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Streaming Defenses: Picking a Week 17 Team D

Jim Coventry

Coventry covers football and baseball for RotoWire. He started playing fantasy football in 1994 and won a national contest in 1996. He also nabbed five top-50 finishes in national contests from 2008 to 2012 before turning his attention to DFS. A published author, Coventry wrote a book about relationships, "The Secret of Life", in 2013.

If you drafted the Seattle or Denver D/ST units for your fantasy squad, this article is not for you. The goal here is to identify top streaming options, which we'll define as any team defense that is less than 50 percent owned on either Yahoo or ESPN. Streaming a defense is often preferable to using a valuable draft pick on a defense, as an aggressive weekly approach can lead to a point total similar to what Seattle or Denver might produce for the year. We'll also provide rankings at the end of the article, both for this week alone and for rest-of-season value.

Please note: Week 17 is a nearly impossible week to handicap, as teams’ level of effort is always uncertain. Many teams have locked up playoffs spots while others have been eliminated from playoff contention, meaning many impact players could see limited snaps or even be left off the field entirely. In other situations, some lesser teams could take a great deal of pride in knocking a playoff contender out of position.

Los Angeles Rams
(vs. Arizona Cardinals)
56% Yahoo ownership – 48.9% ESPN ownership

The Cardinals haven't done a great job protecting Carson Palmer this season, especially lately, allowing 27 sacks in their last eight games. That certainly matches up well with a Rams pass rush that's posted multiple sacks in five of its last six games. If the Los Angeles pass rush can create enough pressure, Arizona is also prone to turning the ball over, as it's done multiple times in four of the last seven games. Although the Rams haven't been strong in terms of producing takeaways for much of the year, they've forced three takeaways the last two weeks, so there's certainly potential for them to have productive performance in this home matchup.

Oakland Raiders
(at Denver Broncos)
45% Yahoo ownership – 36.5%ESPN ownership

The Raiders are absolutely desperate to beat their division rivals, as they can earn a first-round bye and possibly home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, moving forward without Derek Carr. Their defense has been successful lately, forcing eight takeaways in their last three games, while posting at least two in each of their last seven games. They couldn't ask for a better opponent in the season finale, as Denver has turned the ball over six times in its last two games while also allowing 20 sacks in its last six games. The Raiders have dialed up their pass rush in their last four games with multiple sacks in two games for the first time this season. The Broncos might turn to rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch in the season finale, which would make the matchup even better for Oakland. Regardless of which quarterback starts for Denver, this is an excellent matchup despite being on the road.

Pittsburgh Steelers
(vs. Cleveland Browns)
42% Yahoo ownership – 36.8 % ESPN ownership

This is a difficult call because the Steelers could sit some defensive starters in a meaningless game, due to clinching the third spot in the AFC playoffs. However, any team that plays the Browns, especially on their home field, is automatically a viable fantasy option. Cleveland's offensive line is absolutely dreadful, and it's allowed an 32 sacks in the last five games. However, it's simply amazing that despite all the sacks, the Browns have only turned the ball over once in their last three games with Robert Griffin at quarterback. It's unclear whether Cody Kessler or Griffin will be under center, but regardless, this is a great situation for any defense. The Steelers are strong defensively, forcing nine takeaways and notching 20 sacks in their last six games. Even if they don't play all of their regulars, they're a viable streaming option.

Chicago Bears
(at Minnesota Vikings)
2% Yahoo ownership – 6.5% ESPN ownership

When two teams playing out the string face each other in Week 17, it's difficult to know if one or both have packed it in. Regardless, this has the look of a strong matchup for the Bears as they face a Vikings offense that's allowed nine sacks while turning the ball over five times in their last two games. Although Chicago did not sack Kirk Cousins last week, it came into last week's game with 13 sacks in the previous three games. Despite being on the road, the Bears should post multiple sacks, and if that happens, there's always a possibility that the pressure leads to a takeaway or two.

Tennessee Titans
(vs. Houston Texans)
25% Yahoo ownership – 26.7% ESPN ownership

The Titans have only played two home games the last six weeks, but in those games they recorded eight sacks along with five takeaways. Although they are eliminated from playoff contention, they face a Texans team that's locked into its playoff spot, taking away much of the motivation it might've had going into a divisional matchup. Tennessee should pile up multiple sacks after the Texans allowed four sacks last week, and eight sacks over their last four games. It's also possible that Houston decides to pull some of its starters at some point during the game, which could turn a good matchup into a great one for the Titans.

2 NE
5 KC
9 LA
10 OAK
11 PIT
12 NYG
13 CHI
14 CIN
15 CAR
16 DET
17 TB
18 TEN
19 GB
20 HOU
21 PHI
22 WAS
23 ATL
24 NO
25 IND
26 MIA
27 DAL
28 SF
29 SD
30 NYJ
31 JAX
32 CLE