This article is part of our Streaming Defenses series.
Week 15 brought some major disappointment for my streaming recommendations at an unfortunate time, with just one of the five selections scoring more than seven fantasy points. Granted, the Falcons did put up a week-high 20 points in a massacre of the Cardinals, but it was nos consolation to those who looked further down my list to the Lions or Giants (two points apiece).
Fortunately, it was also a suboptimal week for most of the people using a "ride-or-die" defense, as the Bears, Ravens, Seahawks, Texans and Rams all produced eight points or less. Atlanta and Tennessee streamers were the big winners of the week, along with anyone that stood by Minnesota through some tough times over the previous four games.
You've probably done something right if you're still bothering to read this space during fantasy championship week. Perhaps you already have a defense stashed for the occasion, but if not, there's truly no need to worry. The upcoming slate brings us a bunch of games with glaring potential to get ugly, including a trio of teams coming off impressive wins and now playing host to weak opponents. The top three teams in my weekly rankings — Rams, Bears, Patriots — are rarely available in competitive leagues, but there isn't much of a drop-off using the Titans, Colts or Browns in a superb matchup.
Note: These recommendations are limited to D/ST units with under 60 percent ownership on Yahoo as of Tuesday morning. Any references to fantasy points are based on Yahoo standard scoring.
Top Streaming Options for Week 16
1. Tennessee Titans (vs. Washington Redskins)
51% Yahoo ownership
Barely hanging around in the playoff hunt amidst yet another injury-plagued season, the Redskins have not-so-quietly become an elite matchup for team defenses, allowing nine or more fantasy points each of the past five weeks (12.1 average). Josh Johnson has looked much better than Colt McCoy (leg) and Mark Sanchez, but the 32-year-old journeyman will have his hands full this week, facing a Tennessee outfit coming off a shutout win on the road. The Titans have taken full advantage of a soft late-season schedule by rattling off three consecutive victories, with their defense averaging 10.7 fantasy points in those games. They now stand as 10.5-point favorites in Week 16, hosting a Washington team with one of the lowest implied totals (13.25) we've seen all season.
2. Indianapolis Colts (vs. New York Giants)
27% Yahoo ownership
The Giants got by without Odell Beckham (quad) for one game, but they fell apart in epic fashion last week when tasked with a competent opponent. Coming off a 17-0 home loss to Tennessee, the Giants may go another game without Beckham in the lineups, this time against a red-hot Colts team that pitched a shutout of its own last week. While yet to score a defensive touchdown this season, Indianapolis climbed to No. 7 in D/ST fantasy scoring with the 23-0 win over Dallas, now ranking in the top 12 for sacks (2.7 per game), takeaways (1.7) and points allowed (20.0). It doesn't take a genius to target Eli Manning when he's playing on the road as a 10-point underdog with an implied total of 18.5.
3. Cleveland Browns (vs. Cincinnati Bengals)
12% Yahoo ownership
The Bengals looked surprisingly competent with Jeff Driskel taking snaps the past two weeks, but a closer examination reveals ample potential for a meltdown, as the 25-year-old has managed just 5.5 yards per pass attempt since Andy Dalton (thumb) went down for the season. With Tyler Boyd (knee) now in danger of joining Dalton and A.J. Green (foot) on injured reserve, Driskel is left to work with John Ross, Cody Core, Alex Erickson and C.J. Uzomah — a quartet with a cumulative average of 5.2 yards per target. Coming off a strong performance last week in Denver, the Cleveland defense can focus its full attention on keeping Joe Mixon in check. The Bengals are seven-point road underdogs with an implied total of 19.
4. Miami Dolphins (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars)
18% Yahoo ownership
It turns out Cody Kessler is even worse than Blake Bortles, producing just 28 points and 5.3 yards per pass attempt in three starts, with the opposing defense scoring double-digit fantasy points in each game. The Jaguars are now doing fun stuff like taking carries away from Leonard Fournette to get a better look at rookie seventh-round pick Dave Williams, presumably knowing that each loss puts them in better position to draft a real quarterback. The Miami defense didn't inspire any confidence while allowing 74 points the past two weeks, but the tanking Jaguars are obviously a far cry from the Patriots and Vikings. Losers of nine of their last 10 games, the Jaguars are 4.5-point underdogs with an implied total of 17.5.
5. Dallas Cowboys (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
35% Yahoo ownership
Finally getting credit for their strong play on defense, the Cowboys naturally fell apart Sunday at Indianapolis, allowing Marlon Mack to run for 139 yards and two scores in a shutout loss. Still on track for a division title, Dallas lands in a rebound spot this week, hosting a Tampa Bay squad that's given up the sixth-most fantasy points to team defenses. The Bucs often allow their opponent's defense to post strong fantasy numbers even in high-scoring affairs, committing a league-high 32 turnovers while ranking third in yards (416.6 per game) and 12th in points (24.6). The Dallas defense hasn't been especially productive in terms of sacks (35) or takeaways (16), but it does rank fifth for yards (317.4) and fourth for points allowed (19.2), led by a star performer at each level in DE Demarcus Lawrence, LB Leighton Vander Esch and CB Byron Jones. The lackluster fantasy production is somewhat fluky, and there's a nice opportunity for a Week 16 breakout, with the Bucs carrying an implied total of 19.5 as 7.5-point road underdogs.
Week 16 D/ST Rankings
1. Los Angeles Rams (at ARI)
2. Chicago Bears (at SF)
3. New England Patriots (vs. BUF)
4. Tennessee Titans (vs. WAS)
5. Indianapolis Colts (vs. NYG)
6. Cleveland Browns (vs. CIN)
7. Miami Dolphins (vs. JAC)
8. Dallas Cowboys (vs. TB)
9. Minnesota Vikings (at DET)
10. Los Angeles Chargers (vs. BAL)
11. Denver Broncos (at OAK)
12. Philadelphia Eagles (vs. HOU)
13. Houston Texans (at PHI)
14. New Orleans Saints (vs. PIT)
15. Green Bay Packers (at NYJ)
16. Jacksonville Jaguars (at MIA)
17. Carolina Panthers (vs. ATL)
18. New York Jets (vs. GB)
19. Baltimore Ravens (at LAC)
20. Seattle Seahawks (vs. KC
Looking Ahead to Week 17
1. Houston Texans (vs. JAC)
2. Seattle Seahawks (vs. ARI)
3. Los Angeles Rams (vs. SF)
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. CIN)
5. New England Patriots (vs. NYJ)
6. Baltimore Ravens (vs. CLE)
7. Kansas City Chiefs (vs. OAK)
8. Los Angeles Chargers (at DEN)
9. Philadelphia Eagles (at WAS)
10. Minnesota Vikings (vs. CHI)
11. Chicago Bears (at MIN)
12. Buffalo Bills (vs. MIA)
13. Dallas Cowboys (at NYG)
14. Green Bay Packers (vs. DET)
15. New Orleans Saints (vs. CAR)
16. Indianapolis Colts (at TEN)
17. Miami Dolphins (at BUF)
18. Cleveland Browns (at BAL)
19. Jacksonville Jaguars (at HOU)
20. New York Giants (vs. DAL)