Breakdowns

Fantasy Football: Streaming Defenses and Kickers – Week 1

Streaming Defenses and Kickers

Streaming defenses has become an incredibly popular strategy in fantasy football as drafters have realized that the value gained by drafting the defenses with the top ADPs is usually marginal at best. I’ve already broken down the best defenses to stream for the first 3-5 weeks here. Kickers are another position that can be streamed because the benefit of drafting the earliest ADP kickers is minimal. Here, I will break down your best streaming options at both positions both for just the first week and for the first stretch of the season.

Week 1 Only:

Defenses:

Denver Broncos (@ NYG)

This isn’t the last time you’ll be seeing the Denver Broncos in this article, as their early season schedule makes them an excellent early season streaming option, and this game is no exception. Daniel Jones has 51 turnovers in 2 seasons, so Denver could have a good chance to get takeaways that would add value to their D/ST in Week 1. In addition, the Giants allowed the second most sacks in 2020, while Denver had the 9th most sacks among all defenses despite Von Miller missing the whole season with injury. When you combine the likelihood of them racking up sacks with their potential to force turnovers, this defense is an extremely good option to stream for Week 1.

Minnesota Vikings (@ CIN)

Cincinnati ranked 9th in turnovers and 6th in times sacked in 2020, and with Joe Burrow coming off a major injury, Ja’Marr Chase still working his way back into form, and the Bengals OL not significantly improved, this is an opportunity for the Vikings defense. While their defense may not be exactly elite, it should be improved from last year’s defense and could get started with that in Week 1.

Green Bay Packers (@ NO)

Starting GB D/ST in Week 1 would be betting against Jameis Winston in his first start in over a year, and I think that’s a bet worth making, especially with Green Bay having a very solid defense. Green Bay’s defense averaged 8.5 fantasy points per game over the last 6 games of 2020, which was a good trend that GB D/ST owners will be hoping will continue in the start of 2021. This could be a risky choice, but Winston’s susceptibility to interceptions and Green Bay’s good defense makes them good value for Week 1.

Kickers:

Rodrigo Blankenship (vs. SEA)

The Colts were 4th in field goal attempts in 2020, while the Seahawks had the 8th most field goal attempts against, so this is a good matchup for Blankenship. Blankenship was 6th among kickers in fantasy scoring last season so he is a good kicker to have as well. The schedule gets significantly tougher for him in the weeks after, so this would likely be just a one-week thing unless you really like the matchups.

Evan McPherson (vs. MIN)

In 2020, Cincinnati had the 9th most field goal attempts, while the Vikings were 2nd in field goal attempts against. McPherson is a rookie kicker who was drafted in the 5th round after a great collegiate career at Florida. Similar to Blankenship, McPherson would be best used for just this one week, as the schedule gets less favorable afterwards.

Ryan Santoso (vs. NYJ)

Last season the Panthers were 6th in field goal attempts, and the Jets allowed the 9th most field goal attempts against. Santoso is a new kicker for Carolina this season, replacing Joey Slye, who struggled immensely with deep field goals in 2020, which hampered his fantasy value. Santoso will be valuable if he can improve in that area on what Slye offered, and Week 1 is the ideal time to start him.

First Stretch (Week 1 – Week 3/4/5):

Defenses:

Denver Broncos (@ NYG, @ JAX, vs. NYJ)

Denver is the clear #1 option here as long as you’re satisfied with only covering the first three weeks, as they have the two best offenses for a D/ST to play against from 2020 in the Jets and the Giants, with the Jaguars being the 8th best. The Jets and Jaguars will both be starting rookie QBs in those games, so Denver can look to take advantage of two QBs playing in their first three career games. And I’ve already touched on the value of their opener against the Giants above. This should be a much-improved defense in 2021 and one of the very best to start the season, which makes them the perfect and only choice for top spot on this list.

New England Patriots (vs. MIA, @ NYJ, vs. NO)

New England’s defense is probably just outside of the group of defenses that most people would consider keeping for a full season, so they should be a streaming option. The Jets were the best offense to have your D/ST against in 2020, and while improvement should be expected, Belichick’s defenses have great history against rookie QBs like Zach Wilson, and this one will be his second game. As for the other two matchups, Miami and New Orleans weren’t among the best teams to stream against in 2020, with New Orleans actually being one of the worst, but the departures of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Drew Brees change the offenses. Especially early in the season, these are matchups to take advantage of, and you get a good New England defense as well that is well-equipped to capitalize on these offenses’ shortcomings.

New York Giants (vs. DEN, @ WSH, vs. ATL, @ NO)

NYG D/ST was ranked 14th among defenses in 2020 but is currently being drafted as the 22nd defense off the board. Coming off 55 points in the last 5 games of 2020 and having added Adoree Jackson to improve the CB2 spot, there is room for them to do even better. Denver and Washington were the 3rd and 4th best offenses respectively for a D/ST to face in 2020, and while Denver should improve their turnover numbers with Bridgewater under center, they are still a good offense to stream against. Atlanta was 12th and is an admittedly tough matchup, and New Orleans is another team I’ve touched on already. If you don’t love the matchups against Atlanta and New Orleans, drop NYG D/ST after week 2 and start streaming another defense for week 3, but they can provide value in all four weeks.

Kickers:

Brandon McManus (@ NYG, @ JAX, vs. NYJ)

McManus was 7th in 2020 among kickers in fantasy points per game despite the Broncos scoring the 5th least points. They’re hoping that the change to Teddy Bridgewater at QB and the return of Courtland Sutton will improve that offense, but even if it doesn’t, McManus’ value will still remain in the frequency and accuracy of his attempts of 40 yards or more. The Giants were also 7th in 2020 in most field goal attempts against, while the Jaguars and Jets were 3rd and 9th respectively, so the opportunity should be there.

Greg Zuerlein (@ TB, @ LAC, vs. PHI, vs. CAR, vs. NYG)

Zuerlein is woefully underrated in fantasy drafts with the 10th best ADP among kickers despite finishing 5th at the position in 2020 without Dak Prescott for three quarters of the season. With Prescott back and with Zuerlein coming off double digit points in five of the last six weeks in 2020, Zuerlein is a kicker that you should absolutely be investing in, especially at the beginning of the season. He could honestly reach the level of a kicker you keep for much of the season, but this stretch especially is one you’ll want him for. They don’t play a single team that ranked above 14th in fewest field goal attempts allowed in 2020, so this should be a huge opportunity for Zuerlein.

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