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Streaming Defenses: Picking a Week 4 Team Defense

Jerry Donabedian

Donabedian is an Assistant Football Editor at RotoWire. He writes and edits articles and covers breaking news. A Baltimore native, Donabedian roots for the Ravens and watches "The Wire" in his spare time.

Week 3 was rough for my recommendations, with only the Jaguars (t-6th) finishing top 10 among team defenses in Yahoo! standard scoring. Green Bay (t-13th), Miami (t-17th), Philadelphia (t-21st) and Tennessee (26th) all fell shy of seven points, while Cincinnati, Washington, New Orleans and the Jets unexpectedly formed a four-way tie at the top of the leaderboard with 14 points apiece.

Sunday served as a reminder of the NFLís unpredictability, and while it may have been a tough week for streaming team defenses, it wasnít any better for those who used a valuable draft pick to secure the Broncos (4 points) or Seahawks (-1). The four defenses tied atop the Week 3 leaderboard each had ownership below 20 percent, with only the Bengals sitting any higher than two percent. With that in mind, itís safe to assume some of Week 4ís top performers are currently available on waivers in the majority of leagues.

Note: These recommendations are limited to D/ST units with under 60 percent ownership on Yahoo! as of Tuesday morning.

Top Streaming Options for Week 4

Jacksonville Jaguars (at New York Jets)
45% Yahoo ownership

The Jets havenít been nearly as friendly of an opponent as expected, surrendering the 14th-most fantasy points to team defenses as Josh McCown has gotten off to a solid start. Itís nonetheless safe to assume the Jets will work their way into the top 10 by the end of the season, and thereís little question the Jacksonville defense will be the best unit McCown has faced through four weeks.

The Jags are coming off a dominant performance in their annual London excursion, with only a Ryan Mallett garbage-time touchdown standing between them and the top team-defense score of Week 3. Jacksonville leads the NFL with 13 sacks and is tied with Detroit for the No. 2 spot in takeaways (eight), despite posting a complete dud Week 2 in Tennessee. It should thus come as no surprise to see that the Jets have an implied total of only 17.75 points and are 3.5-point underdogs at home. Look for the Jags to take advantage of a favorable matchup for a third time in as many chances, but donít bother holding onto them for a Week 5 date in Pittsburgh.

Cincinnati Bengals (at Cleveland Browns)
21% Yahoo ownership

The Browns have given up the third-most points to opposing defenses this season thanks to DeShone Kizerís league-high seven interceptions. Only three teams have surrendered more sacks (11) and none has turned the ball over more times (nine). With Kizer seemingly on a long leash and thus able to be aggressive, heíll likely continue with the boatload of mistakes while throwing passes to arguably the NFLís worst receiving corps.

The Cincinnati defense is no juggernaut, but it did manage nine sacks the past two weeks and came up with a rare pick-six off Aaron Rodgers on Sunday. With rookie defensive end Carl Lawson (2.5 sacks) off to a fast start alongside stud defensive tackle Geno Atkins, the Bengals should have a solid pass rush all season, and they'll also get Vontaze Burfict back from suspension this week. Cincinnati is favored by 3.5 points in a game with an over/under of 40. This unit will also be usable in Week 5 when it faces the Bills back at home in Cincinnati.

Green Bay Packers (vs. Chicago Bears)
54% Yahoo ownership

The Bears have scored just 47 points in three games while giving up the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses. Their run-heavy approach will limit the damage some weeks, but the game plan falls apart when Mike Glennon is forced to play from behind without the benefit of a decent receiving corps.

The Green Bay defense has yet to intercept a pass, but itís at least shown some ability to get after the quarterback with exactly three sacks in each of its first three games. Thursday games generally seem a bit sloppier than their Sunday counterparts, and the Packers are favored by seven points in a game with an over/under of 45.5. That leaves the Bears with an implied total of just 19.25 points, which might be a bit optimistic given their current average of 15.7 per game. This is strictly a one-game streamer, as Green Bayís Week 5 road matchup with the Cowboys has no appeal whatsoever.

