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Week 7 IDP Rankings, Streamers, and Notes

The big IDP news of the week happened just this Thursday morning, as our rankings were being finalized.

It was pretty big news, too. Yannick Ngakoue was traded to the Baltimore Ravens! Let’s discuss just how big this news is, and whether it’s good or bad for his short and long term fantasy prospects, shall we?

In the short term, fantasy managers should expect Ngakoue’s fantasy potential to actually improve after this trade, even if he was already on a 13 sack pace in Minnesota. The reason for this optimism is twofold.

 

Yannick Ngakoue Implications

The first reason to be optimistic about Ngakoue’s 2020 prospects in Baltimore is the likelihood that the Ravens will use him similarly to how they have used Matthew Judon this season. In 2020, Harbaugh and company have put Judon at or on the line of scrimmage on 79% of his snaps. That is encouraging, since Ngakoue is used to being a hand-in-the-dirt pass rusher and not a stand-up coverage 'backer. Fantasy managers do not want Ngakoue learning a new position mid-season, nor do they want him serving as an all-purpose linebacker. His strength is as a pass rusher, and Baltimore should use him that way.

The second reason to expect Ngakoue to continue his 2020 tear, despite changing teams and defensive schemes, is that he should get FAR more help from the secondary in Baltimore than he got in Minnesota. Baltimore’s three best corners this year (Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith, and Marcus Peters) are giving up a 63.8% completion percentage to opposing passers despite seeing a dozen more targets than Minnesota’s corners. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s corners are giving up a 72.9% completion percentage to opponents. This upgrade in corner performance, as well an increase in opponent passing plays, should spell a much better opportunity for Ngakoue’s sack totals.

While the short term ramifications of this trade are positive for Ngakoue’s fantasy managers, the long term implications are even better. According to overthecap.com, the Vikings are currently more than $8 million over the 2021 salary cap, meaning they will likely be cutting talent rather than adding it this offseason. The same cannot be said for the Ravens, who have approximately $43 million in 2021 cap space. Keep in mind that Baltimore's rosy cap situation is with players like Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, Patrick Queen, and Chuck Clark all under contract through at least the 2022 season.

Overall, this trade is great for all IDP managers who roster Ngakoue. Dynasty managers should love the idea of a 25-year-old pass rusher going to a defense with good corners under contract for several years. Redraft managers should also love this move, as it makes big plays easier to come by for the stud pass rusher. In both formats, the needle is pointing up on this Maryland born star.

 

Top-25 Fantasy Defensive Linemen of the Week

Rank Player Opponent
1 Myles Garrett Bengals
2 T.J. Watt Titans
3 Joey Bosa Jaguars
4 Jason Pierre-Paul Raiders
5 Harold Landry III Steelers
6 Chase Young Cowboys
7 Za’Darius Smith Texans
8 Bud Dupree Titans
9 Khalil Mack Rams
10 Aldon Smith Washington Football Team
11 Aaron Donald Bears
12 Bradley Chubb Chiefs
13 Cameron Jordan Panthers
14 J.J. Watt Packers
15 Shaquil Barrett Raiders
16 Montez Sweat Cowboys
17 Chris Jones Broncos
18 Frank Clark Broncos
19 Josh Allen (Q) Chargers
20 Brian Burns Saints
21 Kyler Fackrell Eagles
22 Carl Lawson Browns
23 Grady Jarrett Lions
24 Jeffery Simmons Steelers
25 Sheldon Richardson Bengals

DL Streamer of the Week: Chase Young, Washington Football Team

Young sits comfortably outside of the top-15 DL rankings for multiple prominent fantasy outlets this week, and that may make sense if you just looked at his output since he was injured in Week 2. Another factor that may be scaring some IDP managers/rankers is his matchup this week with a Dallas Cowboys team famous for its pass-blocking unit. The Cowboys' pass blocking isn't what it used to be, however.

This year, the Cowboys have allowed 14 sacks, which is only slightly below the league average. That number does not reflect what the Cowboys passing game has going on right now, though. So far this year, Dallas has lost both of its starting offensive tackles, Pro Bowl Guard Zack Martin, and mobile superstar Dak Prescott. Do not underestimate how many sacks Prescott has saved this season with his legs or how many Dalton won't save with his. If you want a better idea of what this Cowboys offense really looks like aftr all of these injuries, look no further than the three sacks they allowed against a Cardinals Defense that was missing its best pass rusher (Chandler Jones) on Monday.

Given his low rankings across the industry this week and his matchup with a gimpy Cowboys squad, Young is a nice sneaky play in pretty much all IDP formats. While he may already be a starter for some managers, Young is available in 25% of leagues right now. Young’s combination of availability, talent, and matchup mean he is a strong sleeper/streamer in Week 7.

DL Fade of the Week: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams

Donald is arguably the best player in the NFL, and he is always a fantasy starter in leagues where you have to play a DT. In fact, most weeks Donald is a reasonable high upside fantasy play no matter what kind of league you play in. With all of that said, Donald doesn't have the ideal fantasy matchup in Week 7.

While Chicago’s offense has surrendered 11 sacks this year (tied for 13th lowest), their starting offensive line has been surprisingly efficient. The five starting blockers for the Bears have allowed only seven total sacks and 9.3 pressures per contest this season. That type of efficiency should concern Donald fantasy managers. Although Donald has the talent to blow up any blocking unit in the league, the Bears and their style of play suggest another dud of a week could be on tap for the former Defensive Player of the Year. Donald is a boom-or-bust fantasy prospect in Week 7

Sneaky Good Matchup of the Week: Jason Pierre-Paul v. the Oakland Raiders’ Offensive Line

You don’t need me to tell you to start Pierre-Paul. The fireworks fan stands third in the NFL in sacks right now, and he has already forced three fumbles while averaging nearly four tackles per game. He is arguably a top-ten DL each week, regardless of matchup. His matchup this week is particularly interesting, though.

On paper, fantasy managers should consider downgrading any defensive linemen going against the Raiders’ offensive line. Las Vegas has allowed the sixth least sacks in the NFL so far this season, and the Raiders rank 12th in Adjusted Sack Rate according to Football Outsiders. However, things in Sin City aren't quite as rosy in Week 7 as those factors may suggest.

One of the Raiders’ best pass blockers is Trent Brown, who just went on the COVID list. If Brown doesn’t play, Pierre-Paul could take advantage. On top of that, the Raiders are currently quarantining all of their starting offensive linemen because they had contact with Brown. If Vegas is missing multiple starting offensive linemen, it could turn into slaughter and a terrible fantasy week for the Raiders’ offensive players, too.

 

Top-25 Fantasy Linebackers of the Week 

Rank Player Opponent
1 Bobby Wagner Cardinals
2 Blake Martinez Eagles
3 Jaylon Smith Washington Football Team
4 Roquan Smith Rams
5 Fred Warner Patriots
6 Devin White Raiders
7 Zach Cunningham Packers
8 Lavonte David Raiders
9 T.J. Watt Titans
10 Micah Kiser Bears
11 Shaq Thompson Saints
12 Joe Schobert Chargers
13 Jordan Hicks Seahawks
14 Deion Jones Lions
15 Jon Bostic Cowboys
16 Myles Jack Chargers
17 Foyesade Oluokun Lions
18 Kenneth Murray Jaguars
19 Jayon Brown Steelers
20 Demario Davis Panthers
21 Alexander Johnson Chiefs
22 Tremaine Edmunds Jets
23 Kyzir White Jaguars
24 Dre Greenlaw Patriots
25 Avery Williamson Bills

LB Streamer of the Week: Dre Greenlaw, San Francisco 49ers

Kwon Alexander missed last week’s matchup against the Rams with a high ankle sprain. It seems increasingly likely that he will miss this week’s game after he sat out practice this Wednesday, too. In games that Alexander sits, Dre Greenlaw averages a fantasy friendly nine tackles per game, with a ceiling of 13 tackles.

The Patriots are the third most run-heavy team in the NFL. Even better, Cam’s powerful yet improvisational running style tends to involve linebackers in the game more than usual. That bodes well for a guy like Greenlaw, who brings with him a high floor and ceiling in tackle premium IDP leagues.

LB Fade of the Week: Leighton Vander Esch, Dallas Cowboys

For those who read all of our IDP columns, you will notice that we have advised you to both add Vander Esch and fade him in this week. That is not an accident or a typo. As a season-long asset, fantasy managers should be eager to add the Boise State product. That doesn't mean you should start him this week, though.

As a Week 7 fantasy prospect, there are simply too many questions floating out there to start him. Chief amongst those questions is how much playing time Vander Esch will see against Washington. Last week he played only 52% of the Cowboys’ snaps, and it would make sense for this team to continue to take things slow with a guy who has a history of neck issues and a recently repaired clavicle. With only six total tackles this year and less than 55% of his team’s snaps in both of the games he has played (granted Week 1 was due to injury), Vander Esch should be rostered but benched until he is back to being a full-time starter.

Cautious Optimism of the Week: Foyesade Oluokun, Atlanta Falcons

If you know who Foyesade Oluokun is or how to pronounce his name, then you are probably one of his family members, a teammate, or an IDP fantasy manager. The Yale alumnus has never had the profile of an NFL superstar, nor has he ever been given the playing time necessary to become one. He is finally getting that opportunity now, though, and he is doing enough to make casual fans wonder just who this guy is and whether he is for real.

You want a reason to believe Oluokun is for real? Well, it helps that the Atlanta Falcons finally seem to think he is. While Oluokun occasionally popped with double-digit tackle games during his first two pro seasons, the Falcons rarely rewarded that play with significant playing time. For example, in 2018 the Yale grad only played on 29.88% of the Falcons’ defensive snaps, despite being available in all 16 games. This season is a different story, though, as the Yale Bulldog has played on nearly 60% of Atlanta’s defensive snaps despite missing time to injury. Expect that increased usage to continue, as Oluokun saw 100% of the team’s defensive snaps in Interim Head Coach Raheem Morris’s first game leading the Falcons.

A second reason for Oluokun optimism, beyond how often Atlanta is using him, is how Atlanta uses him. In his first two seasons combined, the Falcons brought Oluokun on a blitz just 25 times. In just five games this season, the Falcons have already sent him after the quarterback on 23 times. That increased blitz usage spells an increase in sack and TFL opportunities, which raises his fantasy value in all formats. Additionally, Oluokun has significantly improved in pass coverage. While quarterbacks had a 115.4 Passer Rating targeting him in 2017, they are now putting up an 85.6 Passer Rating against him. That improvement is likely one of the reasons that Atlanta feels comfortable keeping Oluokun on the field during passing downs.

Given his current production and increased usage, Oluokun is worth rostering in 16-team IDP leagues and unique IDP setups. Do not make the mistake of thinking you have to know how to pronounce his name in order to roster him, though. You don’t. If your friends ask you who he is or how you knew to add him, just say, "He’s that guy from that thing… you know, the guy! I've always liked him! Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go poop!” That should end the conversation right there.

 

Top-25 Fantasy Defensive Backs of the Week

Rank Player Opponent
1 Budda Baker Seahawks
2 Jamal Adams Cardinals
3 John Johnson III Bears
4 Jordan Poyer Jets
5 Tracy Walker Falcons
6 Jessie Bates III Browns
7 Jeremy Chinn Saints
8 Antoine Winfield Jr. Raiders
9 Justin Simmons Chiefs
10 Landon Collins Cowboys
11 Malcolm Jenkins Panthers
12 Josh Jones Chargers
13 Taylor Rapp Bears
14 Vonn Bell Browns
15 Johnathan Abram Buccaneers
16 Jabrill Peppers Eagles
17 Jordan Whitehead Raiders
18 Carlton Davis Raiders
19 Marcus Maye Jets
20 Pierre Desir Bills
21 Justin Reid Packers
22 Keanu Neal Lions
23 Logan Ryan Eagles
24 Adrian Phillips 49ers
25 Kenny Vaccaro Steelers

DB Streamer of the Week: Taylor Rapp, Los Angeles Rams

As we have already covered in past articles, fantasy managers with Taylor Rapp on their roster are in a precarious position this season. Rapp performs very well when he sees a ton of snaps, but he doesn’t tend to see a ton of snaps when rookie Jordan Fuller is healthy.

When Fuller was healthy in Weeks 1, 2, and 5 of his season, Rapp never played more than 24% of the Rams’ defensive snaps. When Fuller wasn’t healthy in Weeks 3, 4, and 5, Rapp played a vast majority of his team's snaps, and he consistently put up starter level fantasy numbers. This trend consistently reflects Rapp's 2019 season, too. Last year Rapp started ten games and saw more than 80% of his team's snaps in nine contests. Rapp put up enough stats to be a fantasy starter in most formats in each of those games.

The lesson to learn from all of this is that when Rapp plays a lot, fantasy managers play him. With Jordan Fuller on the IR, he isn’t going to play this week. That means Rapp will play a lot. It also means you should play him.

DB Fade of the Week: Carlton Davis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A constant favorite of mine and a streamer recommendation for us last week, Davis is a bit of a fade in Week 7. The primary concern with Davis this week is the fact Derek Carr likes to spread the ball around. Carr has given double-digit targets to seven different skill players on the Raiders this year. His most-targeted weapon by far is Darren Waller, who lines up inline or in the slot on 77.6% of his snaps this year. Davis rarely goes into the slot, preferring to stick outside. A diverse target selection and primary target in the slot means the Raiders could easily avoid Davis without changing their game plan much at all.

While Tampa may use Davis to shadow Waller, it seems unlikely. It also seems unlikely that Carr will force the ball to his tight end if Davis is blanketing him in good coverage. That means Davis should see limited opportunities for fantasy points this week.



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Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




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Week 7 Stream Team - Shallow and Deep-League Pickups

Welcome to Week 7 of the NFL season. Each week we will be providing streamer advice for all of those who need it, which is pretty much anyone and everyone. Streaming players with the best matchups each week as well as during your stud's bye weeks is an integral part of winning a fantasy championship and we are here to provide the best choices week in and week out.

Each week in this article, we will break down streamers for both shallower leagues of 8-10 teams (around 40% rostered or less) and deeper leagues of 14 or more teams (around 20% rostered or less). We will provide a specific roster in each type of league, which will include a QB, RB, WR, TE, and Flex. It should also be noted that if you play in a deep league, but a shallow-league player mentioned here is available in your league, feel free to stream them as

Everything seemed to go off pretty well last week and we did not have any games recommended here canceled, so let's hope for the same as we head into Week 7. Some of the best options to stream are highlighted below.

 

Stream Team for Shallow Leagues (<40% Rostered)

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

36% Rostered

Quarterback is slim pickings for streaming this week, so Mayfield gets the nod in this spot. He will be going up against a Bengals Defense that is currently allowing nearly 18 fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. The total in this game is currently set at 50, so scoring should not be a problem. Also, Mayfield had his best fantasy performance of the season in Week 2 at home vs the Bengals when he threw for 219 yards and two scores.

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers

51% Rostered

I struggled to decide between recommending Jackson or Joshua Kelley here, but decided to go with Jackson based on his production from a week ago when he carried the ball 15 times for 71 yards while also hauling in five receptions for 23 yards. He gets a matchup vs. a Jaguars Defense that is allowing nearly 113 rushing yards per game to running backs as well as over 4.3 yards per carry. They have also allowed seven rushing touchdowns and are allowing backs to be active in the passing game as they have given up 36 receptions, which is tied for seventh-worst in the league.

Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals

41% Rostered

This game is expected to be a shootout with a total currently sitting at 56. The Seahawks have been awful vs. wide receivers as they are allowing over 394 receiving yards to wideouts thus far in 2020. Kirk has seen an average of five targets per game and could have a major impact in this one much the way he did last week vs. the Cowboys when he hauled in two scores. The Cardinals are also 3.5 point dogs, so Murray could be throwing a bit more, not to mention the Seahawks have one of the best run defenses in the league, likely making passing a priority for this offense.

Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys

51% Rostered

Schultz is rostered a bit high for this section, but hopefully, you can grab him and stream him in your league. He saw five targets last week in Andy Dalton's first start and could see even more vs. a Football Team Defense that struggles vs. the tight end position. They are currently allowing almost 17 points per game to tight ends as they have given up 32 receptions for 386 yards and five scores.

Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans

25% Rostered

Corey Davis should return from the Covid-19 list this week and could have a solid day vs. the Steelers. The Steelers are giving up the ninth-most fantasy points per game to the position by allowing nearly 40 points per game. Davis saw an average of over six targets per game through his first three games and could be the benefactor of a similar target share this week. The Titans are slight dogs, so some additional passing could be instore in this game, especially because Pittsburgh has allowed the fewest rushing yards to running backs thus far in 2020 with 274 rushing yards allowed through their first five games.

 

Stream Team for Deep Leagues (<20% Rostered)

Kyle Allen, Washington Football Team

4% Rostered

As I said above, choices are limited at the quarterback position this week and that is also why Allen finds himself in this spot. The Cowboys secondary has been atrocious in 2020 and the defense as a whole is currently allowing over 21 fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. They have given up 13 passing touchdowns on the season, which is ranked tied for fourth-worst in the league.

Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers

25% Rostered

Williams has been involved in the past couple of weeks as he has 12 carries and eight receptions in the previous two games. He could find success with limited action vs. a Texans Defense that is allowing nearly six (!) yards per carry and has allowed eight rushing touchdowns to running backs, which is worst in the league.

Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos

19% Rostered

I am going to stick with Patrick for the third straight week this week vs. the Chiefs. While the Chiefs do have a strong pass defense, the Broncos are 9.5 point dogs and are going to have to be throwing often to stay in this game. In the previous three weeks, Patrick has caught 14 balls for 257 yards and scored twice. He should be a favorite target of Drew Lock on Sunday.

Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team

16% Rostered

Logan Thomas continues to see a solid target share as he received four targets last week and hauled in three of those targets for 42 yards and a score. He will be facing a Cowboys Defense that has allowed over 14 points per game to the tight end position.

Kendrick Bourne, San Francisco 49ers

4% Rostered

I am going out on a limb again this week and recommending Kendrick Bourne. Bourne has seen an average of nearly five targets per game in 2020 and could have a nice day vs. the Patriots' secondary. New England is allowing an average of 36 fantasy points per game to wide receivers and has allowed 164 receiving yards per game to the position. They have also allowed seven receiving touchdowns to wideouts, which ranks tied for fifth-worst in the league.



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Week 7 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

We had some surprise defenses crack the top-10 in Week 6 with the Atlanta Falcons picking off Kirk Cousins seemingly at will and the Tampa Bay Bucs easily handling Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Even with that, we were able to get six of the top-10 defensive units, but the Indianapolis Colts may be showing some cracks in the armor, and Washington offensive ineptitude surprisingly flipped the script and allowed the Giants to finish as the only top-10 unit in that matchup.

I've been mentioning this for weeks, but it bears repeating that scoring and yards are at an all-time high this year. 4,621 points or 25.4 points per game so far this season and are gaining 363.3 yards per game, which are both the most through the first five weeks of any season in the Super Bowl era. With offenses putting up video game numbers, it means that we can't continue to judge a defense solely by the number of points they allow or the number of yards they give up. Those numbers will naturally be higher than we're used to. Instead, we need to look for which offensive lines are truly weak points and which defenses will either be blitz-heavy or get consistent pressure with their pass rush. These are all incredibly important pieces of information in determining which defenses to play in any given week.

Remember that picking the right defense is not about identifying who will allow the fewest points, but who will cause the most turnovers or tally the most sacks since that has a higher correlation to weekly fantasy DST leaders. That means that, as much these rankings are about the talent on the defensive side of the ball, it is equally about taking advantage of the lack of talent on the offensive side. Starting the right defense every week can be a difference-maker, so remember to check back here during the week as I will make updates once we get more information on some of these injuries and also get a better sense of the weather for the game.

 

Week 7 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Below are my Week 7 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 7 of the NFL and fantasy football season. Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver wire pickups to improve your lineups, and to decide which defenses to start, sit, target, avoid or stream for Week 7. I've broken out our defense rankings into tiers with analysis on each matchup. Some of these Week 7 defenses have good matchups and are not widely-owned, representing fantasy scoring opportunities if they are available on your league's waiver wire for a Week 7 pickup or add.

Returning for this year: Confidence Ratings (out of 15) - Since every league's DST scoring is different, projections don't always make a ton of sense. The confidence rating, which Bill Dubiel started last year, is a guideline for how much more I like one team over another instead of a straight point projection. A zero means "do not start," then the confidence rises from there. I take a lot of factors into account: opponent injuries, home-field advantage, weather (which will be updated during the week), etc. We still have only one game of in-season data to work with, so this week's rankings weigh schedule and personnel heavier than they will down the line.

Typically the top three tiers will be DSTs you should target, with Tier 4 being options in deep leagues and Tier 5 being desperation plays or good defenses in horrendous matchups.

 

Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 7 Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 Buffalo Bills Defense @ NYJ 13.9
2 1 Philadelphia Eagles Defense vs. NYG 13.5
3 1 Kansas City Chiefs Defense @ DEN 12.3
4 1 Los Angeles Rams Defense vs. CHI 11.8

Perhaps I'm about to be overly hard on the Bills as a life-long Bills fan, but their defense is concerning me right now. Yes, the Jets are a terrible offense. They rank 31st in passing yards, 26th in sacks allowed, 31st in drives ending in a score, and 15th in rushing and now are without Le'Veon Bell. But, as the Chiefs showed on Monday night, the Bills can be run on, even though Frank Gore and the Jets offensive line are not Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the Chiefs unit. This is clearly not the same Bills defense that we've seen over the last couple of years. In addition to being gashed by the run, they are dead last in pressure rate. If you are not creating pressure, then you don't give yourself much chance to add fantasy points through sacks and turnovers. With Sam Darnold coming back, the Jets should become a little better on offense, though not much. I know you simply want to play defenses going up against the Jets, and the Bills have enough talented defensive players that you have to imagine they can take advantage of this matchup, but I could just as easily see the Eagles as the #1 DST this week due to their ability to create pressure.

The Eagles have started to get healthier on defense and are currently fourth in the NFL with 21 sacks. The Giants are 25th in the NFL with 17 sacks allowed, so I expect a healthy Eagles defensive front to get in Daniel Jones' face throughout the game which is good news since the Giants are already third-worst in the NFL with 18.4% of drives ending in a turnover. Even without the pressure, the Giants simply aren't a good offense right now. They're 27th passing yards, 28th in rushing yards, and 25th in drives ending in a score. If the Eagles are without Miles Sanders and Zach Ertz, who both left hurt on Sunday, the already sputtering offense will be even more short-handed which could lead to some short fields for the Giants. However, that's not enough to scare me off using this Eagles unit against one of the worst offenses in the NFL.

The Chiefs defense came to play Monday night against a solid Bills offense. The Chiefs send blitzes at one of the highest rates, and although they didn't sack Josh Allen, they were in his face all night long. Kansas City is 7th in the league in pressure rate, tops in quarterback knockdown rate at 1o.6%, and 9th in quarterback hurries. That will be useful against a Denver offensive line that is 22nd in sacks allowed and 5th-worst in the league with 16.7% of drives ending in a turnover. Obviously, having Drew Lock, Melvin Gordon, and Phillip Lindsay back will help the Broncos offense overall, but they don't have the firepower to keep up with the Chiefs and their defense is too banged up to keep the Chiefs from scoring. That will mean the Broncos will be forced to pass in the second half, which will lead to more blitzes, sacks, and turnovers for the Chiefs defense.

The Rams had been riding high on defense before falling short against the 49ers on Sunday night. However, maybe you're noticing a trend, but the Bears offense is simply not as good as the 49ers with all their pieces back. The Bears are 15th in sacks allowed, 18th in passing yards, 25th in rushing yards, and 27th in drives ending in points. While their sack numbers aren't egregious, the Rams defense is 5th in the league in sacks and 5th in drives ending in points against. With Jalen Ramsey likely shadowing Allen Robinson, I don't expect the Bears to be able to move the ball much in this game, which will allow more chances for Aaron Donald and company to get to a super immobile Nick Foles.

 

Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 7 Opponent Confidence Rating
5 2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense  vs. LV 10.9
6 2 San Francisco 49ers Defense   @ NE 10.6
7 2 New York Giants Defense @ PHI 10.3
8 2 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense @ TEN 9.8

Tampa Bay thoroughly dominated Green Bay on Sunday, so it's not too much to expect a similar outing against a lesser-talented Las Vegas team. It's clear that losing Vita Vea didn't inhibit the Bucs' ability to stop the run. They're tops in the NFL with only 3.0 yards allowed per carry, which should help them against a Raiders' offense that relies heavily on Josh Jacobs. The Bucs are 3rd-best in pressure rate at 28.3% and second-best sack total, which means that, despite the Raiders not allowing many sacks this season, the Bucs should still be able to generate pressure on Derek Carr and the offense. That's good news considering Las Vegas is 9th-worst in the league in drives ending in turnovers. I expect Tampa Bay to score nearly at will against this Las Vegas defense, and even if the Raiders do put up points, they will also likely cough up a few turnovers. Tampa Bay is just playing too well to bet against right now.

The 49ers came to play on Sunday against the Rams, starting to look a little more like the playoff contenders they've been in recent years. Despite their rash of injuries, they are still fifth in the league in pressure rate, third in quarterback knockdowns and fourth in quarterback hurries. As we saw on Sunday against the Broncos, this is not the same Patriots offense, even with Cam Newton back. They are 17th in sacks allowed, 30th in passing yards, 7th-worst in drives ending in points, and worst in the league in drives ending in an offensive turnover at 19.2%. The Patriots are unlikely to put up lots of points against this 49ers defense, which raises their defensive floor and it wouldn't surprise me if San Francisco can also notch a few sacks and force some turnovers.

I honestly can't believe I have the Giants this high, but here we are. They just finished as a top-10 unit against Washington and now will face an Eagles offense that will be without Miles Sanders and Zach Ertz and possibly still without Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson. This is also an Eagles offense that is dead last in sacks allowed, 26th in yards per play, and 27th in drives ending in a turnover. Also, this Giants defense hasn't been as bad as many think. James Bradbury has been great in shadow coverage against opponents' top receivers, and the team is 9th in pressure rate, 10th in sacks, and 10th in quarterback knockdowns. With the Eagles not even entirely sure who will be starting for them at right guard on Thursday, I expect the Giants to be able to get into Carson Wentz's face throughout what should be an ugly game with lots of turnovers.

The Steelers absolutely dismantled the Browns on Sunday. Now they will get a much stiffer test in the Tennessee Titans. I think the Steelers are the best defense in the NFL, but the Titans are no joke on offense, so it moves Pittsburgh down a little bit in our weekly ranks. The Titans offense is second in the league in drives that end in a score, fourth in the league in yards per play, and best in the league in sacks allowed. However, there is only so far down that I can drop a Steelers defense that is the best pressure defense in the NFL by a large margin. Their 38.9% pressure rate is well above the second-best rate of 29.2%. The Steelers blitz the most in the league (46.3%), have the most quarterback hurries, and are 2nd-best in yards per rushing attempt at 3.3 yards. Add to that the fact that the Titans just lost starting left tackle Taylor Lewan to a torn ACL, and I think the Steelers will be able to get some pressure on Ryan Tannehill in this game.

 

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 6 Opponent Confidence Rating
9 3 Los Angeles Chargers Defense vs. JAX 9.3
10 3 Cleveland Browns Defense @ CIN 8.9
11 3 New England Patriots Defense vs. SF 8.6
12 3 New Orleans Saints Defense vs. CAR 8.3
13 3 Chicago Bears Defense @ LAR 7.7
14 3 Washington Football Team Defense vs. DAL 7.5
15 3 Green Bay Packers Defense @ HOU 6.9

The Chargers are fresh off the bye and have two weeks to prepare for a Jaguars offense that has been struggling with consistency of late. While Jacksonville is 6th in passing yards, Minshew has also thrown 11 interceptions, the offensive line has given up the 18th most sacks, and the Jaguars have the 7th-most drives ending in a turnover. The Chargers may only have eight sacks on the season, but they are 11th in pressure rate and 3rd in quarterback hurries. The Chargers are getting healthier on defense with Melvin Ingram and Justin Jones back both at practice. If either one of them, or both, is able to return on Sunday, it would be a big boost to a pass rush that could wreak havoc on an over-matched Jaguars offensive line.

As I mentioned above, the Browns got trampled on Sunday by the Steelers, but their defense had been playing good football up until that point. They will also face a much softer test this week. The Bengals are 31st in the NFL in sacks allowed, 24th in drives ending in points, and have an offensive line that has been below average in almost every blocking metric. The Browns defense is 6th in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing only 3.6 yards per attempt, but they have been destroyed through the slot. That means the Bengals only hope is Joe Burrow to Tyler Boyd. If the Browns can build an early lead against a bad Bengals Defense and force passing downs, it will give more opportunity for sacks for a defense that is 2nd in the NFL in quarterback hurries and 2nd-best in the league in drives that end in an offensive turnover at 18.2%.

The Patriots defense certainly wasn't the reason they lost to the Broncos on Sunday. They are 4th in the league in pressure rate and best in the league in drives ending in a defensive turnover. That pressure will be a factor on Sunday considering the 49ers are 27th in the league in sacks allowed and may not have as strong of a running game with Raheem Mostert out to keep the Patriots from coming after Jimmy Garropolo. What keeps me from pushing the Patriots into the top-10 is the fact that their defensive faults have been overshadowed a bit by the talent-level of opponents and gamescript. They are 18th in the NFL in yards per play allowed, 13th in yards allowed per carry, 15th in drives ending in a score, and 27th in yards allowed per pass attempt. The 49ers offense is middle of the road in drives ending in turnover and has been much better at protecting the ball with Jimmy G and Deebo Samuel back in the lineup. I expect them to take better care of the ball and scheme ways to take advantage of a Patriots defense that is giving up a fair amount of yards per play and surviving by slowing down the pace of play.

The Saints will come off their bye week with two weeks to prepare for a Carolina offense that is 19th in sacks allowed and just scored 16 points against the Bears. Teddy Bridgewater has been solid for the Panthers, but he also has five interceptions to only six touchdowns on the season. With the Saints offense expected to get Michael Thomas back, they should exploit a vulnerable Panthers Defense and force Bridgewater to have to throw often to keep up. That will leave open opportunities for a defense that had the bye week to get healthy. What this comes down to for me is simply that the Saints have been a strong defensive unit for a couple of years now and have too many good players to keep giving up this many yards and touchdowns through the air. With Sean Payton and company coming out of the bye week, I expect them to begin to right the ship.

The Bears defense showed up to play against a solid Panthers offense on Sunday, but this still a defense that is underperforming its previous levels. They are 21st in pressure rate, 24th in quarterback hurry percentage, and 15th in drives ending in an offensive turnover. The best way to slow down the Rams offense is to get pressure on Jared Goff. However, the Bears pressure rate matched up against a Rams offense that is 4th in the league in sacks allowed doesn't give me confidence that Goff will be under a lot of pressure. That means he can manage an offense that is 10th in yards per play and 4th in expected points contributed by the offense.

