By: Brendan Schick
Fantasy football prep season is here! Yes, it is still early July, but that doesn’t mean the eccentric fantasy nut jobs of the world (me) haven’t started game planning for their eventual league championship! (Full disclaimer: I have won one fantasy league in seven years of playing fantasy football. I like to believe I know what I’m doing, but, take my advice with a grain of salt, please)
The fantasy world is aflame with names such as Todd Gurley, Antonio Brown, Saquon Barkley, and Ezekiel Elliott, which is understandable because flashy players that go in the first round typically carry teams to playoff appearances. However, it is not the first round that decides championships, as savvy drafting throughout the middle and later rounds is needed to secure the ultimate prize. So, this blog is dedicated to the overlooked position of D/ST on a fantasy team, and why drafting and streaming wisely can be the difference between glory and the basement.
What is this “streaming” that I speak of? No, it has nothing to do with natural waterways nor does it relate to Netflix. It does, however, refer to the active in-season management of fantasy owners that add/drop waiver wire defenses to take advantage of plus matchups. Teams like the NY Jets, Buffalo Bills, and Cleveland Browns are all teams that have dicey quarterback situations, mainly because of rookie quarterbacks in the building, and teams like the aforementioned present what the pros call “tasty matchups.” For example, the Green Bay Packers defense is a middling squad, and probably will go un-drafted in some leagues. However, if the Packers are playing the Bills, it might be advantageous to burn a waiver pick a week in advance to secure a good matchup in your lineup if your current starting defense is going up against the Patriots, for example.
I always laugh heartily when that one moron drafts a defense in the 8th/9th round, and that is something that will happen eventually in most leagues. While the top defense goes off the board, there is no need to panic and feel like drafting a defense just because someone else did is imperative. Take advantage of that owner’s mistake, and use the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and even the 12th round of the draft to bolster your bench. Defenses are volatile, and vary from week to week. While it is nice to have a Seahawks circa 2015 defense in your fantasy lineup, it is simply not worth it to draft a defense early and play them every week expecting top tier results. You can get quality streaming defenses much later than you think, and sometimes good defenses even go un-drafted. There will be bad weeks for even the best defenses because of *matchups.*
That is why streaming is the best option! Playing the matchup game will win leagues. Some defenses I am targeting as streaming options include the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, and Detroit Lions. Why? The answer is simple. The Patriots will see the Jets twice a year, the Bills twice a year, and the Dolphins twice a year. The same logic applies to the Dolphins in regard to seeing the Bills and Jets. Likewise, the Lions will see the Bears twice a year. The key is to take advantage of weak offensive groups and match them with a defensive unit a week or two in advance. Let someone else take the Jaguars defense in the eighth round. Use those middle rounds to draft high-upside bench players. You never know who will be this year’s Kareem Hunt, and drafting a defense before players who can and will contribute will be the downfall of many owners this season and every season after it. Keep your eyes on the waiver wire, plan ahead, and good things will come!
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