With Week 8 upon us, it will be interesting to see who steps up with multiple QBs out and defenses struggling to find their groove. Will this week separate the strong from the herd? We will soon find out. In the meantime tune into my advice for defensive rankings. No, I am far from perfect, but I know defenses and what should constitute a solid start as my predications are based upon stats.
Panthers D/ST (DK- 2800/ FD 4700 (@TB)- The Panthers need Luke Kuechly back badly, and hopefully he plays this week. Jameis Winston had two turnovers last week, and with the Panthers allowing the third fewest passing yards, it could be a battle in the trenches as the Panthers and Bucs battle it out. With 24 sacks on the season, the Panthers will be a constant threat to get to the QB. Winston, though not error prone, will need to rely upon Doug Martin and the run game, as Carolina has seemingly found a way to put a secondary together after last season’s secondary debacle.
Patriots D/ST 2400 DK/ 4500 FD (vs LAC)- Not counting last week when the Patriots destroyed the Falcons, the Patriots secondary has been getting shredded as they have allowed, on average, over 310 yard passing per game. The Chargers main threat, Melvin Gordon, will see a ton of 11 man fronts, and if Rivers cannot beat them through the air, it will be a long day for the Chargers. If the Patriots can pressure Rivers into errant throws, they have the opportunity to hold a second straight QB under 300 yards passing.
Steelers D/ST 2900 DK/ 4400 FD (@DET)- The Steelers defense is on the upswing. It may not be the Steel Curtain, but it is pretty good right now and only improving. Allowing the third fewest yards per drive and versing a porous offensive line can only mean more sacks and points for the defense this week. Look for the Steelers to be all over Matthew Stafford this weekend en route to another solid performance.
Julius Peppers (DE/CAR)- With 6.5 sacks through seven games, Peppers is torturing opposing QBs and will look to continue the trend versus Jameis Winston come Sunday. Peppers is on a revenge tour in his return to the Panthers and he is an ever present threat. Treat him as a DE2 this week and you could reap the rewards.
James Bradberry (CB/CAR)- The Bucs will attack Bradberry with Mike Evans, and while Bradberry may not be a shutdown corner, he can hold his own versus receivers and can be utilized at different spots on the field. With four passes defensed (PD) on the season, he may not be a household name, but he is a young player who is emerging on a growing defense and makes for a solid bye week filler. He should see plenty of PD opportunities come Sunday.
Kendell Beckwith (LB/TB)- Beckwith continues to play solid defense, and while he is not a must own, he is starting to make a name for himself on the Bucs defense. With 45 tackles through six games, he may not produce every game, but versus a run heavy Panthers offense he could be in for a quietly solid day. Boom/bust play most weeks; he is worth a gamble this week.
Devin McCourty (S/NE)- McCourty is a safety who can do it all, and versus the Chargers this weekend he should see an opportunity for his second pick of the season. Leading the team in tackles with 46, he should continue to see opportunities come his way to make plays and he is a solid S2 in most leagues.
Hayes Pullard III (LB/LAC)- Pullard is a little known commodity at linebacker who racks up the tackles and who goes unnoticed on the field, but manages to have an impact. Versus the Patriots he will play all over the field and figures to be in line for a heavy workload as the Chargers defense tries to slow down the Patriots offense. He is currently second on the team with 49 tackles and is a good bet to add at least five more this weekend.
Vince Williams (LB/PIT)- Williams is currently tied for the team lead with four sacks and he will look to continue his ways versus the Lions on Sunday. The Lions have allowed Stafford to be sacked 23 times through six games, and with four sacks on the season, Williams could be in for a nice day versus a poor Lions’ offensive line.
Sean Davis (S/PIT)- Williams plays aggressively on a defense that has a favorable matchup against the Lions’ offensive line this week. While he may not be a turnover specialist, Williams offers a nice defensive floor and should be in line for a solid day versus a mediocre Lions receiving core. Expect at least a pass defensed and seven tackles this week and use him as an S2 in most leagues.
Anthony Zettel (DT/DET)- Zettel, who has four sacks and a recovered fumble on the season, could be in for a long day versus an offense that can both throw and run the ball as the Steelers have both a stud RB and WR in Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, respectively. Make no mistake about it, Zettel is a playmaker and should have his opportunities, but versus this offense he could be a shaky start in leagues not starting DTs. In leagues starting DTs, he is a solid option, albeit one with a reasonably low floor.
Avoid the Seahawks (3200 DK/ 5100 FD) defense versus the Texans as Deshaun Watson has shown he can play in the big leagues and is not messing around, as he has the legs to burn opposing defenses and the Seahawks can be burned on the ground. The Seahawks have allowed the fifth most rushing yards to opposing QBs this season, boding well for Watson who could shake an otherwise solid defense this week.