What we saw from the Cowboys offense on Monday night made me even more confident in playing the Washington defense against them. The Cowboys may be 21st in sacks allowed, but their cobbled together offensive line gave up a ton of pressure against the Cardinals, and the task won't be any easier against a Washington team that is 8th in sacks, 13th in pressure rate, and 11th in quarterback hurry rate. The Cowboys offense is 31st in the NFL in offensive drives ending in a turnover and clearly doesn't have the firepower to score quickly with Andy Dalton under center. I don't expect Washington to handle them the way Arizona did, but a few turnovers and sacks seem likely.

The Bills' offense set the league on fire for the first four weeks, but we've seen the return of frazzled Josh Allen. The strong-armed quarterback has continued to score points and gain yardage with his legs, but he has also begun turning the ball over a bit more and the Bills are now 25th in the league drives ending in a turnover. The Jets get pressure at a below-average rate and their offense continues to put the defense in poor positions, but if Josh Allen is trending towards past issues with inaccuracy and holding onto the ball too long, it's likely going to lead to some questionable decisions, sacks, and maybe turnovers.

 

Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 7 Opponent Confidence Rating
16 4 Dallas Cowboys Defense @ WAS 6.7
17 4 Tennessee Titans Defense vs. PIT 6.3
18 4 New York Jets Defense vs. BUF 5.9
19 4 Denver Broncos Defense vs. KC 5.1
20 4 Cincinnati Bengals Defense vs. CLE 4.9
21 4 Seattle Seahawks Defense @ ARI 4.4
22 4 Atlanta Falcons Defense vs. DET 3.9

 

Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 7 Opponent Confidence Rating
23 5 Arizona Cardinals Defense vs. SEA 3.4
24 5 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense vs. LAC 2.9
25 5 Las Vegas Raiders Defense vs. TB 2.3
26 5 Detroit Lions Defense @ ATL 1.9
27 5 Houston Texans Defense vs. GB 1.1
28 5 Carolina Panthers Defense @ NO 0.9
29 5 Miami Dolphins Defense BYE 0.0
30 5 Baltimore Ravens Defense BYE 0.0
31 5 Indianapolis Colts Defense BYE 0.0
32 5 Minnesota Vikings Defense BYE 0.0


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Week 7 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

This NFL season continues to be the weirdest one that I’ve seen in my lifetime. In Week 6, we saw games that we expected to be close turn into blowouts, and we had blowouts turn into close games. If it weren’t for some winding back the clock magic by Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers, they were headed towards another loss to a bad Cincinnati Bengals team. 

We saw some explosive kicker performances in Week 6. Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus single-handedly beat the New England Patriots, as he scored all 18 of the team’s points en route to a 24-point fantasy outing. Younghoe Koo of the Atlanta Falcons also broke 20 thanks to his team’s 40-point scoring outburst.

With COVID-19 continuing to weave its way through NFL locker rooms, bye weeks are getting more and more difficult to navigate. We have four teams currently slated for byes this week in the Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins. A couple of these guys have been locked for fantasy lineups, so you could be forced into a switch here.

 

Tier 1 NFL Kickers

  1. Mason Crosby (GB) @ HOU
  2. Harrison Butker (KC) @ DEN
  3. Wil Lutz (NO) vs CAR
  4. Matt Prater (DET) @ ATL
  5. Brandon McManus (DEN) vs KC

The Green Bay Packers got absolutely waxed in Week 6 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite that, Crosby gets the top spot. Crosby has been automatic and the Houston Texans are the perfect get-right spot. Kansas City Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker grabs our second spot. The Chiefs can still put up points in bunches, and they’ll be looking to thrive in that thin Denver air, even if he hasn't been nearly as accurate this year. 

New Orleans Saints’ kicker Wil Lutz is up next. This offense has been playing well, and they should be getting All-Pro wide receiver, Michael Thomas, back. The recipe is there for a big week. Detroit Lions’ kicker Matt Prater slides in at four this week. Detroit has scored at least 20 points in every game this season, and the Atlanta Falcons’ defense is still not that good. Denver Broncos’ kicker Brandon McManus rounds out the top five. His offense isn’t perfect, but they’re serviceable. At home against a KC defense that has been suspect over the last three years, he should get into scoring range frequently.

 

Tier 2 NFL Kickers

  1. Zane Gonzalez (ARI) vs SEA
  2. Tyler Bass (BUF) @ NYJ
  3. Chris Boswell (PIT) @ TEN
  4. Younghoe Koo (ATL) vs DET
  5. Jason Myers (SEA) @ ARI

We have Arizona Cardinals’ kicker Zane Gonzelez up to start the second tier. This Cardinals’ offense is still finding their footing, but just about anyone can put points up on Seattle. Buffalo Bills’ kicker Tyler Bass comes in seventh. The New York Jets are bad, and the Bills are good on offense. That is all. Pittsburgh Steelers’ kicker Chris Boswell is in the middle of these ranks this week. This team is just playing good football. It’s not pretty, but it works. I think they move the ball better than their Tennessee Titan opponents in Week 7.

Koo grabs the ninth spot. This offense showed their explosiveness in Week 6, and they can do that again against the Lions’ defense that is allowing over 28 points per game on average this season. Seattle Seahawks’ kicker Jason Myers rounds out our second tier. This Seattle team is just firing away right now, and they’re not going to slow down against the Cardinals. Plug him in once again.

 

Tier 3 NFL Kickers

  1. Michael Badgley (LAC) vs JAX
  2. Ryan Succop (TB) @ LV
  3. Robbie Gould (SF) @ NE
  4. Stephen Gostkowski (TEN) vs PIT
  5. Greg Zuerlein (DAL) @ WAS

Los Angeles Chargers’ kicker Michael Badgley is 11th in our rankings. Even if this team isn’t going to compete for a title, they’re finding ways to score, and that will continue against a Jacksonville Jaguars Defense that’s giving up 30 points per game. Buccaneers’ kicker Ryan Succop slides in at 12. Tampa has all of their pieces back, and they’re going to continue to get in sync as the season moves along.

San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould is next. The 49ers moved the ball well against the Los Angeles Rams, and I think they can put up some points on the road this week. Titans’ kicker Stephen Gostkowski comes in at 14. The Titans are humming right now, but this is a tough defensive matchup. Some regression should be expected here. Dallas Cowboys’ kicker Greg Zuerlein rounds out the ranks this week. This offense has too many weapons not to score points against the Washington Football Team regardless of quarterback or location. They should bounce back enough to make Zuerlein at least streamable.

 

Kickers to Avoid

Sam Ficken is our first avoidance of the week because *checks notes* Adam Gase is still the head coach. Even if quarterback Sam Darnold returns, I don’t want any piece of the Jets regardless of the matchup. 

Jonathan Brown of the Jaguars grabs our second spot. This Jaguars roster continues to struggle after a surprising win to start the season. Until they’re able to turn things around, Brown just can’t be trusted to produce. The Jags have been inclined to go for it on fourth downs rather than attempt a long field goal these days.

Joey Slye of the Carolina Panthers grabs our final spot. This New Orleans Saints team will be looking to come out and make a statement, and they can make that over this young Panthers’ roster. Teddy Bridgewater finally struggled in Week 6 and could do so again this week.



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Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers - Week 7

Week 6 of the NFL season has mostly come and gone and it was one of the more explosive offensive showcases yet. Six quarterbacks threw for over 300 yards, three quarterbacks passed for four touchdowns, and another three signal-callers had three passing scores. NFL teams have continued to feast on defenses that missed out on training camp and have a bunch of moving parts. Thankfully, we also avoided major injuries to quarterbacks this week after a week that saw Dak Prescott lost for the year.

The grind doesn’t stop in fantasy football and we cannot rest on our laurels. Four teams have bye weeks in week 7, and three of them feature perennial QB1’s this season. The Colts, Dolphins, Vikings, and Ravens will be getting a week off (unless COVID shenanigans move schedules around again), so we will need to find some upside plays.

In this article, I will be focusing on players who are under 65% rostered in fantasy leagues while adding a couple of deep sleepers for two-quarterback leagues (less than 20% rostered).

 

Top QB Streamers and Adds

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

Yahoo: 60% rostered ESPN: 51.2% rostered

Despite leading the league in interceptions (9), Carson Wentz has had surprisingly steady fantasy numbers the past four weeks. Wentz has scored at least 21 fantasy points in three of the last four weeks and has thrown for at least two touchdowns in each of his last two games against the Steelers and Ravens. Wentz is doing all this despite missing four offensive lineman and his top passing weapons being Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward Jr., and Zach Ertz. As time goes on, Dallas Goedert and Jalen Reagor should return, boosting his ability to establish a higher weekly floor. His next two opponents are the Giants and Cowboys, two weak defenses that should allow Wentz to succeed regardless of the players around him.

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

Yahoo: 54% rostered ESPN: 45.6% rostered

Fantasy players will likely have just one more chance to capitalize on having Justin Herbert on the waiver wire thanks to his bye week. Heading into the bye, Herbert threw for 264 yards and four touchdowns against the Saints despite losing Keenan Allen early in the game. Herbert will have a healthy Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry coming out of the bye, three players that should help him maintain his high fantasy floor. Matchups against the Jaguars, Broncos, Raiders, Dolphins, and Jets have high shootout potential, giving Herbert fringe QB1/QB2 upside for the next five weeks. That can only come in handy as you navigate byes and potential COVID shutdowns.

Andy Dalton, Dallas Cowboys

Yahoo: 32% rostered ESPN: 24.4% rostered

If your league allows rolling waivers for players who haven’t played, you may want to do yourself a favor and snag Andy Dalton before tonight’s contest. Dalton was 9 of 11 for 111 yards in cleanup duty against the Giants, leading Dallas to a win after Dak Prescott’s devastating leg injury. Dalton has a history of producing QB1 numbers (yes, I know it has been a few years) and finds himself in an offensive system with coaches that know how to get the most out of quarterbacks. It also helps to have one of the best running backs and three wide receivers who could be the top pass catcher on a majority of NFL teams.

Dalton has an embarrassment of riches and plays in one of the softest divisions in terms of team defenses. Grab him while you can.

 

2QB League Options and Stashes

Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

Yahoo: 23% rostered ESPN: 22.5% rostered

Derek Carr gets a bad reputation as a game manager, but he has quietly put together a really good fantasy season so far. Carr has thrown for 1,442 yards and 11 touchdowns with just one interception in five games for the Raiders this season. He has also had three games with at least 20 fantasy points so far this year. Carr is a matchup dependent QB2 but isn’t going to make mistakes and has an array of explosive weapons in the passing game that give him great value as a fantasy quarterback. He may not win you many weeks outright, but he is a consistently solid play and worthy of a bench spot on most teams.

Kyle Allen, Washington Football Team

Yahoo: 3% rostered ESPN: 1.6% rostered

Despite Alex Smith taking over for the Washington Football Team in Week 5, Ron Rivera went right back to Kyle Allen in week 6. Allen played with for the WFT’ers, going 31 of 42 for 280 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. If Allen can limit the turnovers (unlike last season in Carolina), he has a solid array of players around him that can move the football. Like Andy Dalton, Allen gets the benefit of playing in the NFC East with their terrible secondaries.

If Allen can hold on to the starting job, he will face the Cowboys, followed by a bye, and then the Giants, Lions, Bengals, and Cowboys again. That is a very soft passing schedule for a quarterback that unseated a former first-round pick. Don’t use Allen as your QB1, but he is worth a stash in deeper leagues as bye weeks approach.



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Week 6 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

I was riding high after predicting eight out of the top ten defenses two weeks ago, but we saw some craziness this Sunday (along with some top tier defenses postponed or canceled), which caused only a 50% success rate in identifying top-10 units. Miami throttling San Francisco was truly a surprise, as was a Kansas City defense that hadn't allowed more than 20 points in any game this season allowing 40 points to Las Vegas.

I touched on this last week, but teams have now scored 3,900 points or 25.6 points per game so far this season and are gaining 367.4 yards per game which are both the most through the first five weeks of any season in the Super Bowl era. With offenses putting up video game numbers, it means that we can't continue to judge a defense solely by the number of points they allow or the number of yards they give up. Those numbers will naturally be higher than we're used to. Instead, we need to look for which offensive lines are truly weak points and which defenses will either be blitz-heavy or get consistent pressure with their pass rush. These are all incredibly important pieces of information in determining which defenses to play in any given week.

Remember that picking the right defense is not about identifying who will allow the fewest points, but who will cause the most turnovers or tally the most sacks since that has a higher correlation to weekly fantasy DST leaders. That means that, as much these rankings are about the talent on the defensive side of the ball, it is equally about taking advantage of the lack of talent on the offensive side. Starting the right defense every week can be a difference-maker, so remember to check back here during the week as I will make updates once we get more information on some of these injuries and also get a better sense of the weather for the game.

 

Week 6 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Below are my Week 6 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 5 of the NFL and fantasy football season. Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver wire pickups to improve your lineups, and to decide which defenses to start, sit, target, avoid or stream for Week 6. I've broken out our defense rankings into tiers with analysis on each matchup. Some of these Week 6 defenses have good matchups and are not widely-owned, representing fantasy scoring opportunities if they are available on your league's waiver wire for a Week 6 pickup or add.

Returning for this year: Confidence Ratings (out of 15) - Since every league's DST scoring is different, projections don't always make a ton of sense. The confidence rating, which Bill Dubiel started last year, is a guideline for how much more I like one team over another instead of a straight point projection. A zero means "do not start," then the confidence rises from there. I take a lot of factors into account: opponent injuries, home-field advantage, weather (which will be updated during the week), etc. We still have only one game of in-season data to work with, so this week's rankings weigh schedule and personnel heavier than they will down the line.

Typically the top three tiers will be DSTs you should target, with Tier 4 being options in deep leagues and Tier 5 being desperation plays or good defenses in horrendous matchups.

 

Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 6 Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 Baltimore Ravens Defense @ PHI 13.4
2 1 New England Patriots Defense vs. DEN 12.9
3 1 Indianapolis Colts Defense vs. CIN 12.1
4 1 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense vs. CLE 11.6

Yes, Philadelphia is set to get a little bit healthier on offense with the returns of Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson, and they just put up 29 points on the Steelers, but they are also the third-largest underdog on the slate, according to Las Vegas.  The Eagles are still going to be hobbled on the offensive line, and Lane Johnson is getting a second opinion on his troublesome knee, which is an even bigger issue than their beleaguered receiving corps. Philadelphia has allowed the third-most sacks in the league, with 19 in only five games. The relentless pressure has also caused Carson Wentz to throw nine interceptions, which is the most in the league. As I mentioned above, I'm not really concerned if the Eagles are able to put up 20 points in this game since most teams are doing that relatively consistently this year. The Ravens defense hasn't been elite this year, ranking only 14th in pressure ate, but they are 6th in the NFL in sacks and should find themselves in the backfield consistently on Sunday, racking up sacks and causing a few interceptions. All of which makes them one of the best bets at DST in Week 6.

Holding the Chiefs offense in check the way the Patriots did during the first half last Monday night was a truly impressive feat; however, I'm not sure we should have expected much different from Bill Belichick. Yes, the Chiefs wound up with 26 points and the win, but their offense was stalled way more than usual. Belichick has always been an incredible defensive coach, but now his task gets significantly easier on Sunday, even if the Denver Broncos get Drew Lock back under center. The Patriots may only have six sacks on the season, but they are second in the NFL in pressure rate at 30.9% and third in the league with 26 quarterback hurries, numbers that are more impressive when you consider that three of the four teams the Patriots have played are in the top-13 in pressure allowed. Meanwhile, the Broncos were 28th in the league with 13 sacks allowed before missing this Sunday with a "BYE" and simply don't have the playmakers to scare these Patriots defenders. Yes, Jerry Jeudy will be good, but he's not somebody that is going to consistently get the better of Stephon Gilmore, who should be back from his COVID diagnosis on Sunday. I expect the Patriots to control this game and cause lots of problems for the Broncos offense.

The Colts are the second-largest favorite according to Vegas odds, but this game will hinge on the health of their defense. Star linebacker Darius Leonard missed Sunday's game against the Browns with a groin injury and, despite playing, fellow linebackers Anthony Walker and Bobby Okerele were banged up during the week and came into the game hobbled. As a result, the Colts gave up 385 yards to the Browns and lost 32-23. The Colts were able to pick Baker Mayfield off twice, but only got one sack against the Browns stalwart offensive line. It will be a much different story on Sunday against a Bengals offensive line that has been one of the worst in football, allowing a league-leading 22 sacks, including seven last week to a Ravens team that has consistently gotten less pressure on the quarterback than Indianapolis. That's good news for a Colts defense that is 8th in the NFL in pressure rate and 9th in quarterback hurry percentage. With Phillip Rivers more likely to find success against the Bengals Defense than he did against the Browns, and the Bengals likely playing this game without A.J. Green (who admittedly wasn't really productive when in) the Colts should get up early in this game and take advantage of a weak Bengals offensive line.

As I mentioned above, the Browns don't give up a lot of sacks, but Baker Mayfield is still one of the more turnover-prone quarterbacks in the league. Only 53.2% of his passes have been on target, according to Pro Football Reference, and he was one of the worst quarterbacks in the league last year when pressured. So far this season, he has only been pressured on 13.5% of dropbacks and has been hurried a total of 13 times in five games. That has allowed him to curtail some of his mistakes (even though there have been a few head-scratching throws); however, the Steelers have the third-highest blitz percentage at 38.7% and the best pressure rate in the league at 38.1%. Since the Steelers are second in the league with only 3.3 yards allowed per rush, the Browns may have to turn to Baker more often than they want. If he is not able to stand in a clean pocket, he's more liable to make mistakes that lead to turnovers. Pairing that with the likely low-scoring total in this division rivalry, and I like the Steelers as a high floor offense with a good chance at a defensive touchdown.

 

Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 6 Opponent Confidence Rating
5 2 Miami Dolphins Defense  vs. NYJ 11.3
6 2 Washington Football Team Defense @ NYG 10.4
7 2 Tennessee Titans Defense vs. HOU 10.2
8 2 Los Angeles Rams Defense @ SF 9.8

The Dolphins defense just manhandled a near-full strength 49ers team, so it makes sense to have faith in them to put up a similarly inspired effort against an undermanned Jets team. Le'Veon Bell came back, but his usage continued to be questionable. Sam Darnold missed last week, as did left tackle Mekhi Bechton, but they may return this weekend which would be a boon for the Jets. The Dolphins as a unit have been fairly average on the year, ranking 13th in pressure rate and 16th in hurry percentage despite being tied for 7th in sacks. This pick is really more about the ineptitude of the Jets offense that is 25th in the league in sacks allowed and 28th in total yards.

If we're attacking the Jets, then we should also be attacking the other New Jersey (sorry, New York) team. The Giants put up 30+ points against the Cowboys, but that is more about Dallas featuring one of the worst defenses in the league than the Giants all of the sudden becoming a strong offense. Devonta Freeman lacks explosiveness and Darius Slayton gives the Giants one consistent weapon on the outside, but he doesn't have much help. Washington got Chase Young back this Sunday, which is great news for a pass rush that suffered a bit without him. However, on the year, they are 3rd in the league in interceptions, sixth in the league in sacks, 12th in quarterback hurry rate, and will now face a Giants team that is 27th in total yards and 26th in sacks allowed. I think Washington will be a surprisingly high-scoring defensive unit this week.

As of this writing, the Titans have only played one half of football in two weeks, but they look pretty good for a team that was a bit short-handed due to their COVID designations. Another week should allow them to get talented players that Kristian Fulton and Jeffrey Simmons back in the fold. Coming into Tuesday night's game, they are fourth in the league in pressure rate and first in quarterback knockdowns, despite having only four sacks. That tells me that a big week is coming, and who better to have it against than a Texans offensive line that is 28th in sacks allowed. The Titans defense is 7th in the league in drives ending in points, so I expect them to keep this from turning into a truly high-scoring affair, especially with Derrick Henry grinding down a weak Texans Defense, so I feel more confident in using the Titans this weekend.

As I mentioned above, the Dolphins defense held the 49ers to 259 yards of offense, picked off two passes, and registered five sacks. They've also consistently generated a worse pass rush than the Rams throughout the season. That makes me a little bullish on a Rams defense that is 9th in the NFL in pressure rate and tied for first in sacks. The 49ers are 29th in the league in sacks allowed and are clearly discombobulated right now as they recover from a slew of injuries, which means it's the wrong time to have to face Aaron Donald. The Rams defense has been steadily improving on the season, so I look for Los Angeles to take advantage of a beaten-down 49ers team.

 

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 6 Opponent Confidence Rating
9 3 New York Giants Defense vs. WAS 9.1
10 3 Kansas City Chiefs Defense @ BUF 8.9
11 3 Chicago Bears Defense @ CAR 8.4
12 3 New York Jets Defense @ MIA 8.1
13 3 San Francisco 49ers Defense  vs. LAR 7.9
14 3 Denver Broncos Defense @ NE 7.6
15 3 Cleveland Browns Defense @ PIT 7.1

OK, we all know the Giants defense is not that good, but Washington's offense may be worse. They benched Dwayne Haskins and got even worse production from Kyle Allen and Alex Smith. It was great seeing Smith back on the field, but he was hit constantly and he clearly doesn't have the mobility that he used to. The Giants are 11th in pressure rate and 12th in sacks, but this play is simply about attacking one of the worst offenses in the NFL. If Alex Smith starts again, which should be expected, the Giants really only have to worry about stopping Terry McLaurin and can go to work on an offensive line that is 31st in the NFL in sacks allowed with 21 in five games.

The Bills offense has been an elite offense this season, but they looked relatively mediocre in a first half without John Brown and both starting right guard Jon Feliciano and his back-up Brian Winters. That's not a great sign against a Chiefs defense that is 7th in the league in pressure rate. Josh Allen has gotten away with a few questionable throws heading into Tuesday night, and then had those decisions come back to bite him against the Titans on national television. The Chiefs were exposed against the Raiders on Sunday, but this is still a strong defensive unit that blitzes the 6th-most in the league and could cause problems for replacements on the Bills'offensive line. I think this game will be fast-paced and involve a fair share of sacks and turnovers.

The Bears defense has so far lacked the bite of recent seasons, ranking 18th in pressure rate, 16th in sacks, and 23rd in quarterback hurry percentage. They're also 12th in the number of drives ending in scores and will face off against a surprisingly strong Panthers offense that has the fourth-most yards in the league. The Panthers have allowed the 15th-most sacks in the NFL, so it's likely that the Bears bring down Bridgewater a couple of times, but this isn't the slam dunk game people would have assumed once Christian McCaffrey went down.

I know we don't want to pick on the Dolphins offense after what they just did to San Francisco, but we've seen enough of Ryan Fitzpatrick to know that turnovers are always on the table when he takes the field. The Jets' secondary has struggled, but they are 9th in the NFL with five interceptions, tied for third in quarterback knockdowns, and are 17th in the NFL in pressure rate, so they still have a little bit of pep, unlike the offensive side of the ball. Maybe I'm alone here, but I think we could just as easily see the Dolphins throw two interceptions and yield three-plus sacks as I can see them turn in another rout.

This hasn't been a great season for the 49ers, and they've lost some key pieces on the defensive line, but they are still 5th in the NFL in pressure rate and 7th in quarterback knockdowns, which means they're getting after the quarterback. The Rams have only allowed seven sacks total on the season and are third in the league in total yards, so they will score points and keep the 49ers from putting up a massive fantasy total, but we all know how Jared Goff's play diminishes when he's under pressure, so there's a chance we can see Bad Goff on Sunday in a messy game overall. I think the 49ers are too well-coached to come out and lay another egg.

An extra week means the Patriots will most likely be starting Cam Newton in this game instead of Jarrett Stidham, which is, as I'm sure you know, a massive difference. The Broncos defense is still 6th in the NFL in pressure rate and 5th in quarterback hurry percentage, but they banged up enough that I'm not sure they can contain a well-coached Patriots offense for the entire game. I just don't see a lot of upside in the matchup, especially with how the Broncos offense put their defense in bad positions throughout the entire game against the Jets. However, I think the Broncos can get to Cam a couple of times, and I can't envision this being a high-scoring, or exciting, football game.

The Browns have played really solid defense of late, including a strong game in limiting an admittedly average Colts offense. The Steelers have a near-elite offensive line that has allowed only six sacks in four games and should have little problem with a Browns pass rush that has a mediocre 19.6% pressure rate. However, the Browns do lead the league in quarterback hurries with 30, which could cause problems for Ben Roethlisberger since the veteran loves to hold the ball a little longer than he should. Chase Claypool was superb last week, but if Diontae Johnson misses next week, Claypool will really need to deliver against since JuJu Smith-Schuster will likely get a heavy dose of Denzel Ward. I expect this to be a grinding, low-scoring game that should keep the fantasy DST floors relatively safe.

 

Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 6 Opponent Confidence Rating
16 4 Buffalo Bills Defense vs KC 6.9
17 4 Green Bay Packers Defense @ TB 6.3
18 4 Carolina Panthers Defense vs. CHI 6.1
19 4 Cincinnati Bengals Defense @ IND 5.3
20 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense vs. GB 4.9
21 4 Arizona Cardinals Defense @ DAL 4.5
22 4 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense vs. DET 4.2

 

Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 6 Opponent Confidence Rating
23 5 Houston Texans Defense @ TEN 3.8
24 5 Philadelphia Eagles Defense vs. BAL 3.1
25 5 Detroit Lions Defense @ JAX 2.7
26 5 Dallas Cowboys Defense vs ARI 2.1
27 5 Atlanta Falcons Defense @ MIN 1.2
28 5 Minnesota Vikings Defense vs. ATL 0.9
29 5 New Orleans Saints Defense BYE 0.4
30 5 Las Vegas Raiders Defense BYE 0.3
31 5 Los Angeles Chargers Defense BYE 0.0
32 5 Seattle Seahawks Defense BYE 0.0


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Week 6 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

This NFL season continues to be the weirdest one that I’ve seen in my lifetime. I’ve seen teams come out and get embarrassed by bottom dwellers, and I just watched Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Miami Dolphins absolutely dismantled the San Francisco 49ers. If you ever think that you’re going to be able to accurately predict a week in the NFL, you’re wrong.

We saw some explosive kicker performances in Week 5. Dolphins’ kicker Jason Sanders put up 22 points on the afternoon, and he was tightly contested by New York Giants’ kicker Graham Gano, who had a 20-point outing for himself. As defenses are adapting and improving, we’re going to see more big kicker performances, so keep that in mind when setting your lineups.

With Covid-19 continuing to weave its way through NFL locker rooms, bye weeks are getting more and more difficult to navigate. The New England Patriots were originally slated to have their bye in Week 6, but there will now be just three teams off this week. Those will be the New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders. In addition to their regular fantasy talent, all three of them have had great fantasy kickers thus far.

 

Tier 1 NFL Kickers

  1. Justin Tucker (BAL) @ PHI
  2. Harrison Butker (KC) @ BUF
  3. Dan Bailey (MIN) vs ATL
  4. Tyler Bass (BUF) vs KC
  5. Jason Sanders (MIA) vs NYJ

Baltimore Ravens’ kicker Justin Tucker has reclaimed our top spot. After his team thoroughly beat the Cincinnati Bengals, they now draw the Philadelphia Eagles’ who have struggled mightily on defense all season. Points should abound here. Kansas City Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker gets our next spot. Even in a loss, this offense still put up 32 points. I think we should see plenty of points from these two high-scoring units. Minnesota Vikings’ kicker Dan Bailey is up next. Even though they’re 1-4, they Vikings are putting points up, and Bailey is the primary beneficiary of that.

Buffalo Bills’ kicker Tyler Bass grabs the fourth spot this week. This offense has put up at least 27 points in all four games this season, and they’ve cleared 30 in their last three. Against the Chiefs, they will find ways to move the ball. Sanders wraps up our first tier. Through five games, he has scored 62 points, which leads all players at the position. Against the dumpster fire that is the New York Jets, he’s a near must-start for the week.

 

Tier 2 NFL Kickers

  1. Mason Crosby (GB) @ TB
  2. Samuel Sloman (LAR) @ SF
  3. Rodrigo Blankenship (IND) vs CIN
  4. Cairo Santos (CHI) @ CAR
  5. Ryan Succop (TB) vs GB

Green Bay Packers’ kicker Mason Crosby gets our next spot. He’s nearly perfect to start the season, and he’s playing with one of the NFL’s best offenses. Have no qualms starting him this week. Los Angeles Rams’ kicker Samuel Sloman comes in at seven. His offense continues to hum along, and they have a matchup with the division-rival 49ers. This game could be lower scoring, but I think Sloman still gets a good amount of work.

Indianapolis Colts’ kicker Rodrigo Blankenship is next. After five games, Blankenship is the only other kicker to clear 60 points. His offense isn’t perfect, but the Cincinnati Bengals are the perfect get-right spot. Chicago Bears’ kicker Cairo Santos gets the next spot. This team isn’t winning pretty, but they’re still winning. They can move the ball enough to get Santos scoring chances against the Carolina Panthers. Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ kicker Ryan Succop rounds out this next group. The Packers’ defense isn’t the best unit, and the Bucs should be able to get some plays working against them.

 

Tier 3 NFL Kickers

  1. Matt Prater (DET) @ JAX
  2. Stephen Gostkowski (TEN) vs HOU
  3. Zane Gonzalez (ARI) @ DAL
  4. Robbie Gould (SF) vs LAR
  5. Greg Zuerlein (DAL) vs ARI

Detroit Lions’ kicker Matt Prater slides into the lineup after a week off. The Jacksonville Jaguars have lost four straight after a surprising win over the Colts in Week 1, and this Lions’ team has been moving the ball well as of late. Tennessee Titans’ kicker Stephen Gostkowski is up next. As of this writing, he has played just three games, and he’s still tied for K12 on the year. I think they can move the ball on the Houston Texans. Zane Gonzalez sneaks in at the 13th spot. This offense finally showed some life last week, and now they head for a shootout in Texas with the Dallas Cowboys.

This San Francisco team struggled last week, but kicker Robbie Gould remains consistent. This team should be able to bounce back at home to give him a solid outing. Dallas Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein gets our final spot this week. Even with quarterback Andy Dalton in over Dak Prescott (ankle), this offense has enough weapons to keep putting up points, especially against a suspect defense like Arizona.

 

Kickers to Avoid

Sam Ficken is our first avoidance of the week because *checks notes* Adam Gase is still the head coach. Even if quarterback Sam Darnold returns, I don’t want any piece of the Jets regardless of the matchup. 

Younghoe Koo of the Atlanta Falcons grabs our next spot in this category. This Falcons’ team is reeling, and they just can’t seem to get out of their own way. Even with an easier matchup, I’m not seeking Koo out this week, especially with a new head coach calling the shots. 

Randy Bullock of the Bengals is our final avoidance of the week. Quarterback Joe Burrow has looked as advertised to start the year, but he gets another tough matchup in this Colts’ defense that has played very well through five games. Bullock and the team as a whole could easily struggle.



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Week 6 Stream Team - Shallow and Deep-League Pickups

Welcome to Week 6 of the NFL season. Each week we will be providing streamer advice for all of those who need it, which is pretty much anyone and everyone. Streaming players with the best matchups each week as well as during your stud's bye weeks is an integral part of winning a fantasy championship and we are here to provide the best choices week in and week out.

