Several solid streaming performances from Week 5 should have us feeling good about our prospects heading into Week 6. In fact, several of our streaming heroes could be on the verge of becoming weekly plays, but more on that later. As more data pours in and team identities begin to solidify, it's becoming slightly easier to identify offenses to target when selecting a streaming defense. Hopefully this new information and insight will help us hit on a higher percentage of the streaming options detailed below. But we all know this is a risky endeavor, as defenses are historically one of fantasy's most volatile positions.
As always, I'll rely on the streaming D/ST qualifications previously established by Matt Harmon and Matt Franciscovich in this column: good matchups, home teams, favorites, and obviously good defenses.
Let's get to it.
Buffalo Bills D/ST (45.7 percent owned) vs. San Francisco 49ers
The Bills defense has found new life since being shredded by the Jets in Week 2, and has the look of an elite fantasy unit moving forward. A home matchup with the 49ers in Week 6 is particularly enticing, and will likely make the Bills too highly owned to be considered a streamer moving forward. The 49ers are tied for fourth in the NFL with nine giveaways, and Blaine Gabbert has been sacked 10 times in the last four games, though seven came last week against the Cardinals. The Bills pass rush (fourth in the league in sacks, third in sack rate) should be able to feast at home against Gabbert, who has been erratic in the pocket to say the least. The 49ers offense runs through Carlos Hyde, and he could find it tough sledding against a Bills defense allowing just 3.5 yards per rush (fifth-lowest total in the league). All told, this matchup for the Bills defense checks all of the boxes: talented defense, home game, bad quarterback. Get this unit before it's too late.
Green Bay Packers D/ST (28.4 percent owned) vs. Dallas Cowboys
So far in 2016, the Green Bay defense and not the offense has been the team's most dominant unit. They allow a league-low 2.0 yards per carry and are one of just two teams to not allow a run of 20-plus yards (the Vikings are the other). The Packers also rank fifth in sacks despite having only played in four games. It'll be strength against strength when Dallas rolls into Lambeau Field on Sunday, as the Cowboys lead the league in rushing attempts (169) and rank fifth in yards per carry (4.6) thanks to the early-season performance of Ezekiel Elliott. If the Packers front seven can keep Elliott in check, the pass-rush could be able to get to Dak Prescott, who gets sacked on roughly 6.5 percent of his drop backs so far. The Dallas offense has been stingy in terms of giving up fantasy points to opposing defenses, but the Packers look set up to buck that trend at home and are available in over 70 percent of NFL.com leagues.
Pittsburgh Steelers D/ST (39.0 percent owned) at Miami Dolphins
The Pittsburgh pass rush, nonexistent for the first three weeks of the year, has come alive recently with seven sacks in the last two weeks. Cameron Heyward's hamstring injury is worth monitoring, though, as he's one of the team's best defensive players. Whether or not Heyward suits up for Week 6 might be irrelevant, though, as the Steelers travel to Miami for a contest with the hapless Dolphins offense. Ryan Tannehill is the second-most sacked quarterback in the NFL, while the Dolphins offense allows the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing stop units. Tannehill is not being careful with the football this year with seven interceptions and four fumbles (two lost) already this season. The Pittsburgh defense would be a better play at home, but the matchup against the Dolphins is too good to ignore completely when it comes to streaming.
Tennessee Titans D/ST (1.9 percent owned) vs. Cleveland Browns:
Even though the Tennessee defense's two best performances came while on the road, a home date with the Cleveland Browns is certainly a streaming option. The Browns have surrendered eight turnovers on the year and their quarterbacks have collectively been sacked 13 times, tied for fifth-most in the league. Cody Kessler suffered a rib injury in Week 5 against the Patriots which paved the way for Clipboard Jesus himself, Charlie Whitehurst, to see significant playing time. He also suffered an injury but played through it. An injured, rookie quarterback on the road (or Charlie Whitehurst) is a defensive dream come true, which means of course Kessler is going to shred the Titans after I recommend them here. However, the more likely outcome is that Tennesse puts up another solid outing against an offense currently allowing 9.2 fantasy points per game to opposing defenses.
Desperation/contrarian DFS plays
Cleveland Browns D/ST (0.5 percent owned) at Tennessee Titans: While the Browns are a great streaming target, so too are the Titans and their "exotic smashmouth" offense. Tennessee currently allows an average of 11 fantasy points per game to opposing stop units, thanks to their eight turnovers and shaky special teams coverage. Those looking to pivot in DFS could give the Browns a shot.
Chicago Bears D/ST (3.2 percent owned) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: The Bears defense has scored seven and four fantasy points the last two weeks against good offenses in the Lions and Colts, and now welcome a turnover-prone Blake Bortles to their stadium. There's a ton of risk here if the Jaguars offense picks up where it left off prior to it's Week 5 bye, but Bortles is usually good for a few disaster plays a game, giving the Bears some streaming appeal.