Defenses in fantasy football are a fickle beast to figure out. Touchdowns can sway the course of a defense's fantasy season, which is why the Eagles are surprisingly at the top of the fantasy heap thanks to their seven defensive and special teams touchdowns on the season. 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, I'm here to serve up a couple options if you're looking to stream defenses heading into Week 9. Last week's top option, the Miami Dolphins, scored 26 fantasy points in NFL.com leagues, so hopefully we can find a defense ready to produce once again. Let's get to it.
Bye weeks: Atlanta, Green Bay, Chicago, Buffalo, Detroit, Tennessee
The Jets are in the midst of a quarterback catastrophe as they benched Geno Smith for Michael Vick on Sunday after the former committed three costly turnovers. Unfortunately for the Jets, they watched Vick commit three turnovers of his own after that. What makes this matchup particularly enticing for the Chiefs is that they get to face the Jets in the comfy confines of Arrowhead Stadium, one of the loudest and most difficult arenas for opposing teams to play in. The Chiefs D/ST is averaging 13 fantasy points per game at home, versus just 4.25 on the road. Serving up two skiddish, turnover-prone quarterbacks in that environment is almost unfair for the Chiefs D/ST. With their pass-rush starting to resemble it's 2013 form, whoever starts under center for the Jets is going to have a rough afternoon.
Under defensive-minded head coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings currently rank seventh in fantasy scoring on the season, and only the Buffalo Bills have scored fewer defensive touchdowns than the Vikings on the season. This unit isn't touchdown-dependent, which is a great sign for consistent fantasy point production, especially against suspect offenses.
The Redskins could have Robert Griffin III back in time for this game, but even if he does start it will be his first game action since Week 2. There's bound to be some rust. Add in the fact that Minnesota has the third-most sacks in the NFL, and there's an opportunity for them to fluster whoever is under center and potentially force a turnover or two. Minnesota's defense is loaded with young, talented players only starting to play close to their potential. They could come alive against a Washington offense that has struggled recently and will either be saddling up with Colt McCoy or a rusty RGIII under center.
If you picked up the Browns defense recently as a streaming option, it's a unit worth holding onto this week. Paul Kruger has been a man on a mission in recent weeks, as you can see in the video to the right. Tampa Bay is giving up the third-most fantasy points to opposing defenses, and given Tampa's recent struggles this has the makings of another strong outing for the Browns defense.
Hot damn did that suggestion to play the Colts against the Steelers last week backfire in a big way. Although in my defense, not even the resident Steelers fans in the office expected Haley-ball to put up 51 points on the Colts defense. So, I'm going to double down and suggest the Colts once again against the Giants on Monday Night Football next week.
There are reasons for concern, as the Giants are coming off of a bye, get an extra day of rest/preparation and are playing at home, but something tells me this Colts defense won't get pushed around like that twice in a row. Moreover, the Giants offense will be without Victor Cruz and likely Rashad Jennings -- their two best offensive skill position players. Given that six teams (and a couple good fantasy defenses) are on a bye this week, the Colts are a solid streaming option.
I'm not as thrilled with this matchup as other options this week, seeing as the Chargers secondary is beat up and they have to travel the entire length of the country prior to this game. However, if you're in need of a fantasy defense this week and the Bolts are available, they're a viable option to net you a handful of fantasy points.
Frisky and risky streaming plays:
Jacksonville Jaguars D/ST (0.6 percent owned) at Cincinnati Bengals -- This would be the equivalent of a fantasy hail mary, but hear me out. Over the last four weeks they're the eighth-highest scoring fantasy defense, as all of those pick-sixes Blake Bortles is throwing don't count against their fantasy score. The Bengals are coming off of a last-minute escape-act of a win against the Ravens, and could be in line for a trap game. Wouldn't it be the most Bengals thing ever to lose to the Jaguars at home, especially in A.J. Green's welcome back game? Giovani Bernard is slightly injured, Green won't be 100 percent and this team was shut out two weeks ago. So if you're desperate for a defense, what do you have to lose?
Dallas Cowboys D/ST (14 percent owned) vs. Arizona Cardinals -- As of the publishing of this column, the Dallas defense has yet to play in Week 8, but once again they're a frisky/risky play for Week 9. Arizona has been playing really well, but Dallas will be at home and has been surprisingly good on defense (just not gang busters in the fantasy department). They could net you a few points if you're in need of a D/ST.