Each week in this article, we will break down streamers for both shallower leagues of 8-10 teams (around 40% rostered or less) and deeper leagues of 14 or more teams (around 20% rostered or less). We will provide a specific roster in each type of league, which will include a QB, RB, WR, TE, and Flex. It should also be noted that if you play in a deep league, but a shallow-league player mentioned here is available in your league, feel free to stream them as

Waivers ran a day later this week with the Tuesday Night Football installment, so we now have a Friday edition of the Stream Team instead of the usual Thursday edition. Last week was a royal disaster with the Patriots/Broncos game getting moved, but we did hit on some guys like Teddy Bridgewater and Eric Ebron. Keep in mind, at the time of this writing the Falcons have shut down facilities due to Covid-19. For this reason, I will leave players from the Falcons at Vikings game off of this list. With that being said, if the game does play, I do like Kirk Cousins and Irv Smith Jr. as streamers at their respective positions. Now, let's see what Week 6 has to offer.

 

Stream Team for Shallow Leagues (<40% Rostered)

Daniel Jones, New York Giants

32% Rostered

Jones should be able to have a solid game vs. the Washington Football Team this week. The Football Team is currently allowing over 21 fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. They are doing this in large part by allowing over 240 passing yards per game, and they have also given up nine passing touchdowns, which is tied for ninth-worst in the league.

Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts

49% Rostered

Nyheim Hines has been getting some work in the running game as he has 19 carries in the Colts' previous three games. He also sees plenty of action in the passing game as he has 12 targets in the previous three games. He should be able to find success vs. a Bengals Defense that has allowed the second-most rushing yards to backs. While they haven't allowed a ton of action to backs in the passing game, that is mainly because they have been trampled up front.

Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers

42% Rostered

I hate being the guy that recommends someone right after they have a monster week, but Claypool fits the bill here. He has a matchup vs. a Browns Defense that has allowed nearly 47 fantasy points per game to wide receivers in 2020, which is second-worst in the league. The game also has a total of 51, so you could see quite a bit of passing from both teams, which makes him even more intriguing. Also, if Diontae Johnson misses time with the back injury he suffered last week, Claypool is in a smash spot.

Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers

49% Rostered

Ebron has gone up in rostership since last week, but he still can be squeezed into the piece for likely the final time. He gets a dream matchup vs. the Browns who are allowing nearly 18 fantasy points per game to tight ends. They have given up the fourth-most receptions and fifth-most scores to the position. He is in a prime spot and I will likely be using him in DFS as well. Update: He was dealing with a hand issue recently, so please monitor that before plugging him in.

Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs

42% Rostered

Hardman is usually a bit of a boom-or-bust type play and that very well may be the case this week. The Bills are currently allowing 37 fantasy points per game to wideouts, which is ranked in the middle of the pack. They have allowed six receiving touchdowns, however, which is tied for sixth-worst in the league. Hardman has scored in two of the Chiefs' previous three games and has seen 13 targets across those games. He could certainly find the endzone again on Monday night.

 

Stream Team for Deep Leagues (<20% Rostered)

Joe Flacco, New York Jets

2% Rostered

This is a bit of an odd choice, but Flacco does get a pretty good matchup this week vs. the Phins. Miami is allowing quarterbacks to put up nearly 19 fantasy points per game. They are also allowing quarterbacks to throw for 275 yards per game and have allowed seven touchdown passes. Add in the fact that the Jets are 9.5 point underdogs, and Flacco could be throwing quite a bit.

Frank Gore, New York Jets

19% Rostered

I hate recommending two Jets, but here we are. Le'Veon Bell is no longer a member of the Jets and that means it is one again Frank Gore time. The Dolphins are giving up almost five yards per carry. They have also allowed six rushing touchdowns and are allowing  96 yards per game to backs. While Gore leaves much to be desired, the volume should be there, which is why he is in the article this week at 19% rostership.

Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos

17% Rostered

I am going to stick with Patrick again this week vs. the Patriots. In the previous two weeks, Patrick has caught 10 balls for 156 yards and scored in each contest. He is going up against a surprisingly struggling Patriots secondary that is allowing the 11th-most receiving yards to wideouts.

Trey Burton, Indianapolis Colts

6% Rostered

The tight end position in deeper leagues is scarce this week. Burton has seen 11 targets in his first two games since returning from injury and gets a decent matchup vs. the Bengals. The Bengals are allowing nearly 14 fantasy points per game to the position. They have also given up the seventh-most receiving yards to the position.

Damiere Byrd, New England Patriots

4% Rostered

I am going out on a limb with this one, but I do like the matchup. Byrd has seen 22 targets in the last three games and will be facing a Denver defense that has struggled vs. wideouts in 2020. They are allowing nearly 200 receiving yards per game to the position and rank fifth-worst in terms of points allowed per game to the position by allowing just over 44.

 



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Week 6 IDP Rankings, Streamers, and Notes

I am glad football is back, I really am. I am forever grateful that the players are risking their health for our amusement, and I am thankful for each snap I get to watch. Pretty much all of us feel this way, I would imagine. So take what I am about to say with a grain of salt… but I have to say, there have been some pretty ugly football games played so far this season. I am talking about some eye-roll-inducing, nausea causing pigskin play.

One shining example of this ugly COVID tainted play occurred this past weekend, in the matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Miami Dolphins. Now, some watching that game may say that Ryan Fitzpatrick and company looked terrific. They could argue that it was a breakout moment for Miami’s offense, Fitz-magical even. The Dolphins Defense, some might also contend, performed beautifully. They shut down the vaunted Kyle Shanahan attack, and they did it with authority. It was a huge step forward for the hopes and dreams of all Miami fans!

Optimism wasn’t something that a lot of us took from this matchup, however. Hope is not what Trevor, our devoted and sometimes clingy IDP super fan, felt when he watched Preston Williams pick on San Francisco’s practice squad corners. Quality football wasn’t even what my creepy Instagram stalker ‘Taterguy121’ saw on Sunday, judging from the overly supportive messages he keeps sending me on the ‘gram… and the oddly graphic pictures… and that package I am afraid to open because it smells like feet covered in mustard and burnt hair. Anyways, the point is that many of us watching Sunday’s matchup in Levi’s Stadium didn’t see a breakout performance for Miami. We didn’t see the end of Kyle Shanahan’s brilliance, either. What we saw, instead, was a phenomenon that one might call “Backup Blowout.”

 

Week 6 Intro

The term ‘Backup Blowout’ refers to the war of attrition that the NFL is currently fighting in 2020. This season, more than any other in recent memory, games are being decided by third-string corners, scout team blockers, and second-string quarterbacks. While injuries and depth problems have always been a part of football, COVID and a rash of likely COVID-related injuries are pushing NFL coaches and fantasy managers to their limits in just our sixth week of play. Already, multiple superstars on both sides of the ball have gone down for good. Already, a plethora of solid starters and role players have gone missing as well. It’s infecting all stages of the game, including fantasy rosters.

With COVID-related issues striking down NFL players at a record pace, one could argue that IDP managers are put in a particularly precarious position. As superstars like Darius Leonard and Jamal Adams go down in IDP leagues, fantasy managers are having to decide whether to keep these stars on their bench rather than add a guy like Travis Fulgham. Many casual IDP managers may also be struggling with who to start on unexpected COVID bye weeks, or with who to add now that the 20-30 star defenders they already know are all hurt or rostered. This dire lack of stability at the top of the defender pool is something that casual IDP managers likely haven’t had to face before, but it is very real.

The best piece of advice to give IDP managers hurt by COVID is to know focus on matchups when you are picking up tier-two or tier-three defenders off of waivers. Once your star defenders succumb to injury or on a COVID bye, don’t just look for the most famous name or the highest tackle total. Instead, you should consider the opponents of any defender you may be looking to stream or start in perpetuity.

Now more than ever, weekly matchups are nearly as relevant in IDP fantasy leagues as they are in offense only fantasy leagues. Who your defenders are playing matters each week, just like it mattered that the Dolphins were playing a depleted 49ers team in Week 5. Don't be caught off guard like San Francisco was against Miami. Be prepared, and be vigilant. That is how you can weather this sloppy and often frustrating COVID-soaked fantasy season.

Note: As always, our rankings will be split into RotoBaller’s three primary IDP positions (DL, LB, and DB), and they will typically come with some flyer/fade notes for each position as well. Also, as per usual, we will include edge rushers in both our DL and LB ranks since they have different eligibility depending on the fantasy site you are using.

*Fantasy Relevant Defenders Not in Our Week 6 Ranks Due to Bye/Injury: Jamal Adams, Chandler Jones, Nick Bosa, Derwin James, Joey Bosa, Bobby Wagner, Cameron Jordan, Christian Kirksey, Demario Davis, Cory Littleton, Johnathan Abram, Maxx Crosby, and Sam Hubbard.

 

Top-25 Fantasy Defensive Linemen of the Week

Rank Player Opponent
1 Aaron Donald 49ers
2 T.J. Watt Browns
3 Myles Garrett Steelers
4 Chase Young Giants
5 Harold Landry III Texans
6 Aldon Smith Cardinals
7 Yannick Ngakoue Falcons
8 Shaquil Barrett Packers
9 Bud Dupree Browns
10 Khalil Mack Panthers
11 J.J. Watt Titans
12 Jason Pierre-Paul Packers
13 Deforest Buckner Bengals
14 Chris Jones Bills
15 Za’Darius Smith Buccaneers
16 Leonard Williams Washington Football Team
17 Carl Lawson Colts
18 Frank Clark Bills
19 Kyle Van Noy Jets
20 Brian Burns Bears
21 Bradley Chubb Patriots
22 Josh Allen (Q) Lions
23 Grady Jarrett Vikings
24 Akiem Hicks Panthers
25 Justin Houston Bengals

DL Streamer of the Week: Jeffery Simmons, Tennessee Titans

Simmons was officially activated off of the COVID list this week, and the hope is he can return to form quickly. Reports are that Simmons is feeling great, and we hope he is. If the former Mississippi State standout doesn’t have any setbacks in practice this week, he should be a prime streamer candidate in Week 6.

As we have covered before in this column, the Houston Texans' offensive line is below par in a variety of ways. Their pass blocking unit is particularly bad, ranking third to last in Adjusted Sack Rate, per Football Outsiders. Thanks to that poor unit, Deshaun Watson is taking over three sacks per game. While this Texans team may continue to ride a hot streak in the wake of Bill O’Brien’s firing, the Titans Defense has several talented defenders who can help Simmons contain a mobile quarterback like Watson. Remember that Simmons was a wrecking ball when he last played against Minnesota, and Houston’s performance so far in 2020 doesn’t suggest they can contain him any better than Minnesota did. You should feel comfortable streaming Simmons in deeper leagues, as long as he practices the rest of the week.

DL Fade of the Week: All Bengals Pass Rushers

Some have speculated that the Colts’ offensive line has been disappointing this season, in part because pre-season darling Jonathan Taylor isn’t averaging six-yards-per carry. Whether this unit is as good as it should be or not, it has allowed just five sacks in five games despite having a human statute at quarterback. That sort of unit spells concerns for fantasy managers looking for sacks and big plays against Indy.

Generally speaking, Carl Lawson is one of the only Bengals defenders worth rostering in fantasy. Lawson and his teammates tend to be boom-or-bust fantasy assets, however. They are often reliant on a sack or turnover for fantasy production. To make matters worse, the Bengals will be without Sam Hubbard this week. That means that the Colts can more easily hone in on Lawson and the Bengals' few other assets. This week, it seems less than likely that any of the Bengals’ defensive linemen will get the big play they need to start for you in fantasy.

Exploding Matchup of the Week: Aaron Donald v. San Francisco 49ers

Last week we listed Donald as our Explosive Matchup of Week 5, thanks to the fact he was going against Washington's weak offensive line. Donald rewarded our prediction with a whopping four sacks in one game. Do not expect him to repeat that sort of performance this week, but there is still a good chance that he gets a second consecutive multi-sack game against a feeble San Francisco offensive line.

Unquestionably, San Francisco’s most talented blockers are its offensive tackles, Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey. However, neither of these talented linemen have been particularly impressive in pass protection in 2020. McGlinchey has allowed 14 pressures in five games, and it could be argued that he was as responsible for the 49ers' collapse against Philadelphia in Week 4 as Nick Mullens was. Meanwhile, most who watch Williams’ blocking against the Eagles and Dolphins will tell you that his PFF grade is misleadingly high. Together, these tackles have allowed 22 pressures in five games, and they are the strength of the line. The 49ers’ guards are the real weakness, allowing 27 pressures between them.

Overall, this line is allowing approximately ten pressures per game. It doesn't help that the 49ers will likely start either C.J. Beathard (a career 8.5% sack rate) or a gimpy Jimmy Garoppolo under center, either. Put one of those immobile QBs behind a porous offensive line, and you have the same sack cocktail that Washington was mixing last week against Donald.

 

Top-25 Fantasy Linebackers of the Week 

Rank Player Opponent
1 Darius Leonard (D) Bengals
2 Blake Martinez Washington Football Team
3 Jaylon Smith Cardinals
4 Fred Warner Rams
5 Zach Cunningham Titans
6 Roquan Smith Panthers
7 Eric Kendricks Falcons
8 Patrick Queen Eagles
9 Lavonte David Packers
10 T.J. Watt Browns
11 Micah Kiser 49ers
12 Devin White Packers
13 Myles Jack (Q) Lions
14 Shaq Thompson Bears
15 Deion Jones Vikings
16 Jon Bostic Giants
17 Jordan Hicks Cowboys
18 Jerome Baker Jets
19 Devin Bush Browns
20 Eric Wilson Falcons
21 Joe Schobert Lions
22 Alexander Johnson Patriots
23 Tremaine Edmunds Chiefs
24 Josey Jewell Patriots
25 Foyesade Oluokun Vikings

LB Streamer of the Week: Bobby Okereke, Indianapolis Colts

This former Stanford Cardinal is ascending in the absence of Darius Leonard, and he is doing it against both pass and run-heavy offenses. Two weeks ago, Okereke performed well against a Bears offense that throws the ball 62% of the time, and in Week 5, he did even better against a Browns unit that runs the ball more than any team in the NFL. Okereke has the skills to help in coverage and run support, acting almost as a poor man's Darius Leonard.

Going against the Bengals this week, look for this talented sophomore to serve as an attractive IDP streamer if Darius Leonard is out. However, if Leonard does play, be more cautious about inserting Okereke into lineups in shallow IDP leagues.

LB Fade of the Week: Joe Schobert, Jacksonville Jaguars

For two weeks in a row, Schobert has put up disappointing stats. Even with Myles Jack out last week, Schobert wasn’t able to secure anything but four tackles. In fact, the Wisconsin alum has failed to get you anything but decent tackle totals all of this season. He hasn't secured a turnover, sack, or even a PD. The matchup this week doesn’t spell a high ceiling for the former Brown, either.

The Detroit Lions run the sixth-fewest offensive plays in the NFL this season. That means fewer fantasy opportunities than usual for all Jaguars defenders in Week 6. Detroit also employs a 60/40 pass-to-run ratio, meaning that Schobert and his poor coverage skills will be at a disadvantage on approximately 60% of his plays this week.

If Jack is fully healthy, expect him to be the primary coverage 'backer for the Jaguars when players like T.J. Hockenson or D’Andre Swift are running routes. The Jags should want to keep Schobert away from the passing action as much as possible, considering he allows a 100% completion rate in coverage this season. While the Lions may want to target Schobert for that reason, nothing indicates Schobert will break up or intercept the passes thrown his way. Instead, his history and skillset tell us that he will be a tackle only prospect this week and a low-ceiling fantasy option. Bench him if you can afford to do so.

IDP Star of the Week: Patrick Queen, Baltimore Ravens

Queen has consistently been in our top-20 LB rankings this season. On top of that, he has made multiple appearances in our columns as a waiver target, long-term investment, and weekly streamer. Now, he has officially made his way into our overall top-ten LB ranks. That is a big deal for a rookie who some are still discounting because he is a rookie.

Queen was the AFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 5, accruing nine tackles, two FR, a FF, and a TD. That wasn’t his only big performance this season, though. In fact, Queen’s only poor fantasy showing this season came against Kansas City. Otherwise, he has been a worthy fantasy starter in even the shallowest of leagues every week. While some will be concerned about relying on a rookie defender in fantasy, and the odds are he will put up a few more stinkers before he is done, Queen is a worthy add in all leagues.

This week, in particular, Queen is a terrific IDP option. While you shouldn’t expect him to repeat his terrific Week 5 (just like with Aaron Donald), the LSU alum should be able to notch a sack or a couple of TFLs against a poor Eagles offensive line. The rookie will also have several shots at an INT or PD against Carson Wentz, who has targeted the intermediate-center of the field (where Queen will patrol) on 43% of his passes this season.

 

Top-25 Fantasy Defensive Backs of the Week

Rank Player Opponent
1 Budda Baker Cowboys
2 John Johnson III 49ers
3 Jordan Poyer Chiefs
4 Tracy Walker Jaguars
5 Jessie Bates III Colts
6 Marlon Humphrey Eagles
7 Antoine Winfield Jr. Packers
8 Landon Collins Giants
9 Justin Simmons Patriots
10 Jeremy Chinn Bears
11 Chuck Clark Eagles
12 Josh Jones Lions
13 Marcus Maye Dolphins
14 Jordan Whitehead Bears
15 Carlton Davis (Q) Packers
16 Mike Hilton Browns
17 Vonn Bell Colts
18 Keanu Neal Vikings
19 Pierre Desir Dolphins
20 Justin Reid Titans
21 Jabrill Peppers Washington Football Team
22 Logan Ryan Texans
23 Adrian Phillips Broncos
24 Trevon Diggs Cardinals
25 Harrison Smith Falcons

DB Streamer of the Week: Carlton Davis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Davante Adams is set to come back from injury this week, and we should expect Davis to shadow him all game long. That is great news for IDP managers since Aaron Rodgers has targeted his favorite receiver on 18% of Adams' snaps this season. Think about that for a second. If Adams is on the field, there is an 18% chance the ball is thrown his way. That rate is only slightly lower than in 2019 when Rodgers targeted Adams on 15.7% of his snaps.

Adams could realistically see 15+ targets against the Bucs this week. That would give Davis ample opportunities to collect tackles and turnovers. Davis should easily be the second-overall fantasy CB this week and a DB starter in 16-team fantasy leagues.

DB Fade of the Week: Jabrill Peppers, New York Giants

While Peppers established himself as a high-floor fantasy option in 2019, thanks to his high tackle rates and ability to force fumbles, Peppers' 110-tackle pace from last year has disappeared in 2020. This year, Peppers has become a fantasy afterthought. While his draft pedigree, talent, and past production will keep him on fantasy radars for some time, Peppers should be faded in Week 6 and every subsequent week until he proves he is what he used to be.

Now, one might think that the woeful Washington offense would be an excellent spot for Peppers to get right this season. After all, Ron Rivera starts a QB who loves to get sacked and turn the ball over. So why wouldn't fantasy managers hope for Peppers to blitz in and win them glory with a strip-sack? Or maybe a pick-six?

One problem with expecting big things from Peppers in Week 6 is that he only has one sack in four NFL seasons. Even worse, he has zero sacks as a Giant. Neither the Browns nor the Giants have used the Michigan grad as a Blitzer off of the edge. So why should fantasy managers expect this to change suddenly?

A second problem with expecting big things in Week 6 is that Washington runs a low volume offense that cannot establish the run game. Rivera’s squad passes the ball on over 60% of its plays. Given that Peppers has lined up in the box or at the line on nearly 70% of his defensive snaps as a Giant, he should see a low fantasy opportunity against a Washington team that will pass more than run. That spells a meager opportunity for tackles and big plays.



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Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Sleepers Editor Note Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers - Week 6

Once again, the NFL was a perfect example of why people love and hate the game of football. On one hand, we saw the best feelgood story in several years with Alex Smith returning to play (and looking relatively good all things considered) for the Washington Football Team. Then, just hours later the brutal cruelty of football emerged as Dak Prescott suffered a major ankle injury that will likely end his 2020 season and bring him into an uncertain contract negotiation this offseason.

While all we can do is offer condolences to Dak Prescott for his horrible injury, the fact is the football season won’t stop moving forward. Each week we advance brings new bye weeks, and given the COVID-driven uncertainty this year, identifying the players to add to your team has never been more important. At this moment, the NFL has shuffled numerous bye weeks, making planning even more essential. Thankfully, we have now surpassed the quarter of the season mark, so there is plenty of data out there to point us in the right direction.

In this article, I will be focusing on players who are under 65% rostered in fantasy leagues while adding a couple of deep sleepers for two-quarterback leagues (less than 20% rostered).

 

Top QB Streamers and Adds

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

Yahoo: 49% rostered ESPN: 32.2% rostered

Thanks to the constant reshuffling of the NFL schedule due to COVID cancellations, the Chargers (based on what I can tell) will have a week 6 bye. That will probably buy you one more week to place a waiver claim on Justin Herbert, but honestly, it may be worth your time to be proactive and just roster him. Herbert looks to be the real deal, throwing for over 900 yards and five touchdowns in his first three starts. That doesn’t even take into account his week 5 performance against the Saints, which will be coming tonight. Herbert was recently named the full-time starter and is worth rostering thanks to the array of weapons at his disposal (including a soon to return Mike Williams).

Andy Dalton, Dallas Cowboys

Yahoo: 2% rostered ESPN: 0.2% rostered

With the Dak Prescott injury, Dalton has been thrust into arguably one of the best offensive situations in the NFL. The Cowboys have a punishing run game with Ezekiel Elliott and three legitimate WR1 level talents in Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb. Dalton was 9 of 11 for 111 yards in relief of Dak Prescott against the Giants as he led the Cowboys to a win with a last-second field goal. Many fantasy players will remember Dalton toward the end of his Bengals career, but don’t remember the times he flourished with the Bengals in his prime. This is easily the most talented offense Dalton has ever played on (no offense to A.J. Green, Marvin Jones Jr., and Mohamed Sanu) and he is an instant weekly QB2 with QB1 upside for the rest of the season.

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Yahoo: 32% rostered ESPN: 15.8% rostered

Through four weeks, Daniel Jones has been far from a roster able asset. He hasn’t thrown a touchdown in three weeks and has failed to surpass 11 fantasy points since the first week of the season. However, he has faced an absolute murderers row of fantasy defenses, going against the Steelers, Bears, 49ers, and Rams so far this year. His schedule softens up considerably from now until his week 11 bye week, with contests against Dallas, Washington, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Washington, and Philadelphia.

Jones should be able to bounce back even without the services of Saquon Barkley in the backfield. Jones is accurate enough to pick apart those defenses and still has a litany of weapons at his disposal in the form of Evan Engram, Golden Tate, and Darius Slayton. Pick him up and stash him for a rainy day.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins

Yahoo: 20% rostered ESPN: 20.7% rostered

Kirk Cousins continued to bounce back from his abysmal showing against the Colts in week 2, throwing for 260 yards and a touchdown against the Texans secondary in week 4. Cousins doesn’t have the passing ceiling of most players considering he has yet to attempt more than 27 passes in a game this season despite the Vikings being 1-3, but he has a ton of weapons that maximize his completions. Adam Theilen continues to produce, Justin Jefferson has emerged as a legitimate weapon at wide receiver, and Dalvin Cook is always a threat to take a short pass the distance.

Cousins plays two of the three worst secondaries in the NFL in 2020 (Seattle and Atlanta) the next two weeks, which means he should see the same offensive statistical boost so many quarterbacks have enjoyed so far this season.

 

2QB Options and Stashes

Drew Lock, Denver Broncos

Yahoo: 8% rostered ESPN: 5.9% rostered

It has been many weeks since we have seen Drew Lock take an NFL field. Before his shoulder injury, Lock had one game where he looked solid (13.14 points scored against the Titans) and a game where he threw five passes before getting knocked out by the Steelers. The Broncos signal-caller was coming into week 5 with a questionable tag, but thanks to the impromptu bye situation, he got one more week to rest and likely returns against the Dolphins in Week 6. Despite the loss of Courtland Sutton to an ACL injury, Lock still has a plethora of weapons at his disposal when he returns. Noah Fant has continued to dominate and Tim Patrick and Jerry Jeudy both looked strong with Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel under center. Beyond that, Melvin Gordon has been excellent, and Philip Lindsay is poised to return from his own injury. Lock has the complimentary cast to provide a nice floor as a QB2 for the remainder of the season.



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Week 5 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

After successfully predicting eight out of the top ten defenses last week, we may be starting to hit our groove. Some of them felt a bit like gimmes, but the Jets in the top-10 was the subject of criticism and watching the Bills round into form a bit was also nice. The only two outliers here were my faith in the Seahawks Defense to capitalize on Ryan Fitzpatrick's mistakes, and my belief that the Cardinals Defense could curtail the Christian McCaffrey-less Panthers. However, the Cam Newton news on Saturday (after the rankings were published) also drastically shifted the defensive landscape.

Now four weeks in, certain stats have started to stabilize and we have a good idea that the limited preseason may be impacting defenses more than offenses. Entering Monday night, teams had scored 3,151 points, which was already the most through the first month of any season in the Super Bowl era. On top of that, there has been a combined average of 13.65 penalties per game, down from an average of 18.54 through the same stretch last season. All of this is causing offenses to put up video game numbers, which means that we can't continue to judge a defense solely by the number of points they allow. Those numbers will naturally be higher than we're used to. Instead, we need to look for which offensive lines are truly weakpoints and which defenses will either be blitz-heavy or get consistent pressure with their pass rush. These are all incredibly important pieces of information in determining which defenses to play in any given week.

Remember that picking the right defense is not about identifying who will allow the fewest points, but who will cause the most turnovers or tally the most sacks since that has a higher correlation to weekly fantasy DST leaders. That means that, as much these rankings are about the talent on the defensive side of the ball, it is equally about taking advantage of the lack of talent on the offensive side. Starting the right defense every week can be a difference-maker, so remember to check back here during the week as I will make updates once we get more information on some of these injuries and also get a better sense of the weather for the game.

 

Week 5 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Below are my Week 5 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 5 of the NFL and fantasy football season. Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver wire pickups to improve your lineups, and to decide which defenses to start, sit, target, avoid or stream for Week 5. I've broken out our defense rankings into tiers with analysis on each matchup. Some of these Week 5 defenses have good matchups and are not widely-owned, representing fantasy scoring opportunities if they are available on your league's waiver wire for a Week 5 pickup or add.

Returning for this year: Confidence Ratings (out of 15) - Since every league's DST scoring is different, projections don't always make a ton of sense. The confidence rating, which Bill Dubiel started last year, is a guideline for how much more I like one team over another instead of a straight point projection. A zero means "do not start," then the confidence rises from there. I take a lot of factors into account: opponent injuries, home-field advantage, weather (which will be updated during the week), etc. We still have only one game of in-season data to work with, so this week's rankings weigh schedule and personnel heavier than they will down the line.

Typically the top three tiers will be DSTs you should target, with Tier 4 being options in deep leagues and Tier 5 being desperation plays or good defenses in horrendous matchups.

 

Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 2 Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense  vs.PHI 14.1
2 1 New England Patriots Defense vs. DEN 13.4
3 1 Baltimore Ravens Defense vs. CIN 12.1
4 1 Los Angeles Rams Defense @ WAS 11.4

Having a game postponed due to positive COVID tests is never a good thing, but it did give the Steelers an extra few days to gameplan for Carson Wentz and the Eagles. Coming into Sunday's victory over to the 49ers, the Eagles offense was a shell of itself. Repeated injuries to their offensive line, as well as to Dallas Goedert, DeSean Jackson, and Jalen Reagor left Wentz with practice squad wide receivers. Even though the Eagles scored 25 points and won the game on Sunday night, they only gained 267 yards of total offense against a defense that has been decimated by injuries. Alshon Jeffrey may come back next week, but he's going to be incredibly rusty, and the Eagles offensive line will still be the walking wounded, especially with the revelation that Lane Johnson will have to play the entire season through injury. Through four games, the Eagles are allowing a tremendous amount of pressure, tied for 29th in the NFL in sacks allowed, and the Steelers lead the league in blitz percentage (51.2%) and pressure rate (46.5%). San Francisco was able to get to Wentz three times despite losing yet another defensive lineman (Ezekiel Ansah) to injury, so I expect the Steelers to make his life miserable this weekend.

Holding the Chiefs offense in check the way the Patriots did during the first half on Monday night was a truly impressive feat; however, I'm not sure we should have expected much different from Bill Belichick. Yes, the Chiefs wound up with 26 points and the win, but their offense was stalled way more than usual. Belichick has always been an incredible defensive coach, but now his task gets significantly easier on Sunday against Brett Rypien (most likely) and the Denver Broncos. Fresh off of throwing three interceptions and almost giving the game away against the Jets, Rypien looks like fresh meat to the Patriots coaching staff. The Patriots may only have six sacks on the season, but they are sixth in the NFL in pressure rate at 26.9% and seventh in the league with 19 quarterback hurries, numbers that are more impressive when you consider that three of the four teams the Patriots have played are in the top-13 in pressure allowed. Meanwhile, the Broncos are 28th in the league with 13 sacks allowed and simply don't have the playmakers to scare these Patriots defenders. Yes, Jerry Jeudy will be good, but he's not somebody that is going to consistently get the better of Stephon Gilmore right now. I expect the Patriots to control this game and cause lots of problems for Rypien. UPDATE: Stephone Gilmore recently tested positive for COVID, which will likely downgrade this defense, slightly, when I update the rankings after Thursday's game. 

The Ravens surprisingly allowed 343 total yards to Washington in their 31-17 victory on Sunday, coming away with only one sack and one turnover against Dwayne Haskins, who had been on the verge of demotion before the game began. To make matters more troubling, Washington is currently 25th in the league with 13 sacks allowed, so the fact that the Ravens couldn't get to Haskins often is mildly concerning and a microcosm of their larger issues. On the season, the Ravens are tied for a disappointing 15th in the league with nine sacks and are 22nd with only a 20.4% pressure rate. Those numbers simply aren't going to do it. However, the Bengals may be just what the doctor ordered. Despite their victory against Jacksonville, and Joe Mixon's big day, the Bengals offensive line has been horrendous. They get very little push in the running game and are 31st in the league with 15 sacks allowed. I'm betting on the talent the Ravens have on defense, and if they can't come away with multiple sacks this weekend, it may be time to move them out of the elite tier.

After getting shellacked in the first half against the Bills, the Rams defense has really started to wake up. They were getting no pressure on the quarterback early in the season, but are now fifth in the NFL in sacks and 17th in pressure rate, which is a major improvement over the last two weeks. They now get to face the aforementioned Washington offense, which should be no contest for this Rams defense. With Jalen Ramsey more than capable of making life hard on Terry McLaurin, Haskins will need to consistently move the ball with his other options on offense. I simply don't seem that happening against a Rams defense that is playing fast and hungry. They got to Daniel Jones five times on Sunday, and I expect more of the same this week. Remember, Dwayne Haskins was on the verge of being benched for Kyle Allen. One mediocre game doesn't all of the sudden make him a much better quarterback.

