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Week 15 IDP Start Em, Sit Em - Streamers and Fades for Fantasy Football Defensive Players

Patriots Defense - Fantasy Football DST Rankings, Team Defense, IDP Sleepers, Devin McCourty

The end of the fantasy regular season brings with it many things. Some are good, like feelings of accomplishment or disappointment, or a merry Christmas joy that overcomes your bitter sense of failure… if you're that kind of sickeningly optimistic person. However, one negative issue that always comes around this time of year is the debate over tanking. Namely, is it okay to kill your roster or purposefully lose to help your redraft position or your dynasty picks next year?

On a basic level, most people will respond with some variation on the same answer: "It's your team. Do what you want with it." Generally speaking, I agree with this philosophy. However, there is a fine line between doing what you want with your roster and completely changing the foundation of your league. While it's fine to trade your best players for picks or injured stars in dynasty, it's another thing to disrespect your league by benching healthy stars just to lose.

While your team may be out of it, gaping holes in your roster remind your league mates that your team doesn’t really count. The 12-team league is really an 11-team group or worse, and you’re an easy out that could reshape the playoffs by gifting a random victory to whoever is lucky enough to play you. To avoid this insult, teams should always start their best players as a show of respect. If you want to tank, try trading your good players away for picks or IR stars instead.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!


Casual IDP Streamers and Fades

Stream: Carl Granderson, DL, New Orleans Saints

Granderson is no longer a fantasy secret, especially after he’s made ours and many other columns throughout the season. He’s now the 15th-most rostered DL in fantasy and the 18th-highest-scoring DL per game. So, why would I tell you to "stream" a guy many already use as their DL2? Well, it’s because he’s a no-doubt DL1 this week instead of a DL2, and that makes him relevant in many shallow leagues where he usually isn’t.

As you know, the Giants are the most generous offense for opposing pass rushers this season. While they showed improvement against the Packers on Monday, Big Blue is still the worst offense in terms of pass-blocking grade, pressures allowed, and total sacks allowed. In fact, they allow 1.3 sacks per game, more than the second-worst team (the Commanders). That’s always a matchup to target.

Stream: Robert Spillane, LB, Las Vegas Raiders

When Justin Herbert went down on Sunday, we saw an already too-conservative pass attack turn even shorter. Austin Ekeler’s role in the passing game returned, and Easton Stick took a sack once every 12 dropbacks. Now, they roll into Vegas with an inexperienced quarterback who has 25 pass attempts on his resume and continued questions at outside receiver, which is good for Vegas’ linebackers.

Last weekend, we saw the Raiders lose a game 3-0. It won't be surprising if there's a similar score on the board once this contest ends, too. Expect the Chargers to lean more towards the run, as both teams struggle to produce points. That is a solid script for Spillane, who is the 27th-most rostered LB in fantasy despite stringing together three straight double-digit tackle games.

Fade: Boye Mafe, DL, Seattle Seahawks

After an incredible hot streak, Mafe has cooled. When his seven consecutive games with a sack ended in Week 10, so did his fantasy viability. While he is still rostered and started in over 20% of IDP leagues, Mafe is averaging just 2.1 fantasy points per game in his past four contests. That’s bad.

To make matters worse, Mafe now squares off with the Eagles. While Philadelphia has struggled recently, they are still stout on the offensive edges. They allowed just six pressures and one sack to Dallas, with Micah Parsons the sole source of issues. Against San Francisco's powerful pass rush, their tackles allowed 15 pressures but no sacks. On the season, their offensive tackles are responsible for just six total sacks.

While Mafe is talented, he isn’t Micah Parsons or Nick Bosa. The Eagles’ starting tackles are formidable and have shut down most elite pass rushers over the past two years. This matchup severely limits Mafe's upside.

Fade: Jonathan Owens, DB, Green Bay Packers

Perhaps we were too quick to anoint Owens as a fantasy starter after his hot start with Green Bay. As I noted before, Simone Biles' husband led his position in tackles in the first half of last season before falling off. There was hope that his tackle-heavy role could solidify this year when he averaged 9.25 tackles between Weeks 9 and 12. While that hope isn't totally gone, we have to consider Owens isn't matchup-proof, either.

Mr. Biles has totaled just seven tackles in his past two outings. His usage in those outings hasn’t changed, nor has his hybrid position. The issue has been a lack of rushing volume. When Owens excels in fantasy, he sees 35 or more runs. When his numbers dip, he faces offenses that are low-volume or pass-oriented. This week, he faces a Buccaneers offense averaging the 10th-fewest rush attempts and 11th-fewest offensive plays per game.


