In most leagues, only about 12-14 D/STs are on rosters, leaving owners with a palatable amount of options if they are in need of a defense. Streaming your defense based on opponent strength and expected game script can give fantasy owners untapped upside on their roster.

(Author’s Note: This column will be updated by Friday afternoon every week to offer and reflect all of the latest injury news and analysis to aid in your decision-making).

Here are the three lower-owned (below 40%) options for Week 6:

  1. Buffalo Bills (vs. San Francisco 49ers):

Once again, the Bills DST makes the top of our streaming list. Buffalo’s defensive unit scored a touchdown last week, which may artificially influence our expectation for this game on the horizon, but Rex Ryan and Buffalo's defense has really turned the ship around after a sluggish start. After getting demolished for 37 points at home vs. the Jets in Week 2, Buffalo’s defense is arguably been one of the best in the league. In fact, the Bills have three or more sacks in three straight games and the unit has reached the 3-plus-sack milestone in four of their first 5 contests. This all goes without mentioning that their Week 6 opponent was just ripped to shreds for seven sacks against Arizona in Week 5. After stoning the Rams in Week 1 and managing 27 points against Carolina in garbage time in Week 2, the ‘Niners offensive point totals over the past three weeks are as follows: 18, 17, and 21. Even after accounting for their offensive slow down in Week 3-5, the ‘Niners have still been brutal all season. San Francisco is last in yards/play in the NFL. Granted, there are rumors that the ‘Niners may start Colin Kaepernick at quarterback after Blaine Gabbert has once again shown he is nothing more than a career backup signal-caller. If Kaepernick does start, it won’t change our projection much at all and Buffalo would remain a top-5 streaming option. If you picked up the Bills defense last week, roll them again in Week 6. Rex Ryan should pick this shaky ‘Niners front apart with his exotic blitz packages at home in Buffalo.

 

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (at Miami Dolphins):

This streaming recommendation has less to do with the Steelers' defensive ability and more so about the Dolphins' ineptitude on offense. The ship is completely sinking in South Beach. Miami has ran 45 or fewer plays in two straight games and have scored 7 and 17 points during that span. What is worse is that Miami is dead last in plays per game (52.8) and are averaging four fewer snaps/contest than the next-worst team (Buffalo, 56.8 plays/game). Miami’s offense literally cannot even sustain a drive right now. Once more, Pittsburgh is starting to increase their blitz-rate each week. Per PFF’s Pat Thorman, these are the Steelers’ blitz rates by week, with the most recent data point appearing last: 11.4% (32nd in the league), 19.3% (29th), 30.3% (12th), 36.4% (9th), and 40.5% (6th). This all goes without mentioning that Miami has permitted the second-most total sacks (17) on the season and they have trailed on 74.2% of their snaps (most in the league). If Miami can't get right on offense and fast, it could get ugly quick in Week 6. Pittsburgh is shaping up to be a top-notch streaming option once again for this week. If you picked up the Steelers DST in Week 5, you should be more than happy to plug them in again. If not, the Steelers are over 60% available on both ESPN and NFL.com platforms.

 

  1. Tennessee Titans (vs. Cleveland Browns):

Here is your weekly flowchart reminder for streaming defenses. Any time an opponent is facing Cleveland, their defense has to be considered. In fact, the last three DST's to face the Browns have scored no fewer than 4 fantasy points and Cleveland has permitted seven total sacks during that span to their opponent. This provides DST’s with an amiable floor along with tangible upside if the unit can really get after the opposing quarterback. Tennessee has quietly accumulated the sixth-most sacks this season (12) while also permitting the 7th-fewest first downs per play to opposing offenses (0.267). We know that the Browns’ are essentially an expansion team for all intents and purposes, but it can’t go unnoticed that Cleveland is bottom-8 in touchdowns per play and they have trailed on 67.8 percent of their offensive snaps (third-most in the NFL). With Cody Kessler (ribs) banged up and questionable for the Browns Week 6 tilt in Tennessee, HC Hue Jackson may have to trot out Charlie Whitehurst once again. Cleveland had to sign Whitehurst off of the street a few weeks ago. If the Bills or Steelers are not available in your league, you can feel cozy streaming the Titans defense even though they have not been elite to-date (Tennessee is 20th in cumulative DST fantasy points). The Titans’ DST is widely available across all platforms.