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 Broncos, Lions, Giants, Cardinals, 49ers and Jaguars from consideration. However, there are still three alternatives that should be available if you prefer to stream a defense in Week 9.
Eagles at Raiders
It was surprising that various analysts were making disparaging remarks about Oakland’s defense heading into their Week 8 matchup with Pittsburgh, with several prominent sites even listing Le’Veon Bell as a “Must Start”. If you watched our live Google+ hangout on Sunday morning, or you read my Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em column last week, then you became aware of my disagreement with those assessments. Which occurred because the Raiders were actually performing well in several categories, including their ranking of ninth against the run. Oakland subsequently held the Steelers to just 35 yards on the ground, which includes the paltry 24 that were manufactured by Bell. It was the third time this season that Oakland has limited an opponent to less than 40 rushing yards. The Raiders also sacked Ben Roethlisberger five times, which expanded their season total to 21, and established the third time in which they have registered at least four. Their stellar effort last Sunday might finally compel more observers to notice their accomplishments, and entice owners to consider a unit that is extremely well coached, and has quietly been effective throughout most of the regular season. They currently rank 10th overall, have ascended to sixth versus the run, and are stocked with high energy players, who thrive on the energy that is emitted by their fans. Their success should continue this week, when Philadelphia travels across the country to face them. The Eagles have failed to generate an offensive TD for two consecutive weeks as QB injuries have stifled Chip Kelly’s offense. Oakland is available in nearly 93% of ESPN leagues, and provides an excellent option for owners who prefer to stream a defense this week.
Other Favorable Matchups
Titans at Rams
The overly hospitable Tennessee defense that ranked 27th in 2012 is now a distant memory, as the Titans have been strengthened considerably this season by solid play throughout their unit. Their stellar coverage at CB has been spearheaded by Alterraun Verner, who is tied for the league lead with four INTs. And it has been supplemented by strong play at LB. Tennessee is currently 13th in total defense, seventh versus the pass, and has generated 13 takeaways. The team will have benefitted from an additional week of preparation for their matchup with Kellen Clemens and the Rams. St. Louis now ranks just 30th in total offense, and entered Week 8 with a paltry ranking of 28th in rushing, before Zac Stacy manufactured 133 yards on the ground against Seattle. However, the Rams were related to kicking FGs, and remain the only NFL team that has not scored a rushing TD this season. Plus, they are saddled with the limited Clemens at QB, and the often inexplicable play calling of Brian Schottenheimer to further hinder their efforts. The Titans are owned in just 25% of all ESPN leagues, and should perform effectively for owners in Week 9. A strong case can be generated to keep the Titans defense for the balance of the season, as they have upcoming matchups with Arizona, Oakland, and Jacksonville (twice).
Saints at Jets
This vastly improved unit demonstrated its viability as a starting option earlier this season, and fantasy many owners responded by adding them to their rosters. But in the past few weeks, the Saints have gradually been jettisoned to just over one half of the waiver wires in all ESPN leagues. If you are among the 51% of owners who now have the opportunity to secure the Saints for your lineup, it is advised that you do so. New Orleans currently ranks 12th in total defense, and has been particularly sturdy versus the pass. They currently rank ninth in that category, are tied for eighth with 24 sacks, and have accumulated nine INTS. This week, they should deliver very favorable results against a Jet offense that is an anemic 27th in scoring (17.9 PPG), and has managed a mere three rushing TDs this season. New York is also 22nd in passing, as Geno Smith’s massive inconsistency has become an understandable yet challenging part of his education as a first year starter. Not only has he tossed 13 INTS, but the rookie signal caller has been sacked 29 times, which is the league’s third highest total. This presents a tremendous opportunity for the Saints to exploit Smith’s deficiencies, and expand their numbers in the process. They can be deployed this week by owners who opt to stream, and can merit consideration as a locked in unit for the remainder of the year.