 

Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 5 Opponent Confidence Rating
5 2 San Francisco 49ers Defense  vs. MIA 11.1
6 2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense @ CHI 10.6
7 2 Indianapolis Colts Defense vs. CLE 10.1
8 2 Arizona Cardinals Defense @ NYJ 9.8

As I mentioned above, the 49ers just suffered yet another defensive injury, but they are also second in the NFL with a 30.9% pressure rate and held the Eagles to under 300 yards of total offense. The good news for the 49ers is that there is a chance they get linebacker Dre Greenlaw and cornerbacks Emmanuel Moseley, K'Waun Williams, and Ahkello Witherspoon back in time for the game against Miami. While those won't help their decimated pass rush, getting some starters back in the secondary will be crucial for a match-up against pass-happy Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins. The Harvard graduate as thrown the third-most interceptions in the league, but the Dolphins have only allowed six sacks per game, so that San Francisco pressure rate will be put to the test. I expect the 49ers to grind this game out on the ground, not giving Miami a chance to run as many plays as they did this weekend. That will lead to this being a low-scoring game with a Fitz interception or two thrown into the mix for a solid overall game at the office of the Niners defense.

While the Chargers put up 31 points against the Bucs on Sunday, only 24 of those came against the defense, and, as mentioned above, scoring is up across the league, so we can't judge a defense only by the amount of points they give up. The Bucs limited the Chargers to 324 total yards; yet, 125 of them came on two touchdowns passes by Justin Herbert. Now, those still count, but that means, outside of two big plays, the Bucs held the Chargers to 199 yards on 48 plays, or 4.1 yards per play. The only reason I bring that up is that the Chicago Bears with Nick Foles are not the kind of explosive offense to take advantage of the Bucs' tendency to give up big plays. However, they also aren't the type of offense to give up a ton of sacks, as they held the Colts high-pressure defense to only one. They also only put up 11 points in a loss. I don't think the Bears are going to do much damage on offense and the Bucs are currently fourth in the NFL in sacks and 3rd in pressure rate (29.9%), so they'll likely get to Foles once or twice and at least pressure him into some bad throws since I expect the Bears to be playing from behind.

Losing Nick Chubb is a major blow for the Browns offense. Yes, they still have Kareem Hunt, but those two as a tandem never gave the defense a chance to breathe. While Hunt is explosive, he doesn't have Chubb's power inside and isn't as effective in goal-line situations. The rushing offense is absolutely crucial to the Browns' success because it puts less pressure on the erratic play of Baker Mayfield. In Sunday's win, the Browns ran for 307 of their 508 total yards. That's going to be a lot harder to do against a Colts defense that is 6th in the NFL with 3.6 yards allowed per attempt and tops in the league by allowing only 26.7% of drives end in points. If the Browns aren't able to control the game on the ground and use it to set up play-action then Mayfield is going to have to put more weight on his own shoulders against a Colts defense that is 4th in the league in pressure rate (27.9%), tied for 8th in sacks, and tied for 10th in quarterback hurries. A game where Baker throws more usually means more interceptions and less high-scoring offense, especially against a defense that isn't allowing many points to begin with.

It's pretty clear after four weeks that you play your defenses against the Jets. Even the Browns Defense that had lost nearly every impact starter other than Bradley Chubb still put up a reasonable performance. Believe it or not, this Cardinals defense is better. They are tied for 6th in the league with 11 sacks and are 15th in drives that end in a score. They're relatively average in both rushing and passing defense, but they have been a bit weaker against the run this year,  a fact which shouldn't hurt them much against Frank Gore and the Jets. The Cardinals will also likely get safety Budda Baker back this week, which only makes them a stronger play. On the other side of the ball, I simply can't see the Jets Defense stopping Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins, provided the veteran receiver is healed enough from a foot injury that clearly hampered him against Carolina. If the Cardinals are scoring points, that will put the Jets in catch-up mode, and they simply don't have the offensive line to consistently protect Darnold in that situation. The young signal-caller has made some great plays this year, but is also making more head-scratching mistakes as a result of his dismal supporting cast. I expect more of the latter on Sunday.

 

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 5 Opponent Confidence Rating
9 3 Buffalo Bills Defense @ TEN 9.5
10 3 Kansas City Chiefs Defense vs. LV 9.4
11 3 Tennessee Titans Defense vs. BUF 8.5
12 3 Cleveland Browns Defense vs. IND 8.2
13 3 New Orleans Saints Defense vs. LAC 7.9
14 3 Denver Broncos Defense @ NE 7.4
15 3 Houston Texans Defense vs. JAX 7.1

The Bills defense is starting to come around. They kept Raiders star Josh Jacobs in check for much of Sunday afternoon and stifled an admittedly banged up Raiders offense until a garbage-time touchdown at the end of the game. However, this is a different task. The Bills are still only 16th in the NFL in yards allowed per carry with 4.4, and the Titans will bring bruiser Derrick Henry with them on Sunday. Now, the Titans offensive line hasn't been great and they're currently 27th in the league with only 3.8 yards per attempt, but we know Henry's talent and the Bills also lost linebacker Matt Milano to injury on Sunday, so if he's unable to play, this advantage swings even more to Tennessee. With news that wide receiver A.J. Brown is on track to return Week 5, this becomes a more dangerous Titans offense. Considering they've only allowed four sacks on the year, I don't expect the Bills to get to Ryan Tannehill that much, which means this could be a slow, low-scoring game that won't yield too many fantasy points. UPDATE: With more Titans testing positive for COVID, this game has a real chance to be postponed or outright canceled (with Tennessee forfeiting) since the Titans have already had a bye. Get a back-up option ready. 

The Chiefs just came out of that Monday night game with a dominating win over the Patriots, even though it was a version without Cam Newton. However, the Chiefs defense is 9th in the NFL in pressure rate, fifth in the NFL in sacks, and third in interceptions. That opportunistic nature is going to be important against a Raiders offensive line that's banged up and looked to tire in the second half against the Bills. What's more, it's unclear if the Raiders will get Henry Ruggs or Bryan Edwards back for this game, leaving Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow as the main pass-catching options. If that's the case, the Chiefs defense may move up in the rankings, but I think Derek Carr will be throwing in catch-up mode all game long, which will lead to garbage points, but also a lot of turnovers and sacks.

The Bills offense has been on fire to start the season, but they've also not played a defense that is the same caliber as the Titans. Add to that that the Titans had extra days to prepare for this Bills team, and you could see the first rough Sunday for this Buffalo offense. The Bills offensive line is without Jon Feliciano and also lost Brian Winters on Sunday; that's not great for a line that is already 18th in the league in sacks allowed. The Titans may only have four sacks, but they are 5th in the NFL in pressure rate and second in quarterback knockdowns, so they are likely going to be in Josh Allen's face. The quarterback's near-injury and horrible fourth-quarter sack on Sunday show that there are still chinks in his armor. If the Titans can get pressure on him, they can turn some of that Hero Ball mentality into some turnovers, which will be crucial in what should be a low-scoring game. UPDATE: With more Titans testing positive for COVID, this game has a real chance to be postponed or outright canceled (with Tennessee forfeiting) since the Titans have already had a bye. Get a back-up option ready. 

The Browns defense is decidedly average when it comes to pressure rate (16th) and quarterback knockdowns (30th), but they are tops in the league in quarterback hurries and 8th in yards allowed per rushing attempt at 3.9 yards. Those last two stats are particularly important in this game because Phillip Rivers remains relatively immobile, and the Colts will try to win this on the ground. TY Hilton has looked like a shell of his former self and has yet to top 87 yards in a game since Andrew Luck retired. If the Colts can't get Jonathan Taylor going against a solid run defense, then I expect a fair share of stalled drives and punts. The Colts offensive line is good enough to prevent many sacks, but I expect an interception from the Browns and a really ugly game without many points scored.

The Saints secondary is beyond banged up right now, and Justin Herbert actually looks pretty good. However, the loss of Austin Ekeler hurts the Chargers offense enough to keep the Saints in play in deeper leagues. The Saints had done a decent job containing the Lions, limiting them to 281 yards on the day, 112 of which came on two scoring drives when the game was essentially already decided. Still, this is a team that's 27th in the league in pressure rate and 28th in drives ending in points allowed with 53.1%, so there is cause for concern. If the Saints secondary, particularly Marshon Lattimore, can come back healthy on Sunday, then I like them to take advantage of a banged-up Chargers team and a rookie quarterback. If not, I would stay away from this game.

This ranking is assuming that Cam Newton misses another week since he was diagnosed with COVID-19, which has a 14-day quarantine period. With Brian Hoyer or Jarrett Stidham under center, this offense simply isn't scary. The Broncos defense is banged up enough that I'm not sure they can contain a well-coached Patriots offense for the entire game, so I just don't see a lot of upside in the matchup, especially with how the Broncos offense but their defense in bad positions throughout the entire game against the Jets. However, I think a few turnovers are in store with those either of those players at quarterback, and I can't envision this being a high-scoring, or exciting, football game.

Don't look now, but we have a Replacement Coach Narrative. After the Texans fired Bill O'Brien, there was a report that the Texans players felt a sense of relief. They will now be playing for Romeo Crennell, the defensive coordinator, who appears well-loved in the locker room. However, that's not reason enough to want to play them. What is the reason is that the Jaguars are 27th in the league in sacks allowed and the Texans are tied for 10th in the league in sacks. The Texans blitz the 7th most in the league, which could confuse a mediocre Jaguars offensive line and cause issues for Gardner Minshew, who already has four interceptions on the year. I expect the Texans to be fired up and think they could dominate the Jaguars in this game.

 

Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 5 Opponent Confidence Rating
16 4 Dallas Cowboys Defense vs. NYG 7.0
17 4 New York Jets Defense vs. ARI 6.6
18 4 Seattle Seahawks Defense vs. MIN 6.5
19 4 Chicago Bears Defense vs. TB 5.2
20 4 Philadelphia Eagles Defense @ PIT 4.9
21 4 Washington Football Team Defense vs. BAL 4.5
22 4 Miami Dolphins Defense @ SF 4.2

Yes, I know the Cowboys are playing the Giants, but they just gave up over 500 yards to the Browns and have given up 1,722 yards through four games, over 430 per game. The fact that they're playing the Giants gives them some upside for sacks and turnovers, but this is also a really bad defense that could give up 20+ points easily in this game.

The Jets run defense is solid, but they're secondary is not equipped to handle Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins. They may notch a sack or two, which can keep them interesting in super deep leagues, but this isn't a match-up I would be targeting.

Jamaal Adams appears to be another week away from returning, so that makes the Seahawks secondary vulnerable to Adam Thielen and emerging Justin Jefferson. I expect the Seahawks to score at will against Minnesota, which will lead to lots of garbage time points and yards for the Vikings offense. The Seahawks will likely get enough sacks to keep them in deep league consideration, but I don't love the play this week.

The Bears defense simply doesn't have the bite it's had in year's past. They are 28th in the league in pressure rate and have a mediocre eight sacks over four games. They rarely blitz and simply aren't getting pressure with their front four, especially against a Bucs offensive line that has allowed five total sacks in four games. With the way Tom Brady just torched a better Chargers secondary, I wouldn't feel comfortable lining up the Bears against him this week, even with Chris Godwin likely to miss another week.

The Eagles defense woke up against an injured Niners team on Sunday night, and I think this defense is one to keep an eye on now that they're starting to get healthy. I'm just not interested in them this week. Facing Nick Mullens, Jerrick McKinnon, and the Niners, even with George Kittle, is much different than facing this Steelers offense. Additionally, I think the Steelers defense is going to have a field day with the Eagles offensive line, which will likely lead to turnovers and a lot of bad spots for the Eagles defense. That's never good for fantasy production.

Michael Thomas is likely to return this week, and the Chargers just allowed 38 points to a Tampa Bay offense without Chris Godwin. Are you really confident in rolling them out against a fully healthy Saints offense?

Washington gets a tremendous amount of pressure, which keeps them from the bottom tier, but this isn't going to be a game you want to play them. They are banged up on the defensive line and don't have the secondary talent to keep this Ravens team from running up 30+ points.

The Dolphins squeeze into the bottom of this tier because we still don't know who is suiting up for San Francisco. If Jimmy Garropollo, Raheem Mostert, and/or Deebo Samuel come back, this is an entirely different offense and one that I am not comfortable attacking with the Dolphins and their mediocre pass rush.

 

Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 5 Opponent Confidence Rating
23 5 Los Angeles Chargers Defense @ NO 3.9
24 5 Atlanta Falcons Defense vs. CAR 3.1
25 5 Cincinnati Bengals Defense @ BAL 2.5
26 5 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense @ HOU 2.4
27 5 Carolina Panthers Defense vs. ATL 1.5
28 5 New York Giants Defense @ DAL 0.8
29 5 Minnesota Vikings Defense @ SEA 0.4
30 5 Las Vegas Raiders Defense @ KC 0.3
31 5 Detroit Lions Defense BYE 0.0
32 5 Green Bay Packers Defense BYE 0.0


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Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




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Week 5 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Week 4 is done, and the NFL season is really starting to roll now. Offenses are scoring more than we've ever seen before. Heading into the Monday night games, nine of the 13 games for the week had gone over the 50-point mark, and two of the four came within five points of that mark. If offenses are just going to keep getting better as they gel more, we could be on pace to see the most high-scoring season of all time.

We don't have a ton of matchups that figure to be offensive shootouts, but we could see several high-powered offenses beat up on lower-level teams. We saw teams hanging around in games last week, so we can never overlook those teams. Regardless of what you think of these matchups, we're all going to be watching, and I'm sure we'll see some exciting moments across the board in every game.

Bye weeks are officially here. We're going to be without Detroit Lions' kicker Matt Prater and Green Bay Packers' kicker Mason Crosby. Crosby has been one of the NFL's best kickers in the early going, so you'll have to find a replacement for him this week. Prater isn't in the top tier, but he's been in the top half of the league thus far. If you're looking to replace one of those guys, you're in the right place.

 

Tier 1 NFL Kickers

1. Harrison Butker (KC) vs LV
2. Greg Zuerlein (DAL) vs NYG
3. Jason Myers (SEA) vs MIN
4. Dan Bailey (MIN) @ SEA
5. Zane Gonzalez (ARI) @ NYJ

Kansas City Chiefs' kicker Harrison Butker claims the top spot for Week 5. He draws a matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders that are playing hard-nosed football to start the year. While they may not win the game, they will be able to hang and score points. Dallas Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein is probably loving life. Since Week 2, they've scored 31 or more points in all three games. Lock him in against the New York Giants this week. Seattle Seahawks kicker Jason Myers gets the next spot. This has been arguably the NFL's best offense through four weeks, and they grab a matchup with the Minnesota Vikings, who are still struggling to stop teams a quarter of the way into the season. I'm expecting a lot of points from both teams.

Vikings' kicker Dan Bailey grabs the fourth spot. I'm expecting a shootout in this game. The Vikings can move the ball well, and they'll be able to run up some points against the Seahawks' defense that has allowed at least 23 points in all four games thus far. Rounding out the top five, we have Arizona Cardinals' kicker Zane Gonzalez. This Cardinals' unit is sputtering after a hot 2-0 start, but the New York Jets are a perfect recipe to get things back on track. I think the Cardinals' have the potential to have one of their best games of the season this week. Gonzalez will be a primary beneficiary of that.

 

Tier 2 NFL Kickers

6. Justin Tucker (BAL) vs CIN
7. Samuel Sloman (LAR) @ WAS
8. Younghoe Koo (ATL) vs CAR
9. Cody Parkey (CLE) vs IND
10. Robbie Gould (SF) vs MIA

Baltimore Ravens' kicker Justin Tucker grabs the sixth spot. This Baltimore offense ran up the score early against the Washington Football Team, and they bulled their starters. I don't think that will be happening against the Cincinnati Bengals, but he should still have a great scoring week. Los Angeles Rams' kicker Samuel Sloman gets the next spot. This Rams' group was held in check in Week 4, but they can bounce back against Washington in Week 5. This offense has the pieces to take advantage of Washington's weaknesses in the secondary. Atlanta Falcons' kicker Younghoe Koo comes in the eighth spot. His offense is still loaded with talent, and they can put points on a Carolina Panthers' defense that has outperformed expectations to this point.

Cleveland Browns' kicker Cody Parkey gets the next spot here. This offense just ran for over 300 yards against the Dallas Cowboys. I don't think they'll be able to move the ball at will against the Indianapolis Colts, but I do think they'll be able to get him into scoring situations throughout the game. San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould rounds out our second tier. This 49ers' team should be getting a few starters back next week, and that will automatically help his cause for scoring points. He's getting a little long in the tooth, but he remains one of the best in the business at what he does.

 

Tier 3 NFL Kickers

11. Wil Lutz (NO) vs LAC
12.Stephen Hauschka (JAX) @ HOU
13.Chris Boswell (PIT) vs PHI
14.Daniel Carlson (LV) @ KC
15. Rodrigo Blankenship (IND) @ CLE

New Orleans Saints' kicker Wil Lutz grabs the first spot in this third tier. He's on an offense that's finally starting to get their feet under them, and wide receiver Michael Thomas has a strong chance to return next week against the Los Angeles Chargers, which will give them a big boost. Jacksonville Jaguars' kicker Stephen Hauschka is up next. This Jaguars' team is feisty, and they can put some points on a reeling Houston Texans' team that just fired their coach following an 0-4 start. Chris Boswell of the Pittsburgh Steelers claims the next spot. The Steelers' offense has been decent thus far, and they can play even better against the Philadelphia Eagles that have struggled through four games. 

Raiders' kicker Daniel Carlson sneaks into the 14-spot this week. This Raiders' offense can move the ball against Kansas City on the ground, and they've found ways to put up points through the first month of the season. He's been nearly perfect thus far, and I think he has another good week ahead. Indianapolis Colts' kicker Rodrigo Blankenship snags our last spot for this week. This Colts' team has shown that they can score well, or they can win ugly. They could be forced to do either one of those this week against the Browns. This one isn't a perfect matchup, but he's been a good kicker on a good team. Relying on that this week.

 

Kickers to Avoid

Ka'imi Fairbairn is our first choice to avoid this week. This Texans' group is 0-4, spending more money than anyone else in the NFL this season, and they just fired their head coach/GM in Bill O'Brien. They have a decent matchup against the Jaguars, but I'm not trying to count on this team right now.

Sam Ficken of the New York Jets is next. This Jets' team is awful. They might be the worst team in football right now. Even though they have an easier matchup against Arizona, Ficken is still not a guy you should be going to play. Let him ride your bench this week, and that should continue for most weeks.

Dustin Hopkins of the Washington Football Team is our final kicker to avoid. This team just got rolled by Baltimore, and it doesn't get any easier against the Rams. The Rams' defense is playing some truly great football right now, and that's going to continue against Washington.



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Week 5 Stream Team - Shallow and Deep-League Pickups

Welcome to Week 5 of the NFL season. Each week we will be providing streamer advice for all of those who need it, which is pretty much anyone and everyone. Streaming players with the best matchups each week as well as during your stud's bye weeks is an integral part of winning a fantasy championship and we are here to provide the best choices week in and week out.

Each week in this article, we will break down streamers for both shallower leagues of 8-10 teams (around 40% rostered or less) and deeper leagues of 14 or more teams (around 20% rostered or less). We will provide a specific roster in each type of league, which will include a QB, RB, WR, TE, and Flex. It should also be noted that if you play in a deep league, but a shallow-league player mentioned here is available in your league, feel free to stream them as well.

Let's take a look at Week 5's best streaming options with some highlighted players to keep an especially close eye on.

 

Stream Team for Shallow Leagues (<40% Rostered)

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

49% Rostered

Tannehill gets a matchup vs. a surprisingly bad Bills pass defense. The Bills currently rank sixth-worst in the league having allowed nearly 294 passing yards per game to quarterbacks. They are also allowing quarterbacks to put up just over 20 fantasy points per game. Tannehill has been solid in 2020 as he has thrown for six touchdowns through his first three games and should be in line for a solid day.

Damien Harris, New England Patriots

42% Rostered

Harris is more of a volume play in this situation, but that is not necessarily a bad thing given the options on the waiver wire. Harris should be a staple in the backfield after Sony Michel was placed on IR with a quad injury. Getting the nod Monday night, Harris promptly carried the ball 17 times for 100 yards. He will be facing an average Broncos run defense that has allowed nearly four yards per carry, so there is definitely an opportunity for a solid day here.

Hunter Renfrow, Las Vegas Raiders

37% Rostered

This game could be a shootout and that is why I like Renfrow in this spot. The Chiefs are currently favored by 7.5, which means the Raiders could be throwing late to get back into this game. Renfrow is one of the top targets in Las Vegas behind Darren Waller and this is evidenced by the fact that he has seen 17 targets over the previous two games. He has managed to haul in 11 of those 17 targets for 141 receiving yards and a score.

Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers

32% Rostered

Ebron gets a matchup vs. an Eagles Defense that has given up the fifth-most receiving yards to tight ends thus far in 2020. He has seen 12 targets over the previous two games and managed to turn those into 95 receiving yards and a score. The score is especially notable as the Eagles have given up five touchdowns to tight ends through their first four games, which is ranked second-worst in the league. This could be a prime spot to fire up Ebron.

Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons

50% Rostered

I like Gage in this spot if Julio Jones is unable to go. He would then become the number two target in a game with a total of 53.5, which means lots of offensive fireworks. While Gage has only seen six targets in the previous two games, he saw a combined 21 in the first two games. If Jones is unable to suit up, Gage could have a big day. While the Panthers have looked good against the pass thus far, they have yet to play an offense like Atlanta's and I think they will struggle to stop it.

 

Stream Team for Deep Leagues (<20% Rostered)

Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers

28% Rostered

Teddy Bridgewater should have a field day against this defense. The Falcons are currently allowing 354 passing yards per game to quarterbacks, which is ranked second-worst in the league. Bridgewater should be able to find success throwing the ball to Mike Davis especially. The Falcons are allowing running backs an average of over 64 receiving yards per game, which is ranked third-worst in the league. Davis has seen 23 targets and hauled in 21 for 140 yards since taking over for the injured Christian McCaffrey. Davis is just one of the reasons I like the more than here. Atlanta is also allowing the fourth-most yards to receivers as well, which means DJ Moore and Robby Anderson are definitely in play for Bridgewater as well. While it may be surprising that the Panthers are three-point underdogs, this should also help Teddy get over the total Sunday.

Jeff Wilson Jr., San Francisco 49ers

27% Rostered

It is always difficult to find a running back to stream in this section, but Jeff Wilson Jr. might provide a bit of help. He is likely second-fiddle to Jerrick McKinnon, but Wilson could be involved in the passing game, which the Dolphins have struggled against. Miami has allowed running backs to haul in 24 receptions for 211 receiving yards and two scores. Wilson Jr. is not the sexiest play by any means, but if you are desperate this week, you could do worse.

Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills

26% Rostered

Beasley has been getting in work even with the addition of Stefon Diggs as he is currently averaging six targets per game. He faces a Titans Defense that will likely be very banged up heading into this game. He should certainly be able to work the middle of the field and secure his usual target share, and if he finds the end zone as he did last week, could provide a solid output.

Greg Olsen, Seattle Seahawks

22% Rostered

Olsen has really started to gain Russell Wilson's trust as he has earned 13 targets in the previous two games and turned them into 10 catches for 96 yards. They will be facing a Vikings Defense that has been struggling vs. the tight end position. Minnesota has allowed the seventh-most receiving yards to tight ends. They are also allowing double-digit points to the position.

Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos

8% Rostered

The Broncos have been struggling through injuries all season and that holds true in their receiving corps where Tim Patrick has stepped in and performed admirably thus far. In the previous two weeks, Patrick has caught 10 balls for 156 yards and scored in each contest. He is going up against a surprisingly struggling Patriots secondary that is allowing the 11th-most receiving yards to wideouts. This matchup could be even juicier if Stephon Gilmore is forced to miss this week.



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Fantasy Football IDP Rankings and Streamers - Week 5

Let’s start Week 5 off with a piece of obvious, but apparently necessary, advice. It is advice that no IDP manager should need, but approximately 8% of IDP managers have to hear. Are you ready for this nugget of wisdom? Wait for it…. Here it comes….

Stop dropping the best defender in fantasy (Darius Leonard)!

This nugget of information seems blatantly obviously, but approximately 6% of fantasy managers have dropped Leonard this week so it has to be said. It is staggering to think that Leonard is currently available in about 8% of IDP leagues (an average of Yahoo and ESPN leagues combined). That’s about 8% too many.

 

Week 5 Overview

Before you ask, yes, I am aware that Leonard may miss Week 5 with a groin injury. And before you hit send on the inevitable hate tweet you have ready for me, yes, I am also aware that Leonard hasn't provided you a turnover or sack this season. I know all of this. Still, remind yourself of who we are talking about here. Leonard is a young superstar who, when healthy, has been the highest-scoring fantasy defender over the past two seasons in almost all IDP formats. He is also a player who, even during his “slump” this season, is averaging a solid nine tackles per game in 2020. That is a fantasy floor that many fantasy LBs would call their ceiling.

Further, recall that Leonard started 2019 with a relatively quiet streak that culminated in three missed games due to injury. During those missed games, many fantasy managers dropped Leonard just like they are this season. All Leonard did after that was punish those who dropped him by racking up 103 tackles, four sacks, five interceptions, seven PDs, and two forced fumbles over the season's final 11 games. That streak saw Leonard match top-ten fantasy QB production multiple times, and it serves as a reminder why you should never give up on him in fantasy.

Now, I hear you. You need to fill that valuable RB role after Nick Chubb and Saquon Barkley went down. I get you. D'Ernest Johnson and Justin Jackson can look pretty appetizing to fantasy managers who are hurting. My question is, do you really have to drop Leonard to roster one of those guys? Isn’t there someone else you can drop? And if there isn’t someone else you can drop, is it worth losing a fantasy LB capable of outscoring Tom Brady just to get a few weeks of spot starter work from Johnson or Jackson?

My answer is no, neither Johnson nor Jackson has more fantasy value than Leonard does the rest of this season in most IDP leagues. There are few fantasy assets who are as reliable as a healthy Leonard. Heck, the only things more reliable in this world that come to mind are Patrick Mahomes, airplane glue, Fruit of the Loom underwear, and a tasty chalupa from Taco Bell (sponsorship pending).

Note: As always, our rankings will be split into RotoBaller’s three primary IDP positions (DL, LB, and DB), and they will typically come with some flyer/fade notes for each position as well. Also, as per usual, we will include edge rushers in both our DL and LB ranks since they have different eligibility depending on the fantasy site you are using.

*Fantasy Relevant Defenders Not in Our Week 5 Ranks Due to Injury/Bye Include: Jamal Adams, Nick Bosa, Derwin James, Chase Young, Tracy Walker, Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Trey Flowers, and Christian Kirksey.

 

Top-25 Fantasy Defensive Linemen of the Week

Rank Player Opponent
1 T.J. Watt Eagles
2 Aaron Donald Washington Football Team
3 J.J. Watt Jaguars
4 Myles Garrett Colts
5 Joey Bosa Saints
6 Bud Dupree Eagles
7 Shaquil Barrett Bears
8 Aldon Smith Giants
9 Chandler Jones Jets
10 Khalil Mack Buccaneers
11 Yannick Ngakoue Seahawks
12 Harold Landry III Bills
13 Jason Pierre-Paul Bears
14 Carl Lawson Ravens
15 Chris Jones Raiders
16 Deforest Buckner Browns
17 Cameron Jordan Chargers
18 Frank Clark Raiders
19 Arik Armstead Dolphins
20 Josh Allen (Q) Texans
21 Bradley Chubb Patriots
22 Kyle Van Noy 49ers
23 Grady Jarrett Panthers
24 Sam Hubbard Ravens
25 Justin Houston Browns

DL Streamer of the Week: Carl Lawson, Cincinnati Bengals

Lawson is an exciting player who is ascending now that he is healthy, despite having limited snaps so far. He was a promising prospect with first-round talent coming out of Auburn, and when healthy he has been the Bengals' most gifted pass rusher over the past three seasons. While Lawson is often hit-or-miss in fantasy thanks to his rotational role on this defense and his sack dependency, he is a significant enough sack artist to be worth starting in prime situations. While this situation against Baltimore may seem less than ideal, it could turn out to be a prime situation in which you can nab Lawson and start him thanks to others discounting his matchup.

This week Lawson is going against a QB who has been on the injured list all week and may not have his extra gear on Sunday. While Baltimore has a good blocking unit, they aren't quite as good as they were last year and if Lamar Jackson isn't himself, Lawson could get a sack or two in Week 5 as a quality fantasy spot starter. The prospect of Baltimore keeping Lamar in the pocket a bit more, or Lamar being slowed by illness/injury is enough to make Lawson a really interesting streamer, even if on paper he doesn't seem to be.

DL Fade of the Week: Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas Raiders

The Chiefs have allowed an average of 11 pressures per game so far in 2020, which isn't ideal. Despite that, Mahomes and company have given up only one sack per contest. While this blocking unit is just average in the running game, allowing 18% of their runs to be stuffed at or behind the line, they have surrendered very few big defensive plays despite going against some good defenses (Baltimore and New England, specifically).

KC's ability to avoid significant losses, sacks, and turnovers is a problem for Crosby's fantasy managers. The second-year pass rusher derives almost all of his fantasy value from big plays (sacks and TFLs). He is averaging less than two tackles per game in 2020, getting nearly all of his fantasy production from three sacks and one PD. That means he is a particularly sack dependent fantasy player. Against this KC unit, don't expect him to get one of those. Feel free to leave Crosby on your bench, or waivers in shallow leagues, this week.

Exploding Matchup of the Week: Aaron Donald v. Washington Football Team

Putting Donald in this spot seems like low hanging fruit since we all know just how good he is as a player. That said, Donald should utterly dominate Washington’s offensive line this week.

Washington has allowed 13 sacks this season so far, and the team is now starting Kyle Allen under center. Allen is a veritable statue who took 3.5 sacks per game in Carolina (an 8.6% sack rate), and who fumbled the ball a whopping once per game in 2019. Combine Washington’s offensive line with an 8.1% sack rate, a fumbling QB who takes sacks like gummy vitamins, and put them up against the best defender in football together, and you’ve got a bleak opening to Mr. Allen Goes to Washington.

 

Top-25 Fantasy Linebackers of the Week 

Rank Player Opponent
1 Darius Leonard (Q) Browns
2 Bobby Wagner Vikings
3 Jaylon Smith Giants
4 Fred Warner Dolphins
5 Devin White Bears
6 Zach Cunningham Jaguars
7 Blake Martinez Cowboys
8 T.J. Watt Eagles
9 Lavonte David Bears
10 Micah Kiser (Q) Washington Football Team
11 Devin Bush Eagles
12 Roquan Smith Buccaneers
13 Eric Kendricks Seahawks
14 Myles Jack Texans
15 Deion Jones Panthers
16 Patrick Queen Bengals
17 Jon Bostic Rams
18 Joe Schobert Texans
19 Shaq Thompson Falcons
20 Jerome Baker 49ers
21 Kenneth Murray, Jr. Saints
22 Alexander Johnson Patriots
23 Tremaine Edmunds Titans
24 Demario Davis Chargers
25 Jordan Hicks Jets

LB Streamer of the Week: Josey Jewell, Denver Broncos

A member of our IDP Waiver column this week, Jewell is an ascending fantasy prospect with a concrete floor and a decent ceiling. Last week we saw the Broncos use both Jewell and Alexander Johnson more as pass rushers, which was impactful. Expect them to be utilized like that more as the season goes on.

