Fantasy Football Strategy: Streaming Defense/Special Teams

by Mike Bonni
2021 Fantasy Football Week 5 Defense Stream-O-Matic

Welcome everyone to the most exciting article there is in fantasy football, Yes! That's right we are going to talk about the fantasy football strategy of streaming fantasy Defense/Special Teams.

Last year the position was dominated by two alpha defenses: the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers. Coming into this season San Francisco is the consensus number one DST in most rankings. As for the Patriots, they sit in the top ten respectfully.

Most preseason favored number one defenses don't live up to the hype and fail to actually finish at the top. The Chicago Bears proved this last year when they failed to end up as the number one defense after finishing up at the very top in 2018. Be cautious of that, don't get fooled.

In this article, I'm going to help you dominate your league's most divisive starting position, the dreaded DST. So please gear up for the wild ride.

Fantasy Football Strategy: Streaming Defense/Special Teams

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Know Your League's Rules

First off, before you do think about drafting or streaming at the DST, please look at your league rules pertaining to the DST position.

Becoming familiar with these rules and scoring settings should help you out tremendously while drafting and throughout the season. Most leagues are going to be the same, but you never know so just make sure.

For example, one well-known discrepancy is the difference between DST scoring in ESPN leagues compared to Yahoo or NFL leagues. In ESPN leagues, yardage allowed is factored into DST scoring. So even if the DST holds the opposing offense to zero points, you may not be rewarded with a huge score if they gave up a ton of yards.

Draft Strategy

When it comes to draft night, the DST position shouldn't even be on your mind until the end of your drafts. Any earlier and you are taking a risk of losing out on a good role player for a DST that can be very volatile. There is a very good chance that defense won't be the defense that is on your team at the end of the year anyway.

When drafting a DST there are a few things to look for. These things include schedule and the offense's they are facing in the first couple weeks. I prefer just drafting for the first week and streaming from there.

DSTs to target Week 1

New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphins

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My favorite pick right now would be the New England Patriots vs the Miami Dolphins. Yes, the Dolphins offense has gotten much better and the Patriots have lost quite a few big-name starters on defense this year because of COVID-19. Even without All-Pro Dont'a Hightower, and long time starting safety Patrick Chung, I would still target the Patriots defense against them.

The Patriots went 1-1 against the Dolphins in 2019. In Week 2, the Dolphins lost 0 to 43, with Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing zero touchdowns and three interceptions. In Week 16 the Dolphins actually beat the Patriots 27 to 24 with Fitzpatrick playing lights out that day. I think the Week 16 game was an outlier and I believe the Patriots once again will dominate the Dolphins - at least early on in the season like they always do.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Football Team

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The Philadelphia Eagles up against the Washington Football Team would be my second choice if the Patriots get taken. The Washington Football Team's offense looks like it might struggle for the first few weeks of the season. Without Derrius Guice, Adrian Peterson may struggle to carry the load. The offensive line got worse now that Trent Williams is gone. This bodes well for the Eagles because their strongest defensive unit is the defensive line, so Washington might be in for a long day. If it's Dwayne Haskins playing, expect some turnovers to happen.

If Alex Smith wins the job I would fade taking this defense, to be honest. I think they are a more cautious team with Smith at QB meaning there will be fewer turnovers.

Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets

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The Bills play the Jets, whose best player is Le'Veon Bell. This is unfortunate for the Jets, since the Bills are absolutely amazing at stopping the run. In 2019, the Bills held Bell to zero touchdowns scored and a combined 160 scrimmage yards over two games.

Without Bell making a difference, I believe Sam Darnold will struggle with turnovers and/or sacks going against the Bills. Expect the Buffalo Bills to be a top-scoring defense Week 1.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New York Giants

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Now for my last pick for Week 1, the Pittsburgh Steelers @ the New York Giants. The Steelers are one of the best pass-rushing teams this year with T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree coming off the edges. Pair that with the Giants' inability to keep their QB upright, and this should make for a perfect Week 1 streaming defense.

Daniel Jones also fumbles a decent amount, so you can expect at least one forced fumble from this defense, a decent amount of sacks, and possibly even an interception.

I actually like the Steelers defense a lot this year. I think they can be the number one defense by the end of the year. Getting Minkah Fitzpatrick changed everything for that defense.

Rest of Season

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Now that I gave you some teams for Week 1, I'll talk about the strategy for the rest of the year. That includes the most important part of your season, the playoffs.

For the rest of the season, the best option is to stream the position. Not often do you get what the Patriots gave you last year, where every week they had the potential to outscore skill positions.

My advice here would be to target the offenses that have turnover issues, low scoring/yard averages, and terrible offensive lines.

For one or more of the reasons above, the offenses you want to target include:

  1. Washington Football Team: Low scoring totals, offensive line problems, young QB who makes a lot of mistakes. The list can go on and on. However, if Smith starts, I would suggest fading this team most weeks.
  2. New York Giants: A turnover happy QB, run-heavy team, and a weak offensive line is a recipe for defensive success.
  3. New York Jets: Mr. Seeing Ghosts, Darnold is there. Interceptions can come in bunches, not to mention their offensive line problems. This is not a potent offense led by Adam Gase.
  4. Chicago Bears: The Bears are a run-heavy team with shaky QB play. However, with Nick Foles as a starter, they may not turn the ball over that much.
  5. Miami Dolphins: Fitzpatrick will give the ball up a lot some weeks, you just have to pick the right week. If he's out there against the Patriots, Steelers, or any of those top defenses he will surely struggle.
  6. Los Angeles Chargers: If it's Tyrod Taylor, fade this defense. They won't be turning the ball over much with Taylor at the helm. If its Justin Herbert, I would suggest trying to get the defense for that week. Rookie QBs usually struggle with turnover issues, and Herbert will most certainly struggle as a rookie. This is another team with a bad offensive line.

As you can see, the best fantasy Fantasy Football Strategy for Streaming Defense/Special Teams is to target offenses that have bad QB play or a young QB that would make mistakes.

Another good thing to look for is the offensive line. As you can tell all the teams I mentioned above have a shaky offensive line. A shaky offensive line leads to sacks and dumb decisions which can lead to interceptions and fumbles.

Last Word

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With this all being said, if you think your team has a good chance at the playoffs around the mid-season point, start scouring the schedules. Target the DST that plays against the mediocre offenses during your playoff weeks.

This will most definitely help you in your fight for the championship. However, it is hard to predict which teams will be mediocre by the end of the year because anything can happen.

As of right now though I would be targeting the DST's going up against offenses like the Dolphins, Jets, Bears, Giants, Washington, and possibly the Chargers.

Good luck in your drafts everyone, be safe out there.

Check out the rest of our 2020 Fantasy Football draft kit content from our great team of writers.

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