Atlanta Falcons (vs. Buffalo Bills)
30% Yahoo ownership

The Bills have only committed one turnover, but theyíve also produced just 50 points and Tyrod Taylor has already been sacked nine times. Given the likelihood that Atlanta jumps out to a lead, Taylor will have a tough time avoiding his second interception of the season while potentially attempting 30 passes for the first time all year.

Atlantaís defense is far from scary without the help of top pass rusher Vic Beasley, but the Falcons nonetheless have held their own through three weeks despite drawing tough matchups (Green Bay, Detroit) in two games. This unit put up 13 fantasy points in its only home game, notching two takeaways and three sacks against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in Week 2. The Falcons are eight-point favorites in a game with an over/under of 48.0, giving them a great chance to get to 4-0 ahead of a Week 5 bye.

Dallas Cowboys (vs. Los Angeles Rams)
11% Yahoo ownership

This isnít the best week for depth when it comes to streaming team defenses, so our fifth selection is one that I admittedly donít have too much confidence in. The Rams actually have looked quite excellent on offense so far, albeit with strong outings against the feeble Indianapolis and San Francisco defenses sandwiched around a mediocre showing against a respectable Washington unit. Iím ready to view the Rams as a competent NFL offense, but not quite ready to consider them as a matchup of above-average difficulty. Las Vegas apparently agrees, with early lines putting the Ramsí implied total right around 19 points.

I wonít bother trying to sell you on the merits of the Dallas defense in its own right, but there is a good chance the teamís offense will put Sean Lee and Co. in a prime position to rack up fantasy points while playing with a lead. If nothing else, the Dallas defense has shown some ability to get after the passer, currently sitting in a four-way tie for second in the league with 11 sacks. 2014 second-round pick DeMarcus Lawrence already has 6.5 quarterback takedowns, giving him a shot to top his previous career high of 8.0 before the end of Week 4. Youíll only want to hold the Cowboys defense for one game, as it draws a matchup with Green Bay in Week 5.

Honorable Mentions: Tennessee Titans (at Houston Texans); Los Angeles Chargers (vs. Philadelphia Eagles)

Week 4 D/ST Rankings

1. Seattle Seahawks (vs. IND)
2. Arizona Cardinals (vs. SF)
3. Denver Broncos (vs. OAK)
4. New England Patriots (vs. CAR)
5. Jacksonville Jaguars (at NYJ)
6. Kansas City Chiefs (vs. WAS)
7. Cincinnati Bengals (at CLE)
8. Green Bay Packers (vs. CHI)
9. Atlanta Falcons (vs. BUF)
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (at BAL)
11. Houston Texans (vs. TEN)
12. Minnesota Vikings (vs. DET)
13. Dallas Cowboys (vs. LAR)
14. Philadelphia Eagles (at LAC)
15. Los Angeles Chargers (vs. PHI)
16. Tennessee Titans (at HOU)
17. Baltimore Ravens (vs. PIT)
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. NYG)
19. Detroit Lions (at MIN)
20. New York Giants (at TB)
21. Buffalo Bills (at ATL)
22. Oakland Raiders (at DEN)
23. Miami Dolphins (vs. NO)
24. New York Jets (vs. JAC)
25. Washington Redskins (at KC)
26. Cleveland Browns (vs. CIN)
27. New Orleans Saints (at MIA)
28. Los Angeles Rams (at DAL)
29. Carolina Panthers (at NE)
30. Indianapolis Colts (at SEA)
31. Chicago Bears (at GB)
32. San Francisco 49ers (at ARZ)

Looking Ahead to Week 5

A matchup between the Jets and Browns presents us with possibly the only chance all season to use either teamís defense.

The Detroit defense draws a home matchup with the struggling and injury-plagued Carolina offense.

The Raiders will welcome Joe Flacco to town.

The Bengals get a home matchup with a one-dimensional Buffalo offense.