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, here are some lesser-owned defenses to target for Week 14.
St. Louis has notched 22 sacks over their last five games, and they just got Chris Long back last week. Colt McCoy played very well against the Colts (31 of 47, 392 passing yards, three touchdowns), but it might be hard for him to replicate that without committing a turnover against the rising St. Louis defense.
The Jets had been trending toward a less-favorable fantasy matchup recently, but regressed into their usual form last week against the Bills. We've yet to see the Jets play on Monday Night Football in Week 13 as I write this column, but regardless, I still like the Vikings matchup against them next week.
Minnesota quietly boasts one of the best DE-DT combos in the league with emerging stars Everson Griffen and Sharrif Floyd, both of whom rank near the top for their position per Pro Football Focus' grading scale. The Vikings defense is a force, and with their special teams getting hot this unit could be in line for a big day against the Jets.
Aside from their game against the Patriots, the Packers have scored 30, 17, 6, 22 and 4 fantasy points at home. The two sub-10-point outings came against a surprisingly accurate Geno Smith, and in a blowout to the Panthers where a garbage time touchdown in the last minute lessened Green Bay's fantasy output. Atlanta's offensive line is a mess, and the Green Bay pass-rush is coming alive. They only sacked Tom Brady once last week, but put pressure on him all game. Atlanta will likely be playing from behind for much of this game, which could lead to increased sack and turnover chances for Green Bay's opportunistic defense.
Even though the Colts gave up 24 points to a Colt McCoy-led offense, they still scored 14 fantasy points thanks in part to a fumble recovery they returned for a touchdown. And many of those yards/points from McCoy came with Vontae Davis out with a concussion. Next up on the slate is a matchup against the Cleveland Browns. With the Browns in the midst of a potential quarterback change, they make a decent streaming target.
The Colts have a combined 10 sacks over their last two games, and will either be facing a recently turnover-prone Brian Hoyer, or Johnny Manziel in his first NFL start. I like the fantasy potential in this matchup, but it doesn't come without a fair amount of risk, as McCoy threw the ball all over this defense last Sunday without Davis. Keep an eye on his status for Sunday if you're looking to stream the Colts.
Good matchups: SF at OAK, KC at ARI, HOU at JAC
Matchups to avoid: BAL at MIA, SEA at PHI
Frisky and risky streaming plays: