This week marks the midpoint of the season in many fantasy leagues. Hopefully you’re sitting in pretty good shape to earn a playoff berth in your league. If not, it’s time to make a run. If you only carry one defense and if they are on bye, it would be wise to find a fill-in. Speaking of byes, it gets a little more interesting in Week 7 with six teams taking a breather instead of four. In light of this, I will add one more plug-and-play pick for this week. If you own Baltimore, Denver, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Seattle or Detroit, you may need a replacement. Well actually, we could probably narrow that down to just Baltimore and Denver. Even so, if you need a fill-in defense, here are the plug-and-play picks for Week 7:
San Diego (48% owned in Yahoo!): The percentage of leagues that have teams that own SD is a little high, but even at about 50% there is a chance that they are available in your league. They are traveling to Kansas City in Week 7 which, on paper at least, looks to be a sweet matchup in fantasy terms. Although it is a road game, the Chiefs haven’t exactly been dominant at any venue in ’09. Their offense ranks 30th in the NFL in yards per game and 25th in points per game. Even with the Chargers’ issues on the defensive side of the ball, I wouldn’t expect much for fireworks from Kansas City’s offense. Projection: 6 points allowed, 4 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble, safety
Indianapolis (48%) : The Colts travel to St. Louis this week. The thing that concerns me with this choice is the Indianapolis offense. I’m worried that they may be too good and that could hurt the defense in fantasy terms. What I mean by this is that they often score so quickly that their defense is on the field more than they need to be. Once they have run up the score to 45-0 by the middle of the second quarter, it would be nice to see them grind out the ball and run some time off of the clock. That would give St. Louis fewer opportunities to score. On the other hand, being on the field more gives the Colts defense more opportunities for sacks and turnovers, so maybe it’s a win-win. Don’t be fooled by the 20 points that St. Louis put up in Week 6. Only 13 of those were scored by the offense against a Jaguars defense that is barely middle of the pack at best. Projection: 7 points allowed, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble
Carolina (41%) : Carolina makes my list for the third week in a row. Buffalo is coming off a big upset win over the Jets, and the Panthers were able to just squeak by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 6 in what should have been a blowout had it not been for allowing Tampa Bay to return a kickoff and an interception for TDs. Buffalo looked much better defensively in Week 6 with Paul Pasluszny back in the mix and actually played like they had a legitimate defense. However, if Carolina gets their two-headed monster going again this week, I think it’s safer to stay with the home team in this one. Besides, who’s going to play QB for the Bills? Projection: 13 points allowed, 3 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble
Oakland (4%) : Maybe I’ve lost my mind here, but I like their matchup this week. Oakland surprised a lot of people in Week 6, but what surprised most people I think was the fact that they held Philadelphia to just nine points (as a side note, they also ruined my Lucky Ladders predictions for Week 6). On the flip side, I think everyone was equally surprised by the Jets meltdown against the Bills. Mark Sanchez looked like a rookie, throwing five interceptions in last week’s game; then again, he is a rookie, so that’s to be expected from time to time. The question is: will he look like a rookie in Week 7? I have to believe that the Jets are still the better team here but having to travel all the way across the country and play in a hostile environment isn’t going to be an easy task — just ask the Eagles. At 4% owned, the Raiders defense is almost certainly available in your league. Projection: 17 points allowed, 2 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble.
There are a couple of key injuries on defense that need to be noted this week. The most prominent ones are Falcons CB Brian Williams, Cincinnati DE Antwan Odom, Browns LB D’Qwell Jackson and Vikings CB Antoine Winfield. Williams, Odom and Jackson have been placed on IR and are out for the season. The Vikings have been pretty quiet about Winfield’s injury, but they did admit late Monday that he had a sprained foot. It is very unlikely that Winfield will play this weekend. The Eagles acquired LB Will Witherspoon from St. Louis prior to the trade deadline on Tuesday. We’ll see how that pans out in IDP terms, but I think the biggest impact will be to the value of James Laurinaitis. As mentioned earlier in this article, there are six teams on bye in Week 7, so the likelihood that one of your players is out this week has increased. If you need a fill in for an IDP player, I have listed a few below that may serve you well.
Brian Cushing (15% owned in Yahoo!): The rookie LB for Houston has improved each week and is now starting to turn some heads on the IDP side of fantasy football. He was a key factor in the Texans win over the Bengals in Week 6 with nine total tackles, two forced fumbles, two passes defensed and a key interception. Can you expect that every week? Probably not, but he’s been fairly consistent this season and has improved in each game so far.
Paul Posluszny (10%): Posluszny would be at least 70% owned if he had not been sidelined for four weeks with a broken arm. He has consistently been a top IDP player over the past few seasons and proved why this past week with nine total tackles, one pass defensed and a key interception in Buffalo’s win over the Jets.
Tanard Jackson (1%): The Tampa Bay safety returned to action in Week 5 after serving a suspension for the first four games of the season. He has played well since his return, notching nine total tackles, one pass defensed, one forced fumble and an INT which he returned for a TD so far in the two games he’s played.
Jairus Byrd (1%): The rookie safety for the Bills had a nice game in Week 6. He only recorded three total tackles but had three passes defensed as well as 2 INTs. With starting safeties Bryan Scott and Donte Whitner both nursing ankle injuries, Byrd should get the opportunity to make some more plays in Week 7. As an added bonus, he is listed on some fantasy sites as a CB/S, which means he can be inserted into either position on your roster.
Leon Hall (5%): The Bengals CB had a huge game against Houston in Week 6, tallying 12 total tackles, one pass defensed and one forced fumble. I wouldn’t expect his stats to be quite that good in Week 7, but he should be able to get you five tackles and a pass defensed at the very least.
Chike Okeafor (6%): The Arizona DE isn’t going to get you Jared Allen-type numbers, but he should be good for four to five total tackles. He does have two sacks on the year, so there’s always hope for a bonus. If you are in dire need of a DE this week, he might just get you by.
Andre Carter (22%): I plugged him last week and I hope you listened. The Redskins DE recorded seven solo tackles, two sacks and a pass defensed in Week 6. His stock should rise fast even though the Redskins’ stock is falling.
Tank Tyler (9%): I’ve mentioned him here before but he’s worth mentioning again this week as he now has a new home. The Chiefs traded Tyler to the Carolina Panthers this week in exchange for a 2010 5th-round pick. You may want to check his status but my guess is that he should be starting at DT for Carolina in Week 7.
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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