An enormous percentage of your focus each week is involved with decisions about RBs, WRs, TEs, and signal callers. Making the amount of planning that you dedicate to team defenses far less extensive. While that is understandable, it still behooves you to maximize your chances of winning by examining all of your existing options. Those of you who secured the elite units of Seattle and Chicago, should keep them locked into your starting lineups until their bye weeks.
But any owners who prefer deploying their defenses based upon exceptional matchups, will have several enticing options this week. As will anyone who normally starts the Panthers or Packers, since this is their bye week. That’s right… those have started again. Here are three appealing alternatives for Week 4, among teams that most likely are residing on your waiver wires.
Dolphins at Saints
New Orleans was included as a Week 3 waiver wire option, but ownership in their underrated unit actually decreased before their matchup with Arizona. As predicted in this column, the Saints created problems for Carson Palmer by maintaining substantial pressure throughout much of their game. They sacked the 10-year veteran four times, harassed him into two INTs, and limited him to just 187 yards. Plus, they held the Cardinals’ rushing attack to a moderate 86 yards. Even though New Orleans has not provided us with many reasons to consider their defense in recent seasons, this was the third consecutive week in which they have performed effectively. They now rank fourth in total defense, permitting just 184 YPG. And the 12.7 points per game (PPG) that they are yielding is the NFL’s fifth best average. While they have displayed some vulnerabilities to opponents' ground games (ranking 20th), they are an impressive fourth in pass defense, allowing a mere 184 YPG. They have also amassed eight sacks, while generating six takeaways. Hopefully, the results from yet another encouraging performance will compel more owners to trust the Saints when they host Miami on Monday Night. Because there is every reason to believe that Rob Ryan’s improved unit will create the same issues for Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins that they did for Palmer and the Cardinals’ offense.
Other Favorable Matchups
Jets at Titans
This unit was also listed in this column last week, but many of you chose not to take advantage of their availability. However, you still have the chance to snag this formidable group, which currently ranks third in total defense. Then you will own them just in time for their enticing matchup against a Tennessee offense that ranks just 29th in total offense (310 YPG). The Titans are also 30th in passing, as Jake Locker spearheads an anemic attack that averages just 176 YPG. While Chris Johnson has propelled their running game into a far more respectable ranking of sixth, that is somewhat deceptive. Because Johnson is sixth in rushing with 256 yards, but has been allotted the second most attempts (69). His resulting 3.7 YPC is slightly worse than Tennessee’s overall 3.9, which is tied for 17th. Gang Green is fully capable of stifling him, just as they limited Doug Martin to just 65 yards in Week 1, and held C. J. Spiller to nine yards on 10 attempts in Week 3, prior to his thigh issue. While the Bills did generate 120 yards on the ground as a team during their matchup, 59 of those occurred on one burst by Fred Jackson. Otherwise, the Jets held them to just 61 yards on their other 24 carries. Even with the Jackson’s huge run skewing their average, Rex Ryan’s group is still sixth versus the run (79.7 YPG). They also rank seventh versus the pass (190 YPG), and are also seventh in total defense (190 YPG). Plus, they have surrendered only 16.7 points per game, and have accumulated 12 sacks. Yet, even though the Jets have been consistently impressive in their first three contests, they are owned in only 4% of all ESPN leagues. They are not just a smart addition in Week 4, but could easily function as your regular defense, if you secure them while you still can.
Colts at Jaguars
While toughness has not been associated with the Indianapolis defense at any point in recent memory, their unit demonstrated it extensively during their impressive exhibition in Week 3. The Colts dominated the 49ers in San Francisco, and did so without their leading tackler (Laron Landry). Plus, they completely neutralized Colin Kaepernick, holding him to just 170 yards passing and rushing combined, while also manufacturing three sacks and an INT. It may be difficult for the Colts to maintain the degree of intensity that existed in their matchup with the Niners. But of course, the foundation for this recommendation is Indy's Week 4 matchup versus the NFL’s most feeble attack. Jacksonville is dead last in total offense, and has manufactured a mere 230 YPG. They are only averaging 52 YPG on the ground, and 178 YPG through the air. And, they are scoring less than 10 PPG (9.3). Their numbers would be even more appalling if the Jaguars had not piled up yardage and points against Seattle’s reserves, after the Seahawk starters had forged a 31-0 lead. The Chiefs, Raiders and Seahawks have all rewarded their owners by effectively dominating Jacksonville, and the Colts should take their place among that ever increasing list. They are owned in only 2% of all ESPN leagues, and that number needs to change significantly this week.