Sleeper Defenses Week 6
Fantasy defenses are usually one of the last additions to your roster on draft day, or at least it should be. Those who reached on the Seahawks or Panthers aren’t being rewarded with the same sort of Fantasy output as they were expecting.
Honestly, if you think about it, with all the turnover, rookie additions, and coaching movement, drafting a Fantasy defense early doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially when one can stream defenses so easily on their waiver wire.
If you’re not the streaming type, you’re missing out. Check out Jason Willan’s weekly Fantasy Stream Target article for week 6.
Quick Recap: After 5
The Vikings are this year’s top defensive beast, and we’ve been ranking them that way since we got a glimpse of their dominate force week 2. Minnesota is towering over the Bills who rank 2nd (depending on league scoring) after five NFL weeks. While last year’s favorites Denver and Arizona are hovering respectably in the top 5.
This week the Vikings are off on a bye, and many Fantasy owners are reluctant to drop one of their best late round picks for a replacement defense for this Sunday. In Jason’s piece, he talks about a few great options you should stream, but I wanted to dig a little deeper and add three sleepers to also consider.
Detroit Lions vs. Los Angeles Rams
DraftKings: $3,000 | $4,500
Though the Detroit Lions haven’t put together consistent performances on the defensive side of the ball, the visiting Los Angeles Rams have equally struggled offensively, finishing 30th in passing yards per game (202) and 28th in rushing yards per game (81.8) through five games, per ESPN.com.
Their offensive woes don’t end there. The Rams are tied for 26th in the NFL with a 33.3 percent conversion rate on third down, picking up just 80 first downs in total this season (27th).
With rookie first-round pick Jared Goff still holding the clipboard on the sideline, veteran quarterback Case Keenum has led Los Angeles’ offense to just 82 points through five weeks, tying with the Houston Texans for the league’s worst scoring offense.[the_ad id=”66786″]Keenum, a former University of Houston product, has yet to find his niche in the NFL, as his issues with accuracy and pocket awareness have negatively affected his play since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2012.
To make matters worse, opposing defenses have bullied the Rams’ offensive line, and, in turn, both Keenum and second-year running back Todd Gurley have been unable to get anything going offensively.
The Lions’ defense is simply the next defense on the list.
In the trenches, former Texas Tech defensive end Kerry Hyder has found new life with the Lions after going undrafted to the New York Jets in 2014, as he has accumulated five sacks in his first five career games in the NFL.
Behind Hyder, veteran linebackers Tahir Whitehead and Kyle Van Noy have also performed at a high level, combining for 61 total tackles on the season.
Whitehead, a former University of Temple product, has exceeded expectations to start the season, leading the team with 46 combined tackles.
In the secondary, look for Glover Quin and Darius Slay to keep Keenum and the Rams’ receiving corps under wraps, forcing Los Angeles to get the job done on the ground with Gurley.
Whitehead and Van Noy will have something to say about that.
Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys
DraftKings: $2,800 | FanDuel: $4,500
With quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his receiving crops often stealing the headlines regardless of their play, the Green Bay Packers’ defense habitually flies under the radar.
Let’s bring their early success to light.
Led by two young inside linebackers in Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez, the Packers have put together the league’s top run defense, allowing just 42.8 yards per game and astonishing two yards per carry.[the_ad id=”63198″]Ryan, a second-year player out of the University of Michigan, is a downhill, instinctual linebacker that is best utilized against the run, putting on a clinic with a team-high 29 tackles.
Like Ryan, Martinez embodies the throwback linebacker style. The former Stanford standout uses his athleticism to his advantage to chase down ball carriers and make tackles in the open field.
Though Ryan and Martinez have obviously excelled, they are often in great positioning because of the play of edge-rusher Nick Perry and interior defensive lineman Mike Daniels.
With Perry attacking off the edge and Daniels drawing double teams within the interior, the Packers’ defense is coming together beautifully, a sight that Dallas Cowboys rookies Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott.
Both Elliot and Prescott have played at a high level on the NFL stage, as Elliot now leads the NFL in rushing yards and Prescott has yet to throw an interception.
Going into Lambeau Field, both rookies will face an NFL test they haven’t seen this season, and this Packers’ defense aren’t handing out an easy A this week.
Baltimore Ravens @ New York Giants
DraftKings: $2,600 | FanDuel: $4,500[the_ad id=”58837″]New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. have kept their offense afloat because of their success through the air, but without veteran running backs Shane Vereen and Rashid Jennings, the Giants’ offense remains one-dimensional.
Through five games, the Giants are averaging just 17.8 points per game (27th) and 83.6 rushing yards per game (27th).
Because the Giants haven’t threatened opposing defenses on the ground, teams have sold out to stop the pass, and it has worked.
The Baltimore Ravens defense will do the same.
Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith has significantly benefited from the strong play from both his safeties Lardarius Webb and Eric Weddle, but he has a tough task laid out in front of him with Beckham next on his list.
Smith is welcoming the challenge.
Smith, a first-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, highlighted that he will match Beckham’s physicality in between the whistles, but he isn’t going to stand for Beckham’s antics after the play.
“All of that extra hitting and talking, that’s not going to fly,” Smith said, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. “That’s not my game. I like to line up and play. ‘Give me your best shot, and I’ll give you mine.’ But if you hit me after the whistle, there’s going to be a fight.”
With Smith already dialed in on this matchup, the Manning and company might have to look elsewhere for offensive production, but unfortunately for the G-Men, there aren’t a lot of places left to look.
Inside linebackers Zachary Orr and C.J. Mosley have prevented opposing offenses from running the football all season, allowing just 76 yards per game on the ground in five games.
Orr leads the Ravens with 38 combined tackles (28 solo).
Also, third-year interior defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan has put on a phenomenal showing this season in the trenches, oftentimes opening up holes for his linebackers to fill or pushing his way to the quarterback.
Jernigan has the second-most sacks on the team (three) behind veteran edge-rusher Terrell Suggs’ four on the season.
Without enough firepower to threaten the Ravens, the Giants will fall short of the mark offensively.
Austin Gayle is currently pursuing both his Liberal Studies and Journalism degree at San Diego State University. He began his writing career as the lead editor/writer for the website he created thedraftpulse.com. He is an Oakland, California native who has a strong passion for football at both the collegiate and professional level. He has been studying the NFL draft for over four years now and has started publishing his analysis of college level prospects since the year 2014.
He is now a featured writer for theunitedgrind.com, an NFL draft columnist for football.com, a featured writer for justblogbaby.com, and a featured columnist for Gridiron Experts. He is also a member of the Football Writers of America Association.
Due to his Bay Area roots, Austin is an avid fan of the Oakland Raiders.