Week 9 waiver wire: Streaming defenses to target

You're probably used to seeing this article from our guy Matt Harmon every week. He's done great work suggesting streaming D/ST options for the first eight weeks of the season, but has graciously handed off the task to me. Don't worry, he's still around doing his weekly Opportunity Report and offering awesome DFS advice, but you'll have to deal with my D/ST suggestions from here on out. Change can be a good thing, so just bear with me.

Some of the streaming D/ST qualifications that Harmon used in the past included good matchups, home teams, favorites, and obviously good defenses. So I'll offer up options using the same criteria.

There weren't many huge performances that streaming owners were able to take advantage of in Week 8, but fantasy managers who took a chance on the Chiefs (20.1 percent owned, 14.00 FP), Buccaneers (3.3 percent owned, 10.00 FP) and Vikings (18.1 percent owned, 8.00 FP) all came away feeling good about their decisions. Houston (71.8 percent owned) was the highest scoring fantasy D/ST of the week as a contest against the Zach Mettenberger-led Titans was a match made in heaven for J.J. Watt and company. But save for Tampa Bay, many of the top scoring units from Week 8 are highly owned in most leagues.

Now, we look ahead to Week 9 with the caveat that defensive fantasy points are one of the most difficult things to predict with complete accuracy, but if you're in need, here are some suggestions based on the above guidelines.

Cincinnati Bengals D/ST (36.7 percent owned) hosting Cleveland Browns (TNF)

In a Week 8 game that was projected to be a high scoring affair at Heinz Field, the Bengals defense had a seemingly tough matchup on paper as they were dealing with the return of a healthy Ben Roethlisberger and a Steelers offense that was hungry for a win. But Cincinnati's defense stepped up and limited Pittsburgh to just 10 points in the game. The unit picked off Big Ben three times and sacked him three times too, as the unit tallied 16.00 fantasy points, its highest mark of the season.

It's surprising that the Bengals defensive unit is owned in such a low percentage of leagues, as they have allowed 24 or fewer points to opposing offenses in every game this season and have notched seven or more fantasy points in five of seven games.

In Week 9, Cincinnati plays host to the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland has been struggling of late with three straight losses and although the Browns managed 20 points against the Cardinals in the first half of Week 8, Arizona shut out Cleveland's offense in the second half. The Browns posted a season-low 254 yards of offense and tied a season low of 39 total rush yards. Plus, on a short week, Cleveland is preparing to startJohnny Manziel at quarterback with Josh McCown battling a rib injury.

The Bengals may not be the best defense in the NFL, but since the unit is facing a Cleveland team that leads the leagues in fumbles (17), and fumbles lost (12) and is averaging just 18.6 first downs per game, Cincinnati is a solid streaming option at home as they look to remain undefeated in Week 9.

Minnesota Vikings D/ST (18.1 percent owned) hosting St. Louis Rams

It could be argued that the Vikings defense hasn't faced a true test yet this season with games against SF, DET (twice), SD, DEN, KC and CHI, but they're not complaining. The unit is averaging over eight fantasy points per game and has allowed 23 or fewer points to opposing offenses each of its seven games.

Minnesota is allowing just 17.4 points per game to opposing offenses and heads into St. Louis for a juicy Week 9 matchup against a Rams team that ranks among the worst offenses in the NFL, averaging just 311 yards and 19.3 points per game. Nick Foles is simply not a good quarterback. He's thrown for 200 yards in a game just once the entire season and has one or fewer touchdown passes in six of seven games, so he is clearly not a threat.

The one thing the Vikings will have to focus on stopping is running back Todd Gurley. The rookie runner just posted his fourth-straight 125-plus rushing yard game and is arguably the best running back in the NFL. The Vikings have been tough against running backs this season though, allowing an average of 92.4 rush yards per game to the position and only three rushing touchdowns all year. So as long as Minnesota can limit Gurley (easier said than done) they represent a great streaming option in Week 9.

Atlanta Falcons D/ST (30.9 percent owned) at San Francisco 49ers

The Falcons, now 6-2, choked against Tampa Bay in Week 8, losing 23-20, thanks in part to four turnovers including three lost fumbles. When a team turns the ball over four times, they deserve to lose, even if they had performed better offensively. But we're talking about D/STs here, so let's shift our focus.

The Falcons will travel to the West Coast in Week 9 to take on the 49ers at Levi's Stadium. The main reason the Falcons are on this list is due to their opponent. San Francisco ranks dead last in the NFL in scoring, averaging 13.6 points per game. The 49ers have now gone two straight games (three total) without scoring a touchdown. Furthermore, the team has scored seven or fewer points four times this season.

Adding fuel to this fire, Carlos Hyde sat out in Week 8 with a foot injury, Reggie Bush suffered what is likely a season-ending ACL tear, and since the team is so extremely depleted at running back (Kendall Gaskins and Mike Davis combined for 10 rush yards), they reportedly worked out Ben Tate on Monday morning. So clearly, the 49ers don't know who their starting running back is going to be in Week 9.

Since the 49ers are virtually a non-threat on offense, and the Falcons D/ST has posted good fantasy totals in good matchups this season (21 FP vs HOU, 12 FP vs WAS, nine FP vs TEN) this matchup is about as good as it gets for Atlanta.

New Orleans Saints D/ST (2.4 percent owned) hosting Tennessee Titans

OK, so New Orleans was just torched for 49 points by the Giants, and you're wondering why they would even get a mention in this space. Well prior to Week 8, the Saints posted fantasy totals of 17 and 10 points against Atlanta and Indianapolis respectively, and the unit has collected nine turnovers and 12 sacks in their last four games.

In Week 9 New Orleans faces a Titans team that is allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing D/STs this season (13.29). One of the league's worst defenses, the Houston Texans, just posted a 20-point outing against the Zach Mettenberger-led Tennessee offense. Now, Marcus Mariota is slated to return in Week 9 which should help the Titans' cause, but even still, Tennessee ranks second to last in the NFL in yards per game and has a minus 7 turnover ratio.

While it's difficult to recommend the Saints D/ST for fantasy purposes, a home matchup against the 1-6 Titans team that fired its head coach Ken Wisenhunt this week, is too good to ignore up if you're in need of a streaming option.

Jacksonville Jaguars D/ST (1.5 percent owned) at New York Jets

This one is a longshot based solely on the Jets current quarterback situation. Ryan Fitzpatrick suffered ligament damage in his non-throwing hand, more specifically in his thumb, against the Raiders on Sunday. Geno Smith stepped in for Fitzpatrick but he got banged up too, absorbing a few brutal hits throughout the day, and even had to sit out a few plays near the end of the game with shoulder and abdomen injuries.

New York may look to trade for a quarterback before Week 9's game against the Jaguars, or they could stick with Smith for the time being. Either scenario is a huge downgrade from Fitzpatrick who has been consistently solid in both real life and fantasy football. The Jets are also without their starting All-Pro center, Nick Mangold who was inactive with a neck injury in Week 8, and the run game suffered because of his absence. Chris Ivory, who has been a monster when healthy, had just 17 yards on 15 carries.

Consider this your reminder of what Jacksonville's defense did to Bills' backup signal-caller EJ Manuel and co. in London back in Week 7. Need a refresher? Try four takeaways, four sacks and two defensive touchdowns for a total of 24 fantasy points.

Matt Franciscovich is an associate fantasy editor at NFL.com. He's had "Holy Ghost" by Borns on repeat for about three weeks now. Hit him up on Twitter @MattFranchise for music recommendations and fantasy advice.

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