StrategyDecember 9, 2009

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D-Day: Week 14

By Eli Ricke

For most head-to-head fantasy leagues, Week 14 marks the first week of the playoffs. However, there are still a few leagues with one more week left in the regular season. If you’re in a must-win situation for your final regular season matchup or in the playoffs, always a must-win situation, you might want to look at your defensive matchup to see if you can gain an edge over your opponent. If you don’t like the matchup you have with your current defense, you should consider plugging in a defense with a more favorable matchup. Here are three teams that could provide you with that edge.

Plug and Play Defenses for week 14:

Tennessee (47% Owned in Yahoo!): Tennessee got picked on a lot early in the season, especially through the air, but their run defense has been fairly stout throughout the season. This week the Titans host the St. Louis Rams, who have not been able to do much damage to teams with their passing game. Statistically, it’s a fairly even matchup in the passing game; St. Louis ranks 25th among NFL teams in passing yardage whereas Tennessee ranks 31st in stopping the pass. It’s the same way in the rushing department; St. Louis ranks 12th in rushing offense, while Tennessee is 8th in rushing defense. But considering how well the Titans have fared lately and that they’re at home, the Titans should have a significant advantage in this matchup. Projection: 10 points allowed, 3 sacks, 1 INT, 2 forced fumbles.

Houston (7%): The Texans host Seattle this week in what looks like, at least on paper, to be a deadlock for the Seahawks offense vs the Texans defense. Defensive deadlocks usually result in lower scores. How much of a deadlock is this one? Seattle’s offense ranks 14th in the NFL in passing and 27th rushing. Houston, meanwhile, ranks 14th in the NFL in passing defense and 22nd vs the run. I expect Houston’s offense to get at least a 2 score lead in this game and force Seattle to throw the ball, but I don’t expect too many fireworks from Seattle’s offensive unit. They’ll get 2 scores through the air and a field goal at best. Projection: 14 points allowed, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble.

Buffalo (32%): The Bills travel to Kansas City this week in game that, if not for some fantasy football implications, probably nobody would be watching. This matchup favors the Bills and might provide decent points for those brave enough to roll with the Bills as a defensive unit. To say the least, the Chiefs’ offense is not very good. They rank 24th and 29th in rushing and passing offense, respectively. However, the Bills have the worst rushing defense in the NFL. However, they also have the league’s 4th best passing defense and are second to the Saints in interceptions (21). The Chiefs likely won’t pass much on the Bills, and even if they run the ball with moderate success, doing so will use more time and result in a low-scoring game. Projection: 13 points allowed, 3 Sacks, 2 INT, 1 forced fumble.

IDP Update:

What do the following names all have in common: Samari Rolle, Leodis McKelvin, Thomas Davis, Brian Urlacher, Brodney Pool, D’Qwell Jackson, Eric Barton, Aaron Kampman, Al Harris, Will Blackmon, Eugene Wilson, Bob Sanders, Jarrad Page, Antonio Pierce, Stewart Bradley, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Lofa Tatupu, Angelo Crowell and E.J. Henderson? They are all notable defensive players and valuable IDP players that are out for the season and some, quite possibly, for their careers. There’s a list that’s just as long of big time IDP players who are out but should return at some point, but being that this is fantasy playoff time, you need someone right now. Hopefully, the following list might help to fill some vacant holes in your IDP roster.


Jasper Brinkley (0% owned in Yahoo!): The rookie from South Carolina will take over the starting job vacated by the season-ending injury to E.J. Henderson. He may come out on passing downs, so don’t expect him to replace Henderson’s production, but he should be serviceable if nobody else is available.

Jamar Williams (0%): Williams, making just his second career NFL start for the Bears in place of the injured Lance Briggs, recorded 18 tackles in week 13. Williams looks like he could be a sneaky play in the short term, but keep an eye on Briggs’ status.


Chris Harris (1%): Although not quite his old self just yet, Harris is starting to pick it up with 11 total tackles, 1 forced fumbled, 1 INT and 3 passes defensed in his last 2 games.

Jordan Babineaux (10%): Babineaux is another player that has turned his game up a notch lately, recording 39 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble and 4 passes defensed in his last 4 games.


Malcolm Jenkins (2%): Due to injuries in the Saints’ defensive backfield, Jenkins has been asked to fill a bigger role, and so far he has delivered, recording 17 solo tackles and 2 passes defensed in his last two games.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (20%): Not only does his last name cover every square inch of the back of his jersey, but Rodgers-Cromartie has been covering opposing WR’s with a renewed fervor the past few weeks. He all but shut down Sidney Rice and has 10 solo tackles, 1 forced fumble and 5 passes defensed in his last 2 games.

Defensive Linemen:

Tamba Hali (13%): The Chiefs DE is another player who is playing at a higher level as of late and seems to be peaking at the right time (in terms of fantasy football seasons). He recorded 9 solo tackles, 1 assist, 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in week 13.

Kyle Williams (1%): The Bills DT has 21 total tackles in his last 3 games, an impressive average for an interior lineman. He even had 2 sacks and a forced fumble in week 13. If you’re league requires a DT, he’s definitely worth a pickup.

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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