First off, my apologies to our readers. I'm running about a day behind on all my work this week as I recover from a Halloween sugar coma, and partying with my pals in Five Finger Death Punch, who lit up our little town of Boise Saturday night, and rocked our collective asses off. There was a lot of metal, a lot of hair of the dog, and a lot of other things I may never remember. It was like Mardi Gras in a potato field. I'll try to get my brain re-focused, and just in case I'm still off kilter, I've asked my colleague, Ray Tannock, to tag along this week and put his 2 cents in as well. We'll see which one of us makes better calls this week. In a quick look back at last week, I went 9 - 4, with the Giants, Packers, Cardinals and Jets all letting me down. Bastiches. That leaves me with an overall 82 - 36 record, which keeps me ahead of my colleague, Chris Farmer. Bragging rights are mine for at least another week. I did manage to pick both winless teams to get into the win column. Here's a look back at last week's column, and here's my Monday Morning Week 8 Fantasy Wrap at SB Nation. Let's get on to our week 9 team defense suggestions and game predictions, in duality...
–Team Defense Start and Sit – Week 9–
Plug and Play
|Solid defensive option
|If they are on your bench, leave 'em there
|Reasonable risk/reward option
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- As mentioned above, Ray will be joining me this week. We may agree, we may not, but we'll give you our take from both sides, and you decide.
Washington Redskins at Atlanta Falcons
Ray's Take - Washington has had a week to mull over their numerous inequities, and Atlanta has been declining at a rapid rate. Matt Ryan has only completed 51.8% of his passes and faces the 2nd ranked passing defense in the NFL.
My Take - I agree that Washington is getting stronger as a team and I like them to put up a good fight, but I don't see them beating Atlanta on their home turf. The Falcons are on the positive side of the turnover differential at +4, while the Redskins are tied for 3rd worst at -8.
We do both agree that neither defense is fantasy worthy this week.
Arizona Cardinals at Chicago Bears
Ray's Take - Arizona is 3-0 on the road for the first time since 1982 and considering they will have to play makeup for last week’s mind-boggling performance, they are bound for the win against a very unbalanced Bears team. The Cardinals and the Bears have been very good at getting to the QB this year but I like the
Cardinals chances for turnovers in this match-up considering Cutler’s inability to handle game pressure.
My Take - This is one of those flip a coin games. Both teams have stud QBs who are sputtering this season. Both teams have given up 11 interceptions (though the Cards gave up 5 in last week's game) and both are on the negative side of the turnover game. That makes both defenses decent spot starts. By all rights this should be a Cardinal win, but something tells me it could go to the home team.
Note to Ray: The Bears are 3-0 at home, and the Cards hate cold weather. They should fly south with the loss.
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
|Ray's Take - This should be a great shootout, but on one side is Matt Schaub and on the other is Peyton Manning…you do the math. The Colts give up very few
yards per pass attempt, but Houston will be a big test for them. I don’t like Houston's defense this week, and feel the Colts 'D' are a risky start as well.
My Take - I really want to go with the Texans to upset this week, but the team has lost it's second leading receiver, and their back-up RB has more TDs in one game than their starter does all season. I simply don't like the odds, and I don't think the Colts play poorly two weeks in a row. Both teams are solid in limiting turnovers and neither is exceptional at creating them, making both a fantasy defense bust.
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
Rays Take - The Ravens made a switch to a more conventional defense last week and it worked, but the Bengals are on a season mission to prove to everyone they can play with anyone. Baltimore will have a tough day affording the Bengals a sweep of the Ravens. Whether it’s interceptions or sacks or pressure, the Bengals bring it all and should be able to shut down the Ravens. The Ravens still give up to many big plays and can’t stop the yards after catch.
My Take - Ray, you're so predictable, going for the easy call. I can't disagree with your argument but I'll give you two reasons why the Ravens can win this one; 1) Ray, 2) Rice. The man is a freak show this season. Not enough? In their week 5 match-up the Ravens lost on the game's last play and Cedric Benson rushed for over 100 yards. Ray Lewis won't let him do that this week. With more balanced play calling between rush and pass, the Raven's will take this one.
