Well that was fun! Week 1 flew by and the start to the 2013 NFL season is in the books. There were a lot of exciting games. 12 of the 16 were decided by 1 TD or less. However, you could definitely tell it was opening week as the penalties and turnovers mounted with each passing game. Of course, that is par for the course on opening day. Defenses are generally light years ahead of the offenses in the first week or two of a season. Last week was no exception. If you are like me, you don’t even bother with a defense at draft time. I take the team with the friendliest week 1 match-up. Yes, that’s right, I’m a streamer and proud of it! I enjoy the small victories and It’s a fun way to play. Even if you prefer to have one set in stone defense, you will still need a bye week fill-in. I know change can be extremely scary for some of you folks, but I will help you through it. Maybe I will even show you a match-up so tasty and so tantalizing that you will stray from your ways! Maybe that unlikely, but a guy can dream!
Even with the sloppy play of the opening week, there were some very exciting games. The fantasy points began to mount up, (unless of course you were a first or second round pick for one of my squads). There were 10 D/STs that scored double digit fantasy points. That certainly won some players their opening game. Four of our five week 1 sleepers finished with 7 points or more. That included the number one defense of the week, the Kansas City Chiefs. So with that, let’s take a look at the week 2 D/ST sleepers.
#5) New Orleans at Tampa Bay
From maybe the all-time worst NFL defense to a sleeper D/ST in week 2? Yes, you read me right. The Saints were atrocious last year. They were so bad that rumors swirled saying Roger Goodell had actually forced them to miss every tackle during the first half of every game as a final punishment for “Bounty-Gate”. Bye-bye Steve Spagnuolo, welcome Rob Ryan. While Spagnuolo was one of the most accomplished and respected defensive minds in the game, he did nothing to help his personnel. The Saints were often out of position, undersized and mismatched on defense. This led to over 7,000 yards allowed. Rob Ryan brought with him a different approach. A switch to a 3-4 defense made all the sense in the world. The Saints also addressed their defensive issues in the draft and thru free agency by adding Kenny Vaccaro and Keenan Lewis, among others. Sure they won’t turn around over night. It takes time to go from an all-time bad, to dominant. If week 1 was any indication, they are moving in that direction. The Saints held the potent Atlanta Falcons offense in check for most of the game and surrendered just 17 points and a meager 88 yards on the ground. That’s a huge difference from last season. This week they get Tampa Bay, a squad that is lead by Josh Freeman and just lost to the lowly Jets. Need I say more?
#4) Oakland vs. Jacksonville
Maybe I have lost my mind, going with the Saints and Raiders in the same week? Oh well, at least I’m not picking the Jets. Oakland may end up as one of the worst teams in the league. Terrelle Pryor is exciting and all, but come on. That said, Oakland actually played very well in the opener. They held the mighty Colts offense to just 3 TD’s and only 274 yards of offense. It was a very productive day for the Oak-town defense. This week, they open play in the “Black Hole” and get the self destructive Jacksonville Jaguars. Unfortunately, they missed out on Blaine Gabbert, who will miss the game with injury. Still, Chad Henne is not far from D/ST fantasy gold himself. MJD should have a good day and maybe Cecil Shorts hauls in a long pass, but expect a few sacks, a low score and 2-3 turnovers for the Raiders in this one.
#3) Cleveland at Baltimore
The Browns made this list last week and had a solid, if unspectacular week with 8 points. Unfortunately, the Browns defense was repeatedly put in awful situations as the Cleveland offense could not sustain a drive. Brandon Weeden was awful and Norv Turner’s offense only used Trent Richardson on five carries in the second half. Expect that to be rectified this week, allowing the Cleveland Defense more time to rest. The Ravens were an absolute mess in week 1 and while you can’t expect that kind of performance again, I see a lot to be worried about if I were a Ravens fan. Jacoby Jones’ injury has an already depleted WR corp even thinner and Michael Oher, their outstanding left tackle, is day to day. Even if Oher plays, he won’t be 100%, allowing Paul Kruger to get to Flacco. Joe Hayden has become one of the best shut down corners in the league and will make it a miserable day for Torrey Smith. The Browns completely shut down the Dolphin running game in the opener. The Ravens will have to get Ray Rice going to avoid a complete offensive collapse. I expect a low scoring, defensive struggle in this one. There should be several sacks, a few turnovers and maybe even a big return could swing this game.
#2) Buffalo vs. Carolina
The New England Patriots may not be the powerhouse offense they have been the last few years, but they are still lead by Tom Brady. The Bills were still able to force 3 turnovers, 2 sacks and hold the Patriots to just 273 yards through the air. Great strides were made in the opener and the defense gave the Bills every chance to win the game. In week 2, Buffalo gets a much friendlier opponent in the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers were held to just 7 points in their home opener and only 253 yards of offense. While that poor performance was mostly due to the mighty Seattle Seahawks, expect the Bills to find some success as well. The Panthers passing game looked lost from jump and with the Bills formidable front 7, expect a few more turnovers and sacks. Also, don’t forget about the always dangerous Buffalo return game. Double digit points is a strong possibility in this one.
#1) Philadelphia vs. San Diego
Everyone in the league was talking about Chip Kelly and his lightning fast offensive in week 1. What they aren’t talking about was the 3 turnovers and 3 sacks the Eagles forced in week 1. You can go on and on about how RGIII was rusty, or how the Redskins marched back to within an onside kick recovery of a monumental comeback, but to me it was an impressive defensive performance on the road. The Redskins, even if they were a bit rusty in the first half, are a high powered offense and the Eagles were downright awful defensively last season. This week, they play in front of the Philly faithful and get the added bonus of a Phillip Rivers lead offense. Rivers has turned into Mark Sanchez-west the last three years. You can expect more of the same Sunday. I can easily see multiple turnovers, 3 or more sacks and maybe even a TD for the home team in this one.