The fantasy football season is about to hit the midway point this weekend, but that doesn't mean there aren't still sleepers meddling out in the free-agent market waiting to be snatched up by perspective owners.
While there has been no Victor Cruz-like emergence from an unknown position player so far this season, there have been several surprises on the defensive side of the ball.
Through seven weeks, the Ravens are no longer a viable starting fantasy defense, and the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings are among the best statistical defenses in the league. It's been a wacky year in the NFL and choosing a starting fantasy defense has become a tedious task. Unless you spent on early-round pick on the Houston Texans, Chicago Bears or San Francisco 49ers, there's a good chance you are combing the waiver wire each week and playing the matchups.
If you did pick up one of those top defenses, then the rest of this article is more for your entertainment. But for the majority of us, a starting defense can change on a weekly basis. Let's take a look at three defenses that could earn you some valuable points in Week 8.
Disclaimer: All point values are according to ESPN standard league totals.
The Lions just held a balanced yet formidable Chicago Bears offense to 13 points in Week 7, which earned them 12 points. However, while the Lions are not known for playing stellar defense, they have been one of the league's better defensive units this season. Detroit is ranked eighth in the NFL in average total offense allowed, having only given up about 319 yards per game.
While the Lions are ranked 22nd in the league in total points allowed, it's more because their offense has not held up their end of the bargain as opposed to the defense's shortcomings. The Lions have been a turnover machine this year on offense, which has put the defense in some tenuous situations.
However, the Lions will play at home this weekend against the Seattle Seahawks and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. The Seahawks are ranked 31st in the NFL in passing and are 1-3 on the road this season. Detroit should be a safe pick to have a successful week. With that, they are available in almost half of standard ESPN leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are only owned in about five percent of ESPN leagues, and for good reason. Kansas City has given up an average of 30.5 points per game this season and have only earned their owners about 4.2 points per game. However, the Chiefs defense is not as bad as it's cracked up to be.
Despite giving up a ton of points, Kansas City is 15th in the league in average total offense allowed with 349.5. Not stellar by any stretch of the imagination, but if you take a look at who Kansas City is playing this weekend, they have a chance to earn some points for any fantasy squad.
The Chiefs will come off the bye and play at home against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Carson Palmer has thrown an interception each of the last two weeks and could just as easily turn the ball over again in Week 8. With two weeks to watch film on the Raiders, look for Kansas City to surprise the pundits this weekend.
New York Jets
The Jets are perennially ranked as one of the top defenses in the NFL. However, the loss of Darrelle Revis has made them vulnerable in the secondary. While Gang Green is coming off a loss at Foxboro to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, it would be smart to insert them into your lineup for their divisional bout with the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
The Jets gave up 380 total yards to the Patriots, but the Dolphins offense does not pack the same punch. Miami will head into the Meadowlands with a rookie quarterback and the league's 21st-ranked passing offense. If the Jets stack the box and put pressure on Ryan Tannehill, they could easily force several turnovers. In fact, Gang Green came away with a pick-six when these teams first met in Week 3.
The Jets are not the defense they were predicted to be in the preseason. Darrelle Revis is gone, and this team will never fully overcome that. However, they are more than capable of shutting down a stagnant Miami Dolphins offense at home. Gang Green should be a solid pick in Week 8.