Well, my Week 2 streaming defense choices largely came up short, but as is the case every week, that's the risk you take when gambling with one of fantasy's most volatile positions. Nevertheless, we'll soldier on and highlight some lower-owned defenses in great positions to produce solid fantasy totals for Week 3.
As always, I'll use the streaming D/ST qualifications previously established by Matt Harmon and Matt Franciscovich in this column: good matchups, home teams, favorites, and obviously good defenses.
Week 3 brings us back to a more comfortable outlook with several home defenses facing plus matchups, and a few interesting road teams that could be frisky starting options. Let's get to it.
New York Giants (8.4 percent owned) vs. Washington Redskins
With two weeks of tape to study, it's become quite clear that the Giants defense is for real in 2016. The team has allowed just 32 points to two strong offenses (Cowboys, Saints), thanks to a handful of pricey free-agent pickups that are paying off in a big way. Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison round out what is now an elite defensive line with Jason Pierre-Paul and Johnathan Hankins, while Janoris Jenkins is playing well opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The Giants should be favored to win against their division rival at home, and their dynamic passing attack could get the Giants out to an early lead against Washington's suspect defense. Kirk Cousins currently sits with a 3.4 interception rate, tied for sixth-highest in the NFL, so the Giants secondary should find opportunities to make plays. With Washington likely playing from behind and already having a sluggish running game, the factors really start stacking up in favor of the Giants defense being one of the better streaming plays of the week.
Miami Dolphins D/ST (4.9 percent owned) vs. Cleveland Browns
It wasn't pretty early on, but the Dolphins defense rallied for a solid fantasy outing late against the Patriots, posting eight fantasy points. For Week 3 it appears a cure-all is on the horizon as the Browns come to Miami Gardens with Cody Kessler or a street free agent as the likely starting quarterback. Josh McCown (filling in for an injured Robert Griffin III), suffered what is believed to be a serious shoulder injury in Week 2 because the football gods clearly believe the Browns can't have nice (or even just OK) things. The Browns also lost starting center Cameron Erving in Week 2, and he'll be replaced by John Greco. So let's recap. The Browns will be starting an under-prepared, under-developed rookie or someone who isn't even currently on the roster behind a new center on an already patchwork offensive line against a tough Miami defensive line. The other deficiencies across the Miami defense shouldn't concern you in this situation. Grab the Dolphins defense and expect big things on Sunday.
Dallas Cowboys D/ST (4.1 percent owned) vs. Chicago Bears
He's yet to play in Week 2, but Jay Cutler currently sits with the highest sack percentage in the NFL at 14.7. Part of that comes from playing the Houston Texans' staunch front seven in Week 1, and part of that comes from Cutler playing behind a shaky offensive line. While the Dallas defense is still missing most of its pass-rushers, the stop unit has been able to cobble together some decent pressure so far this year including four sacks. Dallas would make for a more appealing streamer if their defense was at full strength, but they'll offer a relatively safe floor this weekend.
Oakland Raiders D/ST (11.9 percent owned) at Tennessee Titans
With several marquee free-agent acquisitions the Raiders defense earned a "sleeper" label this offseason, but so far they've been more of a nightmare scoring just one fantasy point through two weeks. The pass-rush hasn't been there, and the secondary has been routinely whooped. However, a matchup against Marcus Mariota and the Titans could help the Raiders get back on track. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin might finally be able to get going against a Titans offensive line that has allowed the mobile Mariota to be sacked five times already. Furthermore, Tennessee lacks the dynamic weapons in the passing attack boasted by both New Orleans and Atlanta, so the secondary might be able to hold up a bit better. It's a risky bet based on how the Raiders stop unit has played thus far in 2016, but when chasing streaming options we sometimes have to look at the upside and hope for the best.
Desperation/contrarian DFS plays
San Francisco 49ers D/ST (5.9 percent owned) at Seattle Seahawks: Many thought the Seahawks offense was set to soar to new heights in 2016, but so far this unit has only scored one touchdown and has the look of a unit to stream defenses against. With the offensive line a mess, Russell Wilson hobbled by an ankle injury, and the ground game sluggish, the Seahawks have struggled to move the ball. The 49ers defense, particularly the front seven, could terrorize Wilson and company on Sunday. Even in a bad spot against an elite Carolina offense, the 49ers managed five fantasy points last week. Wilson and the Seahawks have conceded 11 fantasy points each week so far to the opposing defense. All told, the 49ers are a high-risk, high-reward streaming candidate for Week 3.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers D/ST (2.4 percent owned) vs. Los Angeles Rams: The Buccaneers defense has looked rough so far, but a home game against the Rams' uninspiring offense could be just what the doctor ordered. The Rams haven't scored an offensive touchdown yet in 2016, and if Jameis Winston can get back on track early on Sunday and find the end zone, he could force the Rams off their usual run-as-much-as-possible game plan. A potential pass-heavy approach with Case Keenum under center and on the road is certainly a matchup worth targeting when trying to find a defense to stream.