Jewell has a nice matchup against a run-heavy New England team this week, especially if Cam Newton starts at QB. Newton has historically allowed opposing LBs to put up good fantasy weeks against him, thanks to his style of running up the middle and through defenders. An example of this would be in Week 1 when Newton helped Jerome Baker to a big fantasy day. Expect a similar game plan from New England this week if Cam plays, and expect Jewell to put up starter fantasy stats as a result.

LB Fade of the Week: Jayon Brown, Tennessee Titans

Brown is usually a stable and steady fantasy contributor. He suffers this week from two problems, however. One problem is that his game this week, which was already moved to Tuesday, may still be canceled. That makes it hard to play any Titan or Bill this week. The second problem is that we don’t even know how any of these Titans players will perform if the game does go.

Football is genuinely in new territory with this COVID pandemic, especially regarding how these COVID delays will impact NFL players’ readiness. We have already seen how a shortened offseason and a lack of conditioning time has caused more injuries, more lineup rotations, and more unpredictable results than usual in 2020. The question now is how well Titans players, like Brown, will be able to go from their couches to the field with little to no practice time over the past two weeks. Do you want to risk your fantasy week on an LB, or any other player, who hasn't been able to take a snap with his teammates for more than 14 days?

 

Top-25 Fantasy Defensive Backs of the Week

Rank Player Opponent
1 John Johnson III Washington Football Team
2 Budda Baker Jets
3 Antoine Winfield Jr. Bears
4 Landon Collins Rams
5 Jordan Poyer Titans
6 Justin Simmons Patriots
7 Jessie Bates III Ravens
8 Marcus Maye Cardinals
9 Jeremy Chinn Falcons
10 Malcolm Jenkins Chargers
11 Josh Jones Texans
12 Johnathan Abram Chiefs
13 Chuck Clark Bengals
14 Marlon Humphrey Bengals
15 Vonn Bell Ravens
16 Harrison Smith Seahawks
17 Jordan Whitehead Falcons
18 Jabrill Peppers Cowboys
19 Carlton Davis Bears
20 James Bradberry Cowboys
21 Adrian Phillips Broncos
22 Keanu Neal Panthers
23 Justin Reid Jaguars
24 Tyrann Mathieu Raiders
25 Mike Hilton Eagles

DB Streamer of the Week: James Bradberry, New York Giants

Last week we faded Bradberry because the Rams were a multi-faceted offense that could easily avoid the Giants' top corner, spelling low opportunity rates for Bradberry to score fantasy points. This week Bradberry is an excellent bet to get multiple fantasy opportunities, however, against the high-flying Dallas Cowboys. While some may question whether Dallas may look to finally establish a consistent run game against the woeful Giants this week, it seems safe to assume the Cowboys will throw the ball at least 35 times this game, with many targets coming Bradberry’s way.

Dak Prescott loves to target Amari Cooper, as evidenced by the pick he forced towards Cooper to end the Browns game last week. Bradberry should see plenty of Cooper, and plenty of targets as a result. Expect this corner to return to his pace of three PDs per game, which he maintained through the first three weeks of this season, in Week 5. That is significant in leagues that reward points for deflections.

DB Fade of the Week: Justin Reid, Houston Texans

So far this year, Reid has been a steady but unspectacular fantasy DB. Reid’s fantasy ceiling has been seriously capped so far because he has zero turnovers or sacks. While Reid can make those kinds of plays, fantasy managers shouldn't expect them to come this week.

Reid’s opponent in Week 5, the Jacksonville Jaguars, runs the fifth-fewest plays in the NFL so far this season. That low volume limits all defenders' opportunities for fantasy points. To make matters worse, the Jaguars average just 1.25 turnovers per game, which limits the odds that Reid will pick up his first pick or fumble this week. While Reid should spend more than half his time in coverage against the Jaguars, who run the fourth pass heaviest offense in the NFL, the low volume and low turnover rates of this Jaguars offense seriously limits Reid’s fantasy upside in Week 5.

Red Flag of the Week: Jordan Poyer, Buffalo Bills

Poyer is valuable enough that you can't just drop him like you can many fantasy defenders, even if he and the Bills may miss Week 5 due to COVID delay. The Bills’ standout safety is a top-three fantasy DB this week if his game goes. The problem is that we won’t likely know if Poyer is going to play in Week 5 until probably Monday or Tuesday morning of next week. Because this game has already been moved to Tuesday, with no indication if it will be played, fantasy managers must decide what to do with their Bills and Titans this week.

Poyer managers have to decide whether to risk playing him with no available backups on Tuesday, or they have to bench him for a lower ceiling player they know will play on Sunday. The only real option, beyond benching Poyer, is adding a player like C.J. Gardner-Johnson. The hyphenated Saints DB plays on Monday, and hopefully you will know whether Poyer’s game will be canceled before Gardner-Johnson takes the field on Monday night.



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Categories
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Week 4 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Another week, and another six out of the top 10 defenses correct. Some of the top ones were gimmes, and I'm a little surprised by how the Chargers Defense laid an egg versus Carolina and the way the Bills Defense just seemed totally lost against the Rams in the second half. I'm happy I trusted my gut with Cleveland despite most experts having them in the mid-teens, and it's becoming clear which teams we really want to target now with our defenses.

After three weeks, we're starting to get a better sense of which offensive lines are truly weakpoints and which teams are playing at a pace that's too slow to really capitalize on for defensive streamers. We're starting to learn which teams are going to be blitz-heavy and which offenses may consistently put their defenses in bad positions. These are all incredibly important pieces of information in determining which defenses to play in any given week.

Remember that picking the right defense is not about identifying who will allow the fewest points, but who will cause the most turnovers or tally the most sacks since that has a higher correlation to weekly fantasy DST leaders. That means that, as much these rankings are about the talent on the defensive side of the ball, it is equally about taking advantage of the lack of talent on the offensive side. Starting the right defense every week can be a difference-maker, so remember to check back here during the week as I will make updates once we get more information on some of these injuries and also get a better sense of the weather for the game.

 

Week 4 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Below are my Week 4 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 4 of the NFL and fantasy football season. Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver wire pickups to improve your lineups, and to decide which defenses to start, sit, target, avoid or stream for Week 4. I've broken out our defense rankings into tiers with analysis on each matchup. Some of these Week 4 defenses have good matchups and are not widely-owned, representing fantasy scoring opportunities if they are available on your league's waiver wire for a Week 4 pickup or add.

Returning for this year: Confidence Ratings (out of 15) - Since every league's DST scoring is different, projections don't always make a ton of sense. The confidence rating, which Bill Dubiel started last year, is a guideline for how much more I like one team over another instead of a straight point projection. A zero means "do not start," then the confidence rises from there. I take a lot of factors into account: opponent injuries, home-field advantage, weather (which will be updated during the week), etc. We still have only one game of in-season data to work with, so this week's rankings weigh schedule and personnel heavier than they will down the line.

Typically the top three tiers will be DSTs you should target, with Tier 4 being options in deep leagues and Tier 5 being desperation plays or good defenses in horrendous matchups.

 

UPDATED FRIDAY MORNING 9:30 AM ET

Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 2 Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 Baltimore Ravens Defense   @ WAS 14.1
2 1 San Francisco 49ers Defense  vs. PHI 13.0
3 1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense  vs. LAC 12.1
4 1 Los Angeles Rams Defense vs. NYG 11.9

A week after facing the Kansas City Chiefs and giving up 517 total yards, the Baltimore defense gets to get back to work against Dwayne Haskins and the Washington Football Team. For two weeks, Haskins looked moderately better than what we saw in 2019, and the team was showing some signs of life, but he really crashed down to earth against the Browns on Sunday, throwing three interceptions and finishing with a 30.8 QBR. While the Ravens were unable to get much pressure on Patrick Mahomes on Monday night, we know not to judge a defense solely by how it handles the Chiefs. The Ravens Defense is filled with talent and should absolutely capitalize on Haskins and an offense without many playmakers. Look for the Ravens to take out their frustration repeatedly on Sunday.

The 49ers defense may be banged up, but this team still has tons of talent and finished as the 5th ranked defense after limiting the Giants to nine points while notching two sacks, two fumble recoveries, and an interception. The 49ers suffered yet another injury on Sunday as starting cornerback Emmanuel Moseley left with a concussion, but the Eagles will come into this game with a similarly hobbled offensive line that has allowed the fourth-most sacks in the NFL through three games. To add insult to injury, the Eagles' receiving corps took a hit on Sunday after both DeSean Jackson and Dallas Goedert were unable to finish the game. Goedert is expected to miss "some time," and Jackson seems unlikely to play Sunday, which will mean that, since Alshon Jeffrey still seems like he's another week or so away, the Eagles will face San Francisco with Zach Ertz and Greg Ward and little else. Doug Pederson is already talking about ways to get Carson Wentz out of his own head, and the Eagles have looked like a sloppy mess all season, even allowing Cincinnati to finish as the 13th ranked defense, fueled by three sacks and two interceptions. Even injured, this 49ers defense is worlds better than what the Bengals are putting out on the field. If the Eagles can't get healthy in time for Sunday, it's going to be a long day.

So let's see, the Carolina Panthers just held the Chargers to 16 points and finished as the 7th ranked defense after getting shredded by the Bucs and Raiders. Justin Herbert may have an exciting future ahead of him, but he's clearly still prone to rookie mistakes, and it cost the Chargers last week. Tampa Bay is an elite run defense, giving up only 2.9 yards per carry, so the Chargers will need to rely on Herbert to move the ball through the air. That's going to open him up to a Bucs pass rush that is second in the league in blitz rate (43.8%), third in the NFL in sacks, and second in the league in tackles for a loss. Bryan Bulaga (back), Mike Williams (hamstring), and Trai Turner (groin) all left Sunday's game injured and have been unable to practice so far this week, which is only going to make Herbert more vulnerable against an opportunistic defense.

The Rams may have been burned by Josh Allen repeatedly on Sunday, but that defensive line also tormented him in the second half of the game. That's a good sign since this defense has underperformed in terms of pressure so far this season, registering only a 19% pressure rate and seven sacks on the season. However, the matchup is too good to ignore. The Giants don't have a strong enough running game to keep the Rams' defensive line honest, which means Aaron Donald and company can come after an offensive line that is 24th in the NFL with nine sacks allowed on the season. The Rams' secondary has issues, but the Giants offense doesn't have near the same firepower as the Bills do to take advantage of issues. In fact, Daniel Jones has thrown four interceptions already this season, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him add to that total on Sunday.

 

Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 2 Opponent Confidence Rating
5 2 Indianapolis Colts Defense  @ CHI 11.3
6 2 Seattle Seahawks Defense @ MIA 11.1
7 2 Denver Broncos Defense vs. NYJ 10.4
8 2 Buffalo Bills Defense @ LV 10.2

I said last week that the loss of Malik Hooker could prove detrimental to the Colts when they face an offense that can really air it out against them; however, potentially getting starting corner Rock Ya-Sin back could help. Even with Nick Foles, I'm not convinced the Bears are that offense. Foles certainly looked more competent than Mitchell Trubisky, but he has his own flaws as a passer, and the Colts are currently 2nd in the NFL with a 35.5% pressure rate and seventh in the league with nine sacks through the first three games. If the Colts secondary was in better health, I'd be even more confident about this, but the Bears just lost a dynamic weapon in Tarik Cohen and Anthony Miller seems to have been demoted to a non-factor, so the offense is basically David Montgomery and Allen Robinson with Foles. There's some talent there, but I expect the Colts' pressure to make Foles uncomfortable and create a few turnover opportunities in what could turn into a low-scoring slugfest between two solid defenses with good running backs.

The Seahawks may have given up 31 points to the Cowboys on Sunday, but they finished as the 8th ranked defense thanks to two sacks, two interceptions, a safety, and a blocked field goal. All of which just goes to show what an opportunistic defense they are and how even average or slightly above average defenses can be helped by their elite offense piling on points and forcing teams to keep up. That's especially true this week. I expect the Seahawks offense to dismantle the Dolphins Defense while the Seahawks defense, which is third in the NFL with only 3.0 yards per carry allowed, shuts down the Miami running game. That will put gunslinger Ryan Fitzpatrick in catch-up mode against a team that's best in the league in quarterback knockdowns, tied for second in the league in interceptions, and tied for eighth in quarterback hurries, despite only notching five sacks. Fitzpatrick may throw for tons of yards and a handful of points, but he's going to get sacked and likely turn the ball over a few times. UPDATE: With Jamaal Adams and starting linebacker Jordyn Brooks likely out for this game, it downgrades the Seahawks a little since the Dolphins will clearly try to get Mike Gesicki involved frequently in the middle of the field now. 

It's pretty clear after three weeks that you play your defenses against the Jets, but the Broncos defense just hasn't been great to start the season. There is still talent on that defense, but losing Von Miller, A.J. Bouye, and now Jurrell Casey takes a bit of the teeth out of a once-ferocious unit. Still, the Jets offense is truly inept, and, to make matters worse for them, starting left tackle Mekhi Bechton is being evaluated for a shoulder injury and may miss this Sunday's game, which would damage an already fragile offense. The Broncos defense is tied for 9th in the league in quarterback knockdowns, so despite their mediocre pressure and sack totals, they may be able to create some pressure against a depleted Jets offensive line. What this ranking really comes down to is that this is likely to be an ugly game that few people will actually enjoy watching, but should be low-scoring enough to lead to a solid defensive night for the Broncos. WHOOPS. The defense played relatively well last night, but a blown sack led to a long Sam Darnold touchdown and Bretty Rypien's repeated mistakes put the defense in bad positions throughout the night. 

Something is not right with the Bills defense. A lot of it is health-related. Tremaine Edmunds came back on Sunday, but was out of the game and being monitored by the training staff a few times, and the Bills also lost Micah Hyde in the middle of the game to an ankle injury. However, both men are expected to play on Sunday after practicing this week, and it seems like the Bills may also get starting cornerback Josh Norman back, which would be huge news for a defense that has really struggled with its CB2 play. That is especially important with a banged-up Raiders passing attack coming to town. The Raiders are currently top-five in quarterback rating and expected points contributed by the passing offense; however, both Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards and likely to miss this Sunday's game, leaving the starting wide receivers as Nelson Agholor and Zay Jones (Revenge Game?). The Patriots also provided a clear blueprint for how to defend this passing attack, and the Raiders have the most fumbles lost in the NFL through the first three weeks, so it's possible that the Bills defense can capitalize on the injuries and mistakes. With how dominant the Bills defensive units have been since this coaching staff has taken over, you have to give them the benefit of the doubt that they can right the ship.

 

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 2 Opponent Confidence Rating
9 3 Arizona Cardinals Defense @ CAR 9.7
10 3 New York Jets Defense vs. DEN 9.1
11 3 Los Angeles Chargers Defense vs. TB 8.3
12 3 Kansas City Chiefs Defense vs NE 8.2
13 3 Philadelphia Eagles Defense @ SF 7.6
14 3 Chicago Bears Defense vs. IND 7.4
15 3 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense  @ CIN 7.1

I know the Panthers won last week without Christian McCaffrey, but let's not all of the sudden forget the way in which losing him saps this team of so much firepower. We've also started to see that this Cardinals defense is not the doormat that many people assumed it would be because of the popular narrative of how they were unable to contain tight ends last year. Arizona is fifth in the league with 11 sacks despite a mediocre pressure rate and quarterback knockdown totals, which tells me that they're not getting consistent pressure but are making the most of the pressure they get. Still their secondary has been strong, allowing only 6.2 net yards gained per pass attempt, which is good for 13th in the league. With Kyler Murray and the Cardinals offense likely to score early and often against the Panthers Defense, Teddy Bridgewater will be under a lot of pressure to push the ball down the field, and he's yet to show that he can be a consistent playmaker. I expect a couple of turnovers in this game for the Cardinals defense and I'd be surprised if the Panthers score over 20 points.

The Jets may be bad on offense, but their defensive line is certainly still solid. The Jets are 12th in the NFL with a 24.3% pressure rate and sixth in the league with 12 quarterback knockdowns. They will now be facing a Broncos offensive line that is 30th in the league with 13 sacks allowed and just lost their starting right tackle Elijah Wilkerson, who was already a back-up thrust into action due to COVID opt-outs. With Brett Rypien now looking like the starting quarterback for the Broncos, this should be an ugly game between two of the worst offenses in the NFL. The Jets defense may actually keep this team in the game and be a sneaky fantasy play. They gave up a lot of points and surprisingly got gashed by a big Melvin Gordon run at the end of the game, but the interceptions and defensive touchdown are always something you like to see. 

Yes, the Chargers just suffered a shocking loss to the Panthers. However, that doesn't change the talent that this defense possesses and the fact that they have the fifth-best pressure rate in the NFL (27.3%) and the second-most quarterback hurries at 22. If there's one thing we all know about Tom Brady, it's that he hates being pressured and hit. With Chris Godwin leaving Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, there's a good chance that Brady is down one elite weapon against two Pro Bowl corners in Casey Heyward and Chris Harris Jr., provided Harris Jr. is fully recovered from his own foot injury. The Bucs still have the pieces to put points on the board, but they only scored 23 points in Week 1 when Godwin left early and 28 points last week, which included a Godwin touchdown, so it's not as if this offense is setting the world on fire. In fact, they are 23rd in total yards and 21st in percentage of drives that end in a score, so it's not a given that they are going to hang a huge amount of points on a good defense. Don't be surprised if the Chargers get to Brady for a few sacks and maybe an interception as well.

The Chiefs just came out of that Monday night game with a dominating win over the Ravens in which they held Baltimore to 20 points, 228 yards of total offense, and sacked Lamar Jackson four times. If they can do that to the Ravens, then why not the Patriots? Yes, Cam Newton has looked good, and the Patriots are 3-0, but they've also played two poor defenses in the Dolphins and Raiders, and got into a shootout with an average Seahawks defense. The Patriots don't have the rushing attack that the Ravens do and have only slightly better receivers. Plus, you can make a strong case that the Ravens defense is better than New England's defense which means the Patriots offense, which is 21st in the NFL in possessions that lead to points, will be chasing 30+ points as well. The Chiefs Defense is fourth in the league in pressure rate, sixth in sacks, and seventh in quarterback hurries, so I expect that they make this hard on Cam Newton and likely force a couple of turnovers to go along with some sacks. However, if Chris Jones, who has only had limited practices this week, is unable to go, it would be a big loss against Cam.

The Eagles defense is starting to get healthy and they had eight sacks against the Bengals last week, plus 10 tackles for a loss, and 18 quarterback hits. They will face a 49ers team that just lost another offensive weapon as Jerrick McKinnon seems unlikely to play this week with a rib injury. Nick Mullens looks good in relief on Sunday, and the team should get George Kittle back, so this won't be a cakewalk. Plus, I expect the Eagles offense to put the defense in some bad spots on Sunday; however, I think the defense can create some pressure, which will raise the floor of their fantasy point total.

The Bears had a rough task against the Falcons on Sunday, and will likely be in another slugfest this week; however, I expect this one to be slower and more focused on the Colts' dominant offensive line and rising star Jonathan Taylor. The Colts throw the eighth-fewest passes of any team in the NFL and have the eighth-most rushing attempts. The Bears have also allowed the 7th-most yards per carry in the league at 5.0, so it makes sense for the Colts to pound the ball. To make matters worse for the Chicago defense, the Colts have only allowed three sacks on the year, and the Bears have had below-average pressure metrics with the 31st ranked 10.4% pressure rate despite seven sacks on the season. Like the Steelers above, the pace of this game is likely going to limit the Bears' chances for sacks, but it should keep the game relatively low-scoring, and there is always a chance for a Phillip Rivers interception to shift the tide of the game.

As I mentioned above, the Eagles were in the backfield a ton against the Bengals on Sunday. On the season, the Jaguars are better than the Eagles with a 24.2% pressure rate (13th in the league) and 11 quarterback knockdowns (tied for 7th). If the Eagles were able to do that to the Bengals, then I expect the Jaguars to be able to do something similar; however, their upside is limited by the fact that Joe Burrow still threw no interceptions despite the pressure, and the Jaguars secondary could get burned by his up-tempo Bengals offense that is healthier than what the Eagles trotted out onto the field last Sunday.

 

Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 2 Opponent Confidence Rating
16 4 Cincinnati Bengals Defense vs. JAX 6.9
17 4 New Orleans Saints Defense @ DET 6.4
18 4 Houston Texans Defense vs. MIN 6.2
19 4 New England Patriots Defense @ KC 5.9
20 4 Washington Football Team Defense vs. BAL 5.4
21 4 Dallas Cowboys Defense vs. CLE 4.8
22 4 New York Giants Defense @ LAR 4.4

The Bengals are 28th in the NFL in pressure rate with a 14.9% rate and have only five sacks on the year and one quarterback knockdown on the year. However, they finished as the 13th ranked defense in Week 3 against the Eagles and will now face the Jaguars, who are 28th in the NFL in sacks allowed with 10, only one fewer than the Eagles. I basically expect this game to play out much like the Eagles game did last Sunday, which keeps the Bengals on the radar in deep leagues.

Kenny Golladay is back for the Lions, which makes this a little bit less of an appealing matchup than it would have been earlier in the season. The Saints also have an alarmingly low 17.2% pressure rate (27th in the league), and 53.1% of the offensive drives against them have ended in a score, the 5th-worst mark in the league. With the secondary playing well below levels of previous years, this could be a high-scoring game against Matthew Stafford and a healthy Lions receiving corps.

The Texans' defense has been bad, allowing scores on 58.6% of offensive possessions, which is second-worst in the league. They are also 23rd in the league with a 19.4% pressure rate and have only seven sacks, four quarterback knockdowns, and nine hurries on the year. However, as we mentioned with the Titans, facing the Vikings can do wonders for a team's defense. Kirk Cousins has already thrown six interceptions and the offense has an 8.2% sack percentage, which is 26th in the league. JJ Watt alone should be able to make Cousins' life miserable on Sunday, which will make the Texans a sneaky defensive option.

Bill Belichick is an elite defensive mind and completely shut down the Raiders offense last week. Yet, going into Arrowhead and stopping Patrick Mahomes and crew is a whole other ballgame. I expect the Patriots to make this a game and cause a mistake or two, but I don't think they have the firepower to stay with the Chiefs. The Chiefs have also allowed only two sacks on the year and Mahomes has thrown zero interceptions, so it's going to be hard for the Patriots defense to add many extra points to their fantasy total in this one.

Washington has a tough task on its hands on Sunday, but the Chiefs showed that it can be done, sacking Jackson four times. Washington's defense may not be great overall, but its pass rush is near the tops in the league, with the seventh-best pressure rate (26.1%), the second-most sacks (13), and the ninth-best hurry rate (11.8%). I expect the Ravens to score and win this game, but it wouldn't surprise me if the Washington defensive line caused a few problems along the way.

 

Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 2 Opponent Confidence Rating
23 5 Las Vegas Raiders Defense vs. BUF 4.1
24 5 Green Bay Packers Defense vs. ATL 3.3
25 5 Cleveland Browns Defense @ DAL 3.1
26 5 Carolina Panthers Defense vs. ARI 3.0
27 5 Minnesota Vikings Defense @ HOU 2.8
28 5 Atlanta Falcons Defense @ GB 1.5
29 5 Detroit Lions Defense vs. NO .4
30 5 Miami Dolphins Defense vs. SEA 0.3
31 5 Tennessee Titans Defense BYE 0.0
32 5 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense BYE 0.0


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Week 4 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Week 3 is in the books, and we had some of the most entertaining football we've seen in a long time. There were multiple fourth-quarter comebacks, game-winning drives, and we even got a tie at the end of the early slate of games. This NFL season figures to be confusing and impossible to predict every single week.

The offenses continue to be ahead of defenses, and we had just five games that saw neither team hit 30 points on the afternoon. Although, a few of those games came pretty close to accomplishing that. All that scoring means more scoring opportunities for your fantasy teams, and we know that we love that. More scoring from the offenses means more scoring chances for your kickers. 

Mastering which offenses are going to struggle in the red zone vs which ones are going to be efficient is going to take another few weeks, but you can tell which offenses are going to be goods. The best offenses generally have good kickers, and that’s who we’ll be targeting. This will be our final week with no byes, so you can likely continue to ride the guy you drafted, but we'll give you some streamers just in case.

 

Tier 1 NFL Kickers

1. Justin Tucker (BAL) @ WAS
2. Mason Crosby (GB) vs ATL
3. Harrison Butker (KC) vs NE
4. Greg Zuerlein (DAL) vs CLE
5. Nick Folk (NE) @ KC

The top kicker for Week 4 is Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens, and it's well deserved. He's on one of the NFL's best rosters, and he has a matchup with the surprising Washington Football Team. I still think Baltimore rolls with ease in this one. In second, we have Green Bay Packers' kicker Mason Crosby. Crosby is averaging 13 fantasy points per game right now, and his offense draws a matchup with the struggling Atlanta Falcons that couldn't slow down either of the Chicago Bears' quarterback. I doubt that changes in Week 4, and Crosby keeps running up points. In the third spot, we have Kansas City Chiefs' kicker Harrison Butker. This offense hasn't looked as unstoppable as we've seen in the past, but they're still pretty damn good. Against a good New England Patriots' defense, I'm expecting a couple more field-goal attempts than normal.

Dallas Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein gets the next spot. This Cowboys team is quickly developing into the unit that we were expecting them to be. They can put up points in bunches, and there isn't much a defense can do to stop them when they get rolling. If they can improve the health of their offensive line, this could become arguably the NFL's best offensive group. To round out our top five, we have Patriots' kicker Nick Folk. New England is going to have to put on a scoring performance as we saw from them in Week 2. They will have to move the ball, and they can do that against this Chiefs' defense. Folk should have a solid week of scoring ahead.

 

Tier 2 NFL Kickers

6. Younghoe Koo (ATL) @ GB
7. Stephen Gostkowski (TEN) vs PIT
8. Wil Lutz (NO) @ DET
9. Tyler Bass (BUF) @ LV
10. Samuel Sloman (LAR) vs NYG

First off, Falcons' kicker Younghoe Koo just had an absolutely brutal week. His team lost by four, and he missed one extra point and one field goal. His team lost by four, but that loss was not his fault. It belongs to the defense. This team should get wideout Julio Jones back this week, and their explosive plays will be available against this Green Bay defense. I think Koo gets a number of scoring opportunities this week. Tennessee Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski put in one of the greatest kicking performances of all time. He went 6-of-6 on field goals, and he made his lone extra-point attempt. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he has the potential to put up another great week. New Orleans Saints' kicker Wil Lutz gets the next spot. This offense has the potential to get wide receiver Michael Thomas back next week, and they could really start humming against this bad Detroit Lions' defense.

Buffalo Bills' kicker Tyler Bass comes in at nine. This team is struggling on the defensive side of the ball, but the offense is absolutely humming. Against a Las Vegas Raiders' defense that has allowed 90 points through three games, that should continue in Week 4. Keep him locked into your lineups. Rounding out our second tier is Los Angeles Rams kicker Samuel Sloman. This Rams offense is averaging just a shade under 30 points per game, and they're keeping Sloman involved. If he gets another field-goal attempt or two, he has the potential for a high-end week against a New York Giants' defense that just allowed 36 points to the shell of a San Francisco 49ers team. Trust him this week.

 

Tier 3 NFL Kickers

11. Jason Myers (SEA) @ MIA
12. Kaimi Fairbairn (HOU) vs MIN
13. Chris Boswell (PIT) @ TEN
14. Zane Gonzalez (ARI) @ CAR
15. Ryan Succop (TB) vs LAC

Seattle Seahawks kicker Jason Myers comes in next. This has been the NFL's best offense through three weeks, and Myers has been a major benefactor. However, you can't trust him as much for fantasy because of their supreme efficiency in the red zone. He'll score a good amount this week, but field goals just aren't coming yet. Houston Texans' kicker Kaimi Fairbairn gets the next slot. This Texans' team is starting to figure it out, and a matchup with the 0-3 Minnesota Vikings is exactly what the doctor ordered. Send him out there. Pittsburgh Steelers' kicker Chris Boswell is next. They started a little slow in Week 3, but that shouldn't happen in Week 4. This Titans' defense is giving up points with regularity, and I expect that to continue.

Arizona Cardinals' kicker Zane Gonzalez gets the 14 spot. This offense finds ways to move the ball, and, as long as quarterback Kyler Murray takes care of the ball, there aren't many teams that can keep up with them. The Carolina Panthers' defense has just two picks on the year, and I don't think they take one away from Murray this week. Tampa Bay Buccaneers' kicker Ryan Succop gets the final spot in this one. This offense is starting to find their footing, and they get a matchup against a Los Angeles Chargers' defense that can't stay healthy. They moved the ball with ease the last two weeks, and that's not going to stop in Week 4.

 

Kickers to Avoid

Graham Gano of the New York Giants is our first avoidance of the week. The Giants have lost numerous contributors on the offensive side of the ball, and they looked absolutely lost in Week 3. Against the Rams' defense that has played well so far, they're going to be nearly invisible. Avoid Gano again this week.

Sam Ficken of the New York Jets is next. This Jets' team is awful. They might be the worst team in football right now. Against the Denver Broncos, just avoid basically every Jets' player you have on your roster. That includes the kicker.

Dustin Hopkins of the Washington Football Team is our final kicker to avoid. This team is leading their division right now, and they're playing better than expected. However, against the Baltimore buzzsaw, they're going to have a rough week. I'd avoid the majority of the pieces on this roster for this week.



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Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




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Week 4 Stream Team - Shallow and Deep-League Pickups

Welcome to Week 4 of the NFL season. Each week we will be providing streamer advice for all of those who need it, which is pretty much anyone and everyone. Streaming players with the best matchups each week as well as during your stud's bye weeks is an integral part of winning a fantasy championship and we are here to provide the best choices week in and week out.

Each week in this article, we will break down streamers for both shallower leagues of 8-10 teams (around 40% rostered or less) and deeper leagues of 14 or more teams (around 20% rostered or less). We will provide a specific roster in each type of league, which will include a QB, RB, WR, TE, and Flex. It should also be noted that if you play in a deep league, but a shallow-league player mentioned here is available in your league, feel free to stream them as well.

Let's take a look at Week 4's best streaming options with some highlighted players to keep an especially close eye on.

 

Stream Team for Shallow Leagues (<40% Rostered)

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

43% Rostered

We are going right back to Mayfield this week after recommending him last week vs. Washington where he threw for two scores. This week, he gets a matchup vs. the Cowboys who have allowed 25.27 fantasy points per game to the quarterback position, which is ranked third-worst in the league. They are allowing over 287 passing yards per game and have given up nine passing touchdowns to quarterbacks. The Cowboys are also favorites in this game, so Mayfield could be throwing late.

