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Five Team Defenses for Fantasy Football’s Week 8
Fantasy football team managers continue to struggle through the NFL's bye weeks, along with disappointing team defenses like the Pittsburgh Steelers. As we begin what is likely the second half of the regular season in fantasy leagues, here are five team defenses to consider for Week 8.
You're probably aware by now that the Atlanta Falcons, the Chicago Bears, the Green Bay Packers, the New York Jets, the Oakland Raiders, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers all have the week off. That's a pretty significant hit in team defenses.
It's hard to recommend defenses, since scoring systems vary so wildly, and according to my league's scoring system, I met with mixed success when I tried a column like this last week. I recommended the Raiders (they scored 5 points in my league), the San Diego Chargers (12), the Buccaneers (8), the Washington Redskins (3), the Denver Broncos (7), and the Cleveland Browns (14). Considering that I only got 7 points out of the serial disappointment Steelers, I could have done equally well or better by following four of my own six suggestions.
A score of 67 percent is a passing grade, I guess, so we'll try it again for Week 8.
Houston Texans (64 percent owned in Yahoo! fantasy football leagues): I generally try to keep my recommendations limited to those players or defensive units available in 50 percent or fewer of leagues, just so readers have a shot at actually picking up said player or unit. I violate my own rule here, however, because the Texans are still available in over a third of fantasy leagues, and their Week 8 match-up against the Jacksonville Jaguars is just delightful. Jacksonville allows the third-most fantasy points to defenses, has a rookie quarterback in Blaine Gabbert(notes), has the league's worst passing attack, and has the second-worst scoring offense in the league (12 points per game). And did you see Maurice Jones-Drew(notes) putting the ball on the ground all night against the Baltimore Ravens? I think the Texans D is in for a big day.
Cincinnati Bengals (32 percent owned): Hey, it worked for the Browns. Why not for the other team from Ohio? The Bengals face the offensively-stunted Seattle Seahawks this week, although the game is in Washington State, rather than in Ohio, and the 'Hawks play much better at home. That doesn't change the fact, though, that either Tarvaris Jackson(notes) or Charlie Whitehurst(notes) will be starting at quarterback for the boys in blue and green. Jackson is a turnover waiting to happen, and Whitehurst just turned in a 97-yard, one-interception gem against the Browns. Marshawn Lynch(notes) may also miss the game with a tweaked back. It probably doesn't surprise you to learn that Seattle allows the 4th-most fantasy points to defenses.
New England Patriots (41 percent owned): This game against the Steelers is being billed as a shootout, but I'm not convinced that it will be a two-sided shootout. There is no doubt that Tom Brady(notes) and company can score points. Pigs will fly before I'll start Pittsburgh's defense this week. But the Steelers are actually in the bottom third of the league in points scored per game (21.6). They're also No. 11 in fantasy points allowed to defenses. I know Ben Roethlisberger(notes) just had a stellar game against the Arizona Cardinals, but almost everyone has a stellar game against the Cardinals. I just have a hunch that the Pats will come up big in this marquee match-up, as they so often do.
San Diego Chargers (50 percent owned): I'm not going to lie. I'm a little nervous about this recommendation. I gambled on them last week, they paid off, and they have the Kansas City Chiefs this week. A few weeks ago, I would have whole-heartedly supported using any defense against the Chiefs, but they just burned me on the Raiders last weekend, and don't look now, but they've won three games in a row. They might actually be showing some signs of life this season. Or maybe it's a fluke since two of their three wins were against the lowly Minnesota Vikings and the even lowlier Colts, while their third one was against Kyle Boller(notes) and Carson Palmer(notes). Not exactly the loftiest of competition. Despite being one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league, the Chiefs are only No. 16 in fantasy points allowed to defenses. Back in Week 3, the Bolts could only score 4 fantasy points (in my league) against KC. If you're going to take the risk on this Monday night Halloween game, be forewarned. You might wind up with nightmares.
And one more, since I cheated on the Texans.
Kansas City Chiefs (13 percent owned): The other half of the Monday night equation is even more risky, but in my league, the Chiefs defense scored 7 points against San Diego in Week 3. Obviously, you can't expect them to collect 6 interceptions and two defensive touchdowns again, as they just posted against the Raiders. The Chargers, though, are No. 17 in fantasy points allowed to defenses, and I just watched them collapse against the Jets in the second half of their Week 7 game. Philip Rivers(notes) threw two interceptions, and the entire offense looked woozy for most of the game. This game is at Arrowhead Stadium, and it's against a hated division rival (remember what they just did to the Raiders?), so you may get a little bit of production out of them while you wait for your regular defense to return to the field.
The author has been playing fantasy football since the late 1990s and has competed in the last four consecutive championship games in his dynasty PPR league. You can follow him on Twitter at @EricIvie or on Facebook.
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