Drafting a defense at the very end of your fantasy football draft is the best approach to the position, but it does mean more work throughout the season, streaming defenses based on matchups all year long. And if you did that, you’ve come to the right place.
Earlier this offseason, I recommended this approach, and outlined my preferred strategy for streaming defenses week-to-week. Obviously, we’re looking to target good defenses against bad or inexperienced quarterbacks. Bonus points are awarded to defenses heavily favored and/or playing at home. Beyond that, the stats that matter most are opposing passer rating vs. passer rating and sacks per dropback vs. sacks per dropback allowed.
Each week in this space we’ll be looking at the top team defenses available on your waiver wire (roughly 50% owned or less on Yahoo) to add for the upcoming week.
Here are the defenses you should be looking to add in Week 3.
1. Dallas Cowboys (70%)
vs. Miami (-21.0)
2. Tennessee Titans (35%)
@ Jacksonville (-1.5)
Tennessee ranks third in fantasy points scored, scoring 19.0 fantasy points in Week 1 and 7.0 in Week 2. In Week 1, they held Baker Mayfield to just a 64.0 passer rating — the worst number of his short career. He threw three interceptions and was sacked five times, struggling to diagnose coverages, as Tennessee featured a lot of disguised coverage looks and moving secondary pieces meant to confuse the inexperienced passer. Tennessee faces an even more inexperienced quarterback this week — sixth-round rookie Gardner Minshew, and on a short week of rest. Tennessee is your top streaming target this week (after Dallas and New England, but they’re most likely already owned).
3. San Francisco 49ers (18%)
vs. Pittsburgh (-7.0)
San Francisco has just about everything you’re looking for from a streaming defense. They’re playing an inexperienced backup quarterback (Mason Rudolph) making his first career start (second career game). They’re heavy home favorites (favored by 7.0 points, fifth-most), while Pittsburgh has the sixth-lowest implied point total of the week (18.75). They’re also a better defense than their 18% ownership implies. They rank second-best in fantasy points scored, and sport a pass-rush that’s moved from bottom-three to top-10 following the acquisitions of Nick Bosa and Dee Ford.
4. Green Bay Packers (17%)
vs. Denver (-8.0)
Green Bay ranks fourth-best among all defenses in fantasy points scored. The Broncos have the fourth-lowest implied point total of the week (17.5), and the Packers are 8.0-point (third-most) home favorites. The Packers rank second-best in pressure rate over expectation, while the Broncos rank 11th-worst, giving them the second-best pass rush matchup of the week. Since 2015, Joe Flacco ranks worst of 41 quarterbacks in yards per pass attempt (6.34), not far off his 2019 average (6.91). This one’s just simple math — Green Bay should dominate.
5. Philadelphia Eagles (46%)
vs. Detroit (-7.0)
The Eagles are heavy home favorites (7.0 points, fifth-most) and with the best pass-rush matchup of the week. The Eagles rank fourth-best in pressure rate over expectation while the Lions rank eighth-worst. They’re not quite on the same level as Tennessee, San Francisco, or Green Bay, but they are a top-12 defense for me this week and do have the added benefit of facing the Luke Falk-led Jets in Week 4.
Looking ahead: The Miami Dolphins play the Chargers in Week 4, and then face the Redskins in Week 6 following their bye. The Falk-led Jets face the Eagles in Week 4 and then the Cowboys in Week 5. The Rudolph-led Steelers play the Bengals in Week 4 and then the Ravens in Week 5.