy, but if you're in need, here are some suggestions based on the above guidelines. Let's throw a few of these at the wall and see what sticks.
A date with the Falcons was a fruitful one for the Vikings D/ST in fantasy. The unit collected three takeaways and two sacks in the game. Second-year linebacker Anthony Barrharassed Atlanta all day causing two forced fumbles. First, Barr prevented what would have otherwise been a long Tevin Coleman touchdown. The linebacker came up behind Coleman in the open field and jabbed the ball out of the rookie running back's grip. On the other, he hit Matt Ryan hard on a drop back and the ball popped lose. Barr finished the game with 8.0 tackles, 1.0 sacks, two forced fumbled, one tackle for a loss and one pass defensed. There's no doubt you'll be hearing more about him in Marcas Grant's Reading the Defense IDP preview later in the week.
The Falcons made it easy for Minnesota to collect fantasy points, more on that later. But the Vikings will take on the Seahawks in Week 13 in Minnesota. You might be wondering why I have the Vikings as a recommended streaming option against Seattle, who over its last two games has been playing like an offense possessed. Russell Wilson has thrown eight touchdown passes over the last two weeks as Seattle trounced the 49ers in Week 11 and hung 39 points on the Steelers in Week 12. But both of those wins were home contests, where Wilson plays much better. At CenturyLink Field this season, Wilson has slung 12 touchdown passes and just one interception and averages 268 pass yards per game. On the road though, he's thrown only six touchdown passes with six picks and averages just 223 pass yards per game.
The Vikings should be able to get home against a Seattle offensive line that ranks dead last in the NFL in pass-blocking according to Pro Football Focus. If Barr and co. can get pressure on Wilson and force him to make a mistake or two, the Vikings should be able to produce once again for fantasy owners. Plus, Minnesota has held its opponents to 18 or fewer points in three of its last four games and is allowing an average of just 17.4 points per game all season. Toss in the fact that the Vikings D/ST is averaging 7.4 fantasy points per game since the team's Week 5 bye, and they make for a solid streaming option at home against Seattle.
Following a string of solid outings, the Buccaneers defense struggled to produce for fantasy owners in Week 12 and failed to live up to expectations against the Colts with just 3.0 fantasy points. But since Tampa Bay remains one of the top scoring fantasy D/STs over the last month, they'll be a recommended streaming option once again heading into a Week 13 tilt against the Atlanta Falcons.
When the Bucs defense faced the Falcons in Week 8, the unit posted 10.00 fantasy points on the heels of a four-takeaway, one-sack game. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is, to be kind, not playing well of late. In his last two games combined he's thrown four touchdown passes and five interceptions. He also has five games with two or more picks so far this season, and is tied with Eli Manning for the most giveaways this year in the red zone with five. Plus, Atlanta is averaging just 17 points per game in its last four contests.
Perhaps the biggest reason to roll with Tampa Bay this week the fact that D/STs facing Atlanta have averaged 11.4 fantasy points per game since the Falcons' Week 5 bye. And that includes awful defenses like Washington, New Orleans and San Francisco. As you can see from the chart, pretty much any D/ST facing the Falcons has been a solid start in fantasy. So if you streamed the Bucs defense last week, don't give up on them just yet. And if the unit is available and you are in need, go scoop them up now before it's too late.
The Bears defense has made strides since last season when they were the butt of all jokes, especially when it came to fantasy matchups. "Start all of your players against Chicago," was uttered on a weekly basis, and for the most part it worked out. But this year has been different. The Bears defense has held opponents under 200 pass yards in six of 11 games so far and has surrendered just six touchdowns in its last five contests. Chicago has also held opponents to just 13 points in three of its last four games, with one 17-point game allowed to the Broncos in that span.
San Francisco is one of the worst offenses in the NFL this year and the team ranks dead last in yards per game (295.5), total points (152) and points per game (13.8). The 49ers also rank 30th in total passing yards for the season (2,182), and while Blaine Gabbert is somewhat of an upgrade from Colin Kaepernick, his touchdown to interception ratio through three games is 4-3 and he's been sacked four times.
Cincinnati's defense took advantage of a favorable matchup with the Rams on Sunday. The unit collected three interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown, and held the St. Louis' sorry offense, led by Nick Foles, to just seven points. Basically, Todd Gurley is all the Rams had going for them coming into the game, and the Bengals limited him to just 19 rushing yards. In case you were wondering, owners of the Cardinals D/ST should fire them up next week against the Rams. But we're talking Bengals here so let's move on.
Since Cincinnati's bye in Week 7, the unit has allowed 10 or fewer points in four of five games, including a streak of three-straight games with just 10 points against. Plus, in that five game span, the Bengals defense has piled up 12 sacks and collected nine interceptions. That's money in the bank when it comes to D/ST fantasy points.
The Bengals take on the Browns in Week 13, and while we have yet to see Cleveland play in Week 12, we pretty much know what to expect. The Browns have virtually no run game, as the team averages just over 75 rush yards per game, one of the worst marks in the NFL. Cleveland also ranks in the bottom of the league in total points scored (186) and points per game (18.6). And while Josh McCown does represent a bit of an upgrade over Johnny Manziel at quarterback (CIN limited a Manziel-led Browns to 10 points in Week 9 and scored 7.00 fantasy points), it's not enough to move us off Cincinnati's defense. This is a top-10 unit this season and I expect them to produce like one again in Week 13 against a Browns team that's still in search of an identity.
Matt Franciscovich is an associate fantasy editor at NFL.com. He gives daps to My Morning Jacket for paying a solid tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks by covering an Eagles of Death Metal song at one of their recent NYC shows. Hit Matt up on Twitter **@MattFranchise** for music recommendations and fantasy advice.