Defenses can make or break any matchup—just ask anyone who had (or played against) the Seahawks in Week 14, the 49ers in Week 12 or the Bears in one of the several weeks they scored multiple touchdowns.
If you're like me, that means scouring the waiver wire.
Simply put, I'm not a proponent of spending an early draft pick on a defense. Defensive touchdowns are impossible to predict, and although we know squads such as the Seahawks, 49ers, Texans and Bengals won't allow a ton of points, that doesn't always necessarily equate to elite fantasy units.
Just last year, the Ravens, Eagles, Falcons and Lions were ranked in the top 10. None of them finished there, and Philly and Detroit finished in the bottom five.
The position is just too much of a crapshoot to spend an early pick on.
All of that, of course, is just a fancy way of justifying the decision to stream defenses, especially early in the year before you know who the breakout squads are.
That being said, let's take a look at the Week 1 defensive rankings along with some perfect stream options.
|Rank||Team||Week 1 Opponent|
|1||New England Patriots||at Buffalo Bills|
|2||Houston Texans||at San Diego Chargers|
|3||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||at New York Jets|
|4||Seattle Seahawks||at Carolina Panthers|
|5||San Francisco 49ers||Green Bay Packers|
|6||St. Louis Rams||Arizona Cardinals|
|7||Arizona Cardinals||at St. Louis Rams|
|8||Indianapolis Colts||Oakland Raiders|
|9||Chicago Bears||Cincinnati Bengals|
|10||Cincinnati Bengals||at Chicago Bears|
|11||Pittsburgh Steelers||Tennessee Titans|
|12||Green Bay Packers||at San Francisco 49ers|
|13||Kansas City Chiefs||at Jacksonville Jaguars|
|14||Washington Redskins||Philadelphia Eagles|
|15||Cleveland Browns||Miami Dolphins|
|16||Denver Broncos||Baltimore Ravens|
|17||Miami Dolphins||at Cleveland Browns|
|18||Minnesota Vikings||at Detroit Lions|
|19||Baltimore Ravens||at Denver Broncos|
|20||New York Giants||at Dallas Cowboys|
|21||Tennessee Titans||at Pittsburgh Steelers|
|22||New York Jets||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|23||Dallas Cowboys||New York Giants|
|24||Jacksonville Jaguars||Kansas City Chiefs|
|25||San Diego Chargers||Houston Texans|
|26||Atlanta Falcons||at New Orleans Saints|
|27||Philadelphia Eagles||at Washington Redskins|
|28||Carolina Panthers||Seattle Seahawks|
|29||Oakland Raiders||at Indianapolis Colts|
|30||Detroit Lions||Minnesota Vikings|
|31||New Orleans Saints||Atlanta Falcons|
|32||Buffalo Bills||New England Patriots|
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One of the worst passing teams in the league against one of the best secondaries. It's a classic recipe for fantasy success.
Although the New York Jets starting QB has yet to be officially announced—just a fantastic sign that the position is in good shape—indications are that rookie Geno Smith will get the nod, according to ESPN's Rich Cimini:
The decision to sit Smith confirms what we reported Sunday: Even though the Jets are calling it a day-to-day injury, there's no guarantee Sanchez will be ready for Week 1. Some people close to the organization believe it'll be Smith against the Bucs on Sept. 8.
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, via NFL.com's Ian Rapaport, also reportedly is putting his confidence in Smith:
From Total Access: I'm told if OC Marty Mornhinweg has a vote in the QB competition, his vote is for Geno Smith… even if Sanchez is healthy— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 30, 2013
The youngster out of West Virginia has plenty of talent, but let's not forget he is a rookie, he completed just 59.5 percent of his throws and tossed three interceptions in the preseason and he is throwing to Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley.
And in reality, it makes no difference who is under center.
The Bucs, whose secondary resembled a colander last season, have added elite corner Darrelle Revis, who is expected to play, physical safety Dashon Goldson, who can also line up in the slot, and rookie Johnthan Banks.
Greg Schiano's defense is already a very good unit, but against an offense in shambles like the Jets, it will be elite.
With the Oakland Raiders as their Week 1 opponent, you are advised to quickly change that.
Terrelle Pryor has the athleticism and ability to extend plays to make me a little more uneasy about this pick, but whether it's him or Matt Flynn starting, there will still be an unproven commodity underneath center for the Raiders.
Throw in a shaky offensive line, a running back who averaged a career-low 3.3 yards per attempt last season and a mediocre receiving corps, and the Raiders will be a target for defensive streaming all season long.
Where will the Colts finish Week 1 in the fantasy rankings?
Although the Colts gave up some big numbers at times last year, they've added several pieces this offseason—Aubrayo Franklin, Ricky Jean-Francois, Erik Walden, Greg Toler, LaRon Landry—and should continue to improve with Chuck Pagano and Greg Manusky at the helm.
Unless you have a top-five defense, feel confident about plugging in the Horsies at home.