Each and every year there’s a handful of defenses that players love to draft so they can start them the entire season.
This year, those defenses include the Jaguars, the Vikings and the Rams, among others.
Based on statistics from Fantasy Football Calculator, the Jaguars defense/special teams (D/ST) was, on average, drafted in the eighth round in both points-per-reception (PPR) and non-PPR formats. For players who pay just a little attention to their team each week, that is way too high.
For players who waited until the last minute to draft a defense, then streaming, or picking up a team to use for short periods of time, becomes a solid option.
What’s wrong with keeping a defense?
Starting one defense for an entire season can be problematic for numerous reasons. First of all, you don’t want to be stuck starting your go-to defense when they play an elite offense, such as the Patriots, Eagles (with Carson Wentz) or Saints.
Second of all, your defense has a bye week. If you want to start your D/ST the week after their bye week, that means you’re forced to drop a valuable bench player for a second defense.
The only reason you would have to hang onto a defense for an entire season is if you’re in a league in which, for some reason, each team owner regularly owns two defenses. I’m in such a league, but the league only has 10 people, and some owners are figuring out they only need one defense each week. Ninety-nine percent of the time, there is a start-worthy defense that can be added on the waiver wire.
Choosing a streaming option
To stream a defense means to change your defense on a week-to-week basis based on matchup.
When choosing a defense, the first thing you should consider is the opponent. For example, a defense that plays against a lackluster Miami or Buffalo offense has a good chance to have a strong showing.
Another factor to consider is whether or not your defense is playing at home or on the road. Teams that play at home win more often than teams on the road.
Also, think about injuries on opposing offenses. If a team is playing without their top running back or quarterback, or if the team only has half of their offensive line healthy, the opposing defense is going to have an easier time stopping the offense and coming up with big plays.
Managing a budget
If the league you’re in has a limited budget for acquisitions, you’ll want to look at your defense’s upcoming schedule. If you can safely start a defense multiple weeks in a row, you can save your free agent budget for other spots.
The most important thing to remember when streaming defenses is to be active. You want to secure your defense for the week sooner rather than later.
That doesn’t necessarily mean using your waiver on a defense, but you want to be one step ahead of the other teams that stream defenses. If your league’s waivers process on Wednesday mornings, swap your defense before lunch.