Final thought: In the Ravens' week 5 loss to Cincy the team scored only 14 points; their lowest of the season. In their other six games they have averaged over 30 points a game.
Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars
Ray's Take - The Jags are far better at home than on the road and the Chiefs are…well they’re the Chiefs and Chris Chambers isn’t gonna help anyone. I do like Jamaal Charles chances to shine however, but in the end the Jags redeem themselves. Both defenses are poor starts almost every week; this week is no different.
My Take - This one is almost a no brainer. The best thing the Chiefs have going for them right now is new coach, Todd Haley. The Jags have had a few letdowns, but mostly on the road. Neither team creates much in turnovers, so as Ray said, neither is a great fantasy play.
Green Bay Packers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ray's Take - The Packers are great against really bad teams; like Tampa, making them a hands down favorite. The Packers are a turnover machine even in losses and are bound to garner at least two INTs this week while the Bucs should be sat.
My Take - The Pack should just be able to phone this one in and save the airfare, but it's that type of thinking that could get them into a hole against a desperate team fighting for something to redeem their lost season. The Bucs will roll out rookie QB, Josh Freeman, which should have the Packers secondary salivating.
Both of us agree to start GBs defense and sit TBs.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
Rays Take - Remember when Miami could actually compete with the Pats...yeah me either. Welker, Moss and Brady will be too much even for the famed team running the Wildcat. New England isn’t really setting the world on fire with their defensive play but could still be a risk/reward play this week against a newbie QB, and a WR corp that is lackluster to say the least.
My Take - The Dolphins are a very dangerous team, nearly beating offensive powerhouses like the Saints and Colts. This game is not a simple win, even if we assume the 2007 Pats are back. The Pats are +9 in the turnover department, and the Dolphins are -2. This is the only reason I'd consider starting New Englands' defense. Both teams are fairly evenly matched save for Brady's big arm. I'm going to roll the dice on the underdog this week. There's bound to be an upset somewhere and this may be it.
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
Rays Take - The Saints are the best team in the NFC right now, but the Panthers can run against anyone, and as long as you keep the ball out of Brees’ hands the Saints have very little chances to win. The Saints will be without Sedrick Ellis making things even worse for them at stopping the run…upset of the week. The Panthers defense could be a sleeper risk/reward start if they stick with pounding it out, and if they are successful the Saints could also be a risky start. Considering this year is so unpredictable I am listing both defense as risky.
My Take - Ray, you finally made a risky pick. Here is your man card back. It's true, the Panthers are one team that historically causes the Saints grief. Likewise, they are due for a letdown. However, the Saints defense this year, fantasy and otherwise, has been huge. They have 16 interceptions in 7 games. The Panthers (read, Jake Delhomme) have tossed a league high 14 INTs, and are -8. The Panthers are 8th worst vs. the run, and the Saints have 3 very capable RBs. Drew can take the day off and let his defense and running game carry the team.
We both agree on sitting the Panthers D, but are split on starting the Saints D. Ray, you so crazy.
Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks
Ray's Take - Seattle is a very tough place and if they are to keep pace and hope for a playoff berth they will have to beat the Lions hands down…which they will.
My Take - Other than his meltdown against the cardinals in week 6, QB Matt Hasselbeck has been a stud at home throwing 7 TDs in 2 games. Of course that was against Jacksonville and St. Louis. Oh wait, he's playing the Lions this week. He should be good for another trio of TDs and a win. However, the Lions cannot be written off so easily. They are tenacious and have some talent. The Seahawks are terribly banged up and have NO running game. I can't believe I'm going to agree with Ray and throw a thumbs up to the Seahawks defense, but the Lions have surrendered 11 interceptions already.
Note: If Julius Jones can't break 100 yards this week he should be drowned in the ocean after the game.
Tennessee Titans at San Francisco 49ers
|Ray's Take - The Titans had one game in the sun and it won’t happen again against a far more conservative offense. On the plus side, this should be a great matchup for both running backs. Check out our Week 9 RB start-sit previews. Both defenses are a risky start hands down if you own better options.
