I don’t know much about this world. I can’t tell you what the capital of Morocco is without looking it up, and I can’t name each active volcano. But I can say this definitively, and without any shred of doubt: when a quarterback is likely set to play without his top two receivers, you stream the defense he’s chucking against.
I live a simple life.
Alright, you know how this works by now. I run through some defensive streaming suggestions, and you then either follow those wisdom-filled words for your fantasy footballing this weekend, or you later use them to ridicule me. I’m cool with either decision.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Falcons (Percentage owned: 31%)
First off, I’m quite pleasantly surprised at how widely available the Bucs defense is, considering as a unit its a bystander in Greg Schiano’s season-long poop throwing. The toxic poison on this team has largely been isolated to the other side of the ball, with Josh Freeman now set to be horrible somewhere else, and Doug Martin with only two +70 yard rushing games through five weeks.
The defense has been swell, as any defense that has Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson in its secondary would be, by the very laws of nature. And there’s been a slight fade among a front seven that was the best in the league last year against the run (82.6 yards allowed per game to 103.0), but meh. That’s still barely over the century mark, and the per carry average is miniscule (3.8).
So now take those inviting numbers (and also recall that despite three last week the Bucs have allowed a miniscule eight passing touchdowns) and then match them up against the Falcons, a team destroyed offensively by injuries. Steven Jackson is still out, Julio Jones is lost for the season, and Roddy White hasn’t practiced all week, so he’ll likely also either sit with a hamstring problem or be only physically present once again.
Here’s how that will shake out for Matt Ryan: he’ll be attempting to pass successfully without the pairs of hands that caught 40 percent of his completions last year.
2. Miami Dolphins vs. Bills (Percentage owned: 18%)
Yeah, I know that Thad was rad and not bad against the Bengals while completing 59.4 percent of his passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns, and he ran for another score. One of those passes came in spectacular fashion too, with a 40-yarder to Marquise Goodwin that tied the game in the fourth quarter and eventually forced overtime before the Bills did some Billsing (they lost 27-24).
But that was when Lewis wasn’t recovering from a sprained foot, which is what he’s doing now. It’s evidently a mild-ish sprain because he’s set to play, which is nice. But it was serious enough that the Bills felt the need to sign free agent Matt Flynn, which is bad. Really, really bad.
But here’s the real whizz bang deal sealer (*trademark): dat Bills O-line. This isn’t your older brother’s Bills offensive line that trotted out Andy Levitre. Now, this is a line that’s allowed 53 quarterback hits, a quite literally brain rattling number which is tied for the league’s worst. Inevitably, that’s led to 20 sacks, five of which came last week against the Bengals. Now that line will attempt to block Cameron Wake.
Oh but look, there’s another defense in this game that also looks mighty fine for the same reason. And another offensive line that doesn’t.
3. Buffalo Bills @ Dolphins (Percentage owned: 11%)
Like the Jaguars, the Dolphins are becoming an offense worth picking on every week. Or more specifically, their offensive line has, along with their quarterback’s willingness to get crunched.
Ryan Tannehill has been sacked at least four times in each of his five games, topping out at six turfings last week against the Ravens. Overall Tannehill’s been sacked 24 times, putting him on pace for a pretty hurtful 64 sacks this season. If that pace doesn’t slow, Tannehill will be fourth on the all-time single-season hierarchy for the most quarterback hurt, just behind — big gulp — David Carr’s 68 in 2005 (comical yet depressing digression: two of the top three spots on that prestigious list are occupied by Carr…never forget).
Alright, so knowing how often Tannehill crumbles, let’s take a look at the sack totals just among the Bills’ front four:
- Mario Williams: 8.0
- Marcel Dareus: 4.0
- Kyle Williams: 2.5
That’s 14.5 sacks among just three large men. Overall the Bills are fourth with 21 sacks, and that pass rush is now supported by a much stronger secondary following the return of Stephon Gilmore and Jairus Byrd.
Honorable mention quick hits:
- If your desperation reaches far enough, the Vikings could become viable. Yes, they just lost Harrison Smith for the season, which ups the suck of an already sucky secondary. So passing yards will be a thing against the Giants, because covering Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks won’t happen. But sacks will be a thing too, because any front seven that employs Jared Allen and is asking him to blow past a Giants offensive line that’s been leaky (16 sacks) has some fantasy appeal. Oh, and any and every secondary is getting those fresh and juicy Eli picks right now, which is what happens when a quarterback could come close to the single-season interception record (little brother Eli is on pace for 40 picks).
- The quarterback pressure barely exists with the Steelers (seven sacks), and they’re not taking the ball away much either (they’re chugging towards just six interceptions). But with the Ravens teed up, the Steelers are fileding largely the same defense that dominated Joe Flacco last year, giving up only 352 passing yards over two games.