Week 2 Streaming Defenses: Based on what went down in Week 1, the Bears, Giants and Dolphins are intriguing options that are likely available in your league.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: The Chicago Bears
Good: The Chicago Bears have acquired one of the top defensive players in the league: Khalil Mack. This move vaults this mediocre defense into a potential early-season, every-week starter. Mack brings big play potential with his ability to pressure quarterbacks quickly and consistently throughout the game. This limits the amount of time quarterbacks have to go through their progressions, which forces them to either make quick throws or scramble. Either way, it makes it tougher for offenses to have downhill plays that result in huge gains. With their next game against Seattle, a team that has consistently had a sub-par offensive line, Mack will have plenty of opportunities to get to the quarterback and create opportunities for the defense to capitalize off of Russell Wilson’s forced plays.
Bad: Seattle is still a team that puts up points, even if their O-line is terrible. The Bears’ defense will not be able to stop points going on the board with Wilson at the helm. He has the ability to scramble and turn nothing plays into positive gains (though this might change with Baldwin potentially missing the next game).
However, the allure of this defense does not come from its ability to stop offenses from scoring, it comes from making big plays. Denver showed last week that stopping Seattle isn’t required to have a good fantasy outing. Seattle scored 24 points, but also gave up two interceptions, one fumble, and an insane six sacks. With Wilson scrambling all over trying to make a play, it is likely that Mack and company will get several sacks, as well as force turnovers. Plus, I’m betting that one of those turnovers results in a touchdown.
The Ugly: Last week we saw the Bears turn Green Bay’s offense into a third tier team for the first quarter. They held Aaron Rodgers’ offense to only 20 yards in four drives (an average of five yards per drive). They also sacked Rodgers twice and had a forced fumble (recovered by Green Bay). Those are significant stats for any defense playing Green Bay. After Rodgers got hurt, the defense put up some great numbers, but that won’t be discussed because of the backup quarterback situation.
What is more important to discuss is what happened once Rodgers was back in. The defense should have had a field day with the immobility of Rodgers and the predictable game plan, but instead decided to stop playing. Giving up 21 points in the fourth quarter, Rodgers led a memorable comeback to beat the Bears 24-23. By most accounts, the entire Bears team mentally stopped playing. With Wilson’s ability to put up big numbers, the Bears could find themselves chasing points early. If this happens, it is tough to predict the effectives of Chicago’s offense and defense. If it’s a repeat of last week’s second half, this streaming option could end up disastrous.
Verdict: The Bears have too much talent on defense (and offense) to let this game get out of hand. Wilson is a great quarterback, but one can only do so much with a terrible O-line and an injured lead receiver. Wilson will find a way to get the Seahawks on the board, but by doing so, he’ll have to take some risks, giving the Bears plenty of opportunities to make big plays.
Prediction: PA: 20-30, Total Yards: 250-300, Sacks: 5, Fumbles: 1, Interceptions: 2, TD: 1, Fantasy Points: 10-15
The Diamond in the Rough: The New York Giants
Believe it or not, the team that is owned in less than two percent of ESPN leagues could be a great addition to your lineup this week. In Week 2, they will be facing the Dallas Cowboys. Both teams lost close matches last week, both faced tough defenses (Jaguars being the tougher of the two), and both are looking to bounce back. On paper, the Cowboys would be the pick to win, but looking at how they performed last week might change your mind.
The Cowboys faced the Panthers in Week 1, which resulted in a low-scoring, defensive game. Both Carolina and Dallas couldn’t seem to get much going on offense, but the Cowboys’ offensive struggles were particularly worrisome. For instance, it wasn’t until the second half that the Cowboys managed to get past the 50-yard line. This could be due to the offensive line struggling to contain the Panthers’ front seven and open up lanes for Ezekiel Elliott (69 rushing yards total). But through the air, they didn’t fare much better. Dak Prescott only tallied 170 yards and no receiver gained over 80 yards. The only thing that kept them in the game was their much improved defense.
The Giants, however, were facing arguably the best defense in the league. Again, a strong defensive unit kept the struggling offense in the game, but the numbers were far different. Eli Manning threw over 220 yards against one of the toughest secondaries, while Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. both tallied over 100 yards. The Giants could have been much better though. There were some miscommunication between Manning and Beckham that led to two missed touchdown opportunities, and it seemed that the offensive line still has not transitioned completely with its new personnel. But with another week to sort out the bugs, the Giants have possibly one of the most-balanced offenses in the league with a top ten (potentially top five) player at running back, receiver and tight end.
If the Giants can put all the pieces together, it would not be surprising if they ran up the score (upper 20s/lower 30s), forcing Dallas to match their offensive. For the Cowboys, that doesn’t seem possible. Dallas has put all of their hopes in Elliott to be their workhorse and stripped their receiving corps (Dez Bryant). With the offensive line struggling and the potential return of Oliver Vernon, Elliott might be shut down again, leaving Prescott to make more throws. But to whom? Their receivers are not the same caliber as the Giants and their star tight end retired last year. With Janoris Jenkins and the young, talented Eli Apple at corner, it is going to be tough for Prescott to make big plays. He will most likely use Cole Beasley, mainly throwing under routes. But if the Giants are clicking on offense, that strategy just won’t work. They will need to put up points and quickly, leading to more turnovers and sacks.
Verdict: If the Giants continue to play the way they did last week, their defensive unit will not put up big numbers (3-8). But I’m betting that Manning comes out next week and puts up a top-five stat line forcing Prescott to match. If you want to take a chance on Manning, or you just hate the Cowboys, pick up the Giants defense.
Prediction: PA: 10-20, Total Yards: 200-250, Sacks: 3, Fumbles: 0, Interceptions: 2, TD: 0, Fantasy Points: 8-13
Flip a Coin: Miami Dolphins/New York Jets
This game is going to produce a lot of defensive points, but for which team? Both teams have lackluster offenses and are mistake-prone. Although the Jets just put up 48 points, most of their points came from one quarter (31 points in the third quarter). Also, their defense/special teams scored two touchdowns and intercepted the ball a whopping five times. Should the opposing team limit the turnover rates and not allow big plays, the Jets will make mistakes and lead to a great defensive outing.
Just look at the Detroit Lions. They surrendered 48 points but still managed to produce 7-9 points depending on your league. If you erase the defensive scoring and one long run by Crowell, the Lions would have scored 15+ points. Luckily for most defenses, the Jets will not score that much again, but will still be the same team that surrendered two sacks, one fumble, one interception, and one touchdown. Up next is Miami. Although the Dolphins have a lot of question marks with their defensive personnel, they do have a great opportunity to capitalize on a turnover/mistake-prone quarterback.
The Jets defense was hyped up at the beginning of the preseason and did fairly well. While it was preseason and those games don’t reveal that much, it was a good start. Now, with the tidal wave of big plays displayed against the Lions, people might be looking to catch the next wave. Matthew Stafford was repeatedly praised on the draft boards as a great value and potential top five quarterback, but the Jets shut him down. Although he passed for over 250 yards, he also had four interceptions. This might be a fluke, but to pick apart a consistently top ten fantasy quarterback is a promising sign. Fortunately for the Jets, their next quarterback is Ryan Tannehill, who gave up two interceptions and a touchdown to the Titans in Week 1. So another great week could be in store.
Verdict: I’m predicting that the Jets are going to be boom or bust this week, with the Dolphins being the safer pick. If you are feeling risky and want to ride the Jets’ momentum one more week, pick them up.
Prediction (Jets): PA: 20-30, Total Yards: 350-400, Sacks: 2, Fumbles: 0, Interceptions: 3, TD: 1, Fantasy Points: 10-20