You’re about to quickly notice a theme in this week’s defensive dice chucking: injuries are your friend. And with my top super streaming pick (copyright), injuries are your bestest friend.
1. New York Jets @ Bills (percentage owned: 38%)
The Jets have an imposing front four that has hurt some humans this year with the bulk and surprising quickness of Sheldon Richarson and Muhammad Wilkerson. Now those two will be making life uncomfortable for a raw, struggling, and downright skittish E.J. Manuel post-injury. Manuel was horrendous against the Steelers last week in his return from a four-game absence, averaging only four yards per pass attempt while spraying balls all over the field.
Sure, Manuel will shake those layers of rust off and return to being just a normal inconsistent rookie quarterback going about the business of learning on the job and developing. But this week he has much more than just that sluggishness to battle, as he’ll also be attempting to move his offense forward and complete passes against Antonio Cromartie without his top two receivers, Robert Woods and Stevie Johnson.
Both Johnson and Woods have been ruled out, leaving Manuel to turn to some combination of Marquise Goodwin, T.J. Graham, and Chris Hogan when he wants to stretch the field. I like Goodwin, and I like Graham. We go way back, and last Sunday I floated a (failed) recommendation to roll with Goodwin as a sleeper due to his ridiculous speed that’s led to two +40 yard catches this year despite only 10 receptions in total. But the sheer inexperience between those three is daunting, as they’ve combined for all of 20 receptions this year.
What’s even more encouraging is that in addition to easily contending with a passing game in shambles, the Jets are fully capable of minimizing the C.J. Spiller factor with the league’s best run defense allowing just 73.8 rushing yards per game (the only unit giving up less than 80 yards). When these two teams met earlier this year Spiller ran for just nine yards on 10 carries, though Fred Jackson busted out for a 59-yard run, easily his season high.
2. Houston Texans vs. Raiders (percentage owned: 63%)
They’re a little more widely owned, and thus a little less out there for your streaming consumption. But the Texans are still pretty damn avaliable, and if you’re in the nearly 40% of leagues where you can obtain their collectively fake employment, that needs to change now.
I’m not sure if you’ve ever read this anywhere else, but J.J. Watt isn’t a comfortable guy to play against during even the best of times. And he’s definitely not inviting when you’re an undrafted rookie making your first NFL start.
That’s the likely fate of Matt MCGolin this Sunday, with Terrelle Pryor still nursing an MCL injury that’s limited the usually mobile quarterback for several weeks. Pryor has worked out only lightly all week in practice, and will almost surely miss his second start. What does that leave us with then in McCloin? Welp, he was the first ever walk-on quarterback to start at Penn State. So he has that going for him.
But what isn’t so much in his favor is opposing a secondary that’s allowing a league low 166.6 passing yards per game, a completion percentage of only 56.8 (fifth), and 6.7 yards per pass attempt (ninth). Rashad Jennings will still get his yards and do his chugging and slashing against a vulnerable run defense since the loss of Brian Cushing, but even that damage will be limited with Wade Philips able to focus his scheming on the ground, after all the air is sucked from the Raiders.
Figuratively, of course. Everyone will still be able to breathe.
3. Cleveland Browns @ Bengals (percentage owned: 15%)
I’ll keep merrily riding the Browns as long as all you kids will let me. This is a defense that’s currently ranked sixth against the run while giving up 3.6 yards per carry, and with Joe Haden doing his suffocating human blanket thing, they’re tied for a league low in yards per pass attempt allowed (6.0). Oh and hey look, the Browns are averaging nearly 3.5 sacks per game with 31 overall.
Yet they’re still widely available for your streaming delight, and this week the opponent is quite familiar.
Mostly with the Bengals you’re scared by A.J. Green, but no worries. Green is having a monster season, because of course he is: he’s averaging 101.3 receiving yards per game, and he’s recorded 100 or more yards in five straight games and six overall. But he’s had only two games when his yards per catch (which overall sits at a rather nice 15.6) has dropped into the single digits. One came against Haden back in Week 4 when he averaged only 7.3 while catching just seven of his 15 target for 51 yards. Then there’s his quarterback Andy Dalton, who’s thrown six interceptions over the Bengals’ last two games, and he’s been sacked 10 times. Last week against a smiliarly brutish Ravens pass rush (32 sacks) Dalton had a season-low completion percentage of 47.1.