Our adventure through cheap and fake defense rotating this week begins in a place where safeties are scored to win football games, because that’s how Cameron Wake rolls.
1. Miami Dolphins @ Buccaneers (percentage owned: 33%)
Yes, the team may be a steaming toxic mess that’s cool with employing men who want to shove human fecal matter down your throat. But their defense is still quite scary, and it’s not impacted whatsoever by that dumpster fire.
We don’t have to go far to see the fright and shivers this Dolphins’ defensive front can induce. Actually, we can stop pretty quickly and end at Cameron Wake. He’s the guy who sacked Andy Dalton three times last week, with the final one earning the rare gem of the walk-off safety. Overall Dalton was sacked five times while throwing three interceptions, and over the three weeks prior he was sacked a grand total of…five times.
Oh, but it gets better of late. There was a second-half collapse two weeks ago against New England, but overall this same Dolphins defense powered by Wake and the returned shutdown ability of Brent Grimes held Tom Brady to only 5.3 yards per attempt and a season-low 116 passing yards (also his lowest single-game total since 2009).
So now they move on to a rookie in Mike Glennon, who’s come out looking mighty fine after the gauntlet of two similarly imposing pass rushes from the Panthers and Seahawks, most recently completing 73.9 percent of his passes at a pace of 7.3 per attempt against Seattle. He also hasn’t thrown an interception in three games, a span of 38 attempts. None of that is good, but it’s also a little skewed and overwhelming.
Glennon looked great against the Seahawks, but he did it on significantly fewer pass attempts (23) than he had averaged over his previous four starts (45.3). A return to that level against this pass rush and this secondary could easily end in good things for you through sacks, forced fumbles, and rushed throws.
2. Houston Texans @ Cardinals (percentage owned: 53%)
Brian Cushing is gone from our lives this year, which sucks and will give Andre Ellington — he of the 154 yards on 15 carries last week — some pleasant green grass to work with, especially with the apparent increase in touches he’ll receive.
But hey, whatever. Ellington will do his gashing, and you can then profit from Carson Palmer being completely stationary. The Texans still have the league’s best secondary while allowing just 158.0 yards per game, and it’s not close (the Seahawks are second at 179.8, and only two teams are below 200). Now, is part of that a cushy quarterback schedule which has included the lethal passing attacks in Seattle, Tennessee, St. Louis, and Kansas City? Sure, but in Palmer there’s another creampuff this week.
J.J. Watt will enjoy Palmer’s general lack of movement, as he’s currently on pace to be sacked 46 times. That pressure will force more air wobbles, and contribute to another pace that’s also horrible: he’s throwing nearly two picks per game, and if he maintains that pace Palmer will end this season with a career high of 28 interceptions.
3. St. Louis Rams @ Colts (percentage owned: 45%)
Andrew Luck might be good at quarterback. This much was made clear during the Colts’ second-half comeback last Sunday night over Houston in which he threw three touchdown passes, and he’s chucked six such scoring passes over his last two games. That is good, and he’s thrown only three picks to his 13 touchdowns. That’s good, and possibly MVP good.
So points will be had here against the Rams, but around these parts in this matchup we’re concerned with sacks, something the Rams are quite skilled at and do very often. Led by Robert Quinn and his 10, each esteemed member of the Rams’ front four has at last three sacks. As a unit, they’ve sacked opposing quarterbacks 11 times over the past two weeks, and although he’s mobile and can evade pressure while being sacked only 19 times overall, Luck has taken the third most hits in the league at 63.
So the pressure has been coming steadily, but it just hasn’t quite been reaching its destination in time. That could change quickly Sunday.
Honorable mention quick hits:
- I don’t have the manhood to place the Giants among my prestigious top three, mostly because regardless of who they’re playing, getting to the opposing quarterback has been a major problem for Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, and an entire front seven that’s dead last in the league in sacks (10…just 10). But if you’re really pulling things from your head while looking for a defense to stream, right now any team opposing Terrelle Pryor feels like a good idea. Yes, he’ll run a hell of a lot, which is what he does (200 rushing yards over just his past two games, 94 of which incredibly came on one carry). But he’ll also throw a far amount of interceptions with eight over the last three weeks, and he therefore doesn’t lead an offense that’s overly threatening through the air.
- Following similar logic, any defense that’s assigned to stop Seneca Wallace is a defense that’s a friend of yours. So enter the Eagles, with their league worst secondary that’s pretty horrific while giving up an average of 307.6 yards per game, and equally meh run defense (14th with 111.8 yards allowed). But we saw a consistently wayward Wallace (Wayward Wallace is also a decent emo band, if you’re into that) last week, meaning that if Eddie Lacy can be reasonably contained, there’s a chance for fantasy fun times with the potential for Wallace’s giveaways through floundering balls.
- The Steelers are an appealing play too against a depleted Bills offense with E.J. Manuel fresh off of an injury, Robert Woods out, and C.J.Spiller’s ankle improving, but not quite at full health yet.