Week 7 Start 'Em Sit 'Em: Defenses That Will Give Fantasy Lineups Extra Boost
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Fantasy owners who get any strong production out of their team defenses are thrilled through the roof for the extra boost. It can often be the difference between winning and losing a tight matchup.
When a team defense blows up by forcing multiple turnovers, sacks, fumbles or even accounts for a defensive or special teams touchdown, it's almost impossible for fantasy adversaries to overcome.
In surveying the Week 7 slate, there are several elite teams primed for big defensive performances despite the fact that they're all on the road.
As unpredictable as the NFL can be, be sure to plug in the following defenses if you're fortunate enough to have them on your roster—or are able to somehow pick them up on the waiver wire.
The NFC West leaders travel to the desert to take on the Arizona Cardinals, who are a dream matchup from a fantasy standpoint.
Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians seems insistent on continually airing it out.
However, statuesque quarterback Carson Palmer is under pressure far too often for the vertical passing plays to develop on a consistent basis.
Rookie running back Andre Ellington is averaging seven yards per carry and 10 yards per reception in 18 catches, yet is being underutilized. If Arizona is to have any chance of pulling the upset, Arians will have to drastically change his preferred game plan.
That won't be possible, though, because the swagger-filled, Pete Carroll-coached Seahawks relish this stage and will come out firing against the Cardinals.
Palmer's counterpart, Russell Wilson, will give the Cardinals headaches with his arm and legs, putting Arizona in an early home hole.
Thus, Palmer will be forced to pass, and not many cornerback tandems match up better with the likes of Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd than Seattle's Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner.
Richard Sherman feasted on Cardinals QBs last year: 3 INT and 2 PD on 10 targets, with a 5.83 QB rating allowed. #Seahawks— Pete Damilatis (@PFF_Pete) October 17, 2013
Combine that with the presence of ball hawk Earl Thomas at free safety, and it looks as though the Seahawks should feast on multiple interceptions from Palmer, who has chucked 13 of them already.
New England Patriots
Somebody forgot to tell the Patriots to regress on defense after star nose tackle Vince Wilfork tore his Achilles in Week 4.
Instead, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and head coach Bill Belichick have devised magnificent game plans to compensate for such a severe loss. That genius was on display in limiting the Cincinnati Bengals to 13 points the following game, and in a recent win over the New Orleans Saints.
New England forced two turnovers, hit Drew Brees seven times and forced the elite QB into completing less than 50 percent of his passes.
Just getting to Brees as he's preparing to throw is an achievement in and of itself because of his lightning-quick decisions and release.
Then consider this: The Patriots take on rookie quarterback Geno Smith and the AFC East rival Jets on Sunday. Smith threw three interceptions in a 13-10 Week 2 loss, and seems destined for a similar performance, even at home in MetLife Stadium.
The Jets average the most penalties in the league with 9.2, per TeamRankings.com, and have a -11 turnover margin, while the Patriots average 4.3 penalties and are plus-five in turnover margin.
Penalties threaten to put Smith in obvious passing situations requiring long conversions, and longer throws elevate his risk of giving the ball away.
All that sloppiness is enough to overcome the crushing loss of stud linebacker Jerod Mayo, at least for this game:
Patriots announce Jerod Mayo has been placed on IR. Monster blow. Has the green dot, was in on 399 of 407 defensive snaps before the injury.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 16, 2013
Also helping the fantasy implications is the matter of Julian Edelman.
Although he made the observation in the midst of an unimpressive display, Patriots.com reporter Brian Lowe noted in Week 6 how Edelman has the highest punt return average in NFL history:
That could have been an absolute disaster for Julian Edelman, the NFL's all-time leader in punt return average.— Brian Lowe (@_BLowe) October 13, 2013
Edelman doesn't have blazing speed or amazing moves, but he knows how to follow blocks and is decisive once the ball is in his hands. He had 72 yards on six returns in the last meeting between these two teams.
One could argue Edelman's due to find pay dirt. He's fared well on 18 attempts this season, and scored once in only 17 attempts last year, 28 in 2011 and 21 the year before.
Start the Patriots defense without hesitation. All indications are pointing to double-digit points for this Belichickian bunch.
San Francisco 49ers
So maybe the Niners aren't as dominant on defense as they have been in recent seasons as Year 3 of the Jim Harbaugh coaching era unfolds, but they should flash that brilliance in Week 7.
The recent trend for San Francisco has actually been excellent, as the defense has given up an average of 11.3 points per contest in the midst of a three-game winning streak:
A road trip to Tennessee may feature a showdown with Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who forces too many balls into tight windows without the requisite arm strength to make such plays.
Fitzpatrick's mobility does present some problems, but it's nothing like what San Francisco signal-caller Colin Kaepernick brings to the table. Since the Niners handle Kaepernick's athleticism in practice all the time, it shouldn't be hard to limit Fitzpatrick in that regard.
Usual starter Jake Locker is practicing again and at least has a chance to start on Sunday, though:
QB Jake Locker practicing again for #Titans on Thursday, wearing a brace. Locker still has a limp, but he's throwing the ball well— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) October 17, 2013
Which defense will put up the most fantasy points in Week 7?
Locker's athleticism is a concern even if he's somewhat limited in that regard due to injury, as is his avoidance of interceptions thus far in 2013. However, he has not beaten an opponent with a winning record yet this season—and has not faced a defense of the Niners' caliber.
So no matter who starts at QB, the outlook is gloomy for Tennessee.
Plus, Chris Johnson is a shell of the player who ran for 2,006 yards in 2009 and is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry.
Even a matchup with San Francisco's 20th-ranked rush defense won't be enough to get him going.
This is going to be a physical, low-scoring battle, but don't be surprised if the difference winds up being a 49ers defensive touchdown. The defense forced four turnovers in last week's win over Arizona, and should approach that number again—maybe even exceed it.
|1||Seattle Seahawks||Arizona Cardinals||22|
|2||New England Patriots||New York Jets||18|
|3||San Francisco 49ers||Tennessee Titans||17|
|4||Carolina Panthers||St. Louis Rams||15|
|5||Pittsburgh Steelers||Baltimore Ravens||14|
|6||Carolina Panthers||St. Louis Rams||12|
|7||Minnesota Vikings||New York Giants||10|
|8||Kansas City Chiefs||Houston Texans||9|
|9||Baltimore Ravens||Pittsburgh Steelers||7|
|10||San Diego Chargers||Jacksonville Jaguars||6|
Rankings are personal opinion
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