Fantasy Football Sleeper DEF Week 10[the_ad id=”63198″]After spending high draft capital on guys like Julio Jones and David Johnson, a majority of fantasy owners look to draft defenses late in their respective drafts, and they rarely commit to one specific defense for the entire season.
Injuries happen; bye weeks occur. So, it’s important to understand which defenses left on the waiver wire are capable of filling big shoes in the starting lineup.
Quick Recap: After 6
With nine weeks in the books, the Minnesota Vikings’ defense holds as the top fantasy scoring defense in standard scoring formats, and the Denver Broncos fall just four points behind the Purple People Eaters.
Without many consistent defenses like the Vikings and Broncos on the market, here are five defenses that could pay dividends for owners in need of some defensive assistance.
DraftKings: $3,000 | FanDuel: $4,400
The lone bright spots within the Washington Redskins’ roster have prevented a total collapse from occurring on the defensive side of the ball. With a struggling Minnesota Vikings offense coming into FedEdxField in Week 10, look for said bright spots to lead Washington’s defense to a rare, radiant performance.
Edge-rusher Ryan Kerrigan, the Redskins’ team leader in sacks (seven), will have favorable matchups against both of the Vikings’ offensive tackles.
Vikings second-year right tackle T.J. Clemmings, a former 4th round pick out of the University of Pittsburgh, has let the speed of the NFL get the best of him, as opposing edge-rushers have outmatched him both physically and athletically.
Opposite of Clemmings, veteran left tackle Jake Long has lost the physical, aggressive touch that carried him to four consecutive Pro Bowls (2008-11). His experience keeps him on the field, but Long would be better off hanging up his cleats than lacing them up week after week.
In addition to Kerrigan, Redskins linebacker Mason Foster and veteran cornerback Josh Norman have exceeded expectations.
Foster has accumulated 56 combined tackles, three tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles through eight games, and Norman has been the lone standout in the Redskins’ secondary with a team-high 11 pass deflections.
The Vikings enter the contest with the 32nd ranked offense in terms of total yards per game (298.8).
Minnesota quarterback Sam Bradford has struggled to get the job done through the air due in large part to the abysmal play of his offensive line and the lack of weapons on the outside.
Bradford is averaging just 224.7 passing yards per game and has been sacked 21 times this season.
To make matters worse, the injury to their lead back Adrian Peterson has significantly affected their ability to run the football, as their rushing offense is ranked 31st in yards per game (72.6) and 32nd in yards per carry (2.7).
With Pro Bowl-caliber players at every level of their defense, Washington should lean on their stars to outshine the Vikings on Sunday.
Green Bay Packers
DraftKings: $3,000 | FanDuel: $4,500[the_ad id=”66786″]Riding the backs of second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota and veteran running back DeMarco Murray, the Tennessee Titans’ offense ranks 8th in the NFL in average yards per game. However, the Green Bay Packers’ stiff run defense should prevent Murray and company from finding their rhythm in the Music City.
Green Bay’s young inside linebackers Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez, the team’s leading tacklers with 59 and 48 combined tackles, respectively, will hold strong against the Titans’ rushing attack, just as they have done all season.
The Packers have allowed just 75.8 yards per game on the ground through eight games (1st).
Ryan also leads the team with seven tackles for loss, four more than any other player on the roster.
In the trenches, Packers veteran defensive tackle Mike Daniels has followed his linebackers’ lead.
At 6’0”, 310 pounds, Daniels possesses rare athleticism for his size and has proven game in and game out that he can create havoc at the line of scrimmage, often forcing opposing backs to stutter in the backfield or opt for an ill-advised running lane.
If Murray is unable to get things going on the ground, the Titans’ offense will stall.
Los Angeles Rams
DraftKings: $2,900 | FanDuel: $4,600
With quarterback Geno Smith missing the rest of the season with a torn ACL, New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has reemerged as the starter under center for the Gang Green, and though he has flashed at times, his spark is fading.
In his Week 9 matchup against the Miami Dolphins, Fitzpatrick completed 17 of 28 passes for 193 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, pushing his NFL lead in interceptions to 13.
Leading the 27th ranked offense in points per game (19.2), Fitzpatrick faces an uphill battle in terms of rallying past the dominant Los Angeles Rams’ defense.
With veteran defensive tackle Aaron Donald leading the charge, the Rams’ defense is ranked 8th in total yards allowed per game (330.9) and 11th in points allowed per game (20.9).
Donald leads the team with five sacks and eight tackles for loss.
Going against a Jets offensive line that has allowed 20 sacks this season, Donald should only add to his total on Sunday, especially with veteran left tackle Ryan Clady heading to the IR with a shoulder injury.
Unfortunately for the Jets, “Fitzmagic” won’t be pulling any rabbits out of his helmet.
New York Jets
DraftKings: $2,800 | FanDuel: $4,800
Following Fitzpatrick’s lead, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum has earned his fair share of criticism due to his underwhelming play, as he has thrown just nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions (2nd in the NFL).
The Rams’ passing attack is averaging just 234 yards per game (24th).
With second-year back Todd Gurley averaging just 3.1 yards per carry this season, Los Angeles has been forced to lean on Keenum for offensive success, and as expected, he has crumbled beneath the added weight.
Though Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis has fallen back to Earth since returning to New York, he still possesses a favorable matchup against Keenum’s top target Kenny Britt.
At 6’3”, 223 pounds, Britt has taken advantage of smaller, inexperienced corners this season in route to the best eight-game start of his eight-year career. However, Revis (5’11”, 198 pounds) will put an end to Britt’s prowess.
Jets defensive linemen Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams should do their part in defending the run, but their impact should also carry over to the passing game, effectively limiting Keenum’s ability to hold onto the football and feel comfortable in the pocket.
With defenses excelling on both sides, look for both the Rams and the Jets to hold their own on the defensive side of the ball.
DraftKings: $2,300 | Fanduel $4,100[the_ad id=”58835″]Through nine weeks this season, the Houston Texans are one of three teams in the NFL winless on the road, and with their tickets already booked for Jacksonville, Florida, their offense is again expected to sputter.
In the Texans’ three road losses, lead back Lamar Miller is averaging just over 53 yards on the ground and has been held out of the end zone.
Similarly, Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler has completed just 52.4 percent of his passes for 511 yards (170.3 yards per game), one touchdown and two interceptions, pushing his average QBR 58.9.
To put it simply, when Houston prepares for a road contest, their offense doesn’t board the plane.
With rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey leading the group, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ secondary is steadily improving as the season progresses and is more than capable of limiting Osweiler and the Texans’ passing attack.
However, the success of the Jaguars’ defense is dependent on their ability to limit Miller’s production, and that effort starts with stud linebackers Paul Posluszny and Telvin Smith.
Posluszny is off to career year with a team-high 74 combined tackles (54 solo), and his understudy Smith has followed suit with 65 combined tackles (54 solo).
If Miller can find his way around Posluszny and Smith, the Jaguars’ defense will fold beneath a strong rushing attack and easy play action passing from Osweiler, so look for Jacksonville to focus their efforts on stopping the run and ultimately handing the Texans their fourth consecutive loss on the road.