Carlos Hyde, Seattle Seahawks

38% Rostered

Carlos Hyde looks like he could be lined up as the feature back for the Seahawks vs. the Dolphins this week and that could mean good things for the running back. Miami has allowed nearly 4.6ypc to backs, so Hyde could rip off some solid runs vs. this defense. They have also allowed three rushing touchdowns to backs through the first three weeks, which is ranked sixth-worst in the league. Hyde is likely a short-term play, so do not rely too heavily on production outside of this week.

Preston Williams, Miami Dolphins

31% Rostered

Preston Williams has started a bit slow, but he has garnered 14 targets through the first three games and could see even more looks this week against the Seahawks. Seattle has allowed 379 receiving yards per game to wideouts, which is ranked dead-last in the league. They have also allowed over 70 fantasy points per game to the position, which is also ranked last in the league. Williams could be the number two target behind DeVante Parker this week in a game where Miami is a 6.5 point dog, which could mean solid production from the young receiver.

Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys

34% Rostered

Schultz is a lock-and-load play this week vs. the Browns. The fact he is only 34% rostered after garnering 16 targets the previous two weeks is astonishing. He gets a Browns Defense that has allowed 22 receptions to tight ends and is also allowing nearly 2o points per game to the position.

Golden Tate, New York Giants

37% Rostered

I expect Tate to be a bit more involved this week in a game where the Giants are double-digit dogs. He saw seven targets last week and managed to grab five of them for 36 yards, so Daniel Jones is certainly looking his way. The Rams have been decent vs. the pass, but are no juggernaut as they have allowed the 13th most yards to wide receivers by allowing 536 yards. They have also allowed the eighth-most receptions, which is really where Tate could rack up points in PPR leagues underneath the defense.

 

Stream Team for Deep Leagues (<20% Rostered)

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins

11% Rostered

If you fired up Fitzmagic last week, you were certainly pleased with his performance against the Jaguars. This week, he gets a solid matchup vs. the Seahawks. The Seahawks have been awful vs. the pass as they have allowed quarterbacks to throw for nearly 440(!) passing yards per game, which is ranked dead-last in the league by a mile. They have also given up six passing touchdowns and are allowing nearly 30 points per game to the quarterback position. They also are strong against the run by only allowing 126 rushing yards to running backs through the first three weeks, so passing might be the Dolphins only option. The fact that Miami is a 6.5 point dog also lends to the passing game as well.

Chris Thompson, Jacksonville Jaguars

21% Rostered

Although James Robinson has taken over the feature back role in Jacksonville, Chris Thompson is proving to be a solid compliment back. Last week vs. Miami, Thompson was targeted six times and caught five balls for 35 yards. The Bengals are allowing nearly 30 fantasy points per game to running backs, which is ranked sixth-worst in the league. If the Jaguars get down in this game, and they are three-point dogs, Thompson could see a decent amount of work in the flats.

Tre'Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints

25% Rostered

Pay attention to the status of Michael Thomas before streaming Smith this week. If Thomas is in, I would not be inclined to stream Smith. Without Thomas, Tre'Quan Smith has performed well as he has caught 9 passes on 13 targets for 128 yards in the previous two games. This week, he faces a banged-up Detroit secondary that has given up 554 yards to wide receivers through the first three games, which is ranked eighth-worst in the league. They are also allowing the 11th-most fantasy points per game to the position by allowing over 40 points per game.

Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team

29% Rostered

Logan Thomas makes another appearance here and he is going to continue to do so as long as his rostership levels remain low and his targets in the Washington Football Team's offense remain high. Last week, he received seven more targets and caught four balls for 35 yards. While the output was not superb, it is not easy to find a tight end earning this kind of target share on waivers. He faces a Baltimore defense that is allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends by allowing over seven receptions and 78 receiving yards per game.

Randall Cobb, Houston Texans

11% Rostered

Cobb gets a solid matchup vs. the Vikings who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers with over 46 per game. They have also allowed five receiving touchdowns to wideouts, which is ranked second-worst in the league. Cobb has been fairly involved in the Texans' offense in the early going as well as he has caught 11 balls for 177 yards through the first three games.



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Week 3 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

About ten minutes into Week 2, it became clear that the week for fantasy teams would simply be a matter of luck and survival. Some of the NFL's top players on both offense and defense went down with season-ending or multi-week injuries, drastically changing a number of matchups in mere minutes. While injuries are part of the nature of football, it was a particularly devastating week of injuries and one that will have us re-evaluating many of the defensive rankings in weeks to come.

With the chaos in mind, I'm relatively satisfied with getting six of the top 10 defenses correctly for the week. In hindsight, I wish I had trusted the Colts' Week 1 pressure rate a little more against a mediocre Minnesota offense, I may have been too high on the Titans new-look defensive line, and the Bills' defensive injuries impacted the overall scheme more than I had anticipated. So, we will readjust using the new information at our fingertips, and see if we can get a little more accurate this week.

Remember that picking the right defense is not about identifying who will allow the fewest points, but who will cause the most turnovers or tally the most sacks since that has a higher correlation to weekly fantasy DST leaders. That means that, as much these rankings are about the talent on the defensive side of the ball, it is equally about taking advantage of the lack of talent on the offensive side.

 

Week 3 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Below are my Week 3 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 3 of the NFL and fantasy football season. Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver wire pickups to improve your lineups, and to decide which defenses to start, sit, target, avoid or stream for Week 3. I've broken out our defense rankings into tiers with analysis on each matchup. Some of these Week 3 defenses have good matchups and are not widely-owned, representing fantasy scoring opportunities if they are available on your league's waiver wire for a Week 3 pickup or add.

Starting the right defense every week can be a difference-maker, so remember to check back here during the week as I will make updates once we get more information on some of these injuries and also get a better sense of the weather for the game.

Returning for this year: Confidence Ratings (out of 15) - Since every league's DST scoring is different, projections don't always make a ton of sense. The confidence rating, which Bill Dubiel started last year, is a guideline for how much more I like one team over another instead of a straight point projection. A zero means "do not start," then the confidence rises from there. I take a lot of factors into account: opponent injuries, home-field advantage, weather (which will be updated during the week), etc. We still have only one game of in-season data to work with, so this week's rankings weigh schedule and personnel heavier than they will down the line.

Typically the top three tiers will be DSTs you should target, with Tier 4 being options in deep leagues and Tier 5 being desperation plays or good defenses in horrendous matchups.

 

Tier 1 Defenses

UPDATED: THURSDAY 4:00 PM

Rank Tier DST Week 2 Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense  vs. HOU 14.1
2 1 Indianapolis Colts Defense  vs. NYJ 13.6
3 1 San Francisco 49ers Defense  @ NYG 12.7
4 1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense  @ DEN 11.7

Yes, the Steelers haven't played the best offenses with wins over the Giants and the Courtland Sutton and Drew Lock-less Denver Broncos, but you can't argue with the talent on this defense. They're first in the league with a 42.6% pressure rate (according to Pro Football Reference) and second in the league with 10 sacks through two games. They're also second in the league with three interceptions. They now face a Texans offense that is 21st in the NFL with an 11.1% turnover rate and has allowed a league-high eight sacks. Even if Deshaun Watson winds up putting points on the board, the Steelers are going to be in the backfield all game, which will lead to sacks and turnovers and that is what we want to target when choosing a fantasy defense.

Man, the Jets are not a good football team. The 49ers were already without George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, but they lost their starting quarterback, starting running back, and two starting defensive ends in the first half of the game against the Jets and still won 31-13. Without Le'Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder, there simply wasn't enough to keep the 49ers guessing on defense. It's possible that Crowder is back on Sunday, but the Jets also lost Chris Hogan and Breshad Perriman to injury this week, which means they would still be extremely short-handed when they take on a Colts defense that is 4th in the NFL with a 33.3% pressure rate and third in the league with seven sacks. Considering the Jets also lost their starting center, Connor McGovern, on Sunday, the Colts' pressure rate could be even more of a factor. While the Colts did lose Malik Hooker to a torn achilles tendon, it likely won't impact the team's ability to stop the undermanned Jets; however, it's a major blow to their long-term outlook.

Talk about two teams limping into a game against one another. The New York Giants, much like the Panthers, just lost their top player in running back Saquon Barkley to a torn ACL; however, the 49ers had defensive stars Joey Bosa and Solomon Thomas leave the game early with apparent ACL injuries, and they're already missing pass rusher Dee Ford. it's a brutal blow to both teams. However, I think the 49ers' defense is better positioned to absorb the losses given the depth on their defense. The Giants without Saquon are just an entirely different offense and one in which the 49ers won't have to fear the run. That will put a lot of pressure on the shoulders of Daniel Jones, and while he may put up a lot of yards and some points, he will likely be on his back a lot since the Giants are second-worst in the league with seven sacks allowed through two games. A young quarterback behind a bad offensive line with no running back help is almost always going to lead to poor decisions and turnovers.

Tampa Bay is an elite run defense. They proved that last year and continue to show it this year by allowing only 2.9 yards per carry on 58 rushes, despite also facing Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, and Christian McCaffrey for three quarters before he got hurt. In addition to that, the Bucs have registered a slightly below-average 21% pressure rate (18th in the league) but have six sacks (tied for fourth). On Sunday, they will face a Broncos team that is second-worst in the league with seven sacks allowed and will be without Drew Lock, Courtland Sutton, and Phillip Lindsay. Even at full strength, the Broncos were likely going to find it hard to run on the Bucs, but now they will also have to try to beat them through the air with two rookie wide receivers and Jeff Driskel at quarterback. That's a matchup that you're going to want to target.

 

Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 2 Opponent Confidence Rating
5 2 Buffalo Bills Defense  vs. LAR 11.5
6 2 Los Angeles Chargers Defense vs. CAR 11.4
7 2 Washington Football Team Defense @ CLE 10.3
8 2 Cleveland Browns Defense  vs. WAS 9.9

The Bills defense has played only two quarters this season with star linebackers Matt Milano and Tremaine Edwards. The impact was obvious on Sunday as you watched Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki just toy with thee backups. However, both men have gotten limited practices in to begin the week so there is optimism that they will be back in time for the showdown against the Rams. That's good news for the Bills, who rely on their linebackers to not only cover the middle of the field but in their blitz packages. The Bills have blitzed the 6th-most in the NFL so far, so getting those weapons back will be crucial for them. While the Rams are currently 2-0, with wins over the Cowboys and short-handed Eagles, let's not forget who Jared Goff has proven himself to be in his NFL career. With a clean pocket, he is a talented passer; however, he is prone to collapses and boneheaded throws. A healthy Bills defense will be a much bigger test than anything he has seen so far this season, especially after starting right guard Joe Noteboom left Sunday's win with a calf injury and didn't return.

The Chargers defense was impressive in keeping the Chiefs offense off the scoreboard for much of Sunday afternoon, and they are also 5th in the league with a 29.9% pressure rate and have two sacks in each game. The talent on this defense is clearly top-notch and they will now get to face a Carolina team that won't have its best player after Christian McCaffrey suffered a high ankle sprain on Sunday. So the defense that just held Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Sammy Watkins to 289 passing yards will face Teddy Bridgewater, D.J. Moore, and Robby Anderson. That offense is no match for a Chargers secondary that just added Chris Harris Jr. to a secondary that already featured Pro Bowl CB Casey Heyward. With the Panther likely being forced to pass more, the Chargers can sell out on the pass rush, and I don't think Bridgewater will be able to make them pay.

Washington may not be a great football team, but it's really their offense that still has a fair amount of improving to do. The Washington defensive line is elite and their secondary was much-maligned coming into the season, but they put up a respectable showing against Kyler Murray and a high-powered Cardinals offense by limiting him to 278 yards passing and picking him off once. Yes, they were also taken advantage of on the ground, particularly by Murray, who ran for 67 yards and two touchdowns. However, Washington still sacked Murray three times and is 11th in the NFL with a 24.7% pressure rate and first in the league with 11 sacks through two games. That sack rate is clearly not sustainable, and they will now face a Browns team that has only given up two sacks total on the season, but Baker Mayfield is prone to making head-scratching throws, and this Browns offense is as inconsistent as they come. There will be ample opportunity for Washington's elite pressure rate to cause sacks and poor decisions which will lead to turnovers and fantasy points.

You may be thinking: "the Browns in the top 10? Are you crazy!?" The answer is that I hope not. The Browns have always had talent on their defense but have underperformed or been let down by their offense. That hasn't been the result so far, even though beating up on the Bengals on Thursday isn't exactly a high threshold to meet. However, through two weeks, the Browns are sixth in the NFL with a 28.6% pressure rate. That has only turned into five total sacks, but some of that can be attributed to Ben Roethlisberger getting the ball out in time and Joe Burrow scrambling around more than many quarterbacks will. The Browns will now bring their elite pressure rate into a matchup with Dwayne Haskins and the Washington Football Team, who are tied for second-worst in the league with seven sacks allowed in two games and just lost Brandon Scherff, one of the best guards in football, to a knee injury. With the Browns likely to get lots of pressure, I would be shocked if that didn't lead to a Haskins turnover or two, which only makes Cleveland a more attractive defense in Week 3.

 

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 2 Opponent Confidence Rating
9 3 Philadelphia Eagles Defense vs. CIN 9.5
10 3 New England Patriots Defense  vs. LV 9.0
11 3 Los Angeles Rams Defense @ BUF 8.4
12 3 Atlanta Falcons Defense vs. CHI 7.6
13 3 Tennessee Titans Defense @ MIN 7.5
14 3 Arizona Cardinals Defense vs. DET 7.4
15 3 Cincinnati Bengals Defense @PHI 6.9

 

The Eagles defense certainly hasn't looked great to start the year; however, I believe this has more to do with an offense that has allowed eight sacks and turned the ball over six times in two games. The offense has repeatedly put the defense in terrible situations and kept the defense on the field, causing the players to get tired and worn down. Fortunately for Philadelphia, their opponent on Sunday has been equally as giving on offense and might not have the firepower to make the Eagles pay for their mistakes. The Bengals have allowed six sacks in two games and have turned the ball over three times. The Eagles are only 15th in the NFL with a 22.7% pressure rate, but they just got Brandon Graham, Javon Hargrave, and Derek Barnett back for the first time on Sunday against the Rams. With a full week of practice under their belts, I expect those three talented defenders to put up a much better showing against a mediocre Bengals offensive line and put pressure on rookie quarterback Joe Burrow.

The Patriots may no longer be the favorites to win the AFC East, but that doesn't mean that they aren't a good football team. They are 3rd in the NFL with a 33.8% pressure rate, and while that has only led to three sacks, it has led to 12 quarterback hurries and contributed to picking off three passes against Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 1. Week 2 was not as kind, but the Seahawks are going to be a tough matchup for anybody now that they're letting Russell Wilson cook. The Raiders allowed zero sacks in their Week 1 blowout, but the game against the Saints was a big step up in competition. The Saints were able to get to Carr three times, and the Raiders offense only gained 375 total yards, but they did put up 34 points on a good defense, which indicates that they could be a challenge for opposing defenses. The Patriots gameplan without Tom Brady appears to be to slow the game down and use Cam as a runner (unless they're forced to play catch-up). This will likely mean fewer plays, which knocks them down the rankings a little bit, but I also expect Belicheck to scheme a way to stop Josh Jacobs and force Derek Carr to beat them through the air, which could lead to a few sacks from that high pressure rate and a turnover or two.

The Rams defense is underperforming their talent so far. They're 26th in the league with a 15.7% pressure rate and have only three sacks in two games. That's particularly troubling considering one of those games was against the Philadelphia Eagles, who lead the league in sacks allowed. The Bills offense has allowed four sacks in two games, and Josh Allen has looked tremendous, but he's also prone to stupid mistakes and nearly lost another fumble last week when he tried to take on a linebacker and then a defensive end to fight for a first down. The Rams defense will be a big step up for Josh Allen and company, and I would imagine Sean McDermott will try to slow the game down and keep the Rams offense off the field if he can. This could mean fewer scoring opportunities for the Bills.

Yes, Atlanta blew a massive lead to Dallas and most people will scoff at the idea of using their defense. However, facing Dallas and Seattle is not exactly an easy task for an opposing defense, and the Falcons were playing really well in the first half before going on cruise control. They are 9th in the league with a 26.7% pressure rate with four sacks and ten quarterback knockdowns despite playing two incredibly mobile quarterbacks in Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott. On Sunday they will face Mitch Trubisky. The Falcons run defense is currently 9th in the league, allowing 4.1 yards per carry to two elite run defenses, so I expect them to be able to stop the Bears on the ground and face Trubisky to beat them through the air. That is going to lead to sacks and turnovers.

I have not been impressed by the Titans' defense so far. They've allowed 803 total yards, which is 24th in the league, have only two interceptions and two sacks on the season, and are 20th in the NFL with an 18.8% pressure rate. They also lost Jonathan Joseph to injury last week after already being without Adoree Jackson, so this secondary is really beat up. The only reason I have them this high is that the Vikings are not a talented football team and Gary Kubiak, their offensive coordinator, came out this week and suggested that their team needs to run the football more. Yes, they have Dalvin Cook, but running the ball more isn't going to all of the sudden make this offense scary, and it also doesn't take advantage of the injuries on the Titans. Perhaps this is a get-right game for a defense that has a talented line.

The aforementioned Cardinals are now 2-0 and making good on their promise to be one of the breakout teams of 2020. However, they've been doing it as much with their defense as with their high-flying offense. The Cardinals are 12th in the NFL in pressure rate with a 24% rate and are tied for third in the league with seven sacks. However, the Detroit Lions will likely get star wide receiver Kenny Golladay back this week, which is a massive upgrade for their offense. They're currently 21st in the NFL with five sacks allowed through two games, but I think this is likely going to be a high-scoring game, and with Golladay in tow, Stafford has more weapons to throw to, which could limit the time he needs to spend in the pocket. If the Lions can also get D'Andre Swift more involved in the passing game, that could severely limit the Cardinals' sack chances.

Surprisingly, the Bengals are 8th in the NFL in pressure rate with a 27.6% rate. They have only two sacks on the year, but their 13 quarterback hurries are 4th in the NFL. That's enough to make me intrigued by them in deeper leagues since they are going up against an Eagles team that leads the league in sacks and pressure allowed. The Eagles also lost another offensive lineman on Sunday when guard Isaac Seumalo went down for what is likely to be the rest of the season. That means Jason Kelce is the only presumed Eagles starter on the offensive line that has survived the first two weeks. I expect the Bengals to be in the backfield often this week.

 

Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 2 Opponent Confidence Rating
16 4 New York Jets Defense vs. IND 5.9
17 4 New Orleans Saints Defense vs. GB 5.5
18 4 Kansas City Chiefs Defense  @ BAL 5.2
19 4 New York Giants Defense vs. SF 5.0
20 4 Baltimore Ravens Defense vs. KC 4.5
21 4 Green Bay Packers Defense @ NO 4.4
22 4 Chicago Bears Defense @ ATL 4.0

The Jets may be bad on offense, but their defensive line is certainly still elite. The Jets are currently 7th in the NFL with a 28% pressure rate. They have six sacks on the season, to go along with 11 quarterback knockdowns. While their numbers against the run aren't great, those are skewed by two big plays against the 49ers, one of which was when the game was already out of reach. The Jets defensive line certainly has the personnel to keep Jonathan Taylor from running wild, which will lead to more passing attempts for immobile Phillip Rivers who is throwing to a depleted Colts receiving group with TY Hilton looking like a shell of his former self and Parris Campbell and Jack Doyle both out. I expect the Colts to score points, and probably win, but I think the Jets will notch a few sacks and give themselves a chance at a decent fantasy day.

The Saints may have allowed 34 points to the Raiders on Monday night, but they actually did a good job with Josh Jacobs, holding him to 88 yards on 27 carries. The Raiders receivers were also relatively ineffective, as the only offensive player to really do damage was tight end Darren Waller. The Packers don't have that kind of weapon at tight end. Davante Adams will be back, but may be at less than 100%, and will have to square off against Marshon Lattimore. The Saints have six sacks on the season and will be facing a Packers offensive line that has already lost two starters in Corey Linsley and Lane Taylor.

You never really want to recommend defenses playing against Lamar Jackson and company, which is really the only reason the Chiefs are so far down on this list. They're an opportunistic defense that is 4th in the league with a 26.7% pressure rate, tied for 4th with six sacks, and also has two interceptions on the young season. While Lamar Jackson is elusive and a dangerous playmaker, the Ravens have allowed a combined six sacks in the first two games of the season, so it's not as if the Chiefs will be held to a blank slate on Sunday. I expect the pace of play to be high here, so the more plays the offenses will run, the higher the chances of sacks and turnovers become. That gives this Chiefs Defense a chance to put up a decent number of points despite the tough matchup.

The Giants get the benefit of facing a 49ers team that will be without Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Jimmy Garropolo, Raheem Mostert, and Tevin Coleman. Yes, they will likely still lose that game, but it's not an offense to be incredibly scared of. The Giants currently have a respectable six sacks and 19.1% pressure rate, so they could notch a few sacks in what should be an ugly and low scoring game.

The Baltimore Ravens are currently the favorite in their Monday night showdown with Kansas City, but I'm not as optimistic about their defense for fantasy purposes. They're still a tremendously talented group, and a top play against most opponents, but the Chiefs have allowed only two sacks total on the season 12.2% pressure rate is 22nd in the NFL. It's possible that the blowouts they've had in both games have led to more defensive substitutions, which has led to decreased production, but I don't love their chances to put up a massive sack total against the Chiefs. The Ravens also lost starting cornerback Tavon Young to a season-ending knee injury, and while they have the depth to replace him, losing cornerback depth right before playing the Kansas City Chiefs is never an ideal situation. In the end, I think the Ravens will get a couple of sacks and maybe a turnover, but the Chiefs are also going to put points on the board so I don't see a ton of upside in this matchup.

As we saw on Monday night, the Saints are not as dynamic an offense without Michael Thomas. They simply lack the big-play ability, and Drew Brees has an exceptionally low average depth of target (aDOT) as he uses his running backs more in the passing game. They can still put up points, but I don't think this is a team that is going to score 30+ until Thomas comes back, which raises the floor for defenses playing against them. The Packers are 13th in the NFL with a 23.2% pressure rate and have six sacks in two games, so they can raise the fantasy floor a little bit; although, I don't think there is really high upside in this contest.

The Bears have a shockingly low 12.8% pressure rate, which is 30th in the NFL. They've managed five sacks on only 12 total pressures, which is a tremendous rate, but is also showing that they're not getting to the quarterback that much. They've been solid against the pass, currently 10th in the league in yards allowed per attempt, but they've also played the Giants and Kenny Golladay-less Lions, so the competition hasn't been incredibly strong. This Falcons offense is another animal and if the Bears aren't going to get into the backfield and put pressure on Matt Ryan then I can't be too confident in them as a play.

 

Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 2 Opponent Confidence Rating
23 5 Seattle Seahawks Defense vs. DAL 3.9
24 5 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense vs. MIA 3.7
25 5 Houston Texans Defense @ PIT 3.3
26 5 Miami Dolphins Defense @ JAX 3.1
27 5 Denver Broncos Defense vs. TB 2.5
28 5 Las Vegas Raiders Defense @ NE 1.7
29 5 Dallas Cowboys Defense @ SEA 1.5
30 5 Carolina Panthers Defense @ LAC 0.6
31 5 Minnesota Vikings Defense vs. TEN 0.55
32 5 Detroit Lions Defense @ ARI 0.4


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Week 3 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Week 2 is over, and there were some fireworks involved in just about every game. Kickers had some big performances with the top three marks each clearing 15 points for the week. As we get deeper into the season, these rankings are going to get a bit easier as teams really settle in, however, with the rash of injuries we saw on Sunday, things are still taking time to flesh out. 

One thing remained true in Week 2, the offenses are clearly ahead of the defenses at this stage of the season. The over hit at a rate of 8-5 through the Sunday night game, and there were a few that were just a point or two off. The best part about offenses scoring a lot is that kickers are on the field more and more. 

Mastering which offenses are going to struggle in the red zone vs which ones are going to be efficient is going to take another few weeks, but you can tell which offenses are going to be goods. The best offenses generally have good kickers, and that’s who we’ll be targeting.

 

Tier 1 NFL Kickers

1. Justin Tucker (BAL) @ HOU
2. Harrison Butker (KC) @ BAL
3. Tyler Bass (BUF) vs LAR
4. Jason Myers (SEA) vs DAL
5. Mason Crosby (GB) @ NO

The top kicker for Week 3 is Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens, and, if I could have it my way, it would be a tie between him and his opponent for the week. This Monday night game should have a lot of fireworks, and I’m expecting a ton of points for both sides. As I said, second belongs to Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker. This offense wasn’t quite as electric in Week 2, but they still found ways to move the ball. Against a Baltimore club that’s averaging 35.5 points per game, they’ll need to be scoring.

In third, we have Buffalo Bills kicker Tyler Bass. He shook off a shaky Week 1 performance by going perfect in Week 2. This Los Angeles Rams Defense could cause more field goal attempts, but this offense is just cooking right now. Seattle Seahawks kicker Jason Myers is perfect so far this season. He’s just not getting field goal attempts. Against a Dallas Cowboys Defense that was torched in Week 2, I expect more points for Seattle. Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby rounds out the top five. Green Bay is averaging 42.5 points per game, but they are having occasional red-zone struggles.

 

Tier 2 NFL Kickers

6. Chris Boswell (PIT) vs HOU
7. Younghoe Koo (ATL) vs CHI
8. Rodrigo Blankenship (IND) vs NYJ
9. Ryan Succop (TB) @ DEN
10. Jason Sanders (MIA) @ JAX

Pittsburgh Steelers’ kicker Chris Boswell leads off our second tier. This Steelers group is finding ways to move the ball and put points on the board. At home against a struggling Houston Texans’ team, he should have plenty of opportunities. Atlanta Falcons’ kicker Younghoe Koo is next. This team can’t stop anyone, but they can’t stop anyone from scoring. Against a good Chicago Bears’ defense, they should have more field-goal chances. 

Indianapolis Colts’ kicker Rodrigo Blankenship is next. After a miss in Week 1, he was perfect in Week 2, and the New York Jets will offer little resistance to the offense in Week 3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ kicker Ryan Succop is next. The offense is continuing to gel, and that Denver air is very kicker friendly. Miami Dolphins’ kicker Jason Sanders rounds out Tier 2. After a brutal Week 1, the Dolphins had a good amount of success in Week 2. In Week 3, against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sanders should have a similar amount of work.

 

Tier 3 NFL Kickers

11. Zane Gonzalez (ARI) vs DET
12. Wil Lutz (NO) vs GB
13. Cairo Santos (CHI) @ ATL
14. Stephen Gostkowski (TEN) @ MIN
15. Greg Zuerlein (DAL) @ SEA

Arizona Cardinals’ kicker Zane Gonzalez claims the 11 spot this week. This Detroit Lions’ team is a mess, and I think they find ways to move the ball. Wil Lutz of the New Orleans Saints finds the 12th spot this week. This offense should score, but they’re going to score more touchdowns than field goals because Green Bay’s defense doesn’t always lock down in the red zone. 

Chicago Bears’ Cairo Santos slides in at 13 this week. This Bears’ offense has had some impressive moments, and that should continue against a bad Falcons’ defense. Tennessee Titans’ kicker Stephen Gostkowski shook off his Week 1 woes en route to a nearly perfect Week 2. Against a Minnesota Vikings’ team that just looks lost, give me Gostkowski in Week 3. Dallas Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein rounds out tier three for this week. Dallas finds ways to put up points, and this Seahawks’ defense just can’t generate any pass rush right now. He should have a solid week.

 

Kickers to Avoid

Graham Gano of the New York Giants is our first avoidance of the week. The Giants just lost their best player in running back Saquon Barkley for the remainder. With a Week 3 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers, just don’t test him this week. 

Dan Bailey of the Minnesota Vikings is up next. This team has looked lost other than the garbage time points they put up in Week 1. Tennessee looks like the much better team right now, and, until Minnesota cleans up their act, I’m avoiding their offense and special teams. 

Cody Parkey of the Cleveland Browns is our final fade of the week. The Browns have a matchup with the Washington Football Team, and they can get pressure with ease. While the Browns could find ways to move the ball, I’m not trusting quarterback Baker Mayfield just yet.



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Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




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Week 3 Stream Team - Shallow and Deep-League Pickups

Welcome to Week 3 of the NFL season. Each week we will be providing streamer advice for all of those who need it, which is pretty much anyone and everyone. Streaming players with the best matchups each week as well as during your stud's bye weeks is an integral part of winning a fantasy championship and we are here to provide the best choices week in and week out.

Each week in this article, we will break down streamers for both shallower leagues of 8-10 teams (around 40% rostered or less) and deeper leagues of 14 or more teams (around 20% rostered or less). We will provide a specific roster in each type of league, which will include a QB, RB, WR, TE, and Flex. It should also be noted that if you play in a deep league, but a shallow-league player mentioned here is available in your league, feel free to stream them as well.

Let's take a look at Week 3's best streaming options with some highlighted players to keep an especially close eye on.

 

Stream Team for Shallow Leagues (<40% Rostered)

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

46% Rostered

Mayfield had somewhat of a rebound game in Week 2 when he threw for 219 yards and two touchdowns against the Bengals. This week, he will be facing a Football Team Defense that has allowed 556 passing yards over the first two weeks of the season, which ranks 11th-worst in the league. They have also allowed 22.57 fantasy points per game to the quarterback position through the first two weeks, which has them ranked fifth-worst in the league.

Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers

49% Rostered

I am not sure what the Chargers plan is with their backfield moving forward, but it was very encouraging to see Kelley get so much action last week vs. the Chiefs in a tight game. Kelley carried the ball 23 times for 64 yards and also hauled in two of three targets for 49 yards. This week, the Chargers get a matchup against a putrid Carolina run defense. The Panthers have allowed 243 rushing yards to backs over the first two weeks, which ranks them sixth-worst in the league, and have also given up a league-leading 19 receptions and six touchdowns to backs. Overall, the Panthers have allowed 46 fantasy points per game to backs, which is also worst in the league.

Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans

43% Rostered

I am a big fan of Corey Davis this week regardless of if A.J. Brown is back in the mix or not. He has a tremendous matchup vs. the Vikings' secondary. Minnesota has allowed wide receivers to gain 453 receiving yards through the first two weeks, which ranks fifth-worst in the league. They have also allowed the most receiving touchdowns in the league with five. Overall, the Vikings are giving up 53 fantasy points per game to receivers, which has them ranked second-worst currently. Fire up, Davis.

Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns

58% Rostered

Hooper is rostered a bit more than most players you will find in this section, but it felt criminal not to mention him here considering he is still available in 40% of leagues. He should now be the sure-fire number one target (should have been before) now that David Njoku is out on IR. Hooper will be going up against a Football Team Defense that has given up 145 receiving yards to the tight end position across the first two weeks. They are also allowing nearly 20 fantasy points per game to the position, which is ranked eighth-worst in the league.

