As each week passes in the 2015 NFL season, fantasy owners should be able to obtain more clarity on players current and future fantasy value, which can then be used to help owners make the best possible decisions when setting lineups each week. In our case, this column hopes to identify potential offenses fantasy defenses can take advantage of on a weekly basis and this is precisely what happened in Week 3. Teams like the San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Chicago Bears, and St. Louis Rams stood out as the dismal quarterback play of Colin Kaepernick, Blake Bortles, Jimmy Clausen, and Nick Foles means fantasy owners should be targeting these teams when looking to stream potential defenses. Even a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers took a hit as Ben Roethlisberger suffered a sprained MCL and bone bruise and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks, which means 35-year-old Michael Vick is the next man up. While Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and the return of Martavis Bryant next week forms a formidable trio on offense for the Steelers, the insertion of a turnover-prone and inaccurate Vick is a definite downgrade to the offense as a whole. With that being said, there are a plethora of better offenses to stream defenses against unless you’re desperate.
Alas, let’s get to the Week 4 matchups and identify who you should be streaming.
Philadelphia Eagles – (54.0% owned in ESPN) – at Redskins – I know I’ve mentioned before teams above the 50 percent ownership level won’t be featured in this column, but as of last night they were 42.2% owned so I’m going to make an exception here. The Eagles had a fine outing last week against the New York Jets as they racked up three interceptions, a fumble recovery, sack, and touchdown thanks to a punt return from Darren Sproles. While the team has only registered five sacks so far through the first three games, they have forced eight turnovers which is tied for the third-most in the NFL. The Eagles have another nice matchup this week as they face a Redskins team who looks like they will be missing DeSean Jackson (hamstring) as he missed practice today. Stopping Matt Jones and Alfred Morris will be the main concern as Pierre Garcon is really the lone threat for the Redskins through the air and so far this year the Eagles are only allowing 3.1 yards per rush. Kirk Cousins has shown he’s not fit as a starter throughout his career and he already has four interceptions this season. Cousins has more interceptions (23) than touchdowns (21) in his career. In other words, fire up the Eagles defense with confidence.
Green Bay Packers – (47.0% owned) – at 49ers – Although the Packers gave up 28 points to the Chiefs in Week 3, they also had seven sacks and an interception for a solid fantasy outing. Fantasy owners should be licking their chops to add the Packers defense this week as they get to face the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick who handed out two pick-sixes and four interceptions in all last week as he could only muster a putrid 67 passing yards. The 49ers rank 25th in yards allowed per game (382.3) and 27th against the pass and they stand little to no chance of stopping Aaron Rodgers and Co. The high-powered Packers offense will likely score early and often, forcing the 49ers to rely on Kaepernick’s arm to lead a comeback, which just isn’t the game script the 49ers are going to have much success with. You can likely pencil in a couple of sacks and turnovers for the Packers and they make for an excellent streamer in Week 4.
Cincinnati Bengals – (26.0% owned) – vs. Chiefs – The Bengals defense was solid the first two weeks of the year before having a lackluster outing in Week 3 as they only racked up one interception and gave up 24 points. While the Bengals are T-28th in the NFL with only two sacks through the first three games, the Kansas City Chiefs have allowed the most sacks (14), so if there was ever a time for the Bengals pass rush to get going it would be this week. Two factors favoring Cincinnati is the fact they will be playing at home in Paul Brown Stadium and it will be a short week for the Chiefs as they played on Monday. Alex Smith is pretty stingy when it comes to not turning the ball over, but if the Bengals fifth-ranked run defense can hold Jamaal Charles in check and force Smith to throw more than he’s accustomed too, the Chiefs O-line issues will certainly come into play.
Indianapolis Colts – (33.9% owned) – vs. Jaguars – Against a much better offense and quarterback last week facing the Tennessee Titans and Marcus Mariota, the Colts managed to accumulate three sacks and two interceptions, one of which was a pick-six. In Week 4, they get to face one of the worst quarterbacks in the league at home in Blake Bortles. The 23-year-old has only managed to complete 53.8% of his passes this year and has already thrown three interceptions while the majority of his production has come in garbage time. Rookie running back T.J. Yeldon is only averaging 3.3 YPC so far and that leaves Allen Robinson as the main threat on offense. Although Robinson is a special talent, the erratic play of Bortles limits both his upside and the entire offense as a whole. The Jags own the 24th-ranked offense in the NFL and while the Colts defense is certainly nothing to write home about, this particular matchup should be given strong consideration when considering what defense to stream this week.
San Diego Chargers – (2.5% owned) – vs. Browns – As long as career backup Josh McCown is starting at quarterback for the Browns, they make for an every-week target for streaming defenses and it’s no different this week even though the Chargers defense hasn’t produced much fantasy-wise so far. McCown is completing only 57.9% of his pass attempts and has already thrown an interception with a fumble lost in his first two games under center. While the Chargers are T-28th against the run this year, Browns running backs Isaiah Crowell (3.5 YPC) and Duke Johnson (3.0 YPC) have both struggled so far and don’t possess a major threat out of the backfield. Surprisingly, San Diego ranks 3rd against the pass this year and with Travis Benjamin as the only legit receiving option on the Browns, they are poised to have success if they can manage to limit the ground attack. The Chargers are 7.5 point favorites at home and the Browns have allowed defenses to average nine points against them. Don’t be afraid to target the Chargers due to their low ownership percentage in what is a juicy matchup.
Thanks to NFL.com 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.