Streaming is a Fantasy EPL rite of passage: starting a waiver wire pickup in a particular gameweek. Some of your regular Draft Premier League starters are out and you need a temporary fix. Successful streaming can determine your Fantrax gameweek, and potentially your season. One position is particularly ripe for this - defense - but it can be a tricky proposition.
Read this Draft 101 article below to figure out how to pick the best defenders available in a given gameweek. You'll be successfully streaming defenders in no time!
How to Stream Defenders
A lot of Fantasy EPL rosters only have a few nailed-on starting defenders that managers play week in and week out; the other slots in the defense are for streamers. So what should you look for when determining which defenders to stream in a particular gameweek? Other than the obvious individual factors such as points per game and recent form, the matchup that gameweek is even more crucial than usual when it comes to defenders!
Hunting Clean Sheets
When analyzing whether a matchup is good for a defender, one of the most important criteria to consider is the likelihood of a clean sheet (that defender’s team not conceding a goal) that gameweek. A clean sheet causes at least an 8 point swing for a defender (+6 for the clean sheet and -2 for any goal conceded). So trying to find a defender who faces a team that is either in really poor form and/or doesn’t score many goals is a nice start.
For example, if you see that Sheffield United hasn’t scored in its last 3 games, streaming the best available defenders from the opposing team isn’t a bad strategy. And the flip side of this is the need to stay away from defenders playing against high-flying attacks that score lots of goals, which will result in negative points. While hunting for clean sheets is crucial when streaming defenders, it can also be risky. One goal against your defender's team and it’s all over.
You may also be tempted to match your fantasy opponent's defenders - starting an Aston Villa defender because your opponent has one - in an attempt to nullify their clean sheet points. Do so at your own risk. You can forgo points from another defender (one that you have scouted and feel good about) if you simply match your opponent.
Attempting to offset clean sheets points from an elite fantasy defender like Serge Aurier by fielding a mediocre defender from the same team, such as Toby Alderweireld, ends up backfiring when you lose the clean sheet and your matching defender doesn't have the ghost points to compensate. In that scenario, you would have been better off going with a solid streamer from another team. This matching strategy makes the most sense if you are ahead late in the game week, the defenders are comparable, and you want to hedge your bets and try to lock in the win.
Opposition Playing Style
In addition to the probability of a shutout, breaking down the matchup in terms of playing style can also reap dividends. How does the opposition play and how would it affect your defenders' ability to get fantasy points?
If you know that Burnley plays a lot of long balls and crosses that will force opposition defenders to win aerials, it is a solid bet that those opposition defenders (particularly those good in the air) will score a fair amount of points from aerials, making them good candidates for streaming against a team like Burnley. Teams that don't defend set pieces well could also make it easier for your towering defender to nick a goal or get some aerial points in the opposition's half. Fielding defenders against these types of teams is usually a smart strategy.
In the same vein, some teams such as Manchester City dominate possession, leaving their own defenses without much to do and little ability to pick up points other than from clean sheets. These are just two of many playing styles can significantly affect a streaming defender's value in a given gameweek. It is critical to take a look at these things before making your choice. Lucky for you, we have you covered. Our resident analyst, the Inner Geek, has some amazing data on these types of attributes that you can utilize in your research.
Waiver Wire Considerations
Another thing to take into account is that a lot of this depends on the strength of your waiver wire. At the end of the day, you can only stream players that are available that gameweek and it is often a process of elimination. So it is essential to take a look at the waiver wire at the beginning of the gameweek, identify a handful of defenders you’d think about streaming, and act accordingly.
Our other helpful Gameweek Prep resources can also point you in the right direction. Happy streaming!
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