Streaming Defenses: What it is, and Why it matters

If you’ve read any of my articles on draft strategy, you know I advocate for taking a defense and kicker in the last two rounds. The reason I lump kickers and defenses into the same category is that they have similar value. But, what makes up a players value? Basically three things: Points they produce, scarcity of position, and how many roles they can fill for your team: basic supply and demand. (More on that later). But what if the defense you draft, suffers some injuries, has a tough matchup week one, or just plain looks like crap during the preseason? No problem. As a matter of fact there will be multiple games where even the top defenses are absolutely unplayable. Opponents such as The Packers, The Steelers, and The Broncos are tough no matter who you are. But does this mean you need to draft a back up defense? Uh NO! Due to the reasons I will outline later, this is just silly. So what do I recommend instead? Streaming Defenses. This is simply picking up a favored defense on a weekly basis. Easy as that. Defenses that play teams such as The Rams, The Jaguars, or The Buccaneers are going to perform better quite frankly because these are pretty sub par offensive teams. Now, these are the best and the worst from last season, so things may change, but it’s a really good place to start.

Why Streaming Defenses is the best strategy.

Okay let’s go back to those three things I mentioned before, points, scarcity, and role fulfillment. These are things are how we decide how valuable a position is. We’ll get into points and scarcity later, but let’s talk about role fulfillment. A defense can only play in one roster spot for your team. You don’t have to play multiple defenses. A defense can’t fill a flex spot on your roster. One spot, that’s it. Now let’s look at points and scarcity. These are last season’s top performing defenses.

1. Bills

2. Eagles

3. Seahawks

4. Texans

5. Lions

6. Panthers

7. Ravens

8. Packers

9. Rams

10. 49ers

Between these top guys, there was a four point difference in game average between numero uno The Bills, and the tenth best guys the 49ers. Not too much of a spread. But the kicker is that after that there isn’t much of a fall off. The team that was 12th from the bottom. (20th overall) There was only a 1.5 point difference. And even the worst of the worst, The Raiders, had at least one game where they scored in the double digits. (against the 49ers, who last season were the 25th ranked offensive team) This tells us that as far points go, defenses don’t have a lot of value. (Not much point discrepancy) It also tells us that there is a lot of available teams to fill your roster needs. Every single team was playable at least once during regular season, and the top twenty were all within about 5 points of each other. This is why you don’t want to draft a defense early, and why it doesn’t make sense to carry more than one on your roster. They don’t have a lot of positional value. Instead stock up on receiver, or running back depth. Speaking of….

For reference lets check out running backs. You hear a lot about running backs right? They seem pretty important? Well these are last season’s top performers:

1.Demarco Murray

2. Le’Veon Bell

3. Marshawn Lynch

4. Matt Forte

5. Arian Foster

6. Eddie Lacy

7. Jamaal Charles

8. Justin Forsett

9. Lamar Miller

10. Jeremy Hill

Now between these guys there is almost a nine point discrepancy in points per game. (*ahem* double the point spread between defenses) And the discrepancy between the 10th RB Hill, and the 35th ranked RB LeGarrett Blount? 5 points. More than the spread between the top ranked kickers. The worst ranked RB literally had a negative PPG average, -.1. It wasn’t until the 154th ranked RB that a running back had a positive PPG average. It was a whopping .1. But what about role fulfillment? While defenses can only fill one role on standard rosters, running backs can fill three. You are required to start at least two running backs, and they can also fill your flex position. So while standard 10 team leagues only require 10 defenses, they can need up to 30 running backs. So their point production is more relevant, and their role fulfillment is three times as useful. How about scarcity? The number of running backs available affects the scarcity. You have a 1 in 250 chance of drafting the top running back (based on rankings for 2014). You have a 1 in 32 chance of drafting the top defense. Simple. Drop that extra defense and get more depth at running back, or wide receiver. That’s an order.

So what did we learn?

1.To stream a defense means to pick up a defense based on weekly matchups

2. DON’T carry more than one defense on your fantasy team. (seriously)

Good luck!