In Week 2 we hit on some of our streaming recommendations (Dolphins, Raiders, Buccaneers), but whiffed on a few others (Giants, 49ers). As more data pours in and team identities begin to shape with each passing week, it's becoming slightly easier to identify offenses to target when selecting a streaming defense. Hopefully, this new information and insight will help us hit on a higher percentage of the streaming options detailed below. But we all know this is a risky endeavor, as defenses are historically one of fantasy's most volatile positions.
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 good defenses.
Let's get to it.
Cincinnati Bengals D/ST (69.5 percent owned) vs. Miami Dolphins
The Bengals are very likely owned in your league, but if their owner jumped ship after three relatively disappointing performances, be sure to take advantage of their mistake. The Bengals welcome the Dolphins to Cincinnati on Thursday Night Football, in what could be a turnover-rich game. The Dolphins are currently tied for the third-most turnovers in the league with seven, while the Bengals defense has four turnovers to date after playing three good offenses (Jets, Steelers, Broncos). Ryan Tannehill averages two sacks allowed per game, and over one interception per game. Heading on the road with less preparation time and a shaky running game isn't an ideal spot for Tannehill. The Bengals defense could make some serious noise this week.
Washington Redskins D/ST (10.6 percent owned) vs. Cleveland Browns
The Washington defense has improved after a disastrous season-opener against Pittsburgh, scoring six and eight fantasy points the following two weeks while averaging three sacks and two turnovers per game. The Browns offense is handicapped at the quarterback position right now with Cody Kessler set to start again. He was sacked three times by Miami in his first start, so the Washington front seven should be able to get after Kessler regularly while on their home turf. The Browns got a big game out of Terrelle Pryor against the feeble Miami secondary in Week 3, but will he be able to match that production against the likes of Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland? I have my doubts. Washington is at home, playing an inexperienced quarterback running an offense decimated by injuries. This has all the makings of an excellent streaming matchup ... which obviously means they'll score two fantasy points and probably lose to the Browns. Oh well.
Jacksonville Jaguars D/ST (14.6 percent owned) vs. Indianapolis Colts
It sounds crazy, but streaming defenses against Andrew Luck and the Colts could prove to be a winning strategy in 2016. While the Colts high-flying offense is almost guaranteed to put up points, Luck's propensity to hold the ball too long looking for the big play has led to numerous costly mistakes. Luck's nine sacks are tied for third-most in the league, while his offense has given up three defensive touchdowns, tied for most in the league. The Jaguars young defense made plays against the Ravens at home last week, and will be desperate to get off the shneid and get a win in London against their division rival. The Jags defense still carries some risk though after back-to-back one-point outings to open up the season. However, the travel for both teams, desperation, and mistake-prone Indianapolis offense make them worth a shot as a streamer.
Baltimore Ravens D/ST (14.6 percent owned) vs. Oakland Raiders
After an offensive explosion in Week 1 against the Saints, the Raiders offense has watched its total yards and points scored drop with each passing week. That isn't a trend they want to be on heading into a road matchup with the surprisingly frisky Ravens defense. So far, the Ravens allow the fourth-fewest yards per attempt and have recorded more interceptions (five) than touchdown passes allowed (four). They've also taken down opposing quarterbacks on nearly 10 percent of the dropbacks against them. They might find it tougher bringing down Carr, who's only been sacked twice on 118 pass attempts (1.7 percent), but the signs are pointing to the Ravens defense keeping this game close and limiting the Raiders' scoring potential. They might not have week-winning upside, but expect them to finish with around their average of nine fantasy points per game.
Desperation/contrarian DFS plays
San Francisco 49ers D/ST (7.7 percent owned) at Dallas Cowboys: The 49ers burned us a bit last week and don't have a great matchup in Week 4 against the slow-paced, risk-averse Cowboys, but they could be worth a look again. Dak Prescott victimized an injury-riddled Bears defense on Sunday, but might have a slightly tougher time against the 49ers impressive front seven. To his credit, Prescott has yet to throw an interception (on 99 attempts) and is doing a great job of protecting the ball and avoiding sacks (just four takedowns on 103 pass plays). Still, whether looking to differentiate a DFS lineup or scrounging the wire for a streamer, the 49ers could be worth a shot.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers D/ST (3.0 percent owned) vs. Denver Broncos: I felt much better about this prior to Trevor Siemian carving up the Cincinnati secondary, but let's not forget he tossed just one touchdown to three interceptions over his first two games. It's not entirely clear which Siemian will be the norm, and which is an outlier at this point in his young career. The Bucs defense continues to give up big plays, but is opportunistic and could take advantage of any potential Siemian miscues.
New York Giants D/ST (11.9 percent owned) vs. Minnesota Vikings: While the Giants defense is looking like the real deal on the gridiron, their fantasy production is sorely lacking. With just four sacks and one turnover through three games, they're too reliant on big plays or near shutouts to produce fantasy totals. They could force Sam Bradford into a mistake or two on Sunday thanks to their dynamic defensive line, but they feel like a longshot to return starting-worthy output.