This week we don’t have to look far for our defenses that come at a minimal charge and could bring a tidy reward. Two of them are playing in the same game.
1. Tennessee Titans @ Raiders (percentage owned: 60%)
I know Matt McGloin is the coolest late November thing since all the kids couldn’t wait to tickle an Elmo or something back in the day. But his second start could be a quick regression, and one you can benefit from with the Titans defense 40% unowned.
You’ll point to the quality of McGloin’s first opponent, the Houston Texans, or at least their secondary that’s giving up a league low 167.5 yards per game as a reason why he may still thrive this weekend. And if you do that, I’ll note that yardage isn’t where McGloin was successful from a fantasy perspective, as while he indeed showed promise and an ability to make “NFL throws“, passing yards didn’t come in abundance. Oh, there were certainty chunks to be had, with McGloin recording four completions of 20 yards or more on his 18 total successful attempts. But overall his yards per attempt was a pretty blah 6.2, with his total passing yards resting at 192. Getting yardage of significance against Tennessee will also be difficult without speedster Denarius Moore, who’s expected to sit out with a shoulder injury after missing practice all week.
But here’s the real appeal for Tennessee in this matchup. McGloin maybe, probably, likely, miiiight struggle to get yardage, so then he’ll have to do his fantasy damage through touchdowns, as he did with three of them in his first start. Through the will of sheer brute force by Bernard Pollard and Alterraun Verner’s rather advanced ball skills with his 21 passes defensed, the Titans have allowed seven passing touchdowns. That’s a league low, including only one over the past four weeks.
2. Oakland Raiders vs. Titans (percentage owned: 11%)
The Raiders defense is underrated, mostly because it’s assembled of football players who play for the Raiders. This week at this price, give them a place in your life, or at least serious consideration.
Why? Ryan Fitzpatrick, that’s why. The Fitz Magic looked less than terrible last week against Indianapolis, but it’s the way in which he primarily passed for his still minimalist 222 yards that leads to little fear. He completed 78.6 percent of his passes because looking deep ever wasn’t a thing that happened, and we can point to Delanie Walker’s 18 targets over Fitzgerald’s two starts since Jake Locker’s season-ending injury (including a season-high 10 last week) as Exhibit A. Only four receivers caught a pass in that loss to the Colts, and of Fitzpatrick’s 28 completions, 10 went to Walker. Outside of a viciously outlying 42-yard completion to Kendall Wright during a late fourth quarter drive, Fitzgerald didn’t complete another pass for over 20 yards.
So there’s little to worry about with his pasta arm, and Chris Johnson could give the Raiders even less to be concerned with. Sure, we mercifully saw the brief return of CJ?K with his 86 yards and two touchdowns last week that came almost entirely in the first quarter. But Oakland has given up 4.1 yards per carry to Ben Tate and Andre Brown over the past two weeks, and they’re averaging only 97.6 rushing yards allowed per game (sixth).
3. Green Bay Packers vs. Vikings (percentage owned: 54%)
Here’s another weak quarterback for you to gleefully prey upon like the ruthless carnivore you are.
Although he showed some signs of a pulse two weeks ago against Washington with his 8.3 yards per pass attempt, we’re still waiting for Ponder’s first game this year with even 250 passing yards. We’ll likely be waiting for a while too, and this week what makes the Packers an even more appealing play is the lack of support Ponder may get from Adrian Peterson. He’ll likely play, but he could be limited due to his groin injury.
Casey Hayward’s continued absence hurts, but it’s not nearly enough to find any encouragement for Ponder after the last time he visited the very unfriendly Lambeau Field. That’s when he had a passer rating of just 41.9 while completing only 48.0 percent of his passes for 119 yards at a pace of 4.8 per attempt. Youch.
More stray defensive minded thoughts…
- I wanted to include the Rams and their loaded front four which includes Robert Quinn, with his 12 sacks and five forced fumbles (and two three-sack games). But alas, the strategy of rolling with the Rams against Chicago and banking on points from those front-end bruisers while knowing the secondary will get blown up by Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall is difficult with the Bears and their much improved offensive line. Through 10 games they’ve allowed just 16 sacks, and the Bears have given up more than two sacks in a game this year only twice.
- Keep trotting the very affordable Browns out every week if your league lets you (their still available in 70% of Yahoo leagues). This week the matchup is highly appealing again with Phil Taylor, Desmond Bryant, and Paul Kruger set to mash the teeth of a ravaged Steelers offensive line that’s given up the third most sacks in the league (37), and with Joe Haden set to do his human blanket thing to Antonio Brown. Over the Browns’ last three games Haden has three interceptions, and six passes defensed.
- In the not so distant past (Week 6) Carson Palmer was sacked seven times by the Seahawks. They have multiple mean men, while the Colts pretty just have one: Robert Mathis, the league leader in sacks with 13.5. But between Arizona’s weak offensive line and Palmer’s feet that may actually point inward and therefore don’t give him the opportunity to escape any rush, Mathis could be plenty. If you’re rolling with the Colts due to Mathis’ fun matchup, you’re doing it knowing that a secondary giving up 8.0 yards per pass attempts will keep surrendering those chunks to Larry Fitzgerland and Michael Floyd. But ideally, the hell brought by Mathis et al should compensate for that. Should.