Posted Oct. 29 at 04:12 AM
The possible suspension of eight NFL players for using a banned diuretic (which can be used to mask the use of steroids) would affect a couple of fantasy defenses, including the players who face them. Players at risk include several run stuffing defensive tackles, including Atlanta’s Grady Jackson and Minnesota’s Pat Williams and Kevin Williams.
In the case of Jackson, it might not be that big a deal – the Falcons have a below-average run defense anyway (although it would certainly be worse without Jackson). The Vikings’ defense, however, is built around that tackle tandem. If they’re both removed from the equation for four games, Minnesota’s defense would not only look far less imposing – it might fall apart completely.
The players will likely appeal; maybe they even have a case. But if you own Minnesota’s defense, it’s definitely time to scour the waiver wire for a backup plan.
In other news, injuries happen all the time, but now is the time when the cumulative effect really starts to take its toll. Three generally strong fantasy defenses are facing some question marks right now.
New England: The Patriots began the year looking shaky in the secondary. Losing Rodney Harrison for the season makes things even worse. Is it too late to bring Troy Brown out of retirement? Brandon Meriweather replaces Harrison, and the former first-round pick hasn’t shown much to this point – certainly it will be tough to replace Harrison’s veteran savvy and leadership. It’s no coincidence that in New England’s first game post-Harrison they had some breakdowns against Rams’ rookie wideout Donnie Avery. This week, they travel to Indianapolis to face Peyton Manning. Definite cause for concern.
Pittsburgh: The Steelers had a couple of breakdowns late against the Giants, and it might have had something to do with safety Ryan Clark standing on the sidelines with his arm in a sling. With him, the Steelers’ secondary was probably this defense’s primary cause for concern. If he misses any time (and he's considered unlikely to play against Washington this week), it becomes an even bigger worry, especially with some quality passing offenses (San Diego, Indianapolis) coming up in the next three weeks.
Dallas: The Cowboys were already without Terence Newman, Pacman Jones and Roy Williams. Now cornerback Anthony Henry (quadriceps) is likely to miss at least next week’s game against the Giants. That’s bad news for a defense that played very well against the Bucs, but faces a superior offense this week. At least the team gets a bye in week 10, after which some of the team’s banged-up players should be considerably healthier.
Waiver Wire Defense of the Week: Panthers, Saints, Chargers, and 49ers are off. If you need to replace one of these teams, or you have some other defense with a particularly unattractive matchup, options that may be available in your league include:
Jacksonville: The Jaguars have been a huge disappointment, but at 3-4 they’ve got no margin for error, and Jack Del Rio read them the riot act after Sunday’s loss – sometimes that kind of motivation helps. So does playing a winless Bengals team that has nothing much going for it right now. Jacksonville should win, and maybe they’ll beat up on a toothless opponent, too.
Cleveland: There’s some risk involved in starting the Browns, at home against a very good Baltimore rushing offense, but Browns’ nose tackle Shaun Rogers is on top of his game right now, and the Ravens have been far less impressive on the road (1-2) than at home (3-1). Cleveland should be plenty confident after winning in Jacksonville and shutting down the Jaguars’ running game – perhaps it can do the same here.
On the flip side, there’s considerable risk in starting the Packers, who have struggled against the run, at Tennessee, with the Titans boasting one of the league’s more potent rushing offenses. Tennessee is on a short week while Green Bay is coming off a bye, but we’re down on the Packers here. We’re not keen on starting the Patriots defense at Indianapolis this week, either.
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