NFL Fantasy Football: D/ST streamer-busting offenses

Streaming defenses is a popular NFL fantasy league strategy, but which targeted offenses might put a crimp in your streaming plans?

Each season, more NFL fantasy owners stream their DS/T. Their streaming strategy can be as simple as looking for rookie quarterbacks to pick on, like Jared Goff and the 2016 Rams’ league-worst 12 D/ST points allowed per game. Of course, you don’t know when a rookie will turn into Dak Prescott, whose Cowboy team ranked third best (3.12 ppg) in D/ST points allowed. 

Traditionally-bad quarterbacks like Ryan Fitzpatrick might be targeted, too. The Jets were the second-worst offense against fantasy defenses last season. Or a replacement quarterback… or five, like what happened in Cleveland. The Browns wound up the third worst D/ST points provider. 

Injuries to other players might turn a normally solid offense into a streamer candidate. Philip Rivers needed a program to know who was on the field with him last year. The Chargers’ 8.69 points per game were NFL fantasy’s fourth worst average. 

Those teams achieved their woeful status in different ways. The Chargers lost the second-highest number of fumbles. The Jets threw the most interceptions while the Browns gave up a league-high 66 sacks. The Rams allowed more defensive touchdowns than anybody else. None of these teams were one-dimensional in their defensive charity, but you get the point.

The Rams and Chargers hope to stay off the 2017 streaming list thanks to new and healthier weapons. The Browns are starting another rookie quarterback, planting a D/ST streaming target on themselves. The Jets blew up their team and will start a suspect quarterback surrounded by question marks. 

In all, nine teams are being bandied about as D/ST fodder. Chicago, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Denver, Houston and San Francisco quarterbacks are all being targeted, along with Buffalo, who gave away everyone except their quarterback and some rushing guy. 

Could any of these offenses surprise NFL Fantasy D/ST streamers? That’s a safe bet. 

Because of the offensive line…

Chicago’s Mike Glennon will work behind a good offensive line and benefit from having last season’s second-best rusher, Jordan Howard. Chicago’s strong running game and pass protection will allow Glennon the time he needs to make safe decisions in the passing game. This formula worked well for Dak Prescott last season. 

Nothing much is expected of Glennon, mostly based on his two seasons in Tampa Bay, where defenders were chasing him on every snap. Despite the pressure and learning curve, he had a 2-1 TD: Int ratio (30 and 15) in 19 games. He could be surprisingly solid in Chicago.

Because of the QB’s supporting cast…

Paxton Lynch was given every opportunity to take the starting job even when it was obvious Trevor Siemian was more prepared for the role. Now, Brock Osweiler is sitting in the backup role waiting for his second chance in Denver. 

Siemian is the starter because he is the safe option. He is not expected to give up interceptions. Siemian has a good grasp on the offense and throws without thinking too much. He has solid receivers at every skill position and benefits from a solid running game, too. I can see Denver having an above-average offense as far as D/ST points allowed goes. 

Because the QB has skills…

Tyrod Taylor spent the better part of his first two seasons in Buffalo trying to evade rushers while waiting for Sammy Watkins to get open downfield. He took 78 sacks and multiple hits in a mostly low-percentage passing attack. 

Despite that, the Buffalo quarterback only has 12 interceptions on his record and 37 touchdown passes over the two years. This year, he has tight ends and a fullback sharing targets with two sure-handed veteran receivers who will not be 50 yards downfield. Buffalo might not score a lot, but they won’t allow enough sacks and turnovers to make them a streaming DS/T target, either.  

Because I have a hunch…

San Francisco quarterback Brian Hoyer had some less-than-memorable years with the Cleveland Browns. So why would he be different than anybody else? In two incomplete seasons in Houston and Chicago, Hoyer posted a QB rating of over 90, completing over 60% of his passes for 25 touchdowns and only 6 picks. 

The 49ers are not going to run away with a division title or anything, but they have a sneakily-surprising group of players and an offensive mastermind for a coach. Hoyer looked good enough in the preseason to get mentioned in some sleeper conversations. Be careful streaming against San Francisco.

Then there are the worthy D/ST targets

Cleveland looks better, but they have an excitable rookie quarterback who over throws a lot. The Jets have a veteran quarterback who won’t make us guess what he has to offer fantasy defenses. 

Jacksonville’s quarterback will be chased and hit all year. If Bortles plays, the turnovers will come. If Henne plays, the sacks will pile up. It’s a win-win for fantasy D/STs. 

Indianapolis is in the same boat. Getting Andrew Luck back would help a bit, but not enough to pull them off my streaming target list. The loss of their starting center dooms them to be D/ST fodder. 

Finally, there is Houston. My friends there swear Tom Savage is the answer to their quarterback issues. But they say that every year about whatever breathing entity is behind center. I see a lot of 13-10 games in Texas this season. 

Keep up with things

If you are going to stream defenses, you need to keep up with injuries and lineup changes. Don’t restrict that to the quarterback or even the other skill positions. Offensive line problems can have as big an impact as a quarterback change. 

And don’t forget to keep up with the defense you are streaming. If a sacks leader or top corner goes down, that could make them a poor option. 

Check in with RealSport regularly to stay apprised of all things NFL Fantasy Football. We’ll keep you ready to stream with authority all season! And don’t forget to send any questions you have to [email protected] We’ll publish answers every Wednesday, on time for your fantasy weekend.


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Pat Opperman

Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.