“Holy cow!” That’s all I could think while watching week 5. For some reason, watching some of the truly awful teams in the league conjured images of Harry Caray and the Chicago Cubs. Holy cow, the Jets go into Atlanta and send Matty Ice to 1-4! Cam Newton is really delivering his 4th sub-standard performance already? The Jaguars really might go 0-16? With all the excitement around the Broncos, Colts, Seahawks and Saints, it’s easy to overlook some of the major disappointments so far this season. The D/ST Sleeper 5 certainly didn’t miss many last week, as we delivered our worst performance of the year, but just like the underachievers of the NFL, we still believe! We will bounce back and deliver once again.
There are some great D/ST match-ups this week, lead by a massive point spread, Jacksonville at Denver. We focus more on the more obscure. The 5 “sleeper” D/ST of the week. These 5 teams are ranked 16th or worse in standard scoring and are owned in standard ESPN leagues by 80% or less. Without further ado, here is the Top 5 Sleeper D/ST of week 6. Hopefully one of these 5 will lead your team to a holy cow week!
#5) Pittsburgh (30th ranked, 79.2% owned) at NY Jets
The Steelers have yet to force a turnover and only have recorded 4 sacks, so it’s easy to see why they are 0-4. This week they get the surprising Jets, a team that crushed the #1 sleeper D/ST of week 5. Geno Smith and the Jets have been Jekyll and Hyde so far this year, surrendering 9, 15, -2, 22 and 5 points to opposing defenses thus far. With any rookie QB, there will be ups and downs. After a nice “up” last week, I expect a big down. The Steelers have too many talented players on defense to keep going at this pace. I expect Mike Tomlin to have worked out many of the kinks during the bye week and the Steelers will come out and play some inspired ball in week 6.
#4) NY Jets (22nd ranked, 9.3%) vs. Pittsburgh
That’s right, I’m taking both teams. I expect an old fashioned defensive struggle at MetLife Stadium. The Steelers’ offense has struggled mightily to keep Ben Roethlisberger upright in its first 4 games. The O-line has been atrocious and the loss of their best lineman, center Maurkice Pouncey, only makes things worse. The Jets have got to the QB 16 times already and will get to 20 by the time this one is over. Expect a low scoring battle with both D/STs being worth a start.
#3) Dallas ( 16th, 42.7%) vs Washington
The Cowboys D/ST has been pretty solid, with the exception of last week of course. They have recorded 14 sacks, forced 10 turnovers and even scored 3 TDs. The Redskins have allowed 7 sacks and 7 turnovers in their four games. I expect this to be a high-scoring game. Mike Shanahan has always been a mastermind when given 2 weeks to prepare. However, there will be several turnovers and a few big sacks that go the Cowboys’ way. There are definitely better options overall this week, but for the streamer… you could do a lot worse.
#2) Philadelphia (28th, 4.5%) at Tampa Bay
The Eagles D/ST has been up and down all year. They are a very generous unit and give up points and yards, but they have forced 9 turnovers and 11 sacks. With their up-tempo offense, even if Nick Foles runs the show, Tampa will be forced to get out of their comfort zone and pass to keep up. The Bucs have some talent on offense, but with Mike Glennon making just his 2nd career start, there will be plenty of mistakes. The pace of the game will dictate the outcome and I’m afraid Glennon isn’t ready to keep up with Chip Kelly just yet.
#1) Detroit ( 20th, 6.6%) at Cleveland
The Lions should be a great D/ST. With the talent they posses on the d-line alone, they should be one of the league leaders in sacks, QB hits and pressures. Unfortunately, it hasn’t materialized yet. They have recorded just 10 sacks thus far and haven’t really dominated any game yet. They have had their moments though, scoring in double digits against the Vikings and Bears. They have also recorded 13 turnovers and 2 touchdowns already. Brandon Weeden makes the start for Cleveland after replacing the injured Brian Hoyer last week. What better way to have your first truly dominant performance? Weeden came in and did an admirable job, throwing for 197 yards and a TD in limited time against the Bills last Thursday. Still, he’s terribly slow at everything he does. Watching him read a defense is like watching Peyton Manning score on a naked bootleg. It’s shocking and it takes forever! Until he gets more adept at making quick reads and develops a quicker release, he will always be faced with a ton of pressure and make mistake after mistake. The Lions will get after slo-mo Weeden all day and force him into several bad decisions, a few sacks and a couple picks.