Two quarterbacks returned to action in Week 5 coming off of rib injuries, Donovan McNabb and Matt Hasselbeck. Both had huge games in their comeback appearances. Hasselbeck torched my second plug-and-play pick to the tune of 4 TDs en route to a 41–0 shellacking of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Perhaps every starting quarterback should have his ribs cracked just for good luck. If Peyton Manning cracks his ribs and misses a week or two he could possibly be the first to pass for 1,000 yards in a single game upon his return, based on what we saw this past weekend. But I digress. The Colts, Cowboys, Dolphins and 49ers all have byes in Week 6, and for those of you looking for a plug in defense, here are my top three choices:
Plug and Play Defenses: Week 6
1. Carolina (35% owned in Yahoo!) – I picked Carolina last week based on their matchup, and they performed about as expected, allowing 17 points with 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and a safety. This week they have another juicy matchup at home with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs still have not pieced together much of anything on offense. I look for Carolina to have a solid game on both sides of the ball, and I expect Tampa to fall behind in this one and try to play catch up with Josh Johnson at the helm. Although he has shown some flashes of talent, he is not at this moment a prototypical NFL quarterback. Carolina should be a decent plug-in defense if you need one. Projection: 9 points allowed, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 2 forced fumbles.
2. Jacksonville (13%) – They burned me last week when I picked them, but I’m going to roll the dice on them once more considering their matchup with the St. Louis Rams at home in Week 6. The Rams, if you haven’t noticed, hold the longest active losing streak in the NFL at 15 games. One thing that does make me wary on this pick is the fact that Marc Bulger came in late against Minnesota in Week 5 and performed admirably. Considering the Rams’ upcoming schedule and the product that Jacksonville put on the field this past week, one might be inclined to think that this is the best chance for St. Louis to end their losing streak. However, I feel that the game being in Jacksonville and the Jags being thoroughly embarrassed in their last game will equate to a much better effort this week. Projection: 13 points allowed, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles.
3. Washington (22%) – The Redskins play host to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6 in what should be the antithesis of a shootout. Both teams are ranked in the bottom nine in the NFL for total points scored. Since both offenses are bad, you could really roll with either one this week but I’m going with the home team based on the law of averages. Projection: 14 points allowed, 3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble
The biggest news in the IDP world of fantasy football this week is that Troy Polamalu will be a full participant in practice this Wednesday. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him held out or only practice lightly on Thursday or Friday just to keep him safe, but you should be able to start him with confidence. I expect that some of the swagger will return to the Pittsburgh defensive unit as well. There are some solid IDP players on bye in Week 6 so be sure to check your lineups. If you need a fill in for this week, I hope you find the following list helpful.
Thomas Howard (16% owned in Yahoo!) – The Panthers linebacker is averaging just over six tackles per game so far. He has been as consistent as they come. I’d have no problem starting him every week.
Daryl Smith (19%) – Smith has also had a very solid year with 30 solo tackles and 6 assists through the first five weeks. He has also forced three fumbles for the Jaguars.
DeAndre Levy (0%) – I’m throwing Levy in here as an extra. Being that he’s 0% owned he should almost certainly be available in your league. He only has 17 solo tackles on the season, but 12 of those came in the past two games. Another interesting tidbit is that Levy started the past 2 games in place of an injured Ernie Sims. The funny thing is that Sims was active for last week’s game against the Steelers and even played in all of the nickel packages. However, some sources are claiming that Sims will start this week. If you’re in a deep league, especially a keeper or dynasty, you might want monitor this situation because the winner will be starting at a tackle-heavy position.
Nick Harper (7%) – The Titans cornerback has amassed 38 tackles through five games so far (27 solo, 11 assists). Since teams are having a hard time running on Tennessee but having their way with them through the air, any Tennessee DB is a good bet for racking up tackles, which I maintain is the most important IDP stat.
Jabari Greer (1%) – Don’t be fooled by the number of tackles. Greer has only 20 solo tackles on the season, but New Orleans had their bye in Week 5. He has 6 passes defensed so far, which is solid.
Mike Brown (5%) – Although he only posted 4 solo tackles and 1 assist in Week 5, the Chiefs safety is still on pace for a solid year.
Micheal Huff (5%) – His tackle total is quite low with 11 tackles on the season, but with 7 passes defensed, 3 INTs and 1 fumble recovery, it can be deduced that he has a knack for being around the ball. The only problem I see here is his situation. Oakland is not very good as a team and will be playing from behind more often than not. Opposing teams will switch to grinding out the ball on the ground once they’ve established a comfortable lead which will equate to fewer opportunities for Huff to make plays on the ball.
Jimmy Wilkerson (6%) - Wilkerson is having a solid year and is one of the few bright spots on a much maligned Tampa Bay defensive unit. He has 20 total tackles so far (15 solo, 5 assists) and 5 sacks through 5 games. To put that in perspective, he has the same number of total tackles and is only 1.5 sacks behind Jared Allen (who is 94% owned). He also has two forced fumbles on the season. I’d scoop him up if your league requires a DE.
Andre Carter (4%) – The Redskins DE used to be one of the bigger commodities in IDP leagues in years past but has been off most people’s radar thus far in ‘09. He is having a decent season with 21 total tackles, 3.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.
Jason Hunter (2%) – The Lions, though improved from ‘08, are still one of the whipping boys of the NFL, and one stat that adds fuel to that argument is the fact that Jason Hunter leads all Detroit defensive linemen in sacks with only two on the season. However, this week the Lions face the Green Bay Packers, who have had a difficult time keeping Aaron Rodgers safe. Even with the low tackle totals (only 14 on the season) Hunter will have one of his better chances in the young season to notch a multi-sack game this week and could be a guy to take a chance on if you’re really desperate.
Mike Wright (4%) – If you need a DT to fill in this week, Wright is a decent start. He has 12 total tackles on the year, but for an interior lineman that’s actually not too terribly bad. He does share the league lead for sacks compared to other NFL defensive tackles with three and has a forced fumble and a pass defensed to boot.
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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