An enormous percentage of your focus each week is involved with decisions about RBs, WRs, TEs, and signal callers. That makes 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. 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 Steelers or Buccaneers, but needs a temporary replacement due to their bye weeks. The same applies for the Vikings or Redskins, although you would have no business using those units in your lineups. With that, here are three appealing alternatives for Week 5, among teams that most likely are residing on your waiver wire.
Panthers at Cardinals
It took several weeks longer than I believe it should have, before many analysts and owners determined that Kansas City had a defense that was worthy of starting on a weekly basis. The same scenario just occurred with the Saints, who are just now being recognized as a formidable unit, even though the vast improvement that they have made has been on display for the past month. I believe that the next teams that will be acknowledged belatedly are Tennessee who we will discuss later, and Carolina. The Panthers are owned in just 5% of all ESPN leagues, even though they currently rank 10th in total defense, and are allowing just under 319 YPG. They are also seventh against the rush (93 YPG), and 12th versus the pass (226 YPG). Plus, they have generated 10 sacks in three games, held Seattle to 12 points in Week 1, and shut out the Giants completely in Week 3. Deficiencies within their secondary keep this team from an unquestioned slot among the NFL’s elite defensive units because their immensely talented front seven is fully capable of dominating their opponents. That should occur throughout their matchup with Arizona, as the Cardinals’ limitations are numerous. They are currently 26th in total offense, just 25th in rushing, and their RBs were limited to a grand total of 50 yards by Tampa Bay in Week 4. There is every reason to believe that they will encounter great difficulty generating yardage against Carolina. Plus, Carson Palmer has already been sacked 10 times, while throwing more INTs (six) than TDs (four). There are multiple reasons to have confidence in the Panthers, as they will supply you with an excellent point producer this week.
Other Favorable Matchups
Bills at Browns
Cleveland is currently owned in a mere 4.5% of all ESPN leagues, and savvy owners who are in need of a bye week replacement should secure them before their Thursday Night matchup with Buffalo. The Browns just held Cincinnati to just 266 total yards, and did not allow the Bengals to generate a TD. They also picked off Andy Dalton and sacked him twice, while standout CB Joe Haden limited A. J. Green to only 51 yards. The Browns also permitted just 63 yards on the ground, while holding Cincy to 3.2 YPC. This was not the first noteworthy performance for Cleveland, as the Browns now rank third in total defense, and are permitting just 291.5 YPG. They are also sixth against the rush (79 YPG), and ninth versus the pass (213 YPG). Plus, they are yielding just 17.5 points per game. First-year DC Ray Horton has his unit playing very well, and they should be particularly inspired for their home encounter in Prime Time. Not only should Haden contain Steve Johnson, but both C. J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are nursing injuries, with a short week to further complicate their recoveries. If you need a defense, you should now know what to do.
Chiefs at Titans
After performing impressively for four consecutive weeks, it is time to eliminate any remaining fragments of doubt regarding the Tennessee defense, and to instead give them the respect they have earned. The Titans rank ninth in total defense, and are permitting 313 YPG. They are also allowing a mere 17 points per game, which is the league’s seventh lowest average. They are also tenth against the pass (214 YPG), and have surrendered just two rushing TDs all season. Last Sunday, they forced Jet QB Geno Smith into four turnovers, while sacking him four times. They will now face an undefeated Kansas City team that has been imposing defensively, but would struggle significantly if they were forced to play from behind. That results from Alex Smith’s well documented inability and reluctance to launch any passes that are intermediate in nature, further enhanced by his consistent avoidance of anything that could be remotely considered a a deep ball. Tennessee is owned in just 21% of all ESPN leagues, and that amazingly low number should increase dramatically this week.