It's championship week in most leagues. It should be in all leagues, but some of you lunatics put your championship in Week 17. Though that's a topic for a different article. The reason you're reading this is because you're looking for an edge in your upcoming matchup. Well, while these streaming options aren't quite as locked-in as what we had last week, there are several strong choices below who could give a boost to your fantasy defensive position.
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 16 Streaming Defenses
Green Bay Packers D/ST (28.5 percent owned) vs. Minnesota Vikings
The Packers defense isn't healthy. The secondary is still healing and the team's top pass rushers (Clay Matthews and Nick Perry) are both at less than 100 percent. However, the Vikings, their next opponent, are coming off a disastrous performance against the lowly Colts defense in which they allowed five sacks, committed three turnovers, and scored just six points. And that was in Minnesota. The Vikings now need to travel to the Frozen Tundra to face a surging Packers team. The Vikings can't run the ball and can't protect Sam Bradford, a debilitating combination. Bradford has just two passing touchdowns in the last four games to go along with two interceptions and seven sacks. All told, this game is lining up for the Packers to produce in fantasy as they seek a shot at the NFC North crown.
Atlanta Falcons D/ST (15.3 percent owned) at Carolina Panthers
It'd be better if Atlanta was playing this game at home, but their defensive strength (pass rush) fits perfectly against the Panthers' offensive weakness (pass protection). Cam Newton has been sacked two-plus times in five of his last six games, as his offensive line continues to suffer injuries. Vic Beasley leads the NFL with 14.5 sacks, and has been an absolute terror since switching to the right side of the field. All we are looking for here are a few sacks/turnovers to help Atlanta build a lead and create more passing situations for Beasley and co. to wreak havoc. This is the same formula we anticipated when the Falcons traveled to Los Angeles in Week 14 when their D/ST netted streamers a whopping 26 points.
San Diego Chargers D/ST (36.9 percent owned) at Cleveland Browns
The Browns have allowed 12 of their 14 opponents in 2016 to finish as a top-13 weekly fantasy scoring unit. Robert Griffin III has been sacked at least three times in all three of his starts this year with no passing touchdowns and two interceptions. The Chargers have at least one sack and one interception in four straight games. Really, I don't know why I needed to write anything else other than "Browns." That should be all you need to see on the schedule to stream the opposing defense.
Dallas Cowboys D/ST (20.3 percent owned) vs. Detroit Lions
A pass rush is crucial to fantasy defensive scoring, and Dallas has found one the last three weeks recording 10 sacks. They recorded 10 combined sacks in their six games prior to that, for reference. The Cowboys are averaging 10.7 fantasy points per game over their last three games and will welcome a struggling Lions offense to Dallas on Monday night. Despite a 4-1 record since Week 11 the Lions have averaged just 16.6 offensive points per game and have allowed double-digit fantasy points to opposing defenses in each of the last two games. Both Dallas and Detroit control the clock on offense, limiting scoring chances. This figures to be a low-scoring affair, with Detroit on the lower end of the two teams. All of this makes the Cowboys a fine streaming target.
New York Giants D/ST (22.3 percent owned) at Philadelphia Eagles
The Giants play on the road on a short week, which isn't a great start for their streaming viability. However, they've scored six-plus fantasy points in eight straight games, with four double-digit outings in that span (including three in the last four games). The Giants will travel to face an Eagles offense on Thursday night that has allowed fantasy point totals of three, nine, eight, 10 and seven over the last five games. Those who streamed the Giants last week can hope to ride this defense yet again in the fantasy championship, as Big Blue has allowed a mere 13 total points to be scored against them the last two weeks. It'll be worth monitoring Janoris Jenkins' status leading up to this contest, too, as he took a knee to the back and left the game with what could be internal injuries (though tests on Monday were negative). He's been New York's top cover corner this year and his absence would be felt on Thursday. Friday update: Whew did this blow up in our faces!