N'Keal Harry, New England Patriots

34% Rostered

Harry is quickly becoming a favorite target of Cam Newton as he has garnered 18 targets in the first two games, including 12 in Week 2 against the Seahawks. He gets a matchup vs. the Raiders who have given up 338 receiving yards to the position and nearly 34 fantasy points per game. The total in this game is also pushing 50, which means Harry could have plenty of opportunities to make plays and get in the end zone for the first time in 2020.

 

Stream Team for Deep Leagues (<20% Rostered)

Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears

8% Rostered

If there was ever a spot to fire Mitch up, this may be it. Trubisky has thrown five touchdowns in his first two games and has a solid matchup vs. Atlanta in Week 3. The Falcons have given up 772 passing yards through the first two weeks, which ranks second-worst in the league. They have also given up five passing touchdowns to quarterbacks, which also ranks second-worst in the league. All of this adds up to the Falcons allowing over 35 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, which ranks dead-last in the league.

Frank Gore, New York Jets

14% Rostered

This is a sheer volume recommendation as streaming a running back that is around 20% rostered is quite difficult. Gore is the lead back for the Jets now while Bell is out. Last week, Gore carried the ball 21 times for 63 yards in a game that was never close against the 49ers. This week, he will face a Colts Defense that has allowed 4.2 yards per carry to backs. While the Jets are expected to lose and could be throwing more often, you will be hard-pressed to find a streamer at this rostership level with as much opportunity as Gore could have.

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

20% Rostered

Fitzgerald may be in the twilight of his career, but the targets keep coming his way as he has garnered 12 across the first two games this season. He gets a matchup vs. the Lions who have allowed the 12th-most receiving yards through the first two weeks with 346. This game is expected to be high scoring as the total currently sits at 54.5, which means there should be plenty of passing in this game. Fitzgerald should get plenty of looks and appears to worth a stream in this situation.

Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team

30% Rostered

Logan Thomas was looked at heavily in Week 2 as he saw eight targets and managed to haul in four for 26 yards. While the fantasy value was not necessarily there, the fact that he saw eight targets for the second consecutive week is very encouraging. In Week 3, he gets a great matchup vs. the Browns who have allowed the seventh-most yards to the tight end position. They have also given up three touchdowns to tight ends and have allowed nearly 25 points per game to the position.

Tre'Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints

14% Rostered

Tre'Quan had a much more expanded role with Michael Thomas out in Week 2 as noted by his five receptions on seven targets for 86 yards. He will be facing the Packers Week 3 who have been mediocre vs. the pass thus far. They have allowed the second-most receiving touchdowns with four and have also given up 314 receiving yards, which translates to allowing roughly 39 points per game to the position.



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Week 2 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Man, it was fun to watch NFL football again. In addition to just enjoying the games, we got to get a more clear understanding of the talent that teams are putting out onto the field and who might have stronger offensive or defensive units than we initially anticipated. Remember that picking the right defense is as much about the talent on the defensive side of the ball as it is about taking advantage of the lack of talent on the offensive side.

Below are my Week 2 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 2 of the NFL and fantasy football season. In case you missed it, this is our eighth year now writing this weekly column. Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver wire pickups to improve your lineups, and to decide which defenses to start, sit, target, avoid or stream for Week 2. Starting the right defense every week can be a difference-maker.

Below I've broken out our defense rankings into tiers with analysis on each matchup. Some of these Week 2 defenses have good matchups and are not widely-owned, representing fantasy scoring opportunities if they are available on your league's waiver wire for a Week 2 pickup or add.

 

Week 2 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Typically the top three tiers will be DSTs you should target, with Tier 4 being options in deep leagues and Tier 5 being desperation plays or good defenses in horrendous matchups.

Returning for this year: Confidence Ratings (out of 15) - Since every league's DST scoring is different, projections don't always make a ton of sense. The confidence rating, which Bill Dubiel started last year, is a guideline for how much more I like one team over another instead of a straight point projection. A zero means "do not start," then the confidence rises from there. I take a lot of factors into account: opponent injuries, home-field advantage, weather (which will be updated during the week), etc. We still have only one game of in-season data to work with, so this week's rankings weigh schedule and personnel heavier than they will down the line.

 

Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 2 Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 San Francisco 49ers Defense vs. NYJ 14.75
2 1 Buffalo Bills Defense @ MIA 13.1*
3 1 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense vs. DEN 12.7
4 1 Baltimore Ravens Defense @ HOU 11.5

Yes, the 49ers took a surprising loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday; however, that doesn't stop them from being one of the league's top defenses. With the addition of DeAndre Hopkins and Kyler Murray feeling more confident in his second year in the offense, the Cardinals were always a trendy pick to take a big leap forward this year. Don't overreact to one game. Instead, imagine what the 49ers are going to do to Adam Gase and his inept offense. The Jets put up 276 yards against the Bills in Week 1 and 69 of them came on one busted play for Jamison Crowder. The rest of the time, the Jets were unable to sustain any drives, except after the game had been put away in the 4th quarter, and, to top it off, Le'Veon Bell left the game early with a quad injury. If the Jets have to go forward with only Frank Gore and Breshad Perriman to help Crowder and Sam Darnold, it's going to be a very long day.

The Bills defense thoroughly dominated the Jets on Sunday. As mentioned above, they allowed 207 yards if you take away one busted play to Jamison Crowder. The Jets gained 86 additional yards on their final drive of the game when the Bills were up 27-10 with less than six minutes to play. With three sacks and an interception added on top, the Bills showed just how elite a unit they can be. Certainly, one with way more talent than the Dolphins' offensive unit possesses. However, a key will be to monitor the health of the Bills linebacking corps. Four of the Bills six active linebackers, including starters Matt Milano and Tremaine Edwards, left the game with an injury. *If one or both of them isn't able to suit up against the Dolphins, it would be a blow to the Bills defensive ranking and really test their depth.

The Steelers lost Javon Hargrave in the offseason, and some wondered what type of impact that would have on their defensive unit. None. This team is stacked. Listen, I know the Giants haven't been good in a while, but their offense has scored points. The Steelers putting the clamps on them was not a given, but it was a good sign that there will likely not be any dropoff in this unit. Now they get another young, inexperienced quarterback and don't have to gameplan for a dynamic talent like Saquon Barkley (although Courtland Sutton isn't a slouch). I expect it to be a low-scoring affair and wouldn't be surprised if the Steelers came away with a few turnovers and a handful of sacks as the cherry on top.

As we mentioned in Week 1, the Baltimore Ravens have perhaps the most balanced defensive unit in football, and they made Baker Mayfield and the Browns look awful on Sunday. While they only recorded two sacks, they forced three turnovers and had the Browns disoriented all game. You may look at the Texans and say that they are a stiffer test, but I'm not entirely sure that's true. Without DeAndre Hopkins, this offense is not much different from the Browns. Yes, Deshaun Watson is much better than Mayfield, but the Browns backfield and wide receiver corps are vastly superior to what the Texans trot out there, and that's before we get to the offensive line. On Thursday night, the Chiefs had 18 QB hurries, 25 pressures, and a 62.5% pressure rate against these Texans. That's an absurd stat and makes me think that the Ravens defense is absolutely going to feast on this Texans offensive line.

 

Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 2 Opponent Confidence Rating
5 2 Kansas City Chiefs Defense vs. LAC 10.95
6 2 Los Angeles Rams Defense @ PHI 10.5
7 2 New Orleans Saints Defense @ LV 10.2
8 2 Tennessee Titans Defense vs JAX 9.6

As mentioned above, the Chiefs' defensive unit was in the backfield at will on Thursday. They dialed up 13 blitzes, hit Watson seven times, sacked him four, and picked off one pass. This is, in part, because the Chiefs offense is so dynamic so their defense knows teams have to throw to keep up. That gives them the freedom to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback, which means that even if they let up a decent amount of yards and points as a unit, they still can finish with a huge fantasy day. I expect that to continue against a Chargers offense that looked totally punchless against a poor Bengals team. Tyrod Taylor has the legs to avoid taking too many sacks, but if the Chargers need to throw the ball to keep up with the Chiefs, it's going to take Tyrod out of his comfort zone and led to forced throws and turnovers.

Despite being a massive underdog, the Washington Football Team allowed only 265 total yards to the Eagles while sacking Carson Wentz eight times and forcing two interceptions. The performance was partially an indication of the talent on Washington's defense but also just a clear warning sign of how banged up the Eagles are on offense. They were without three starting offensive lineman, plus Miles Sanders and Alshon Jeffrey. Sanders and Lane Johnson will "try to do more in practice" this week, but this is still going to be an under-manned offense that will allow tons of pressure, which is horrible news against a defense line of Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, and Leonard Floyd. The Rams held a strong Cowboys offense in check on Sunday night while also sacking Dak Prescott three times. The Cowboys offensive line - and offense in general - is much better than what the Eagles will trot out on Sunday, and this could be another game where the defense feasts on the birds.

We expected the Saints defensive unit to finish in the top 10 but were a little worried about what the new-look Bucs defense would do. It turns out, it simply didn't matter. The Saints allowed only 325 yards of total offense while sacking Brady three times and picking him off twice. The Las Vegas Raiders boast some talent on the offensive end, but it's not anything close to what the Bucs put on the field, and the Saints dismantled that unit. If the Saints can do that to the Bucs offense, I love their chances of handling the Raiders on Sunday.

The Tennessee defensive line is scary. After signing Jadeveon Clowney, they added him to a defense that already features Jeffrey Simmons, Vic Beasley, and a dynamic secondary. The Titans were a little banged up in Week 1 without Beasley and cornerback Adoree Jackson (who will be out three weeks), and the Jaguars put up a solid performance in a 27-20 win against the Colts but that was mainly on the back of their defense, which sacked Phillip Rivers four times and had the league's highest pressure rate. While the Colts' defense is solid, this is more of a sign that the Jaguars haven't quite fixed all of their offensive line issues from last year. The Titans have a superior defensive line and should be able to get in Gardner Minshew's face just as much as the Colts did. The Titans offensive gameplan will also slow the game down and give the Jaguars offense less time on the field, which should lead to fewer yards and, potentially, fewer points than the 27 they hung on the Colts. All of which makes me inclined to buy into the Titans this week.

 

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 2 Opponent Confidence Rating
9 3 Arizona Cardinals Defense vs WAS 9.1
10 3 Chicago Bears Defense @ NYG 8.9
11 3 Denver Broncos Defense @ PIT 8.1
12 3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense vs. CAR 7.9
13 3 Indianapolis Colts Defense vs. MIN 7.5
14 3 Seattle Seahawks Defense vs. NE 7.1
15 3 Miami Dolphins Defense vs. BUF 6.9

Well, the Cardinals certainly rose to the challenge in Week 1 against the defending NFC champions, holding the 49ers to 20 points and sacking Jimmy Garroppolo three times. I don't all of a sudden think that this is a ferocious unit, but Dre Kirkpatrick is a fine complement to Patrick Peterson and both Chandler Jones and newly-signed Jordan Phillips can push the pocket. Where the Cardinals shine for me this week is their matchup. Washington may have won Week 1, but their offense didn't look inspiring at all. They simply capitalized on a banged-up Eagles team. The Cardinals offense should do much better against Washington, which will force Dwayne Haskins to play catch-up and take more chanced through the air. That's where the sacks and picks will come, and a big reason the Cardinals could put together another stellar defensive performance.

The Bears did not look great against the Lions this week, but the Lions are a solid offense with Matthew Stafford under center, even without Kenny Golladay. Still, this is not the same elite Bears unit. They do have impressive top-end talent in Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks, plus an experienced corps of linebackers, but it's not a unit to win you your week like they used to be. The good news for the Bears is that the Giants' offensive line has its own share of weaknesses and Daniel Jones still takes a few too many chances with the ball, which means some sacks and turnovers could add fantasy value despite the Giants being able to move the football and score.

The Broncos have lost Chris Harris Jr. and Von Miller, so even though they gained A.J. Bouyeand Jurell Casey and got back Bradley Chubb, this is not as dynamic a unit as it could have been. Still, the were able to hit Tannehill eight times behind a strong Titans offensive line and showed some punch in a grinding Monday Night Football battle. It should be a knocked down, drag-it-out fight against the Steelers, but a Steelers offense with Ben Roethlisberger back is far more dynamic than the one led by Mason Rudolph. Keep an eye on James Conner's status because if he were to miss the game, it would elevate the Broncos a few spots, even though Benny Snell did look good in the win over the Giants.

The Tampa Bay Bucs may have come out flat in their showdown against the Saints, but it wasn't the defense's fault. There was some excitement surrounding the unit after they signed Ndamukong Suh and drafted Antoine Winfield Jr to pair with solid young players like Lavonte David, Devin White, and Vita Vea. The Bucs were an elite run defense last year and carried that over into 2020 allowing the Saints to gain only 2.4 yards per carry on 34 rushes. Everybody knows how Carolina wants to move the ball. If the Bucs can make it hard for Christian McCaffrey to get going, they can keep the Panthers in check and force them to make Teddy Bridgewater make plays.

As I mentioned above, the Colts had the second-highest pressure rate in the league after Week 1 and the highest sack percentage at 16.7%, which is good news because they spent a lot of resources on improving their defense in the offseason. The Colts also only allowed 264 yards of offense but were done in by a few Phillip Rivers turnovers in his own end. They now take on a Minnesota Vikings offense that features a dynamic running game but a passing attack that has lost some of its bite without Stefon Diggs. They totaled 393 yards in a shootout with the Packers but a lot of that was in playing from behind, and I don't think this is much more than a ball-control offense. They likely won't give up many sacks but the Colts should keep them from scoring too many points, which still makes them a solid unit for the week.

It's simple here: the Dolphins defense might not be great, but Josh Allen loves to turn the ball over. The Dolphins had two sacks and a fifth-best 9.5% pressure rate against the Patriots, and the Bills are without their starting right guard Jon Feliciano. The Dolphins could lose and still come away with a few turnovers.

 

Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 2 Opponent Confidence Rating
16 4 Cleveland Browns Defense vs CIN 6.5
17 4 New England Patriots Defense @ SEA 6.2
18 4 Washington Football Team Defense @ ARI 5.15
19 4 Green Bay Packers Defense vs. DET 4.9
20 4 Philadelphia Eagles Defense vs LAR 4.45
21 4 Dallas Cowboys Defense vs ATL 4.15
22 4 Minnesota Vikings Defense @ IND 3.9

Losing Mack Wilson is a bit of a blow for the Browns defense, and Olivier Vernon is still only practicing as a limited participant, which isn't great news before a Thursday game. On top of that, rookie cornerback Greedy Williams hasn't even been able to practice with a shoulder injury. That turned a potentially enticing streaming matchup against the Bengals into simply a solid, but not salivating opportunity.

The Patriots are a solid defensive team, but I'm not sure they're particularly elite. Yes, they picked Ryan Fitzpatrick off three times but what NFL franchise hasn't done that? They were also only able to get a 3.2% pressure rate against a mediocre offensive line, and I don't want to trust them after Russell Wilson looked lights out to start the season.

Guess who the number one fantasy defense is after one week? Yup, the Washington Football Team. While that is clearly a product of the Eagles limping into the game, this defense is loaded with former first-round picks, including second overall pick Chase Young, who had 1.5 sacks in his first NFL game. Washington had the third-best pressure rate last year, and also the third-best rate in Week 1. The secondary is still an issue, and I look for the Cardinals to put up a lot of yards and a fair few points, but I think Washington will record enough sacks and force a turnover or two, which will make this a startable defensive unit in deep leagues.

The Packers allowed almost 400 yards of offense to the Vikings and weren't able to get much pressure on Kirk Cousins. The Lions will feature perhaps a more dynamic offense (especially if Kenny Golladay returns), so this isn't a game that I'm excited to roster any defense.

The Eagles just lost Vinny Curry for four weeks on top of all of their other injuries. The offense will likely keep putting the defense in bad spots until they can get to full strength.

The Cowboys lost Robert Quinn and Maliek Collins in free agency and then lost Leighton Vander Esch for six weeks during a Week 1 loss. It's a banged-up unit set to face an elite offense. Even with some talent left on the Cowboys' roster, that's just not a match-up I can recommend attacking.

The narrative about the Minnesota Vikings being a top-notch defensive unit is outdated. They've seen a lot of talent leave town and they now have a collection of young talent learning how to play together. That inexperienced unit allowed 522 yards to the Packers while getting 0 pressures against a mediocre Packers offensive line. The Colts don't have the same offensive firepower, but their offensive line is one of the best in the league and won't make it easy for the Vikings to get any pressure.

 

Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 2 Opponent Confidence Rating
23 5 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense vs. TEN 3.7
24 5 New York Jets Defense vs. SF 3.0
25 5 Cincinnati Bengals Defense @ CLE 2.9
26 5 New York Giants Defense @ CHI 2.8
27 5 Detroit Lions Defense @ GB 2.5
28 5 Atlanta Falcons Defense @ DAL 2.1
29 5 Los Angeles Chargers Defense vs KC 0.85
30 5 Las Vegas Raiders Defense vs NO 0.65
31 5 Houston Texans Defense vs BAL 0.55
32 5 Carolina Panthers Defense @ TB 0.4


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Week 2 Stream Team - Shallow and Deep-League Pickups

Welcome to Week 2 of the NFL season. We here at Rotoballer are set to kick off another season of sound fantasy football advice. Each week we will be providing streamer advice for all of those who need it, which is pretty much anyone and everyone. Streaming players with the best matchups each week as well as during your stud's bye weeks is an integral part of winning a fantasy championship and we are here to provide the best choices week in and week out.

Each week in this article, we will break down streamers for both shallower leagues of 8-10 teams (around 40% rostered or less) and deeper leagues of 14 or more teams (around 20% rostered or less). We will provide a specific roster in each type of league, which will include a QB, RB, WR, TE, and Flex. It should also be noted that if you play in a deep league, but a shallow-league player mentioned here is available in your league, feel free to stream them as well.

Let's take a look at Week 2's best streaming options with some highlighted players to keep an especially close eye on.

 

Stream Team for Shallow Leagues (<40% Rostered)

Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts

27% Rostered

This game has the potential to turn into a shootout as do many games Philip Rivers is involved in. The current total sits at 48 and we could certainly see this rise leading up to kickoff. The Vikings have a horrid pass defense, which may lead the Colts to come into the game looking to throw early and often. Last week, Aaron Rodgers torched this secondary for 364 passing yards, and Rivers could do the same. Rivers also managed to throw for 363 passing yards in Week 1 at Jacksonville. The Colts also lost Marlon Mack for the season, so they could look to throw more for this reason while easing rookie Jonathan Taylor into the mix.

Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals

41% Rostered

While the Football Team did not give up many rushing yards vs. the Eagles in Week 1, it should be noted that the Eagles were banged up at the RB position. The same cannot be said for the Cardinals who will enter with a solid one-two punch of Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds. This is a Football Team that gave up the second-most rushing yards per game to backs in 2019 by allowing 113 yards per game. The Cardinals are favored by 6.5 in this game, so there should be ample opportunities to run the ball late. Edmonds also found himself involved in the passing game Week 1 as he hauled three of five targets for 19 yards and a score.

Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts

33% Rostered

Campbell is here for the same reasons as Phillip Rivers; the total in this game is pushing 50 and the Vikings have a horrendous pass defense. Campbell was a big part of the Colts' offense in Week 1 as he hauled in six of his nine targets for 71 yards. He could see a lot of open looks in this one as the defense will likely look to focus on T.Y. Hilton.

O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

24% Rostered

Perhaps O.J. Howard will finally get the opportunity he deserves this season with Tom Brady at the helm. In Week 1, Howard was targeted six times and managed to haul in four of those targets for a total of 36 yards and a score. The Panthers just allowed Darren Waller to haul in six balls for 45 yards in Week 1 and also allowed 47 yards per game to the position in 2019, so the potential for him to have further success is there.

Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers

29% Rostered

Samuel was heavily involved in the Panthers Week 1 loss to Las Vegas as he was targeted eight times and hauled in five receptions for 38 yards and added in one rushing attempt for five yards. He will be facing a Buccaneers Defense that allowed nearly 200 receiving yards per game to wideouts in 2019, which was worst in the league. If he is targeted in Week 2 as he was in Week 1, he could be in for a solid afternoon.

 

Stream Team for Deep Leagues (<20% Rostered)

Tyrod Taylor, Los Angeles Chargers

7% Rostered

I like Tyrod in this game because the Chargers are likely to be trailing and he will almost assuredly be forced to throw the ball. The Chiefs are favored by 8.5, which is a pretty significant spread. The Chiefs' pass defense is best characterized as mediocre as they ranked 15th in passing yards allowed in 2019 and also just gave up 253 passing yards to Deshaun Watson in Week 1. Taylor has the weapons to produce through the air with the likes of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Hunter Henry, and even Austin Ekeler.

Darrel Williams, Kansas City Chiefs

20% Rostered

Williams could see a bit of work late if this game gets out of hand, which is certainly possible considering the Chiefs are 8.5 point favorites. If the Chiefs get up big, they may find it beneficial to rest their rookie running back, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and allow Williams to get in some work. Williams was also involved Week 1 vs. Houston as he carried the ball seven times for 23 yards and also hauled in both of his targets for seven receiving yards.

Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons

13% Rostered

This game has a total of 53, which is now the highest total on the board. The Falcons are also dogs in this game, which could mean a lot of passing from Matt Ryan once again this week. Last week, the Falcons were in the same position vs. Seattle and Gage benefited greatly by hauling in nine of a whopping 12 targets for 114 yards. While it is possible that the target volume was an anomaly, it may be worth it to fire him up in another game that could feature the Atlanta passing attack so prominently.

Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team

11% Rostered

Arizona has struggled vs. the tight end position as they allowed the most yards receiving to tight ends in 2019 with over 72 yards per game. Logan Thomas could become a staple in an offense with limited weapons. This was the case in Week 1 when he managed to snag four of his eight targets for 37 yards and a score. The eight targets jump off the page and show that perhaps Haskins has confidence in Thomas' ability to make plays. He could be in a large role Sunday.

Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans

14% Rostered

Corey Davis was a favorite target of Ryan Tannehill on  Monday night as he reeled in seven of eight targets for 101 yards. There is no denying Davis' ability to make plays down the field and he could be a major weapon vs. the Jags in Week 2. The Jaguars just allowed Philip Rivers to torch their defense for 363 passing yards, 152 of which went to the wide receivers. The Titians will likely be able to set up some big pass plays by running the ball early with Henry and I like Davis to be the beneficiary of a couple of those plays.



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Week 2 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Week 1 is in the books. We saw big upsets, and we saw some teams just steamroll their opponents into the ground. One thing that remained true in every game was that kickers still matter. 

Our top scorers from Week 1 was Green Bay Packers’ kicker Mason Crosby and Josh Lambo of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Each guy had 12, and Crosby could have had even more if his offense was less efficient. 

For the most part, you can probably rock a lot of your starters from last week, but you could have a few guys you’re trying to fade. If that’s the case, these are the guys you should look to be targeting.

 

Week 2 Kickers To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Tier 1 NFL Kickers

1. Justin Tucker (BAL) @ HOU
2. Jason Myers (SEA) vs NE
3. Harrison Butker (KC) @ LAC
4. Mason Crosby (GB) vs DET
5. Greg Zuerlein (DAL) vs ATL

Week 2’s top kicker is going to be the league’s best kicker in Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens. This offense steamrolled the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, and they can do the same against the Houston Texans. The second spot goes to Seattle Seahawks kicker Jason Myers. This offense was electric in Week 1, and, while the New England Patriots Defense flexed their muscles in Week 1, I think Seattle will be able to move the ball and get into scoring positions.

Kansas City Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker gets in for the third spot. I’m not convinced about the Los Angeles Chargers’ ability to slow down KC, and I think it’s an offensive onslaught for the Chiefs. Packers kicker Crosby, who was Week 1’s top option, comes in at four. This Packers offense may not put up as many points in Week 2, but they should have no problem scoring against the Detroit Lions. Dallas Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein finishes the top five. Dallas struggled somewhat against the Los Angeles Rams, but those struggles should disappear in Week 2 against a lost Atlanta Falcons’ defense.

 

Tier 2 NFL Kickers

6. Younghoe Koo (ATL) @ DAL
7. Ryan Succop (TB) vs CAR
8. Samuel Sloman (LAR) @ PHI
9. Matt Prater (DET) @ GB
10. Robbie Gould (SF) @ NYJ

Atlanta Falcons’ kicker Younghoe Koo is up next. I don’t expect a ton of defense in this game, especially with some of the injuries Dallas sustained on that side of the ball. Plus, Atlanta put up 450 passing yards in a loss. They can throw. Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Ryan Succop is next. This offense wasn’t as electric as expected, but wideout Mike Evans will be healthy. Plus, against an easier defense, they should put up more points.

Los Angeles Rams kicker Samuel Sloman had a solid Week 1, and I think they have an even better matchup against a battered Philadelphia Eagles’ roster. Detroit Lions’ kicker Matt Prater is next. I think Green Bay runs up the score, and they give up garbage points again. Points are still points. San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould rounds out our second tier. The 49ers struggled got upset in Week 1, but their opponent is much easier in Week 2. 

 

Tier 3 NFL Kickers

11. Tyler Bass (BUF) @ MIA
12. Zane Gonzalez (ARI) vs WAS
13. Dan Bailey (MIN) @ IND
14. Ka'imi Fairbairn (HOU) vs BAL
15. Chris Boswell (PIT) vs DEN

Buffalo Bills kicker Tyler Bass is our 11th-ranked kicker. This defense can take advantage of the mistakes the Miami Dolphins will give them, and he’ll get scoring opportunities off of it. Next is Arizona Cardinals’ kicker Zane Gonzalez. This offense is explosive, and they can show that off against the Washington Football Team which gives him chances to get points. In the 13 spot, it’s Minnesota Vikings kicker Dan Bailey. The Vikings are going to dink-and-dunk all day long against the Indianapolis Colts Defense. However, they’re still not great in the red zone, which is where Bailey comes in.

Houston Texans kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn gets the next spot. If they want to keep up with Baltimore, they will need to air the ball out a lot. Rounding out our top 15 is Pittsburgh Steelers’ kicker Chris Boswell. Boswell is playing outdoors in Denver, and we always love the Denver game. I think Pittsburgh finds a way to move the ball with ease, and, when they get stopped, that thin air will help the ball carry. 

 

Kickers to Avoid

Graham Gano of the New York Giants is in a rough spot in Week 2. The Giants draw the Chicago Bears, and this front is going to have a field day with the Giants’ offensive line. I think it’s going to be a rough outing for the Giants’ offense.

Randy Bullock of the Cincinnati Bengals should be avoided this week. I think the Cleveland Browns are better than the product we saw from them in Week 1. This Bengals’ offense looked bland and unimaginative, and I don’t think they flip the script in Week 2.

Jason Sanders of the Miami Dolphins is our final avoidance play of the week. This offense played rough last week, and the assignment is just as brutal in Week 2 against the Bills. Sit your Dolphins, and I’ll see you in Week 3.



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Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




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Week 1 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

We're back and it feels so good. Below are RotoBaller's Week 1 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 1 of the NFL and fantasy football season. In case you missed it, this is our eighth year now writing this weekly column.

Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver wire pickups to improve your lineups, and to decide which defenses to start, sit, target, avoid or stream for Week 1. Starting the right defense every week can be a difference-maker.

Below we have broken out our defense rankings into tiers with analysis on each matchup. Some of these Week 1 defenses have good matchups and are not widely-owned, representing fantasy scoring opportunities if they are available on your league's waiver wire for a Week 1 pickup or add. Good luck in Week 1 RotoBallers!

 

Week 1 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Typically the top three tiers will be DSTs you should target, with Tier 4 being options in deep leagues and Tier 5 being desperation plays or good defenses in horrendous matchups.

Returning for this year: Confidence Ratings - Since every league's DST scoring is different, projections don't always make a ton of sense. The confidence rating is a guideline for how much more I like one team over another instead of a straight point projection. A zero means "do not start," then the confidence rises from there. I take a lot of factors into account here--opponent injuries, home field advantage, weather, etc. We don't have any in-season data to work with in Week 1 obviously, so this week's rankings weigh schedule and personnel heavier than they will down the line.

 

Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 1 Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 Buffalo Bills Defense vs. NYJ 12.75
2 1 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense @ NYG 12
3 1 Baltimore Ravens Defense vs. CLE 11.7
4 1 Philadelphia Eagles Defense @ WAS 11.1

The Bills will be truly excellent all year as a DST option, but this week is as juicy as it gets. I'll spare you the Adam Gase humor here, but by all accounts Le'Veon Bell is not going to be treated as a clear RB1. Jamison Crowder is the top wideout, and after him and Chris Herndon it's dicey to say the least. The Bills might not have Bills Mafia in the stadium, but this is one game they shouldn't need them for.

The Baltimore Ravens boast maybe the most balanced defensive unit in football, and even the talented Browns offense isn't going to be enough to overcome that this week. Odell Beckham, Jr. will have to contend with one of the best one-two punches at cornerback in Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, and new addition Calais Campbell is one of the best run-stoppers in football--so good luck, Nick Chubb. Matthew Judon leads the most blitz-heavy defense in football, and I don't see how Baker Mayfield is able to overcome all of this and have a productive day. The Ravens are going to be a slam-dunk most weeks, to be honest.

 

Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 1 Opponent Confidence Rating
5 2 San Francisco 49ers Defense vs. ARI 10.65
6 2 New England Patriots Defense vs. MIA 10
7 2 Los Angeles Chargers Defense @ CIN 9.6
8 2 Denver Broncos Defense vs. TEN 9.4

The 49ers are going to be in Tier 1 most weeks given how easy their schedule is this year (4th-easiest based on opponent 2019 win percentage), but I'm wary about the Cardinals. The offense is loaded for Kyler Murray, as he'll have almost everyone return and has a new WR1 in DeAndre Hopkins. Kenyan Drake is suffering from a lower body injury (LOL a "precautionary" walking boot), but if he's out I don't think the Cardinals are in any worse shape with the explosive Chase Edmonds. If Kyler is on, the 49ers' upside is limited. However, with Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa and rookie Javon Kinlaw coming after him, life isn't going to be easy.

The Titans offense got extremely scary in the back half of 2019. The change of scenery turned Ryan Tannehill into a legitimate threat, A.J. Brown's ceiling is immeasurable, and Derrick Henry is one of the best runners in football--if you watched any of the games last year, you can see how they'd give defenses fits. The loss of Chris Harris, Jr. certainly hurts the Broncos secondary, but the arrival of A.J. Bouye should soften the blow. Bradley Chubb, Von Miller and Jurell Casey should keep the pass rush as fierce as last year, but the big question is if they can penetrate the Titans offensive line, which PFF ranked eighth in the NFL after last season.

