Conventional wisdom advocates selecting a fantasy football defense with one of your two final picks. Others might punt the position altogether at the draft in favor of a treasured sleeper, if league rules allow, and instead pick up a new defense each week depending on who has the most favorable matchup. By streaming defenses in this way you can focus on the weakness of the opponent rather than a selection’s own strengths.
The key to this strategy is to roster defenses playing against teams that aren’t expected to win many games, which means you can expect those offenses to play from behind more often than not, making them more predictable and prone to mistakes. For example, over the past three seasons, a team that trailed by four to 10 points passed the ball more than half the time with higher interception, sack and fumble rates than those teams leading by four to 10 points.
Offenses most likely to yield big points to fantasy defenses in 2019 include the Oakland Raiders (2019 win total set at six games by oddsmakers), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (favored in three games this year per the point spreads released by CG Technology in May), Detroit Lions (favored in two games), New York Giants (favored in four games), Cincinnati Bengals (favored in two games), San Francisco 49ers (pass-blocking unit ranked 23rd in 2019 by Pro Football Focus), Miami Dolphins (league-low 500-1 odds to win Super Bowl LIV) and Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals look so weak fantasy owners will want to try their luck against them as often as possible. Arizona is getting points in all games scheduled from Week 1 to Week 16 and in Week 17 they face the Los Angeles Rams, who are eight-point favorites over the Cardinals in Week 13. If we convert these point spreads to win rates, there is almost a 50-50 chance Arizona wins only four or five games in 2019. They have a zero percent chance to win the NFC West. Plus, rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL draft, will have to take his snaps behind the league’s worst pass-blocking unit per Pro Football Focus. Murray has been sacked three times on 18 drop backs in two preseason games, including one against the Oakland Raiders that turned into a safety.
After removing the 14 defenses that should be gone on draft day in 12-team, point-per-reception, or PPR, fantasy football leagues, here is the ideal streaming defense strategy for 2019.
Fantasy football regular season
Week 1: Seattle Seahawks vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Week 2: Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New York Giants
Week 4: Indianapolis Colts vs. Oakland Raiders
Week 5: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Arizona Cardinals
Week 6: Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions
Week 7: New York Giants vs. Arizona Cardinals
Week 8: Detroit Lions vs. New York Giants
Week 9: Seattle Seahawks vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 10: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Arizona Cardinals
Week 11: San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals
Week 12: New York Jets vs. Oakland Raiders
Week 13: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders
Week 14: New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins
Fantasy football playoffs
Week 15: New York Giants vs. Miami Dolphins
Week 16: Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals
Week 17: Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers
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