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. A collection of defensive units that were afterthoughts during the draft process have performed effectively, which has diminished the number of your remaining options. As has the bye week which eliminates the Bears, Titans, Colts, Ravens, Texans or Chargers from consideration. However, there are still three alternatives that should be available if you prefer to stream a defense in Week 8.
Panthers at Buccaneers
Carolina has been touted with great frequency in this column, and owners have gradually snatched them from the waiver wires. But even though the Panthers’ stout front seven is consistently masking the deficiencies of their burnable secondary, they somehow remain available in nearly 60% of all ESPN leagues. Gaining yardage against the Panthers continues to be a daunting task for opponents, as they rank a highly respectable third in total defense, and are allowing the second fewest points per game (13.8). Their fifth ranked pass defense is yielding only 218 YPG. And their fourth ranked run defense is even more formidable, while permitting just 84.5 YPG. They just limited St. Louis to one TD in Week 7, while restricting Ram RBs to just 62 yards. The Panthers also sacked Sam Bradford twice before his unfortunate ACL tear, and generated a 45-yard touchdown on an interception. They have already limited four of their six opponents to one TD or less, and will now line up against a Tampa Bay unit that ranks just 31st in total offense, averages just 14.5 points per game, and is now dependent upon rookies Mike Glennon and Mike James as principal components in their attack. If you are in need of an imposing defensive unit, and Carolina is lingering on your waiver wire, it is wise to secure them while you still can.
Other Favorable Matchups
Falcons at Cardinals
Arizona’s defense has performed reasonably well overall, and have actually excelled in several categories. But the vast majority of owners have overlooked their accomplishments. The numerous shortcomings that exist within their offense are partially responsible for this oversight, as the massive number of turnovers that it has supplied to opponents has repeatedly thrust the defensive unit into difficult situations. Even with these challenges, the Cardinals rank 16th in total defense. And despite their middling ranking overall, they have exceled in several categories. That includes the 15 takeaways that they have generated, which is a total that has been surpassed by only three teams. Arizona has also been formidable when opponents attempt to establish a ground game, as they currently rank seventh against the run, are yielding just 97 YPG, and have only surrendered three TDs. They will be presented with a tremendous opportunity to perform at home against a depleted Atlanta offense that is still adjusting to the collective absence of Julio Jones and Roddy White. Even though the Falcons played well against the Buccaneers, generating success versus Arizona be far more difficult. The Cardinals are owned in less than 6% of all ESPN leagues, and can be employed as a viable replacement this week.
Steelers at Raiders
If you peruse your league’s waiver wire for a unit to stream, it is necessary to examine the entire list before you discover Pittsburgh. The Steelers have not accumulated a massive amount of fantasy points, but their production has improved since their Week 5 bye, and they currently rank sixth in total defense. The Steelers have been stingy to opposing passers, as only three teams are yielding fewer yards than the 197.5 that they are permitting through the air. While they have been more hospitable versus the run, their ranking of 18th is somewhat misleading. They just held division rival Baltimore to 82 yards on 26 attempts in Week 7 (3.15 YPC), and limited the Jets to 83 yards in Week 6. This week, they will face an Oakland attack that ranks just 25th in total offense, is 28th in scoring, and generates just 17.5 points per game. The Raiders’ passing game is also dead last, averages just 191.7 YPG, and will encounter great difficulty in their attempts to attack Pittsburgh through the air. Terrelle Pryor has camouflaged the various shortcomings that exist within the Raiders offense. Plus, he has propelled their ninth ranked running game by amassing 285 yards. But if the Steelers can contain Pryor, they will thoroughly stifle the Raiders’ offense. They have also manufactured a two game winning streak, and appear to have recaptured a level of swagger that had evaporated when they began the year with four consecutive losses. Pittsburgh is available in a whopping 78% of all ESPN leagues, and could deliver favorable results if you inject them into your lineups.