 

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 1 Opponent Confidence Rating
9 3 Chicago Bears Defense @ DET 8.9
10 3 Indianapolis Colts Defense @ JAC 8.55
11 3 New Orleans Saints Defense vs. TB 8.5
12 3 Minnesota Vikings Defense vs. GB 7.7
13 3 Kansas City Chiefs Defense vs. HOU 7.4
14 3 Tennessee Titans Defense @ DEN 6.85
15 3 Dallas Cowboys Defense @ LAR 6.4

With a 100% healthy Matthew Stafford, I think the Lions offense is actually pretty dangerous. The offensive line was tough to penetrate last year, and whether or not DeAndre Swift is healthy for Week 1 I expect Kenny Golladay to get plenty of love. The Bears still wind up in my top 10 because Khalil Mack is still one of the most singularly impactful players in football, and this year he won't be alone. The return of Akiem Hicks helps significantly with both the pass rush and run defense, and the Bears still both an experienced corps of linebackers. Doubtful the Bears return top-five value this week without a touchdown, but you won't be disappointed right away if you drafted them.

I still expect both the Saints defensive and offensive units to finish in the top 10. The pass rush will be anchored by Cameron Jordan, Marcus Davenport and a hopefully healthy Sheldon Rankins, who missed huge chunks of last season due to injury. The secondary is similarly star-studded, with Marshon Lattimore, Janoris Jenkins and Marcus Williams leading the way there. The question for Week 1 is what we get from the Buccaneers. Is this offense all of a sudden lethal with Tom Brady under center? He should be a menace over the middle of the field with Chris Godwin and a theoretically healthy Rob Gronkowski in the mix, and you can never ever sleep on Mike Evans (if Brady can get it to him). This is one of the games I'm least sure about, and I'll be watching this one extremely closely.

The Cowboys suffered some major losses in free agency, but it's possible that they recovered so well they're in a better position. Losing Robert Quinn and Maliek Collins up front stings, but replacing them with upside veterans like Dontari Poe and Everson Griffen ensures that this pass rush will lose none of its edge. The return of Aldon Smith, who has been out of the NFL since 2017 for a bevy of legal troubles, could be a game-changing factor if he shows any of the elite talent that he displayed in San Francisco. In the secondary, it all comes down to whether or not Trevon Diggs can step in as a suitable replacement for Byron Jones. Diggs came into the draft as one of the best coverage DBs in the entire draft, and if he can use his size to break up passes the Cowboys will be in great shape. The middling pressure rate has a very good chance of increasing this year, and if that's the case then Jared Goff is in trouble right from the jump.

 

Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 1 Opponent Confidence Rating
16 4 Detroit Lions Defense vs. CHI 6.3
17 4 Seattle Seahawks Defense @ ATL 5.9
18 4 Green Bay Packers Defense @ MIN 5.25
19 4 Los Angeles Rams Defense vs. DAL 4.7
20 4 Las Vegas Raiders Defense @ CAR 4.45
21 4 Washington Football Team Defense vs. PHI 4.35
22 4 Carolina Panthers Defense vs. LV 3.9

The Rams have a brutal Week 1 matchup against Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense, but they're still running out one of the more star-studded defenses in the league. The obvious names here are Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, who are the definition of game-breakers. After that, they'll look to sophomore safety Taylor Rapp and veteran Michael Brockers up front--and to some degree Greg Gaines and rookie Terrell Lewis in the pass rush. The tough part here is the sheer star power they're going up against. Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb...that's a ton to try to counteract.

The Washington defense is littered with former first-round picks, but easily the most exciting player here is defensive end Chase Young, who they drafted with the second overall pick this year. Young is widely regarded as one of the more transcendent talents in recent memory, and he'll step in to make an immediate impact in the pass rush. Washington actually ranked third in the NFL in pressure rate last year, and with Young now wreaking havoc this could be a truly elite unit in 2020. The question marks lie in the secondary. Quinton Dunbar was far and away their best player in 2019, but was traded for a middling pick to Seattle. Filling the void will be Kendall Fuller, who is returning to his original team after a disappointing season in Kansas City, and former Bills/Eagles standout Ronald Darby, whose play fell off a cliff in 2019.

The Eagles have talent all over the offense, particularly at tight end with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, and dynamic sophomore Miles Sanders. We'll see the Washington Football Team higher in the ranks this season, but I'm tempering expectations for Week 1.

 

Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 1 Opponent Confidence Rating
23 5 Cleveland Browns Defense @ BAL 3.2
24 5 Atlanta Falcons Defense vs. SEA 3
25 5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense @ NO 2.9
26 5 New York Jets Defense @ BUF 2.6
27 5 Cincinnati Bengals Defense vs. LAC 2.45
28 5 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense vs. IND 1.8
29 5 Miami Dolphins Defense @ NE 1.15
30 5 Arizona Cardinals Defense @ SF 0.6
31 5 Houston Texans Defense @ KC 0.55
32 5 New York Giants Defense vs. PIT 0.3


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Week 1 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Week 1 is here, and the NFL season is officially back. We're going to be seeing limited fans in the stands, but the play on the field will be back to what we know and love. While some people disagree, kickers matter for fantasy football, and that's what we're here to talk about today.

Last season, we saw a lot of chalk at the top of the kicker leaderboards. Guys like Harrison Butker of the Kansas City Chiefs and Wil Lutz of the New Orleans Saints lead the pack which made sense behind their elite offenses. Will we see some new names top the charts this year?

In Week 1, things are usually a bit weird. I don't expect that to change this year, and we're likely going to see even more weird outcomes than we're used to. With a limited offseason, offenses could struggle in the red zone which leaves us with some juicy Week 1 opportunities.

 

Week 1 Kickers To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Tier 1 NFL Kickers

1. Harrison Butker (KC) vs HOU
2. Justin Tucker (BAL) vs CLE
3. Younghoe Koo (ATL) vs SEA
4. Greg Zuerlein (DAL) @ LAR
5. Matt Prater (DET) vs CHI

The Week 1 top spot goes to last year's top fantasy kicker in Butker. The last time these two teams faced off, the Chiefs ran up 51 points. This offense got better, and the Houston Texans didn't make enough of an effort to fix their weaknesses. Fireworks should be expected. Coming in second place is Baltimore Ravens' kicker Justin Tucker. Tucker has been arguably the best kicker in the NFL over his last several seasons. This Cleveland Browns' defense should be improved from last year, and they could force Tucker to do a bit more field-goal work.

More chalk names will come, but we're seeing Younghoe Koo break into the top five with a juicy matchup against Seattle. With an over/under set at 49, this is one of the highest totals of the week. I expect many kicking opportunities on both sides. Greg Zuerlein gets a quick chance at revenge on his old team. With this explosive offense against a Rams' defense that lacks talent in some spots, give me "The Leg" to have a big week. Rounding out the top five is Matt Prater of the Detroit Lions. One of the more reliable kickers from long range. He gives you a chance at a big week off just one or two attempts. With quarterback Matthew Stafford back under center, I think they can find some ways to move the ball into scoring range.

 

Tier 2 NFL Kickers

6. Jason Myers (SEA) @ ATL
7. Wil Lutz (NO) vs TB
8. Ryan Succop (TB) @ NO
9. Mason Crosby (GB) @ MIN
10. Robbie Gould (SF) vs ARI

At the top of our second tier, we have Seattle Seahawks kicker Jason Myers. Similar to Koo, I'm expecting a lot of scoring opportunities, but I'm thinking he has more chances at extra points than field goals. That's where the slight downgrade happens. Next, we have Lutz. Against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that's looking to make some noise, we're going to have a shootout on the bayou where the kickers are busy. I'm thinking this game goes blow for blow, and that's how you end up with Ryan Succop from Tampa right behind Lutz in the ranks.

Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby is up next. This guy keeps getting older, but the leg strength remains. The Minnesota Vikings claim to have quarterback Aaron Rodgers' number, but I'm not convinced. I think they find ways to move the ball and put points on the board. Rounding out the top 10 is San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould. Similar to Crosby, he remains one of the league's more consistent options despite his age. This 49ers' offense may not be as efficient as last year, but they have a great Week 1 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals that will be looking to win in a shootout.

 

Tier 3 NFL Kickers

11. Tyler Bass (BUF) vs NYJ
12. Stephen Gostkowski (TEN) @ DEN
13. Brandon McManus (DEN) vs TEN
14. Sam Sloman (LAR) vs DAL
15. Dan Bailey (MIN) vs GB

Buffalo Bills' kicker Tyler Bass gets the nod at the 11 spot. He's a relatively unknown guy at this point, but I think he can become a fixture in this weekly piece. This Bills' team has the ability to move the ball, but they can bog down and give him kicking opportunities if quarterback Jos Allen has an off day. Next up is Stephen Gostkowski from the Tennessee Titans. That's weird to type, but he has a great shot in Week 1. The Titans' will find ways to move the ball, but this is a really good Denver Broncos' defense that could give him a sneaky shot at a top five week in the Denver air.

Right behind him is Broncos' kicker Brandon McManus. I feel wrong excluding anyone in the Denver game for these., and these teams are really close for me. This game could be really ugly with a lot of field goals for both of them. Rookie Sam Sloman of the Los Angeles Rams is up next. If this Rams' offense remains potent against a soft Cowboys' defense, you have a safe amount of scoring to rely on. Our final kicker for today is Dan Bailey of the Minnesota Vikings. Even if they come out on the losing side of things, Green Bay is liable for big plays here and there that can set Bailey up to score.

 

Kickers to Avoid

Josh Lambo claims the first kicker to avoid of the year. The Indianapolis Colts aren't likely to field a truly elite defense, but they can cause some problems with the talent they have at all three levels. Plus, without the fans to give the Jacksonville Jaguars some energy, they could have a really flat week all around.

Dustin Hopkins of the Washington Football Team takes our second spot. I just don't know how you can trust him in this situation. They're playing the Philadelphia Eagles' in a game that I think will be ugly on both sides of the ball. Bench him until we see his quarterback play consistently.

Austin Seibert was a middle of the pack kicker last year. While he has the potential to be more than that in 2020, Week 1 isn't going to be the start of it. This Ravens' team is a high-octane group, and I don't think Cleveland keeps up in the debut of Kevin Stefanski.

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Week 1 Stream Team - Shallow and Deep-League Pickups

Welcome to the start of the 2020 NFL Season! It sure feels great to say that. We here at Rotoballer are set to kick off another season of sound fantasy football advice. Each week we will be providing streamer advice for all of those who need it, which is pretty much anyone and everyone. Streaming players with the best matchups each week as well as during your stud's bye weeks is an integral part of winning a fantasy championship and we are here to provide the best choices week in and week out.

Each week in this article, we will break down streamers for both shallower leagues of 8-10 teams (around 40% rostered or less) and deeper leagues of 14 or more teams (around 20% rostered or less). We will provide a specific roster in each type of league, which will include a QB, RB, WR, TE, and Flex. It should also be noted that if you play in a deep league, but a shallow-league player mentioned here is available in your league, feel free to stream them as well.

Let's take a look at Week 1's best streaming options with some highlighted players to keep an especially close eye on.

 

Stream Team for Shallow Leagues (<40% Rostered)

Philip Rivers (QB, IND) - 28% Rostered

Rivers will be making his debut with Colts on Sunday and has some solid weapons to throw to in T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell. He has a favorable matchup with the Jaguars who allowed nearly 18 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks in 2019, which ranked them 20th in the league. They gave up nearly 225 passing yards per game as well as 21 passing touchdowns on the season, so Rivers should be able to have a solid debut.

Chris Thompson (RB, JAX) - 41% Rostered

The departure of Leonard Fournette could mean more touches for Chris Thompson, and this matchup vs. the Colts could be a great place for him to start the 2020 campaign. Thompson is a big-time pass-catching back as he has averaged over 55 receptions per game across the previous five seasons. The Colts struggled in this department in 2019 as they gave up a league-worst 101 receptions to backs. They also allowed the fifth-most receiving yards to backs with 724 yards allowed. It could be a solid day for Thompson, especially considering the Colts are favored by eight and the game script could lead to more receptions.

Allen Lazard (WR, GB) - 44% Rostered

Lazard will enter the season as the number two wide receiver on the Packers depth chart and has a favorable matchup against the Vikings in Week 1. The Vikings gave up the fifth-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers in 2019 by allowing nearly 40 points per game. They gave up nearly one touchdown per game to wide receivers and allowed them to average 13 receptions for 143 yards combined. Lazard could definitely be the main benefactor here as the defense likely keys in on Davante Adams.

Greg Olsen (TE, SEA) - 28% Rostered

This game is expected to be a shootout down in Atlanta as it has one of the highest totals on the board at 49. The Falcons struggled a bit in 2019 vs. the tight end as they allowed 12 fantasy points per game to the position. They also gave up six touchdowns to tight ends, which ranked them tied for ninth-worst in the league. With the game expected to be high scoring as noted by the 49 total, Olsen could see a number of targets and have a solid day.

N'Keal Harry (WR, NE) - 33% Rostered

There has been much hype surrounding N'Keal heading into 2020 and he gets his first crack to live up to that hype Week 1 vs. the Dolphins. The Dolphins were awful vs. wide receivers in 2019, so Harry has a good shot to perform well here. The Dolphins allowed a league-worst 23 touchdowns to the position and also gave up the 15th most receiving yards with an average of 151 per game.

 

Stream Team for Deep Leagues (<20% Rostered)

Derek Carr (QB ,LV) - 17% Rostered

Carr is in a solid spot Week 1 vs. the Panthers. In 2019, Carolina ranked dead-last in the league by allowing over 22 fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. They allowed quarterbacks to throw for nearly 250 yards per game and also gave up 21 passing touchdowns. This game also has a projected total of 48, so the fireworks could be flying.

Justin Jackson (RB, LAC) - 13% Rostered

We all know that streaming a running back in a deep league is a very difficult thing to do. Plus, this early in the season it is unlikely you are looking to stream a running back, but if you are, Jackson could be a decent play. We all know Austin Ekeler is the man in LA right now, but the number two is still pretty much wide-open and Jackon is likely going to get the first crack at it Sunday vs. the Bengals if healthy. The Bengals gave up the seventh-most rushing yards and 10th-most rushing touchdowns to backs in 2019. The Chargers are also favored in this game, so there should be plenty of carries to be had late as well.

Hunter Renfrow (WR, LV) - 18% Rostered

The struggles of the Carolina Defense were not limited to quarterbacks in 2019. They also allowed the third-most receiving yards to wide receivers and the second-most receptions. The Raider offense could have a huge day vs. Carolina and Renfrow is set up as the number two wide receiver on the depth chart and should be in line for a solid workload.

Irv Smith Jr. (TE, MIN) - 15% Rostered

Irv Smith Jr. should see plenty of work in the Minnesota offense with the recent departure of Stefon Diggs. In Week 1, he gets a solid matchup vs. the Packers Defense. In 2019, the Packers ranked 20th in the league by allowing over 12 fantasy points per game to the tight end position. They also ranked eighth-worst by allowing over 54 yards per game to the position as well as six receiving touchdowns.

James Washington (WR, PIT) - 13% Rostered

James Washington is listed third on the Steelers depth chart behind Diontae Johnson, but could certainly share or even overtake the number two spot from him. He has a solid opportunity in Week 1 vs. the Giants, who were horrendous against wide receivers in 2019. The Giants allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to the position with over 41. They also gave up the second-most receiving touchdowns to the position with 22 and allowed the fifth-most receiving yards with over 167 per game.



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Week 17 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Week 17 is here, and, for those of you that are still playing for something in your fantasy leagues, congratulations and good luck. For those of you that are just here because you have a passion for kickers that do in fact matter, welcome, and we're glad to have you.

Week 17 is where things start to get weird and wacky, and that's not what we want for fantasy. We like chalk, and we don't want to have to worry about the guys in our lineups. When it comes to kickers, you can be flying completely blind.

Teams can rest their starters on offense which can slow things down, and, if a kicker is dealing with an injury, we can see them sat down as well. The best way to predict them is by looking at the teams that won't be resting starters for playoff reasons along with those teams working on building for next season.

 

Week 17 Kickers To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Tier 1 NFL Kickers

1. Harrison Butker (KC) vs LAC
2. Nick Folk (NE) vs MIA
3. Wil Lutz (NO) @ CAR
4. Jake Elliott (PHI) @ NYG
5. Ka'imi Fairbairn (HOU) vs TEN

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker gets the top spot with his team still playing for a first-round bye. The Chiefs offense has been playing well of late, and the Los Angeles Chargers look ready for the offseason. New England Patriots kicker Nick Folk is up next. His team is the other one playing for the second overall seed in the AFC, and they're in with a win over a feisty Miami Dolphins team. New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz is a lot like Butker this week. They have a good matchup with a good offense. That's easy math.

Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott is up next in a win and they're in situation. The New York Giants Defense just allowed 35 points to the Washington Redskins so I think we can expect some similar production. Houston Texans kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn rounds out our top five. He could see his spot slide if news comes out that Houston is sitting their starters, but, as of now, Fairbairn kicks for a talented offense.

 

Tier 2 NFL Kickers

6. Kai Forbath (DAL) vs WAS
7. Daniel Carlson (OAK) @ DEN
8. Mason Crosby (GB) @ DET
9. Dan Bailey (MIN) vs CHI
10. Stephen Hauschka (BUF) vs NYJ

Dallas Cowboys kicker Kai Forbath is here because his team still has something to play for, and their matchup is great. If they win and the Eagles lose, they're in the playoffs. Their offense is playing at home which should help. Oakland Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson is up next because Jon Gruden never quits, and they have an outside shot at the playoffs. The Denver Broncos Defense is good, but this Raiders offense finds ways to move the ball.

Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby is here with a team that is scrapping for playoff positioning as they fight against a struggling Detroit Lions Defense that allows a fair bit of scoring. Minnesota Vikings kicker Dan Bailey finds the ninth spot. His Vikings are looking to have some momentum on their side heading into the playoffs. Buffalo Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka is somewhat of a gut call this week. The Bills are locked into their seed, but they aren't likely to rest a ton of starters in Week 17. Plus, the New York Jets are bad, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

 

Tier 3 NFL Kickers

11. Chase McLaughlin (IND) @ JAX
12. Zane Gonzalez (ARI) @ LAR
13. Matt Gay (TB) vs ATL
14. Ryan Succop (TEN) vs HOU
15. Chris Boswell (PIT) @ BAL

Indianapolis Colts kicker Chase McLaughlin isn't kicking for anything except pride but this Colts team keeps playing hard every week, as evidenced by the 38 they ran up last week with nothing to play for. Arizona Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez got some increased work last week, and that could happen again in Week 17 against a Los Angeles Rams unit that isn't playing for anything with their playoff hopes ended. Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Matt Gay is up next. This offense shows no quit, and they'll be looking to end the year with a big showing.

Tennessee Titans kicker Ryan Succop is near the bottom of these rankings, but he could move up depending on who plays for Houston. This offense has been playing well over the past month and a half, and they can put up points in a hurry to get Succop scoring opportunities. Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Chris Boswell gets in despite his offense's weaknesses because the Ravens will be resting so many starters.

 

Kickers to Avoid

Justin Tucker is here this week because the rest of his starters will be sitting out this contest. The Steelers have a good defense, and they could easily limit scoring opportunities. After being fantasy locks all year, the Ravens are now anything but.

Greg Zuerlein, after not being here for two years, is here in back-to-back weeks. This offense has not been outstanding, and they have nothing to play for next week. I could see several starters that are nursing injuries sitting on the sideline on Sunday.

Joey Slye of the Carolina Panthers is still booting everything through this year, but his offense is terrible. They are also on their third-string quarterback against a defense that is playing very well over the last few weeks. It's just a mixture of a lot of things we don't want to touch.

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Week 16 Playoff Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Okay, this is it. If you're still alive, you can't afford to miss out at ANY position, including DST. In fact, ESPECIALLY DST. If you've made the championship, you've likely got a pretty good set of skill players, so DST is that one last magic cog that could be the difference between a title belt or ultimate defeat.

Below are RotoBaller's Week 16 playoff defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 16 of the NFL and fantasy football season. In case you missed it, this is our seventh year now writing this weekly column.

Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver wire pickups to improve your lineups, and to decide which defenses to start, sit, target, avoid or stream for Week 16. Starting the right defense every week can be a difference-maker. Below we have broken out our defense rankings into tiers with analysis on each matchup. Some of these Week 16 defenses have good matchups and are not widely-owned, representing fantasy scoring opportunities if they are available on your league's waiver wire for a Week 16 pickup or add. Good luck in Week 16 RotoBallers!

 

Week 16 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

My rankings are pretty pure this week. Many of the top defenses have solid matchups, and their ranking reflects that. If you're still somehow streaming in the championship matchup, my top streamers are below:

Rank DST Week 16 Opponent
1 Denver Broncos Defense vs. DET
2 Atlanta Falcons Defense vs. JAC
3 Los Angeles Chargers Defense @ OAK
4 Indianapolis Colts Defense vs. CAR
5 Kansas City Chiefs Defense @ CHI
6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense vs. HOU
7 Washington Redskins Defense vs. NYG
8 Houston Texans Defense @ TB
9 Detroit Lions Defense @ DEN
10 Miami Dolphins Defense vs. CIN

 

Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 16 Opponent
1 1 New England Patriots Defense vs. BUF
2 1 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense @ NYJ
3 1 New York Jets Defense vs. PIT
4 1 Denver Broncos Defense vs. DET

 

Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 16 Opponent
5 2 San Francisco 49ers Defense vs. LAR
6 2 Atlanta Falcons Defense vs. JAC
7 2 Buffalo Bills Defense @ NE
8 2 Seattle Seahawks Defense vs. ARI
9 2 Baltimore Ravens Defense @ CLE

 

Middle and Lower Tier Defenses

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 16 Opponent
10 3 Los Angeles Chargers Defense @ OAK
11 3 Indianapolis Colts Defense vs. CAR
12 3 Kansas City Chiefs Defense @ CHI
13 3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense vs. HOU
14 3 Philadelphia Eagles Defense vs. DAL

 

Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 16 Opponent
15 4 Dallas Cowboys Defense @ PHI
16 4 Los Angeles Rams Defense @ SF
17 4 Washington Redskins Defense vs. NYG
18 4 New Orleans Saints Defense @ TEN
19 4 Houston Texans Defense @ TB
20 4 Detroit Lions Defense @ DEN
21 4 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense @ ATL
22 4 Miami Dolphins Defense vs. CIN

 

Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 16 Opponent
23 5 Green Bay Packers Defense @ MIN
24 5 Oakland Raiders Defense @LAC
25 5 Minnesota Vikings Defense vs. GB
26 5 New York Giants Defense @ WAS
27 5 Cincinnati Bengals Defense @ MIA
28 5 Carolina Panthers Defense @ IND

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Week 16 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Week 16 is here, and, for those of you that are still playing for something in your fantasy leagues, congratulations and good luck. For those of you that are just here because you have a passion for kickers that do in fact matter, welcome, and we're glad to have you.

Last week, we saw a lot of chalky kickers at the top of the scoreboard. The top two scorers, Kai Forbath of the Dallas Cowboys and Dan Bailey of the Minnesota Vikings, rode their teams' high-scoring days of 44 and 39 points respectively.

In Week 16, we're either in the championships or the semifinals. We have no room for error, and we need to get our top options in our lineups. Maybe you're playing DFS, and you're trying to see what kicker is going to win you the big money. That's why we're here.

 

Week 16 Kickers To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Tier 1 NFL Kickers

1. Justin Tucker (BAL) @ CLE
2. Harrison Butker (KC) @ CHI
3. Kai Forbath (DAL) @ PHI
4. Matt Gay (TB) vs HOU
5. Robbie Gould (SF) vs LAR

Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker is playing on an elite offense against a bad defense. The Cleveland Browns just can't get out of their own way, but I think they force more field goals for him this week. Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker is seeing his offense continue to roll. Against a good Chicago Bears Defense, he could be kicking a lot more field goals than we normally see. Forbath slides into the rankings this week because, in the battle for the inept NFC East, Dallas is just the better and more talented team that will score more points.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Matt Gay is in here despite the Buccaneers missing their top two wide receivers because this offense just keeps scoring points. Against the Houston Texans Defense, they should have no problems getting down into scoring range. San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould rounds out the top five. This offense slowed down last week in a big letdown matchup, but they should bounce back in a big divisional game this week.

 

Tier 2 NFL Kickers

6. Jason Sanders (MIA) vs CIN
7. Wil Lutz (NO) @ TEN
8. Nick Folk (NE) vs BUF
9. Jason Myers (SEA) vs ARI
10. Mason Crosby (GB) @ MIN

That's right, for the third week in a row, I'm ranking Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders. The Dolphins get to play the bad Cincinnati Bengals Defense, and I think he scores quite a bit. Saints kicker Wil Lutz just saw his quarterback break the record for all-time passing touchdowns, and I think they keep rolling against a Tennessee Titans team that is looking to grab that final playoff spot. Patriots kicker Nick Folk tied for third in scoring last week, and, in what should be a tight divisional matchup with the Buffalo Bills, he could be the team's leading scorer.

Seattle Seahawks kicker Jason Myers gets a matchup with the Arizona Cardinals as they look to keep their hold on the top seed in the NFC. This offense will be looking to put up 30+ points again this week, and this matchup can make that happen. Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby is up next. The major worry with him is that their offense has been very efficient in the red zone. The Vikings Defense always plays them tight, so they could force more field goals this weekend.

 

Tier 3 NFL Kickers

11. Zane Gonzalez (ARI) @ SEA
12. Ryan Succop (TEN) @ NO
13. Ka'imi Fairbairn (HOU) @ TB
14. Eddy Pineiro (CHI) vs KC
15. Dan Bailey (MIN) vs GB

Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez has seen his offense slow down in recent weeks, outside of Week 15. The Seattle defense is soft enough to allow them to bounce back. He should score a fair bit this week. Titans kicker Ryan Succop is up next because this offense just finds ways to score points. They do it with big throws down the field, and that's where this Saints Defense can be had. Houston Texans kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn gets to go to Florida to play in the nice weather against a bad Buccaneers Defense. They should feast.

Chicago Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro is here largely because this game is at home. The Chiefs Defense has improved this season, but the Bears offense has done the same. They should be able to move the ball this week. Vikings kicker Dan Bailey is up next, and he could finish higher than his ranking. However, my major issue with him has to do with an offense that can struggle at times against aggressive defenses as the one Green Bay employs. If you're in a deep hole, he could have a big week to help you bounce back.

 

Kickers to Avoid

Joey Slye of the Carolina Panthers was a top-five lock for much of the year, but, as the offense has struggled, so has he. This week, they'll have a rookie quarterback in Will Grier starting his first game in a lost season. You just can't trust Slye this week.

Greg Zuerlein has not been here once in my two years of writing this column, but he is today. This offense struggles against defenses that apply a lot of pressure, and the 49ers Defense applies a lot of pressure. I don't want him as my kicker this week.

Austin Seibert has seen his offense explode at times this year, but they also just laid a goose egg in a great matchup last week. I don't want anything to do with him this week, and I want to avoid every Brown possible if I can help it this week.

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Week 15-16 Playoff Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Still doing things a little differently this week--for those of you who are still alive. I want to take a look at the playoffs as a whole (and in this case we are considering Weeks 14-16) and determine which DSTs you can ride all the way through and which ones you should stream this week. Those streamers will be likely options in multiple weeks of the playoffs.

Below are RotoBaller's Week 15-16 playoff defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 15 of the NFL and fantasy football season. In case you missed it, this is our seventh year now writing this weekly column.

Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver wire pickups to improve your lineups, and to decide which defenses to start, sit, target, avoid or stream for Week 15 and beyond. Starting the right defense every week can be a difference-maker. Below we have broken out our defense rankings into tiers with analysis on each matchup. Some of these Week 15 defenses have good matchups and are not widely-owned, representing fantasy scoring opportunities if they are available on your league's waiver wire for a Week 15 pickup or add. Good luck in Week 15 RotoBallers!

 

Playoff Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Breakdowns don't make a ton of sense here since my analysis will be different for each team each week, so I've gone with pure rankings in order of confidence in that team over the remaining two weeks of the playoffs.

Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 15 Opponent Week 16 Opponent
1 1 Baltimore Ravens Defense vs. NYJ @ CLE
2 1 New England Patriots Defense @ CIN vs. BUF
3 1 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense vs. BUF @ NYJ

 

Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 15 Opponent Week 16 Opponent
4 2 Buffalo Bills Defense @ PIT @ NE
5 2 Seattle Seahawks Defense @ CAR vs. ARI
6 2 San Francisco 49ers Defense vs. ATL vs. LAR
7 2 Kansas City Chiefs Defense vs. DEN @ CHI
8 2 Houston Texans Defense @ TEN @ TB
9 2 Los Angeles Rams Defense @ DAL @ SF

 

Middle and Lower Tier Defenses

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 15 Opponent Week 16 Opponent
10 3 Philadelphia Eagles Defense @ WAS vs. DAL
11 3 Dallas Cowboys Defense vs. LAR @ PHI
12 3 Washington Redskins Defense vs. PHI vs. NYG
13 3 Cleveland Browns Defense @ ARI vs. BAL
14 3 New Orleans Saints Defense vs. IND @ TEN
15 3 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense @ OAK @ ATL
16 3 Green Bay Packers Defense vs. CHI @ MIN

 

Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 15 Opponent Week 16 Opponent
17 4 Atlanta Falcons Defense @ SF vs. JAC
18 4 Los Angeles Chargers Defense vs. MIN @ OAK
19 4 Minnesota Vikings Defense @ LAC vs. GB
20 4 Tennessee Titans Defense vs. HOU vs. NO
21 4 Detroit Lions Defense vs. TB @ DEN

 

Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 15 Opponent Week 16 Opponent
22 5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense @ DET vs. HOU
23 5 New York Jets Defense @ BAL vs. PIT
24 5 Indianapolis Colts Defense @ NO vs. CAR
25 5 Miami Dolphins Defense @ NYG vs. CIN
26 5 Carolina Panthers Defense vs. SEA @ IND
27 5 Denver Broncos Defense @ KC vs. DET
28 5 New York Giants Defense vs. MIA @ WAS

 

Week 15 Streaming Defenses: Rankings

These are all DSTs who are owned in 50% or fewer of ESPN leagues (the ownership percentages are typically pretty similar regardless of platform). 

Rank DST Week 15 Opponent Week 16 Opponent
1 Seattle Seahawks Defense @ CAR vs. ARI
2 Kansas City Chiefs Defense vs. DEN @ CHI
3 Houston Texans Defense @ TEN @ TB
4 Dallas Cowboys Defense vs. LAR @ PHI
5 Washington Redskins Defense vs. PHI vs. NYG
6 Atlanta Falcons Defense @ SF vs. JAC
7 Los Angeles Chargers Defense vs. MIN @ OAK
8 Tennessee Titans Defense vs. HOU vs. NO
9 Detroit Lions Defense vs. TB @ DEN
10 New York Jets Defense @ BAL vs. PIT
11 Indianapolis Colts Defense @ NO vs. CAR
12 Miami Dolphins Defense @ NYG vs. CIN
13 Denver Broncos Defense @ KC vs. DET
14 New York Giants Defense vs. MIA @ WAS

More Fantasy Football Analysis


Check out RotoBaller's famous fantasy football draft sleepers and waiver wire pickups list, updated regularly!


Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.