These defenses will help push your Week 8 teams into the money.
Week 7 Streaming Scores served as worthwhile guides to some of the week’s best defensive plays, including a tournament option that finished as a top-3 unit — showing that a home run swing sometimes connects.
The Ravens were a cheap and effective Week 7 defensive play against a Falcons offensive line that might not be able to block you and three of your strongest friends. Baltimore, highlighted in this space last week, collected five sacks, a turnover and a safety against Atlanta’s dumpster fire offense.
Meanwhile, our cash game plays — the Browns and Bills — fared just fine against sack-and-turnover prone offenses. Both of our conservative defensive plays finished the week as a top-10 unit. The main Week 7 takeaway is that defensive selection is as process-oriented as anything in fantasy football. Focusing on favorable matchups should always be at the center of our decision making processes.
Let’s move on to Week 8’s best cash game and tournament plays, once again using Streaming Scores to identify the juiciest matchups.
A team’s Streaming Score doesn’t incorporate how stifling or generous a certain defense has been. It’s entirely matchup based.
Week 8 Fantasy Football Defenses for Cash Games
Detroit Lions ($6,200) vs. Atlanta Falcons
We’re going to keep rolling with defenses squaring off against Atlanta. The Falcons, after seven weeks, have a bottom-12 pass blocking line and a bottom-2 run blocking unit. They now face the league’s most fearsome front seven with little chance of running the ball and no chance of keeping Matt Ryan upright. Ryan has been sacked 10 times since Week 6.
Detroit has been almost as dominant against the pass as they’ve been against opposing runners. The Lions are DraftDay’s seventh priciest defense this week — a price well worth playing. They’re uber-safe with a nice upside even if Atlanta is able to generate a few points here and there. Deploy Detroit with supreme confidence.
Miami Dolphins ($5,700) at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Dolphins, for $500 less than the Lions, represent what could be the safest Week 8 defensive play. Last week was the first week that Jacksonville hasn’t given up double digit fantasy points to an opposing defense. The Browns still scraped by with eight points thanks to three mostly-hideous interceptions from rookie Blake Bortles.
The Jags have given up 10 turnovers since Bortles took over the starting gig. Jacksonville discovered something resembling a running attack last week against a porous Cleveland front seven — a luxury they won’t have against a Miami defense that has shut down opposing runners since Kansas City ran all over the Dolphins in Week 3. Miami is your set-it-and-forget-it option for Week 8.
Week 7 Fantasy Football Defenses for Tournaments
New York Jets ($3,000) vs. Buffalo Bills
The Jets, DraftDay’s cheapest Week 8 defensive option, are available for a stunning $4,800 less than the top-priced Seattle defense. I don’t see any reason the Jets’ defense can’t outscore the Seahawks’ defense in Week 8.
New York’s pass defense is atrocious, sure, but does the Buffalo passing attack scare you all that much? While Kyle Orton has proven competent and Sammy Watkins has benefited from a glut of targets, the Bills hardly represent a team that could eviscerate Gang Green’s secondary.
Buffalo is giving up 1.6 turnovers per game. Without Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller — and against a Jets’ front seven allowing just 3.5 yards per carry — I expect Orton to throw it upwards of 40 times in this one. That’s a major opportunity for the Jets — one that makes them a classic boom-bust tournament play.
Dallas Cowboys ($5,850) vs. Washington
I wouldn’t begrudge anyone for using the Cowboys’ defense everywhere and anywhere if and when it’s confirmed that Colt McCoy will start in this Monday night matchup. McCoy represents zero upgrade over dispatched starter Kirk Cousins.
Dallas’ defense, for the first time since the season’s opening week, looked terrible against the Giants in Week 7, giving up 248 passing yards and three scores to Eli Manning. Eli is his brother compared to McCoy, whose 58.8 percent career completion rate gives us just what we want: a terribly inaccurate quarterback who will likely have to throw and throw and throw some more.