In most leagues, only about 12-14 D/ST’s 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.
Here are the three lower-owned (below 40%) options for Week 6:
Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Cleveland Browns)
We're breaking one of our cardinal rules here -- the Bengals are only about 40% available across all platforms after facing New England in Week 6 -- but Cincinnati needs to be mentioned in this space. If the Bengals’ DST is still available after being dropped because of last week's matchup, make sure you remedy that. We have been attacking the Browns' offensive line all year with our streaming choices and Week 7 will be no different. After absorbing an insane six sacks in Week 6 vs. Tennessee, Cody Kessler's sack rate (7.6%) is now 5th highest among all quarterbacks. Through six games, Cleveland has permitted the 2nd-most sacks (19) in the league and the Browns have ceded 5 (Dolphins), 4 (Redskins), 5 (Patriots), and 6 (Titans) fantasy points to opposing defenses in the past four weeks. Without LG Joel Bitonio (foot), Cleveland is completely destitute across their offensive line sans LT Joe Thomas. Cincinnati should be able to light the Browns’ front-5 on fire coming off a frustrating 2-4 start. Pick up the Bengals DST where you can this week and play them with confidence.
Friday Update: One of the Browns only weapons, Terrelle Pryor, is battling a groin issue and has not practiced all week. Cleveland’s HC Hue Jackson is “optimistic” that Pryor can play – but he will likely be very limited if he does go. This just further boosts the awesome spot the Bengals’ DST finds themselves in. If Pryor can’t suit up, the Browns two wide receiver sets will consist of Andrew Hawkins and Ricardo Louis. Note that Corey Coleman (hand) is also out. On the other side, the Bengals defense is actually very healthy heading into Week 7. DT Domata Peko and LB Vontaze Burfict were limited earlier in the week, but they are practicing in full and are expected to play. This is obviously a perfect spot to fire Cincinnati’s DST no matter what.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at San Francisco 49ers)
Coming out of their bye, the Bucs' are over 90% available across all platforms ahead of their Week 7 date with the 'Niners inept offense. Once again, the 49ers will easily make our streaming-target list. In his first start, Colin Kaepernick completed just 45% of his passes and absorbed three sacks vs. Buffalo in Week 6. While Tampa Bay's defensive line is not as near as good at generating pressure as the Bills are, the Bucs' DST needs to be considered this week. The 49ers’ offensive line has permitted the 6th-most sacks (13) this year, but most of those have came in the last two weeks (10). Along with the three sacks San Francisco permitted in Week 6, Arizona’s front-7 ripped the ‘Niners for seven total sacks in Week 5. With San Francisco’s offensive line seemingly breaking down, the Bucs’ and their middling 5.3% adjusted sack rate (21st-overall) have extra sack-based upside in Week 7. What’s more, Tampa owns one of the best run-stuffing defenses in the league, meaning the 49ers best offensive weapon, Carlos Hyde, will likely face tough sledding. Even though they are at home, the ‘Niners will likely struggle to move the ball on the ground – which is a major problem. HC Chip Kelly’s offense has been one of the most run-heavy attacks in the league, even when adjusting for game script. As a result of their talent deficiencies and incompetence moving the football, San Francisco's offense has not scored more than 21 points in four straight games. It’s always hard to trust short road favorites, but Tampa’s DST definitely needs to be considered this week.
Friday Update: Further solidifying this streaming selection, 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (shoulder) has been ruled out for Week 7. With Mike Davis and Shaun Draughn covering Hyde’s missing workload, San Francisco is completely devoid of offensive talent. What’s more, the Bucs’ are expecting to have stud DT Gerald McCoy back from his calf injury. As noted, the Bucs’ play stellar run defense – mostly by over-pursuing – but getting McCoy back is a huge boost to their front-7. With Hyde out and the Bucs’ getting their best defensive lineman back, Tampa is now arguably a top-5 play this weekend at defense. It’s always a bit scary to trust a defense on the road and while Colin Kaepernick could have a solid rushing day, it’s hard to ignore that the ‘Niners will very likely struggle to do much of anything on offense.
Tennessee Titans (vs. Indianapolis Colts)
Overall, this is shaping up to be a mediocre week for atypical streamers, unlike Week 5 and 6. The Colts' offense will always be a threat with Andrew Luck, but their offensive line is ceding an 8.8 percent sack rate this year, by far the highest in the league. The Colts’ offensive line has regressed beyond belief this season. Luck will try to post his usual stat-line, but the Titans' rock-solid front-7 should be able to rack up multiple sacks vs. the Colts' shaky offensive line. In fact, before Week 6, the Titans defensive line accrued the league’s 10th-best adjusted sack rate per FootballOutsiders (7.5%). Luck has been fantastic despite the woeful team GM Ryan Grigson has fielded, but most would be surprised to know the Colts are a measly 19th in yards/play (5.42). Outside of Luck, T.Y. Hilton, an injured Donte Moncrief and an aging Frank Gore, the Colts are completely devoid of offensive playmakers. Along with strong sack-based upside, the Titans have quietly held their opponents to 17 or fewer points in three of their last 5 games. Before allowing some garbage time points late in Week 6, Tennessee held Cleveland to just 13 points through three quarters. As long as the Colts keep hemorrhaging sacks, they will remain a streaming target. The Titans DST is worth a reach if you are needy and the Bengals or Buccaneers are not available.
Friday Update: Poor Andrew Luck. Indianapolis will travel to Tennessee without G Jack Mewhort, TE Dwayne Allen (ankle), and WR Phillip Dorsett (foot, hamstring). While Dorsett has been an abject failure this season without Donte Moncrief (shoulder), losing him puts Chester Rogers, “Tevaun Smith”, and Devin Street on the field behind T.Y. Hilton. With so many injuries across the board, the Titans really should have no issue strangling this miserable Colt team, sans Luck and Hilton. What’s more, since the data has been updated, the Titans adjusted sack-rate has moved to 6th-best in the league (8.5%) while the Colts are permitting the NFL’s 2nd worst adjusted sack rate (8.9%). Fire the Titans DST with reckless abandon this week. They are on par with the Bucs’ for the 2nd-best DST streaming play of the week.