If you were lucky enough to escape Week 2 without anyone on your fantasy team going down with an injury, consider yourself extremely fortunate. Notable players like Tony Romo (collarbone), Drew Brees (shoulder), Jay Cutler (hamstring), Matthew Stafford (chest), Eddie Lacy (ankle), Tevin Coleman (ribs), Jason Witten (ankle/knee) , Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder), Eric Decker (knee), Jordan Cameron (groin), Lamar Miller (ankle), and Carlos Hyde (leg) suffered ailments in a brutal day for injuries around the NFL.
Undoubtedly some of you own one or more of the players listed above and while you can consider yourself unlucky for the time being, there is no time waste to try and better your team from here on out. Be diligent when examining the waiver wire and the trade market as you should be exploring all avenues to try to improve your squad, especially if the injury bug has hit you hard so far.
Week 2 didn’t exactly go according to script for defenses with favorable or unfavorable situations as teams like the Dolphins, Texans, Ravens, and Titans underperformed in prime matchups while the Jets, Cowboys, Buccaneers, and Browns surprised many fantasy owners with their stout efforts in tough matchups. Ah, another week of unpredictably in perhaps the most parity-filled sport there is. With little time to dwell on the past, why don’t we go ahead and look forward to identifying the top-5 defenses under 50% owned to stream in Week 3.
Cincinnati Bengals – (21.9% owned in ESPN) – at Ravens – The Bengals turned in another fine defensive outing in Week 2 against the San Diego Chargers as they held them to 19 points and forced three turnovers (2 FR, 1 INT) in the process. Additionally, the Bengals also racked up four sacks, the most for the unit since 2013. The Bengals have yet to allow 20 points in a game and they could be primed to extend the streak to a third consecutive game as they face a mediocre Baltimore Ravens offense this weekend. While the Ravens hung up 33 points on the Raiders in Week 2, there is a huge disparity between the Raiders and Bengals defenses. Another factor working in the Bengals favor is the fact that while the Ravens top offensive weapons of Steve Smith, Justin Forsett, and Crockett Gillmore are solid, it’s not an overwhelming offense by any means.
Cleveland Browns – (13.7% owned) – vs. Raiders – While Derek Carr looked terrific against the Ravens last week, I’m taking my chances on him not having another stellar effort as he’s heading to the Dawg Pound for a tough matchup. The Browns sacked Marcus Mariota seven times while forcing three fumbles and delivering a touchdown in what was a fine fantasy outing last Sunday. The Browns secondary has excelled defending the pass thus far and game script could work in their favor if the team can jump out to a decisive lead and force the Raiders to abandon the running game. Latavius Murray and Amari Cooper are the main threats on offense and certainly pose a formidable threat, but the Browns should make for a solid streaming option as the Raiders offense can’t be viewed as a high-octane offense quite yet.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – (4.0% owned) – at Texans – The public consensus was the Bucs would get throttled by the Saints in the Superdome after looking downright awful in Week 1 against the Titans, but they more than held their own as they forced three turnovers (2 FR, 1 INT) and amassed four sacks for a 12-point outing. Outside of Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins who is a force to be reckoned with, the team lacks explosive weapons on offense. The possible return of Arian Foster (groin) would obviously downgrade the Bucs prospects of a useful fantasy outing and it’s unclear at the time of this writing whether he will play. This is a situation that fantasy owners need to closely monitor in the coming days leading up to Sunday. Helping the Bucs cause is the fact that Ryan Mallett is a below-average quarterback as he’s only completed 49.3% of his passes so far and last week he averaged a pathetic 4.2 YPA on 58 pass attempts. This is not an offense fantasy owners need to be concerned about and the Bucs could make for a sneaky play.
UPDATE: DeAndre Hopkins missed practice on Wednesday with a concussion and with only four days to be cleared under the concussion protocol, it seems unlikely that Nuk will suit up on Sunday. Monitor his status and if he is ruled out, you can fire up the Bucs D/ST with confidence.
Atlanta Falcons – (2.8% owned) – at Cowboys – With Dez Bryant and Romo out for the foreseeable future for America’s team and Witten questionable to play with two sprained ankles and a sprained knee, the Falcons make for a nice streaming option with Brandon Weeden at the helm for the Cowboys now. While the Falcons have only forced three turnovers through he first two games, it’s clear the hiring of defensive-minded head coach Dan Quinn has made an impact on the defenses improvement so far as they are off to a 2-0 start to the 2015 season. Color me skeptical that a team “led” by Weeden, Joseph Randle, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley will manage to make fantasy noise. Weeden has displayed poor pocket presence in his limited duty over the years and has a grotesque 27/28 TD/INT ratio with 13 fumbles and a lousy 56.4% completion percentage over his 29 career games. It’s going to be a struggle for the Cowboys to consistently move the chains with their best weapons unavailable. The Falcons are primed to rack up a few sacks and turnovers.
Washington Redskins – (1.0% owned) – at Giants – The Redskins defense has been a pleasant surprise so far as they have only allowed 27 points combined over their first two games and they could make for a solid play in a Thursday night matchup in the Meadowlands. The Redskins registered one sack against the Rams in Week 2 but no turnovers and that has been an issue in the first two games as they have only registered one turnover. With that being said, it’s a short week and this tends to favor the defenses. Additionally, while Eli Manning has only committed one turnover so far, he isn’t exactly known for his accuracy and he’s had plenty of issues with interceptions throughout his career. Outside of Odell Beckham, the Giants don’t have much to work with on offense other than Shane Vereen and Rashad Jennings. If you’re desperate, give the Redskins a shot.
Thanks to Yahoo and ESPN for providing the statistical information. Be sure to comment below with any questions or remarks. You can follow me on Twitter @MattMoczy and I’m more than willing to answer any questions.