Another week is in the books. There were a few surprises last week, with a couple of winless teams finally putting up a “W”, and we’re now down to two undefeated teams. Good teams find a way to win, and the Colts and Saints proved that they’re worthy of their marks by finding ways to win the games in which they don’t play their best. We’re still in the meat-grinder part of the byes, with another six teams taking a breather in Week 9. If you own Minnesota, St. Louis, Buffalo, Cleveland, Oakland or the Jets you might want to consider one of the following as a bye-week fill-in.
Plug and Play Defenses for Week 9:
Atlanta (24% owned in Yahoo!): The Falcons may have given up 35 points to the Saints, but in their defense (pun intended) they did actually hold the Saints below their average per-game score, and on the road no less. This week, they’re at home against the Washington Redskins, who have one of the most vanilla offenses in the NFL. The Redskins put up a little bit of a fight in their last game with Philadelphia, but they also lost Chris Cooley, one of their biggest offensive weapons, for a month. Atlanta needs to win to keep their playoff hopes alive, while Washington is so far out of the playoff picture it would not be a surprise to see them pack it in fairly soon. When you’re losing it’s hard to get motivated sometimes. Projection: 13 points allowed, 4 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 Forced Fumble
Seattle (22%): The Seahawks are another team that is having a disappointing season, but this week they host a Lions team that is starting to look as bad as last season. I’m almost inclined to think that last year’s Lions were better, despite the 2009 squad having a (slightly) better record. The offensive woes of the Motor City Kitties will hinge on whether or not Calvin Johnson is healthy enough to play effectively. If that is the case, the Lions actually have an okay shot at winning this game. If not, things could get ugly. Projection: 10 points allowed, 2 Sacks, 2 INTs, 1 Forced Fumble
San Francisco (44%): The last time I picked San Francisco in this article they were only owned by a small percentage of fantasy teams. The three-TD week they had when I picked them changed that quite a bit, but their implosion at home versus the Falcons, coupled with some tough matchups, have brought that percentage back down again. This week provides another favorable matchup that could provide some substantial points. The 49ers are hosting the Titans this week, and although Tennessee finally notched a win in Week 8, they’ll be facing a much better team in Week 9. The 49ers played admirably in a couple of close losses against Minnesota and Indianapolis this year. They rank second in the NFL versus the run, which is really Tennessee’s only weapon at this point. If you desperately need a defense that you can count on to get you at least their projected points this week, San Francisco should be a pretty safe bet. Projection: 10 points allowed, 3 Sacks, 1 INT, 1 Forced Fumble
Jacksonville (8%): I’m a little leery of this pick because both times I’ve plugged them this year they’ve totally flopped. The Jags’ run defense is terrible. However, this week they host the Kansas City Chiefs, a team whose rushing offense is almost as terrible. Kansas City ranks 21st in the NFL, gaining only 101.3 rushing yards per game, while Jacksonville ranks 25th in the NFL, allowing 128.3 rushing yards per game to opposing offenses. Something’s got to give here. All in all, it’s hard to pick who wins this one, but the Chiefs offense is bad enough that you should have a decent chance of getting some points out of the Jags defensive unit in Week 9. Projection: 17 points allowed, 1 Sack, 0 INTs, 2 Forced Fumbles
Once again, there are a few high profile IDP players that get to rest up this week with their teams on bye. There are also still a few players out with injuries as well so if you need to fill a roster spot, here are a few suggestions:
David Hawthorne (4% owned in Yahoo!): The Seattle linebacker is coming off of a huge game in Week 8 with 8 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble and a pass defensed. The only problem is that he hasn’t played every game this year, but he should see plenty of playing time with Lofa Tatupu out.
Akeem Jordan (7%): The Eagles linebacker is having a decent season so far but has turned it up a notch the past two weeks, posting 15 solo tackles and 4 assists in Weeks 7 and 8.
Tanard Jackson (2%): I had to rub my eyes when I saw Tanard Jackson only at 2% owned. Perhaps it’s because Tampa Bay was on bye in Week 8, but he’s been on a tear since taking the field in Week 5. In most formats, he’s playing like a top five defensive back.
Thomas DeCoud (7%): DeCoud is another player that has been more than solid lately and had another big game in Week 8 with 5 total tackles, 1 sack and a forced fumble against New Orleans.
Tracy Porter (9%): Speaking of the Atlanta-New Orleans game, Porter had himself quite a night for the Saints in this matchup as well, recording 6 tackles, 1 INT and a pass defensed. He has been solid over the past several weeks and has been playing well enough to be an every-week starter for your fantasy squad.
Cortland Finnegan (8%): Finnegan returned to action in Week 8 and had a solid game, showing some of the talent that IDP owners have been accustomed to seeing from him in the past. He only recorded 3 total tackles but added an INT and 2 passes defensed. Given his past track record, he is a fairly safe bet to score points for your fantasy team.
Ray McDonald (1%): The 49ers defensive end is another player who returned to the field in Week 8 after missing a few weeks due to injury. When he went down in Week 4, he was having quite a nice season and was on pace to finish in the top 10 at his position in regards to fantasy points. He only posted a sack in his return, but he should get better as he gets stronger again.
Calais Campbell (8%): I plugged him last week and I’m doing so again. He had 8 total tackles and half a sack in Week 8. For a defensive end, that’s excellent.
Tank Tyler (7%): Since being traded to Carolina, he has cooled off a tad, but I have to believe that once he starts getting comfortable in his new surroundings, he’ll pick it up again. Despite only having 4 tackles in his past 3 games he’s still third among defensive tackles in solo tackles with 22 on the season. If your league requires a DT position, he might be worth grabbing this week, especially if you consider the fact that he’s the only one ranked in the top 6 for his position in total tackles who doesn’t have a bye in Week 9.
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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