As usual, our streaming choices from Week 4 were a bit of a mixed bag. Cincinnati, Washington and Jacksonville all delivered, while Baltimore disappointed at home. Week 5 brings us back two solid streaming choices off of bye weeks, and a few more stop units in potentially favorable fantasy spots. 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.
Philadelphia Eagles D/ST (27.6 percent owned) at Detroit Lions
Through three weeks, the Eagles defense scored 10-plus fantasy points each week thanks in part to a ferocious front seven that brought down opposing passers 10 times. Coming out of their bye, they'll face Matthew Stafford and the Lions, who gave up eight eight sacks in the first three games, while the depleted Bears pass-rush added two more in Week 4. With Ameer Abdullah and now Dwayne Washington injured, the Lions' running game is in dire straights. If Stafford is forced into an even more pass-heavy game script than usual, the Eagles will have ample opportunities to put pressure on him and force some mistakes (he threw two interceptions in a similar situation against the Bears). Adding fuel to the fire is Jim Schwartz, Philadelphia's defensive coordinator, likely seeking revenge against his former team. This matchup would be more ideal if the Eagles were at home, but even on the road this unit should be able to go to work for fantasy owners.
Green Bay Packers D/ST (29.3 percent owned) vs. New York Giants
The Packers defense was without five starters in Week 3, but still managed to put up five fantasy points while Matthew Stafford and Marvin Jones went crazy. Looking ahead to Week 5, the Packers will be refreshed off of their bye week, likely welcoming back several key difference makers to face Eli Manning and the Giants in Lambeau Field. Sam Sheilds' status will need to be monitored, because if he's out the domino effect in the Green Bay secondary is not ideal, and would allow the Giants' talented trio of wide receivers plenty of space to work. However, Manning and the Giants were tied for the fourth-most turnovers in the league (seven) heading into Week 4, with Manning being sacked six times in three games. The Packers racked up 10 sacks in three games without several key players (Clay Matthews, to name one), so a restocked pass rush could make life miserable for Manning on Sunday. In fact, per Football Outsides the Packers had the fourth-highest pressure rate on defense, even without those key starters. With a full complement of playmakers on defense, they could get after Manning early and often. The Giants have the weapons in the passing attack to exploit the Packers secondary, especially if Shields is out, but if the pass rush can get going and rack up numbers early, the Packers defense will still be able to post solid fantasy totals.
Buffalo Bills D/ST (17.8 percent owned) at Los Angeles Rams
Rex Ryan's defense seemed to be on life-support after a Thursday night shellacking at the hands of Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets in Week 2, but since then the unit has rebounded magnificently in real life and fantasy. The Bills defense has allowed just 16 points in the last two weeks -- from the Cardinals and Tom Brady-less Patriots -- while scoring a whopping 37 fantasy points. The pass rush has returned with eight takedowns in the last two weeks and heading into Week 4 already had the second-highest pressure rate in the league, per Football Outsiders. The Rams are a surprising 3-1, but the offense still has issues, including allowing 9.5 fantasy points per game to opposing defenses. They've done a pretty good job of keeping Case Keenum clean, but this will be a good test for an improving pass rush against a steady offensive line (in pass protection at least). It'd be better for this matchup if the Bills were at home, but they're worth rolling out against a limited Rams offense.
Baltimore Ravens D/ST (17.8 percent owned) vs. Washington Redskins
After three solid fantasy weeks, the Ravens defense disappointed at home against the Raiders with a measly one fantasy point. However, a home matchup with Washington could help them get back on track in Week 5. The talent-deficient Browns were able to bring down Kirk Cousins three times and intercept him once last week, putting his season totals in those categories at seven and four, respectively. The Ravens' pass rush couldn't get home against Derek Carr, one of the hardest quarterbacks to sack in 2016, but should be able to get in Cousins' face. The Washington offense racks up yards and points, though, so there's certainly risk streaming the Ravens against them. However, with four teams on byes and some of the shakier offenses facing elite, highly-owned defenses, the streaming streets are a bit barren this week. So beggars can't be choosers.
Desperation/contrarian DFS plays
Miami Dolphins D/ST (11.3 percent owned) vs. Tennessee Titans: Aside from DeMarco Murray's impressive start to the season, the Tennessee offense has been a major disappointment. The unit has surrendered eight turnovers in four games and averages just 15.5 points per game. With no downfield passing threat in this offense, the Titans won't be able to exploit Miami's biggest defensive weakness -- their secondary. Miami is a risky-ish play, but now desperate and playing at home, this defense could get after Marcus Mariota and force him into a few early mistakes.
Tennessee Titans D/ST (1.7 percent owned) at Miami Dolphins: Two turnover-prone offenses playing sloppy football can often lead to plenty of defensive fantasy points. When the Dolphins and Browns played in Week 3, they scored a combined 19 defensive fantasy points. Ryan Tannehill has been sacked 11 times in four games (third-most) and thrown five interceptions. The Titans defense isn't a great fantasy unit and is playing on the road, but Tannehill could give them opportunities to score.
Chicago Bears D/ST (3.0 percent owned) vs. Indianapolis Colts: Those who took a chance and streamed the Jaguars against Andrew Luck and the Colts were rewarded with a respectable eight fantasy points (thanks in part to six quarterback sacks). The Bears defense, despite several injuries, just put Matthew Stafford and the Lions through the ringer, scoring seven fantasy points in the process. They'll be hard-pressed to do it again on the road against the Colts, but those looking for a completely off-the-wall tournament option in DFS could dial up the Bears. The Colts offense continues to be generous to opposing defenses.