It makes sense to pay up for Week 3 fantasy football defenses.
Daily fantasy research over the past year has shown that skimping on defenses might not be the way to go, especially in head-to-head and 50/50 games.
We saw the benefits of allocating big bucks to defenses in Week 2, when the Cardinals, Texans and Patriots put up big points in decidedly favorable matchups. I think this is an important lesson: make room for a pricey defense even if it means we can’t have that receiver or running back who costs just a couple hundred bucks more.
Below are the Week 3 fantasy football defenses I think best fit as options for head-to-head matchups and 50/50s, and the Week 3 fantasy football defenses with more variance ideal for tournament play. My analysis is largely based on Streaming Scores – numbers assigned to each and every defense indicating how good or bad their matchup is that week.
A team’s Streaming Score doesn’t incorporate the how stifling or generous a certain defense has been. It’s entirely matchup based.
A reminder: more than 60 percent of weekly top-12 fantasy defenses in 2013 had one thing in common — they were favored by Vegas.
Week Two Fantasy Football Defenses for Cash Games
New England Patriots ($6,700) vs. Oakland Raiders
There’s really no reason to move away from Oakland’s offense as a premier defensive target. In fact, the Patriots – the fourth priciest defense — may very well be a major bargain in Week 3.
I’m happy to pay that $6,700 against an abysmal Raiders’ offense that is allowing 11.4 fantasy points to opposing defenses, according to 4for4’s schedule-adjusted points allowed tool. New England’s Streaming Score confirms it: They pull down a 5.5 score this week, the second highest among all teams.
Carolina Panthers ($6,550) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
While I don’t think either of these defenses have sky-high fantasy ceilings this week, we’d be foolish not to notice the obvious: the Steelers’ aerial offense has been nonexistent and the Carolina secondary is elite.
Ben Roethlisberger’s average depth of throw, according to Pro Football Focus, is 7.1 through two weeks – lower than all but three quarterbacks. The Panthers have suffocated passing attacks in the season’s first two weeks. I see Carolina as an ultra safe play in Week 3. The have a Streaming Score of 3.5.
Week Two Fantasy Football Defenses for Tournaments
Philadelphia Eagles ($5,650) vs. Washington
The Eagles’ defense has a surprisingly high Streaming Score of 3.5 in a game that Vegas likes as a high-scoring affair.
If you roll with Philly as a cheap defensive option against Washington, you’re banking on Kirk Cousins – who is serviceably accurate on his best days – to chuck it quite a bit against a secondary that isn’t terrible. The Eagles are a prototypical tournament defense in Week 3.
New Orleans Saints ($4,750) vs. Minnesota Vikings
The Saints at home against a team in total and complete disarray headed by Matt Cassel? Yes, please.
The Saints, with a hefty 4.5 Streaming Score, could be the deal of the week against a Vikings offense that gave up 27 fantasy points to New England a week ago. The best case scenario – and a likely one – is that the Saints jump out to a lead, forcing the Adrian Peterson-less Vikings to air it out against a New Orleans pass rush that should put serious pressure on Cassel.
We saw last week what happens when Cassel is pressured. Deploy the 18th priciest defense with confidence.