My Take - I don't think the Titans will go the rest of the season without another win, but I don't see one coming this week. RB Chris Johnson is always a playmaker who can break the game wide open, but barring a defensive meltdown by the 49ers 'D' vs. the Falcons a few weeks ago, SF's defense vs. the run, and overall for that matter, has been stellar. New coach, Mike Singletary has these guys believing. Meanwhile, the Tennessee pass defense has been horrendous, and new QB Alex Smith will get more freedom to make some plays this week. But which 49er WR will catch the big TD? Catch Ray's Week 9 WR Start Sit column for his thoughts.
Ray thinks neither defense is worth playing this week, but the Titans have 18 giveaways and are -8 in the turnover department, so give Patrick Willis and the boys a shake.
San Diego Chargers at New York Giants
Ray's Take - I am having a hard time with this pick since I like San Diego and the reason for this is I can’t see the Giants losing another game especially at home. But, with that said, I like San Diego and their powerful pass happy offense. Both defenses are a risky start due to the Chargers passing game and the Giants ground game. Only start either or them if you have worse options!
My Take - Let's start with the defense first. The Giants defense started the season at number one and have now plummeted to 16th in fantasy
production. Meanwhile the Chargers have vaulted to 6th. There's a reversal of fortunes. Both QB's like to air it out, so INTs are always a possibility, but this week, I think there are better options. If you have to play either, the Chargers are the better bet. As for the game itself, New York has stated to implode since Eli's foot injury. This game will come down to the Giants ability to stop the passing game of the Chargers, or the Chargers inability to stop the rushing attack of New York. Despite the Giants secondary flaws lately, I'll give them the nod over the league's 5th worst rush defense vs. Jacobs and Bradshaw.
Prediction: Rivers will make a deep play downfield to WR Malcolm Floyd for a huge score. Floyd will be a week 10 Waiver Buzz with 8 catches for 112 yards and 1 TD.
Note: This will be the first time Manning and Rivers have faced each other since the notorious draft that saw SD draft Manning (and NYG, Rivers) only to have Eli force a trade that sent Rivers to SD.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
|Ray's Take - Dallas and Romo have enjoyed a nice couple of games; games that were a lot easier than Philly. The Boys won’t do much against Philly’s frustratingly opportunistic defense.
My Take - If one man can single-handedly bring down the Eagles on Sunday night, it's TE Jason Witten. Is anyone worse this year vs. the TE position than the Eagles? It's a rhetorical question. the answer is no (though the Vikings are equally bad). They have already surrendered 5 TDs in 7 games, and over 75 yards a game. Witten is the best TE they've seen all season. Both teams are fairly solid against the run, but the edge goes to Philly's pass defense vs. Dallas' weakness against the pass. And as Ray mentioned, that Philly 'D' is ungodly opportunistic; 21 total takeaways, tied with the Saints for best in the leagues. The Eagles are also +12 in the turnover department tying them with Packers for the league lead.
Ray and I both agree on sitting the Dallas 'D' and playing the Eagles' defense.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
Ray's Take - We may be witnessing the Broncos’ first class flight of greatness coming in for a landing at Reality International Airport with last week’s humbling defeat. Mike Tomlin is 4-0 on MNF and you can expect him to go to 5-0 in a very low scoring affair. I actually like both defense in this game since I believe it will be a low scoring affair. Both teams can get to the QB and stop the run and garner turnovers; I say Start both the Steelers and Broncos.
My Take - I spent years living in Denver rooting for my Steelers. I'm almost inclined to pick the Broncos just to insure a victory for Pittsburgh. Both team's are stout vs. the rush (Pittsburgh is the best). This game could literally be won or lost off the foot of the kicker or a special team's play. The Steelers are terrible at giving up kick/punt return touchdowns. Two guys who can make a big difference for Denver-- Elvis Dumervil and Eddie Royal. For the Steelers-- Troy Polamalu and Big Ben.
Note: Steelers safety, Ryan Clark will probably not play because of a rare sickle-cell trait that can trigger life-threatening complications at altitude. Clark needed emergency surgery to remove his spleen after he played a game in Denver with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2007.
See ya next week!