I was a little off on my top pick last week. I had projected that San Francisco would have a huge game against the Rams. I was wrong. Instead they had a completely off the charts game. The stat line for the 49ers looked like this: 0 points allowed, 5 sacks, 1 INT, 3 fumble recoveries and not 1, not 2, but 3 defensive TDs. I kept my word by starting them myself, and they accounted for more than 25% of my total score which, by the way, ended up being the top score so far this season in that league. The bye teams for Week 5 are the Bears, Packers, Saints and Chargers. If you need a defense to plug in for Week 5 in place of one of these, I have listed three potential options below:
Plug and Play Defenses – Week 5
1. Carolina (30% owned in Yahoo!): Carolina plays host to a Washington team that is having a lot of trouble on the offensive side of the ball. In last week’s article I picked Tampa Bay on the road in Washington as my third plug and play choice, based on the Redskins offensive struggles, and they came through almost exactly as projected. I was forced to start Jason Campbell in one league due to Matt Ryan’s bye and Campbell managed to get me negative points by single-handedly turning the ball over 5 times (3 INTs and 2 lost fumbles). Any defense facing Washington with Campbell at the helm should be licking their chops this season. Projection: 10 points allowed, 5 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble, TD
2. Jacksonville (5%): The Jags have faced some high-octane offenses to start the season and aside from a Week 2 hiccup they have fared pretty well. In a losing effort they held Peyton Manning and the Colts to a meager 14 points in Week 1. Then they got stomped by the Cardinals in what was one of Kurt Warner’s best career performances but followed that up by holding off a very good Houston offense in Week 3. Their Week 4 matchup with the Titans was probably their least potent offensive opponent thus far. In Week 5 they get to face a Seattle team that has some issues, especially in the injury department. We don’t know for sure whether they will face Matt Hasselbeck or Seneca Wallace, but I don’t think it really matters that much. Hasselbeck would be coming off a fractured rib injury, and Wallace just isn’t starting QB material. Julius Jones is finally running like we know he can (11 carries for 25 yards in Week 4), although the injury to Walter Jones might be the biggest contributing factor there. With all of the issues that Seattle has right now I expect the Jags to put up a decent performance this week. Projection: 13 points allowed, 3 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 fumble recovery.
3. Buffalo (18%): Buffalo travels to Cleveland in Week 5 in what looks to be an interesting matchup. The Bills had a tough time containing Ronnie Brown and the Wildcat offense down in Miami in Week 4. Look for Cleveland to attempt to use some Wildcat formations with Josh Cribbs and try to capitalize on that. One thing to keep in mind however is that Josh Cribbs is not Ronnie Brown. Aside from the score, the Bills did put up some fairly impressive numbers on the defensive side of the ball in Week 4, posting 6 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. Unfortunately for them, Trent Edwards threw 3 interceptions of his own and they never really had a chance. In Cleveland we saw the re-emergence of Derek Anderson at the helm of the offense. Cleveland played better than expected in Week 4 and almost pulled out an upset victory over the Bengals but like most rivalry games I think this is the exception and not the rule for the Browns. Projection: 13 points allowed, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble.
I’m going to mention Larry Foote and E.J. Henderson again and I’ll keep doing so until I see that people are paying attention. Last week Foote was 11% owned in Yahoo! leagues, that has now jumped to 16% but is still way too low in my opinion. E.J.’s stock jumped much more going from 17% owned to 31% owned. Now that I have those two covered again here are some more players that might be available if you need a plug-in for Week 5:
1. Justin Durant (38% owned in Yahoo!): The Jags linebacker has 35 total tackles through 4 games (29 solo, 6 assists) which is solid. To put it in perspective, he has the same number of solo tackles as Patrick Willis. Although he is not on par with Willis for fantasy points due to a lack of other stats (he has only 1 forced fumble, 0 sacks, 0 INTs), his tackle numbers should at least give you confidence that he will score points for your fantasy squad.
2. Thomas Howard (13%): The Raiders linebacker is currently tied with his teammate, Kirk Morrison, with the exact same number of solo tackles and assists (27 and 4). Name recognition is the only reason I can see for the difference in how much they are owned, as Howard has more sacks and passes defensed than Morrison. Neither player has any INTs or forced fumbles at this point.
1. Chris Hope (18%): Tennessee’s passing defense has been getting burned this year and they are currently ranked last in the NFL. So why would you want a safety from the NFL’s worst pass defense on your fantasy squad? Easy, since opposing teams know that they can throw on the Titans that’s exactly what they’ll do and that means more opportunities for the Titans players to acquire stats, especially tackles. Even if it’s after a 40-yard gain, a tackle still counts as points for your IDP squad. In the world of IDP, sometimes the best players are on the worst defenses.
2. Mike Brown (3%): The Chiefs safety is looking like the Mike Brown we used to know and love in Chicago. He is currently on pace to set a career high in total tackles with 27 so far through 4 games. Injuries have plagued his career over the past couple of seasons, but if he can hold up then he’s definitely worth the gamble. At 3% owned, he is almost certainly available in your league.
3. Marcus Stroud (17%): I know I mentioned him here last week but he’s having such a solid season I just can’t ignore him. Stroud has been the model of consistency posting 4 solo tackles in Weeks 1 – 3 and adding 5 solo tackles and a sack in Week 4. He was only 7% owned last week and that climbed by 10%, so don’t wait too long if you need to fill a DT spot or he may be gone.
4. Greg Ellis (25%): Although Ellis has only recorded 11 solo tackles in ‘09 he does have 4 sacks in his past 4 games to go with them. Another bonus, at least in some leagues, is that he is listed as a DT/DE, which means he can be played in either slot if needed. Players like this with dual position eligibility can give you more flexible rosters on your fantasy squad and there is a definite value in that.
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 cafe 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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