We are nearly halfway through the fantasy season. Breaking news seems to be the theme so far this week. Ted Ginn was put on IR, Marshawn Lynch will be out a month and may go on IR as well and Carlos Hyde has been traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now, as we focus the conversation on this week’s D/ST starts, congratulations to all of you who started the Denver Broncos Thursday night. I imagine they will be the top scoring defense of Week 7. For those of us still searching for D/ST points, I’ve come up with a few starts below followed by IDP picks this week. Best of luck Week 7 and the rest of the fantasy season!
Los Angeles Chargers vs Tennessee Titans (DK – N/A / FD – N/A / [9:30]AM EST)
The Titans gave up 11 sacks a week ago to a team without a great pass rush. The Chargers ought to be able to get a few as well and multiple sacks usually lead to turnovers. Over their last three games, the Chargers sack numbers have varied from one to three and then five a week ago, but they’ve had two takeaways in all three games. Rookie safety Derwin James has been a draft steal and the Chargers’ best playmaker in the secondary. Up front, they still miss defensive end Joey Bosa, but are putting pressure on the opposing teams quarterback in other ways. Last week, the two defensive tackles combined for three sacks and they have also been using Derwin James on safety blitzes. This game could get ugly early as the Chargers continue their solid play into the middle of the season. The Titans simply do not have the firepower on offense to compete with the Chargers unless they play the perfect game and, with Marcus Mariota at quarterback — Tennessee’s version of Miami’s Ryan Tannehill — a perfect game is not likely.
Indianapolis Colts vs Buffalo Bills (DK – $3,300 / FD – $4,100)
Last week, Indianapolis’ defensive rookie of the year candidate, Darius Leonard, returned from injury. Neither he nor the defense played well against the Jets, but things should change this week at home against the Bills. The Bills will be starting a former Cleveland Brown starting quarterback, Derek Anderson. We last saw Derek Anderson as a Carolina Panther where he backed up Cam Newton for a number of years. He’s now 35 years old and gets the start for the Bills. He does bring more experience to the table than the other quarterbacks on this roster, but he has not had a lot of success in the NFL. While a Nathan Peterman start would almost guarantee fantasy success for the Colts D/ST, we should also feel confident in starting them against the Anderson-led Bills. This team still has few weapons and a below average offensive line. Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones may have a better week than we’ve become accustomed to, but overall the Colts still have the players to put pressure on the quarterback of the Bills no matter who starts. This game may remain close throughout, but in the end this should be a Colts win and the Colts D/ST should get at least three sacks and a takeaway versus this Buffalo team.
Miami Dolphins vs Detroit Lions (DK – $2,500 / FD – $3,500)
The Dolphins defense will not shut anyone out or hold teams under 200 yards of offense, but they do enough in fantasy football to warrant starts. Last week, they gave up 28 points and over 450 yards to the Chicago Bears, but also got two sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception. This week defensive ends Cameron Wake and Andre Branch, along with starting cornerback Bobby McCain, return from injury. This is just in time to face a Detroit team that gets a lot of their yards through the air and have three quality receivers. The return of McCain allows them to not have to depend on Torry McTyer who has been giving up big plays and should allow their playmakers Reshad Jones and Minkah Fitzpatrick to be more aggressive in pursuit of takeaways. Adding Wake and Branch back to the defensive end rotation should also help to keep the unit fresh and increase their chances of success this week against the Lions. Whether or not the Dolphins win is more in the hands of quarterback Brock Osweiler, but for fantasy D/ST’s purposes the Dolphins continue to provide success.
I also like: Minnesota, Philadelphia, Houston, Jacksonville, New Orleans, LA Rams, Dallas and my shot in the dark would be Atlanta.
Derwin James (S/Chargers)
James has found success every week thus far in the fantasy season. I wouldn’t expect things to change against Tennessee who will continue to be a pass heavy offense when they avoid three and outs. I like James to add another sack this week along with multiple tackles.
Kevin Byard (S/Titans)
Byard has played well of late. This is a good matchup for him this week facing the Chargers’ passing attack where even two running backs get involved. Byard should have a nice tackle total this week along with a couple of passes defended.
Darius Leonard (LB/Colts)
In his second game back from injury I’d expect Leonard to once again be wreaking havoc in the Buffalo Bills backfield. Tackles for a loss and quarterback hits should both be on the menu this week at home in Indianapolis.
Jerry Hughes (DE/Bills)
The Bills defensive end has quietly off to a good start this year with 4.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. The Colts offensive line has been dealing with multiple injuries so Hughes should have a good chance to add to his totals this week.
Darius Slay (C/Lions)
Slay is Detroit’s best corner, and against an interception prone quarterback in Brock Osweiler, he should find success. Interceptions are hard to predict, but Slay should be able to jump the route on at least a couple of the short passes Brock loves to throw and at the very least garner a few passes defended to add to his tackle total.
Reshad Jones (S/Dolphins)
Linebacker Kiko Alonso is probably Miami’s defensive MVP so far this season, but I don’t see Detroit sticking to the run this week. Therefore, Reshad Jones is more likely to have the big game for the Dolphins. Solely for his tackles Jones is a good start this week and it’s gravy if he is able to come up with a turnover.
Against the Grain
Chicago Bears vs New England Patriots
The Chicago Bears defense will have their second less than stellar game in a row and Khalil Mack will go another game without a sack. I think most of you probably agree the Bears aren’t a great start this week, but some of you may start them in order not to carry a second defense. If this is the case keep your expectations low. I think they are likely to go without a sack or a takeaway this week even at home versus the Patriots.