The byes are over and from here on out there are a full slate of games each week. If your league uses a waiver system, things started getting complicated last week with the start of Thursday night games. This means that any free agent pickups must be done prior to kickoff on Thursday, and with most waivers clearing on Wednesday, this doesn’t leave much time to adjust your lineup. The purpose of this weekly article is to give some advice on one such adjustment, specifically playing matchups on defense rather than relying on a single defensive unit throughout the season. You might have a good defense to use as your “primary” unit but sometimes they can have some pretty tough matchups (i.e. NE @ NO in week 12) so swapping out for a backup unit every so often can pay huge dividends. As an example, I carry Philadelphia as my primary unit but rolled the dice with Tennessee last week, which made a 26-point difference. If you are in position to make your league playoffs, it might be a good idea to look closely at the matchups for your defensive unit. If you don’t like what you see, perhaps one of these defenses can help you out.
Plug and play picks for week 11:
Detroit (4% owned in Yahoo!): It might be very hard for any fantasy owner to even consider using the Lions defense when your league playoffs are on the line, but you cannot ignore them when they have probably the juiciest matchup of the week again the Cleveland Browns. I shouldn’t need to add much more to that simple fact, but in case you need a little prodding, I’ll throw a few facts at you to bolster my argument. The Browns have only scored 5 offensive touchdowns through 10 games. Of those, 1 was in garbage time against Minnesota’s 2nd and 3rd string defensive players. If you watched the game on Monday night between Cleveland and Baltimore, it was apparent that they have communication issues. Several Brady Quinn passes landed harmlessly on the ground without a receiver within 10 yards of the ball. Regardless of whether Quinn or the receivers were at fault, there are obvious problems in their passing game. With their offense failing to score, they tend to fall behind (yeah, that’s kind of John Maddenish), and when that happens they abandon the running game. The Browns relying on their passing game is about as effective as an ostrich relying on its wings to get around. Projection 6 points allowed, 3 sacks, 2 INT, 1 Forced Fumble.
Carolina (25%): The Panthers host the Miami Dolphins and the “wildcat” offense this week, and this week’s version of that offense will likely be missing its main “cat”. Ronnie Brown has already been ruled out for the game. Many teams in the NFL are attempting to run the wildcat, but nobody runs it as good as Miami or, more specifically, Brown. Without Brown, no offense to Ricky Williams, we might get to see the first version of the “tamekitten.” Projection: 10 points allowed, 3 sacks, 2 INT, 2 Forced Fumbles.
Jacksonville (8%): I’ve been a little cautious of picking them since they burned me earlier in the season, but the last time I plugged this defense they came through smelling like roses so I’m rolling the dice once again. The Jags host the Buffalo Bills this week which is another team, like the Browns, that seems to be in complete disarray. Head coach Dick Jauron was fired on Tuesday meaning the Bills will take a new path, and new paths don’t usually equate to early success. They’re the team that allowed Tennessee’s defense to net me 27 fantasy points last week. Projection: 13 points allowed, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 1 Forced Fumble.
Is it just me or does it seem like there have been more injuries to key defensive players this year than normal? It sure seems that way. Polamalu owners once again must scramble to find a decent replacement, Antoine Winfield owners are checking the injury report daily hoping to see a “probable” listed by his name, and D’Quell Jackson, Lofa Tatupu, Eric Barton, Thomas Davis and a slew of other players have left their owners simply out of luck. If you need someone to limp you through this week or the remainder of your season, I hope you find the list below helpful.
Kevin Burnett (0% owned in Yahoo!): The San Diego LB cannot possibly be 0% owned as Yahoo! claims because I own him on one of my teams. I needed a replacement for Thomas Davis, and this is who I picked up. After missing 3 games, Burnett came through in week 10 with 8 solo tackles, 1 assist and a pass defensed. He was doing good before missing those 3 games too. He’s not Patrick Willis (or Thomas Davis for that matter), but he’ll get you some decent points.
David Hawthorne (13%): I plugged the Seattle LB last week when he was 7% owned and the number of fantasy owners taking note of him is evident by the fact that he is owned by nearly twice as many fantasy teams this week. In all 3 IDP leagues that I’m in, he’s 2nd to Patrick Willis in average points per game. That’s right, 2nd. Last week was an off game for him, and he still recorded 11 tackles.
Tanard Jackson (6%): Here is another player that has doubled in the percentage owned category. Last week he was 3% owned. I’ve been heaping praises on him for weeks and very few people are listening. For the naysayers, he did not record an INT in last week’s matchup (after recording one in 3 consecutive games) but he did post 8 solo tackles and an assist.
Bryan Scott (1%): I wanted to plug Jairus Byrd again, but I do not want this to be a repeat of last week’s article. Instead, I turn to another Bills safety in Bryan Scott. Scott missed 6 weeks with an injury but returned to action in week 10 and had a very good game, posting 8 solo tackles and 2 assists. That’s right on par with what he did in weeks 1 – 3 before suffering a high ankle sprain.
Rod Hood (0%): The Titan’s CB has been playing very solid since joining the team. He has not put up huge tackle numbers but has an INT in 3 consecutive games. In week 10 he had a pick 6 vs the Bills to go along with 3 solo tackles and a pass defensed.
Randall Gay (0%): Gay replaced Jabari Greer for the Saints in week 10 and will likely be called upon to replace Tracy Porter for the remainder of the fantasy season, as Porter is going to be out 4 to 6 weeks with a knee injury. There’s a reason he’s a backup, so don’t expect the numbers that Porter was producing, but the opportunity to score points for your fantasy squad is there.
Ray Edwards (7%): The Vikings DE has turned his game up a notch, recording 8 solo tackles, 4 sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and 2 passes defensed in his last two games. He also had what I consider one of the most athletic plays I’ve ever seen when he did a superman dive over the top of an attempted block and slammed into Matthew Stafford. He was penalized on the play for helmet to helmet contact, but it was still an awesome display of athleticism. You can view the play here.
Jonathan Fanene (0%): The Bengals DT has been doing quite well lately posting 9 total tackles, 2 sacks and a pass defensed in his past two games. If your league requires a DT, he might be worth a look.
Eli Ricke knows absolutely nothing about Fantasy Football that everyone else doesn’t already know. All of his success in Fantasy Football can be attributed entirely to dumb luck. He has been playing Fantasy Football since 1999 and is a habitual liar. You will occasionally run across him in the café forums under the name 204BC, a name that has no particular meaning whatsoever. He just made it up, the same thing he does with most of the advice he gives.
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