Streaming your D/ST in redraft leagues has been a commonly employed tactic for some time. Although the best defensive units in the NFL will most likely be taken in your league, success can be had through streaming. Sure, a lot can be said for drafting a top 5 unit and watching it steadily bring home points throughout the season. If you’re willing to take the time and effort to select your D/ST from one week to the next, you can still be a force to be reckoned with.
We can assume that the top 16 D/ST units are off the board in your league set-up. Don’t worry. In the first four weeks of the season, you will be able to bring home points through streaming. Let’s take a look at some exciting options in Weeks 1-4 of the 2020 season:
Streaming Week 1: Bengals D/ST v LA Chargers
Current ADP: 167.6 (17th overall)
In the opening week of the season most people will have their eyes firmly fixed on the debut of the Bengals’ rookie QB Joe Burrow. However, it is on the other side of the ball that you should be looking for fantasy value.
The Bengals will face either Burrow’s fellow rookie Justin Herbert or perennial backup Tyrod Taylor. The disruption to the offseason caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will most likely work in Taylor’s favour. With a crucial part of the season’s preparations completed virtually, Herbert will miss out on forming connections with his new teammates. The Chargers did rank 10th in offence in 2019, but the departures of mainstays Philip Rivers (Indianapolis Colts) and Melvin Gordon (Denver Broncos) have changed the outlook in LA. Whoever is under centre for the Chargers in 2020, the Bengals are a sure-fire contender to start in your Week 1 line-up.
Week 2: Philadelphia Eagles D/ST v LA Rams
Current ADP: 172.8 (25th overall)
We can stay with teams playing at home to California franchises in Week 2 with our streaming method.
Jared Goff had a strange season in 2019. Goff was third in the NFL in total yards in 2019 (4,638 overall), which suggests he continued on an upward trend after his Super Bowl appearance. However, the statistics collectively point towards a step back. Goff had just 22 passing TDs, tied 16th in the league, and 2 fewer than Giants rookie Daniel Jones. In terms of pass completion percentage Goff was 26th, sandwiched between Mitchell Trubisky and Steelers’ third string QB Duck Hodges. Goff also threw a career-high 16 interceptions in 2019, possibly the most worrying sign of his regression.
The Philadelphia secondary was poor in 2019, and one drawback of the pick here is the presence of LA receivers Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. However, the acquisition of Darius Say from the Detroit Lions is a much needed tonic at cornerback. Slay’s arrival, coupled with the removal of Todd Gurley at running back, should lighten any fears that the Rams will overrun the Eagles in Week 2.
Week 3: Cleveland Browns D/ST v Washington Redskins
ADP: 168.7 (20th overall)
The Cleveland Browns have all the pieces to be a streaming option on multiple occasions next year. In this early season home game against Washington, expect the Browns to bring home the bacon.
The Redskins were 31st in offence in 2019, and ranked last in the league in both total points (226) and pass YPG (175.8). The odds are stacked against Dwayne Haskins, who is entering his second year in the league. He completed just 58.6% of his passes in his rookie year, and managed just 7 passing touchdowns in 9 starts.
The Redskins did average nearly 100 rushing yards per game last season, but expect the workload to be shared in 2020. Adrian Peterson is firmly in the twilight of his career, and a healthy Derrius Guice should lead the backfield next year. Antonio Gibson may also contribute as a rookie, too.
The Redskins franchise is on an upward trajectory if they can get the best out of rookies Antonio Gandy-Golden and Antonio Gibson. Don’t expect this transition towards mediocrity to take place before Week 3, though.
Week 4: Jacksonville Jaguars D/ST @ Cincinnati Bengals
ADP 169.5 (21st overall)
Our final early season streaming option is the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville has remoulded their defensive unit in the wake of the loss of Calais Campbell. Joe Schobert has strengthened the line-backer position, which will likely see Miles Jack move to the outside. K’Lavon Chaisson and CJ Henderson should be immediate contributors on defence, too.
We return to the rookie QB option and Joe Burrow in Week 4. All signs point towards Burrow being a success in the NFL. However, it will take time to reconstruct the Bengals roster and transform it into a genuine force in the NFL. After all, Peyton Manning threw 28 INTs in his rookie year as the Colts struggled to a 3-13 finish. He went on to become one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of a generation.
The Bengals, now without Andy Dalton, ranked 26th in the league in total offence in 2019. They will be boosted by the likely return of AJ Green. It will be some time however before wee see the fruits of the budding relationship between rookie quarterback and Green.
-Tom Scott @downthemannyrd