Streaming defenses week to week off the waiver wire is a strategy that some overlook, but it can be a huge part of a winning season. You can always reach in the draft and get a top-three D/ST unit, but even they will have unfavorable matchups here and there. You can steal wins throughout the season by following the schedule and determining which teams are hot defensively.
Already in Week 1, there are plenty of quality streaming options that are available in over 50% of leagues.
Here are some of my favorites:
WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (47.2% ESPN ROSTERED)
VS. ARIZONA CARDINALS | 1:00 PM
The Commanders finished last season 8-8-1, but their defense capped off the year strong, ending up fifth in defensive EPA. They were tied for 11th in fantasy scoring for the season but ranked 6th from Week 10 through the end of the year. Chase Young may or may not be active for Week 1, but even without him, they have an above-average front four with Montez Sweat, Daron Payne, and Jonathan Allen — who’s also listed as questionable.
Washington won the lottery to face the Arizona Cardinals to start the season, who come in with a new head coach, no more DeAndre Hopkins, and a quarterback who’s been in the building for two weeks. I expect them to make poor decisions on offense and probably a special teams mistake or two. Washington should put up some points.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (16.4% ROSTERED)
AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS | 1:00 PM
Like Washington, the Jaguars turned it on late last year, finishing as the No. 3 DST unit in fantasy after Week 10. They didn’t do much to improve on this side of the ball in the offseason, but they also benefit from what should be an easy Week 1 matchup.
The Colts enter 2023 with a rookie head coach and rookie quarterback, not to mention a hole in the backfield where Jonathan Taylor should be. Whether or not you believe in Anthony Richardson long-term, he may struggle in Week 1, as rookie QBs often do.
ATLANTA FALCONS (6% ROSTERED)
VS CAROLINA PANTHERS | 1:00 PM
The Falcons had one of the worst defenses in football last season but made improving it a priority in the offseason. They signed Jessie Bates and David Onyemata to multi-year deals and brought important depth pieces. Head Coach Arthur Smith repeatedly stressed the importance of adding to the defense, especially up front, and the team listened.
Atlanta, like Jacksonville, faces a division rival with a rookie QB in Bryce Young this week, but they get to do it at home. This game has the makings of a low-scoring affair all around, meaning both defenses could be in for above-average days. Carolina returns very few skill position players on offense and could definitely face some early-season struggles.
Seattle Seahawks (7.3%): Seattle will host the Rams, likely without Cooper Kupp, and were the sixth-worst scoring offense in 2022.
Carolina Panthers (26.2%): Carolina was a top 10 fantasy defense last year and faces an Atlanta offense with some weapons, but may not have it all put together just yet.
Minnesota Vikings (3.7%): The Vikings weren’t a strong defense last year and didn’t do much to improve, but if you’re desperate, they’ll face Baker Mayfield and the new-look Bucs at home.