By this point in the season, your roster is pretty much set. Bye weeks will change things, as will injuries, but your team shouldn’t be relying too heavily on the waiver wire for success. If you are, then I’d imagine your playoff hopes are similar to those of the Giants, and your face is likely as red as Tom Coughlin’s.
With your roster set, the toughest choices become who to start each week. While you could just sit back and let my rankings do the work for you, thinking about matchups can make your choices easier. Certain offenses tend to provide more opportunities for IDP stats, and depending on your scoring system, this knowledge can help you decide between two close options on your roster.
Here are some teams and scoring systems that have yielded great results so far:
Tackles – Buffalo
The Bills have let up an average of over 86 total tackles per game against them, including a remarkable 107 in their Week 4 win against the Ravens. They run the ball a lot with Spiller and Jackson (and sometimes Choice for some reason), which has been especially beneficial for Defensive Linemen. For Week 7, this bumps up Dannell Ellerbe and Cameron Wake if they’re healthy, and makes Phillip Wheeler and Olivier Vernon look more like starters. Whether it’s E.J. Manuel, Thad Lewis, Matt Flynn, or Walter White’s son Flynn, the Bills will be running the ball a lot, and giving plenty of tackle opportunities to opposing teams.
Sacks – Miami and Oakland
These two teams, for entirely different reasons, each allow nearly 5 sacks per game. Miami has an abomination of a left tackle in Jonathan Martin, and Ryan Tannehill must assume he’s about to get blind-sided when he’s in practice, playing golf, or spending quality time with Mrs. Tannehill. Unless they make a move (unlikely) or the running game improves (possible), Miami makes a great target for opposing pass rushers, and that’s why Mario Williams is my DL1 this week.
The Raiders have let up so many sacks due in part to a mediocre O-Line, but also due to a mobile QB who holds onto the ball longer than usual. Michael Vick has dealt with this issue throughout his career, and it looks like Terrelle Pryor will follow that model for now. Oakland is also typically trailing, so it provides more sack opportunities for opposing pass-rushers. They’re on a bye this week, but Lamarr Woodley and Jarvis Jones should have a field day in Week 8.
Passes Defensed/Interceptions – Jacksonville and New York Giants
Two other teams that are forced to pass a lot make great options for streaming your DBs and racking up these correlated stats. While Chad Henne is better at limiting interceptions than Blaine Gabbert based on percentage of throws picked off, he will also be allowed to throw the ball more in general, which leads to more IDP stats. It doesn’t hurt that the Jags don’t look particularly concerned about winning any games this year.
And it wouldn’t be an interception discussion without talking about Eli. Even if this year’s absurd numbers can’t possibly continue, the youngest Manning does have a knack for hitting defenders in stride. I have no stats to back this up, but Eli must lead the league in tipped interceptions every year, which is doubly nice because it counts as a pass defended as well as an interception. Much like his older brother spreads the ball around the Denver receiving corps, Eli is an equal-opportunity pick thrower, giving even D-Tackles the opportunity to catch-and-run with the ball.
Fumbles Forced/Recovered /Touchdowns – Don’t Use For Analysis
These plays can and will swing real and fantasy matchups every week, but they are so unpredictable that they should not be relied on. It’s obviously fun to talk about David Wilson’s fumbles, and the number of defensive TDs scored against Matt Schaub and the Texans (Six. Six!) is insane, but over the course of the season these numbers should even out. One defensive player might be better at forcing fumbles than another, but it’s rare that an offensive player is allowed to keep playing when they repeatedly put the ball on the ground.
Week 7 Rankings