Squeezing the Defense: Top Streaming Options for NFL Week 1
Whether it’s your college re-draft league, your intense dynasty team or daily tournaments, the golden rule in fantasy football is to never break the bank for a defense.
As the most volatile position in fantasy football, nearly every defense in the league is a viable starting option for a given week. In daily fantasy, creating new rosters and therefore selecting new defenses is the name of the game. But in other formats, overdrafting a defense or sticking with the same unit for an entire season is more like shooting yourself in the foot. With that approach, you’re simply not squeezing the position for all it’s worth.
Take these fun numbers from last season for example:
- Every one of the league’s 32 defenses posted at least two top-12 finishes
- 28 of the league’s 32 defenses posted at least one top-five finish
- 22 defenses recorded at least two top-5 finishes
There’s value to be had with every defense. Knowing who to play and when to play ’em is the key.
Using a rough criteria consisting of everything from turnover opportunities to betting lines, GX will help you manage fantasy football’s most volatile position by bringing you the top streaming defensive options each week for the entire season.
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The cohesion and synergy of a defensive unit is essential in establishing effective play and performance on that side of the ball. The recipe, however, requires time, which makes forecasting Week 1 the most difficult projection of the year.
We can’t go too much off last season’s stats because coaches change, players change, and sometimes entire schemes receive an overhaul. And we can’t go off last week’s outing because, well, there was no last week.
Until then, we’ll take into account turnover opportunities based on the opposing offenses, as well as the numbers provided to us by the enchanting town of Las Vegas. Taking a gander at things like O/U lines and point spreads can give us at least a hint as to how the game may go — and regardless of how many parlay wins you have under your belt, the linemakers in Sin City are very, very good.
Without further ado, your Week 1 NFL streaming defensive options.
Philadelphia (v. Jacksonville)
As much as I believe in head coach Gus Bradley and his efforts in Jacksonville, the Jaguars are rolling into the season with that guy Chad Henne at quarterback and a defense that — albeit on its way — isn’t stout enough just yet to slow down Chip Kelly and the Eagles’ potent attack on offense.
Not only is Philly a double-digit favorite on Sunday, but the gentlemen out West also believe the game ends with a total somewhere in the low 50’s. Assuming the Eagles offense is clicking come Week 1, the Jaguars may be playing a lot of catch-up, which in turn provides greater chance for turnovers.
Other aspects working in your favor as a Philadelphia streamer this week: an effective pass-rush, a lack of offensive playmakers for Jacksonville, and did we mention Chad Henne?
After posting just one double-digit scoring total last season and finishing the year as a below-average fantasy option, the Philadelphia defense should be available on most waiver wires, and the unit is currently listed on DraftKings for $3,200 (a 20% discount off the top-priced Kansas City squad).
New York Jets (v. Oakland)
Perhaps one shouldn’t be so bullish on a defensive unit with such glaring concerns in their secondary, but give me Rex Ryan and the New York Jets in nearly every format this week. We’re looking at a favored Jets team with a threatening front-line, a projected game total of less than 40, playing at home, and going against a rookie in quarterback Derek Carr who doesn’t exactly tote lethal firepower with names like Rod Streater and James Jones at receiver.
The Jets are a bit costly in daily leagues ($3,900 at DraftKings), so maybe you scroll down a bit in those formats and take a cheaper unit. Or hell, maybe scroll up and take the Kansas City Chiefs for just $100 more. In season-long leagues, however, New York makes for a likely snag as a mid-week addition.
Chicago (v. Buffalo)
The Bears may only be a season removed from allowing a league-worst 5.3 yards per rush attempt, but don’t let that discourage you from taking advantage of what’s sure to evolve into (if it hasn’t already) the E.J. Manuel fallout.
Yes, the Bills are a run-first offense under head coach Doug Marrone — and a lot of that is because they have to be. While the Chicago defense may have been terrible against the run in 2013 and thus finishing as a poor fantasy option, they’ll be going against a one-dimensional offensive unit in Buffalo who enters Soldier Field as a touchdown underdog in a game that screams one-sided affair.
DraftKings has the Chicago Bears priced as a second-tier defense for this Sunday ($3,500), because they too can easily recognize the E.J. Manuel fallout. You could go with a few cheaper options of course, but Chicago seems to carry a bit more assurance in its price.
Picking defenses may be an erratic practice, but betting against Manuel as a legitimate passing threat seems dependable for now.
Denver (v. Indianapolis)
As noted in our latest Fantasy High Five, I consider the Denver defense one of the more promising bounce-back candidates relative to last season’s output — and fantasy owners could see results as soon as this Sunday when the Broncos host the Indianapolis Colts.
A large part of Denver’s attractiveness this weekend has to do with how I think the game will go, which involves lots of scoring, mostly by way of Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense, followed by Andrew Luck and the Colts throwing the ball well into the fourth quarter. Sure the 55.5 total doesn’t jive with common streaming practice, but taking into account Denver’s other half, as well Indy’s anticipated response, provides us with hope for turnover opportunities.
Additionally, the Broncos are listed at a cool $3,100 on DraftKings and should be easily found floating in the shallow end of most free agent pools.
Pittsburgh (v. Cleveland)
Siding with Pittsburgh this week doesn’t change depending on who the Browns start at quarterback. It does, however, become a stronger play with Josh Gordon’s suspension and Cleveland’s ensuing lack of playmakers on offense.
Do I love Jordan Cameron at tight end? Absolutely. But that’s more of a reason to target him personally this week based on volume, and to fade the Browns as any sort of respectable offense against a formidable Pittsburgh defense in what should be a low-scoring bout at Heinz Field.
Like the the New York Jets, Pittsburgh is priced on the high-side in daily formats ($3,900), making them an exclusion in frugal spending agendas. Personally, I refer back to Hoyer nearly losing his job (we think) to a rookie, not showing us enough in the preseason to believe he’s returned to early-2013 form, and Pittsburgh’s ability to force the Browns to pass.