It’s hard to believe, but the fantasy season is half over already. Week 7 provided fewer surprises than we’ve been getting accustomed to this year, although there were some close calls. As the season progresses you would think that it would get a little easier to pinpoint matchups that play in your favor, especially with team defenses. However the schedule isn’t always very accommodating, especially this week when some of the lower ranked offenses squaring off against each other. This makes it difficult to pick which defense to play in that matchup. Below I will highlight one of these. We are still in the midst of the byes so be aware that the Bengals, Chiefs, Patriots, Steelers, Buccaneers and Redskins are off this week. There are a couple of key defenses there that many owners will be looking to replace, and I hope I can help you out with that dilemma.
Plug and Play Defenses for Week 8:
Arizona (32% owned in Yahoo!) – The front seven for the Cardinals has been stellar against the run this season, and the defense as a whole gained some credibility in Week 7 by holding the Giants to 108 rushing yards and 17 points and, more importantly, forcing four turnovers. This week they host a Carolina team that is still trying to find an identity in ‘09. We’ve seen flashes of the power running game from ‘08, but it has been inconsistent. This week will provide another good test for the Cardinals’ rush defense and if they can hold up, I like their chances. The offense in Arizona is clicking again, and I expect them to take a lead and force Carolina to pass the ball, something which they have had issues with this season to say the least. If they are available in your league, the Cardinals should put up some decent numbers for your fantasy squad. Projection: 14 points allowed, 3 Sacks, 2 INTs, 1 Forced Fumble
San Diego (63%) – Here’s a team that has been up and down this season. Coming out of their bye, they got abused by the Broncos and looked like they might need a major overhaul, especially on the defensive side of the ball, to remedy their situation. Cue the Kansas City Chiefs (San Diego’s opponent last week) and the Oakland Raiders. San Diego had their way in Week 7 against the Chiefs, allowing only 7 points and recording 4 sacks and 3 INTs on the road. They also recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown. This week they get to stay home to host possibly the worst offense in the NFL. JaMarcus Russell has been atrocious so far in ’09, and due to injuries the top rushing threat in Oakland is now Justin Fargas. This matchup has the Chargers poised for another dominant defensive performance in Week 8. Projection: 6 points allowed, 4 Sacks, 2 INTs, 1 Forced Fumble
Detroit (2%) - Yeah, you read that right, I’m actually plugging the Lions this week. As bad as the Lions have been defensively in ’09, their opponent, the St. Louis Rams, have been just as bad on the offensive side of the ball. The Lions just recently ended the second longest losing streak in NFL history at 19 consecutive games. If they can win this week, they may not hold that distinction for long as the Rams are closing in on them, having just lost their 17th consecutive game. The Lions are coming off of their bye week, should have a healthy Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford at their disposal and are at home. I look for the Lions to get win number two on the season. Projection: 17 points allowed, 2 Sacks, 1 INT, 2 Forced Fumbles
Houston (8%) – The Texans blew a big lead to the 49ers last week but held on for the win. The Houston pass defense has been average this season, ranking 18th in passing yards allowed, but their opponent this week, the Buffalo Bills, have been terrible at passing the ball, ranking 28th in the league. The Bills are going with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm when they face the Texans in Week 8. Although their offense showed a little more spark in their Week 7 game against Carolina, I wouldn’t expect fireworks. Matt Schaub should put Houston up early and Buffalo will have to pass to catch up. Projection: 16 points allowed, 2 Sacks, 1 INT
If you have some big name IDP players on bye this week or if you’re looking for someone to try and improve your struggling squad, here are some players that might be able to help you out:
Will Witherspoon (9% owned in Yahoo!): I mentioned briefly in last week’s article that he had been traded to the Eagles, and now I’m kicking myself for not plugging him outright. Witherspoon had a stellar debut with Philadelphia recording 6 solo tackles, 2 assists, 1 sack and an INT which he returned for a TD.
Paul Posluszny (13%): I’m going to mention him for the second straight week because he seems to still be flying under the radar based his ownership percentage. If he hadn’t been sidelined for several weeks with a broken arm, you would probably have to trade for him rather than grab him off of waivers. With 20 total tackles, 1 INT and a pass defensed since his return, you’d be foolish to at least not stash him on your bench.
Thomas DeCoud (2%): The Falcons safety has started to shine a little in the past few weeks and had another solid IDP performance against Dallas in Week 7, recording 10 total tackles, 1 sack and a pass defensed. At 2% owned there’s a good possibility that he’s available if you need him.
C.C. Brown (8%): The NYG safety has had two consecutive big games, notching 24 total tackles, 1 forced fumble and 2 passes defensed in Weeks 6 and 7. If he keeps this up you might want to hang on to him rather than just use him as a one-week fill-in.
Tracy Porter (2%): The New Orleans cornerback has been steadily improving this season. In Week 7, he played a key role in the Saints’ big comeback against the Dolphins by returning an interception 53 yards for a TD. Even without that, he still had a solid game with 9 total tackles. The stat that gets most of my attention though is the fact that he has five passes defensed in just the past two games. This tells me that he’s getting in position to make a play, as evidenced by the 53 yard INT return. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say he will make more big plays in weeks to come.
Ron Bartell (4%): The corner for the Rams is having a steady season, averaging around 5 to 6 tackles per game with three forced fumbles on the year. He’s not going to get you a huge number of points, but he’s consistent.
Calais Campbell (3%): With a first name eerily similar to a drug meant to treat erectile dysfunction, I wasn’t too sure about adding him to the list, but the Cardinals DE has been quietly making big plays for Arizona this year. Campbell has 2.5 sacks in his last two games and has also blocked two field goals this season. He won’t get you eye-popping tackle totals, but he may be good for a big play or two.
Robaire Smith (0%): The Browns’ DE has been solid in his past three games but had an especially big day in Week 7, recording 9 solo tackles and 3 assists against Green Bay. He has not recorded a sack on the year, but as relentless as he has been pursuing the football, there should be some coming in the near future.
Daniel Muir (1%): The Colts released Ed Johnson, giving Muir the chance to start at DT in Week 7, and he delivered with 7 solo tackles and 0.5 sacks. It’s hard to say at this point how effective he’ll be over the course of the season, but I like his chances against San Francisco in Week 8.
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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