Premium/Deep League Streamers and Fades

Stream: Sydney Brown, DB, Philadelphia Eagles

Brown is a streamer only if Reed Blankenship is declared out due to the concussion he is currently dealing with. If Blankenship is out, Brown jumps into the DB2 tier for me.

The rookie was my favorite safety in this NFL Draft class, with the physicality to play in the box and the speed to help in coverage. He's averaging 6.7 tackles in games when he sees 40 snaps or more, and I expect well over 40 snaps if Blankenship is out against Seattle. This is also a good matchup on paper if Geno Smith is out. Drew Lock is historically generous to opposing safeties.

Stream: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Cleveland Browns

Going into Week 10, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was the 60th-highest-scoring fantasy LB per game. At that time, he had logged only three games with five or more fantasy points scored this season. The common denominator in those games was that the Notre Dame product saw less than 80% of the defensive snaps in each of them.

Since Week 11, Owusu-Koramoah has played in 80% or more of the Browns' snaps in four of five games. He is averaging 9.5 fantasy points per game during that span. Those five games have lifted JOK from fantasy’s LB60 to LB31 on the season. Better, in those five games, he is the 18th-highest-scoring fantasy LB. That trend is something worth buying, especially in a plus matchup with the Bears.

Fade: Derek Stingley Jr., DB, Houston Texans

Our fade of Stingley has nothing to do with the player. It has everything to do with the matchup. Specifically, the Texans vs. Titans matchup could be one of the lowest-scoring games of Week 15.

Last week, we saw the Jets clobber an injury-plagued Texans team. With Tank Dell already out, Houston couldn't move the ball on the Jets even before Nico Collins and C.J. Stroud went down. Now, both Collins and Stroud could miss this week, leaving us with Davis Mills and Noah Brown leading Houston’s pass attack. That’s bad news for everyone, including the fantasy potential of Stingley.

If the Titans can control Houston’s offense and hold them to a single score, they'll have little incentive to throw the ball. When the Titans play with the lead or in close contests this season, they are the seventh-most run-heavy offense in the NFL. They also throw just the 28th-most passes in the league, and that’s including games they play from behind. Altogether, both the Titans’ and Texans’ offenses project for low air volume.

Fade: Pete Werner, LB, New Orleans Saints

Pete Werner is viewed as a low-ceiling and high-floor fantasy option, but is that really fair? Consider his ceiling first. The Ohio State alum has exactly one double-digit tackle game this season. He has forced zero fumbles, registered just half a sack, and accounted for one total turnover. So, it’s fair to say he’s a low-ceiling player. But does he really have a high floor?

Despite playing over 80% of the Saints' defensive snaps in all but two games this season, Werner has five games with four or fewer total tackles. His 17-game pace is 97.8 total tackles and 63 solos. That’s startlingly low for a guy who is supposed to be a tackle hoarder. In fact, 21 players currently have more tackles than Werner projects to have in a full season.

Unfortunately, Werner is still the 48th-highest-rostered LB in fantasy. Some of us rankers are partially to blame because it's taken us too long to accept he’s not the tackle monster he looked like early in 2022. With a low-volume contest against the Giants on tap, we can’t recommend using Werner as anything but a desperation LB4. He is over-rostered and overused right now.


Defenders Worth Adding

Jahlani Tavai, LB, New England Patriots

Tavai is the 75th-most rostered LB in fantasy and is available in 98.4% of IDP leagues. He is coming off an unsustainable 15-tackle performance against the Steelers, but he has totaled seven or more tackles in four of his past six games. He’s also forced two turnovers and deflected four passes despite seeing inconsistent volume this season.

Tavai is available in far more leagues than Pete Werner, Willie Gay Jr., Micah McFadden, and Jack Sanborn. I'd rather have Tavai over those guys for my playoff run.

Justin Madubuike, DL, Baltimore Ravens

Perhaps it’s because his name is so hard to spell, but Madubuike is just the 52nd-most rostered DL in fantasy. This is despite him being the third-highest-scoring DT and the 24th-highest-scoring DL overall. How is this man tied for 10th in the NFL in sacks while patrolling for the NFL’s top defense, and he’s available in 93% of leagues?

Jordan Battle, DB, Cincinnati Bengals

I’ve told you to add Battle before, yet he remains the 95th-most rostered DB in fantasy. Think about that for a moment. There are 94 defensive backs rostered in more IDP leagues than Battle. Now think about the fact that as a starter, Battle averages the 17th-most fantasy points per game. That’s a big gap between production and roster rate.

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