For your defensive streaming pleasure during fantasy money making time, you mostly just need to look at one game.
1. Buffalo Bills vs. Dolphins (percentage owned: 44%)
I won’t spend too much time here because I already fulfilled my daily requirement of Bills defense slobbering (albeit indirectly). And really, the appeal here is mind numbingly simple, yet likely oh so damn profitable.
The first part is this: although there’s been a minor improvement lately because Mike Sherman has schematically embraced the idea that it’s bad for his quarterback to get pummeled repeatedly, the Dolphins’ offensive line is still atrocious. I suppose that will happen when two of your starters are subtracted because one guy decided leaving profane voicemails is fun, and now the only reliable and trusted presence is Mike Pouncey. The result of that constant shifting has been Tannehill getting dummied 51 times, putting this edition of the Miami Dolphins two shy of the team single-season record for sacks allowed.
They’ll easily pass that mark, and barring a quick turnaround Tannehill could be sacked at least 60 times, putting him in, um, elite company. So how will that play against the league’s best pass rush? Welp, sort of like this…
The Bills lead the league in sacks overall with 49, and they’ve sacked opposing quarterbacks on 8.7 percent of their drop backs (second).
2. Miami Dolphins @ Bills (percentage owned: 32%)
No, you’re lazy.
While this may appear less than ambitions, I really, honestly believe two of our esteemed top three slots here can be occupied by fantasy defenses featured in the same game this week.
The Dolphins defense has been a frequent guest around these parts due to their surprising general lack of ownership combined with a 10th overall fantasy ranking as we head into Week 16. That’s been accomplished partly through brute force with their 41 sacks (11.5 of which have come from the quickly emerging Olivier Vernon), and the ball hawking of a rejuvenated Brent Grimes, who’s anchored a secondary that’s picked off 17 passes.
Say, does that sort of balance sound inviting for an offense starting a backup quarterback, and playing without its top wide receiver Stevie Johnson? Nah.
That describes the Bills Sunday, who will sit E.J. Manuel due to a knee injury, nursing the rookie during what’s become yet another lost season. In comes Thad Lewis, who looked sort of alright in a few relief starts earlier in the season, completing 60.2 percent of his passes for 652 yards. But despite his mobility, the lack of game experience makes Lewis’ pocket timer a little slow, which has ended in a great many bruises. Over just his three starts in October Lewis was sacked 13 times, with at least four in each game.
Those frequent whackings lead to another very welcome ending for you Dolphins D steamers: six fumbles, three of which were lost. In total then out of Lewis’ 126 drop backs this season, nearly 15 percent of them resulted in something awful between sacks, interceptions, and fumbles. And in two of those starts his passer rating was 70.1 and 72.0, the same games when his yards per attempt fell below 6.5.
Oh and hey look, one of said games (Week 7) came against these Dolphins, when they registered four sacks, two fumbles, and an interception. Neat.
3. Detroit Lions vs. Giants (percentage owned: 27%)
Eli Manning may end his career as the most confusing quarterback of our time.
Of his now nearly 10 complete NFL seasons, two have ended in new Super Bowl rings (2008 and 2012), and each championship game was sealed with an improbable throw and catch. Every year in late January when the two-week Super Bowl hype machine starts churning and the canned listicle programming gets a rollin’, both plays are seen again and again in several generic lists (best Super Bowl throws, catches, plays, etc.).
They look like this…
But then he’s also had a season that looked like this…
That was 2010, when he threw 25 interceptions, which was a career high at the time. But it was also his second season with at least 20 picks, and now with still two games remaining in 2013 Manning has tied that career high. He’s throwing a ball into undesired hands on 5.2 percent of his pass attempts, which is over two percent higher than his career rate. For some even greater/fun perspective, Russell Wilson is on the opposite end of that metric with the fewest interceptions (eight) among regular starters with at least 250 pass attempts. That adds up to an interception percentage of 2.2.
I haven’t even mentioned the Lions here yet, and that’s by design. Manning’s wayward crosshairs have reached the point that for fantasy purposes, his opponent is nearly a secondary concern. For the record, though, while the Seahawks are indeed quite skilled at playing defense and stuff, 10 of Manning’s picks have come against secondaries currently ranked 28th or worse (Broncos, Cowboys, Eagles).