What a wonderful world filled with hits, interceptions, fumbles, and incompetent quarterback play that we live in this week. Here are the opposing quarterbacks for the Chiefs, Seahawks, and 49ers, otherwise known as the second, fifth, and eighth ranked defenses by total yards allowed per game: Jason Campbell, Chad Henne, and Kellen Clemens. Yep, that’s two backups, and another guy who’s Chad Henne.
The fantasy owners of those defenses are set to make bank this weekend. But they’re widely, and almost universally owned, which is a problem. Since I’m cheap and most of you are too, each week we search for defensive bargains around these parts, and today that scavenger hunt begins with the Chiefs’ opponents.
The next two weeks are pretty tough for defensive streaming, with a combined total of 12 teams sitting out and doing whatever football players do on Sundays when they’re not playing football (one can only assume most play with action figures). So as I do below, you may have to hope a few more widely owned but still reasonably available gems are somewhere on the depths of your waiver wire.
1. Cleveland Browns @ Chiefs (percentage owned: 14%)
I’ll keep visiting this well until it’s bone dry.
Everyone and their grandmothers and pet rabbits are drooling all over the Chiefs, and rightfully so. Until they lose, they’ll remain the surprise darlings of the league. But let’s please remember how they’re winning: defense, and a lot of it.
Offensively, it’s Jamaal Charles or, well, not much. And as we discussed earlier this week, there’s been a whole lot of Jamaal Charles, as he’s logged at least 100 total yards in each game while scoring eight touchdowns, and he’s on pace to shatter career highs in targets, receptions, and receiving yards. He’s also accounted for nearly 40 percent of the Chiefs’ total offense thus far.
But along his way to 898 total yards, Charles has had the roomy luxury of running against the Jaguars (currently ranked last against the run), Texans (26th), Titans (24th), and Giants (21st) as four of his seven opponents. Now enter the Browns, a team giving up less than 100 rushing yards per game, and worse/better, they’re also allowing a moderate 34.7 receiving yards to running backs (Charles is averaging 48.1 per game).
So there’s some Charles peace of mind for your Browns defensive streaming pleasure, and beyond him know that the offense of an undefeated team is filled with blah. The Chiefs are averaging only 330.7 total offensive yards per game (19th), and worse, only 4.9 yards per play (25th). The middle pack numbers continue with an offense that asks Alex Smith to throw 35.7 times each game (20th), and 21 of his completions have gone for 20 yards or more (18th).
What we hopefully have here then is a matchup in which a defense powered by Phil Taylor and D’Qwell Jackson up the middle can at least sufficiently slow Charles, while the Chiefs’ passing game will continue to barely exist with Joe Haden, T.J. Ward, and an emerging Buster Skrine in the defensive backfield, and especially with Dwayne Bowe possibly sitting due to a groin injury.
2. New Orleans Saints vs. Bills (percentage owned: 54%)
Hey, let’s keep riding this horse too.
Judging by the slowly rising ownership level, it seems the Saints defense is no longer a fun secret. I suppose recording eight sacks over the past two weeks (five on pretty boy Tom Brady) will do that for you, as will averaging nearly three sacks per game.
This week, the Saints draw the still Thad Lewis-led Bills offense, and Thad remains rad. After his impressive mobility led to a late-game win over Miami last week and nearly the same two weeks ago in a brutal matchup against the Bengals, Lewis has long shed his “haha the backup must suck” tag. Here’s the deal, though: he still takes a ton of sacks.
Most of that is his horrible offensive line, while part is Lewis running into pass rushers. That’s resulted in him taking nine sacks already, and on those sacks alone the Miami and Cincinnati defenses earned a combined 18 fantasy points. Toss in the reality that the Bills are a run-centered offense — even with C.J. Spiller likely out this week — which has restricted Lewis’ pass attempts (64 over two games) and therefore his passing yardage (just 418 yards), and this matchup becomes even more inviting.
3. Arizona Cardinals vs. Falcons (Percentage owned: 64%)
These guys are less available, but the Cardinals flirting with even 40% availability is a crime in several states. As today’s example showing why drafting a defense early is always a bad idea, let’s consider a few fun and simple numbers.
The first one is 87, which is the number of fantasy points the Cardinals defense has totaled so far, largely through the combination of interceptions (eight, three of which have come from Patrick Peterson), and sacks (18, 7.5 of which have come from the combination of Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell). Now look above to that ownership level again, and then note that the 49ers defense is universally owned, and they’re only five fantasy points ahead of Arizona.
There, I’ve completed my lecture for today. If you’re lucky enough to have the Cardinals defense available in your league, go change that now. Keep picking on the Falcons with Julio Jones gone and Roddy White still out along with Jason Snelling, though Steven Jackson will return, albeit in a limited capacity. And don’t be too terrified by Harry Douglas going off last week against a Tampa defense which is now firmly in the “off” setting.