Fantasy University: Streaming Team Defenses

Scout Fantasy Sports breaks down how to succeed with one of the most popular strategies in Fantasy Football: streaming team defenses.

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Team defense is the most popular position to stream in Fantasy Football. I’d go as far as to say that more than half of all Fantasy owners stream that position. In today’s NFL, there are very few defenses that can be consistently dominant. The game just isn’t set up for that anymore. Everything has been skewed for quarterback-driven offenses to rule the game. There are many things to take into consideration when deciding to stream defenses. It’s more complicated than just playing a defense that’s facing a bad offense.

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The first thing to look out for is injuries on both sides of the ball. If a defense is missing its top cornerback or a premier pass rusher, you may not want to start that unit. The absence of just one or two players can have a major impact on a defense’s Fantasy production. In a similar vein, if a usually dangerous offense is missing multiple key players, you may want to take a chance with the defense that is facing them. It is very important to check out the injury report right up until kickoff. Do not ignore offensive linemen either. A missing left tackle can be a game changer for a passing attack. A missing interior lineman can have an equally crippling effect on the ground game. Of course, always check the quarterbacks and skill-position players, but that’s pretty much a given.

The weather can also have a major impact on a Fantasy defense. The worse the weather, the better it is for the D, particularly against an offense that employs a pass-heavy scheme. If it’s wet and windy, turnovers become increasingly common. Bad things can happen when that ball gets slippery, and your defense can take full advantage, especially if the opposing team is on the road and not used to inclement conditions.

Going along with the turnover theme, target defenses playing against teams that tend to turn the ball over or have trouble stopping the pass rush. That’s how you pick up points in bunches. If an offensive line cannot protect their QB, you can rack up points quickly with sacks. And with sacks come a greater likelihood for fumbles, which gets you even more points. Interceptions are much more predictable than fumbles and if a quarterback is consistently throwing picks, roster the defense up against him.

When all else fails, yes, try to find the defense facing the worst quarterback. We have all done this before. Rookie and otherwise inexperienced quarterbacks are attractive prey. Don’t overthink this part of the strategy. It’s pretty cut and dry.

It may be a good idea to have a default defense on your bench. Pick up a consistently serviceable defense so that in the worst-case scenario where there aren’t any worthwhile options on the waiver wire in a certain week, you can go to battle with a decent all-around defense and feel OK about your chances. A defense can be the difference between a win and a loss.

As always, keep the Fantasy Points Allowed Tool in your back pocket when deciding which defense to play each week. That chart will give you a very good idea of which offenses to pick on.

Streaming defenses may not only be a useful strategy, it may perhaps be a better strategy than sticking with one defense week in and week out. Play the matchups and put in the time to make sure those matchups are as favorable as they appear. Don’t forget the many variables that must be taken into account when judging team defenses on a week-to-week basis.

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