Amateur Ward: “Time to Lower the Boom” Week 4 Defensive Plays

Hopefully all your fantasy seasons are off to solid starts and you’re getting ready to lay the wood on your Week 4 opponent as this could be the week that separates the contenders from the pretenders. The biggest move of the week occurred when the Bears traded Jared Allen to the Panthers for a future pick in hopes of improving. While I understand the rationale behind trading him, the Bears should have done better than what they did. Let’s hope it works out for both, but realistically, the Panther got the better end of the deal there.

Last week my results were largely mixed, but my picks are definitely trending in the right direction after being less than stellar the first two weeks of the season. Hopefully this season, my categories will help your team improve to 4-0, or at least stay in the lead as one of the top teams in your league. After all, a solid defense can easily define a win or loss every week as IDP owners are quickly finding out.

Last Week’s Recap: Mixed Bg

1 Star: Cameron Heyward- WIN 1 tackle; Jelani Jenkins- WIN 3 tackles; Byron Maxwell- TIE 8 tackles; Kenny Vaccaro- TIE 9 tackles

3 Star: Jonathan Babineux- LOSS, 1 tackle; Bruce Irvin- TIE 5 tackles, .5 sack; Michael Brockers- LOSS 1.5 stuff, 2 tackles for loss

5 Star: Kam Chancellor- BIG LOSS, 1 tackle assist; Derrick Morgan- LOSS 1 pass defensed; Darrelle Revis- LOSS 1 tackle

1 Star

Kwon Alexander (LB/TB)- Alexander will not have a good game versus the Panthers in Week 4 and Super Cam is why. With no Kelvin Benjamin, Cam Newton may not appear to be dangerous in the passing game, but over the past two weeks he has proven the ability to make smart decisions with the football and rely upon his legs to win games. Per last week’s crucial play against the Saints to help seal the win: go up to the offensive line, check the defense, change the play, fake the handoff, walk into the end zone. Yes, the Buccaneers will have a tall order to stop Cam this week; applying to Alexander as well. Through three weeks, most of Alexander’s value has come from his play versus the pass. The Panthers are a run heavy team with a savvy quarterback, limiting Alexander’s upside to tackle heavy leagues, not those that count passes defensed. He could provide eight tackles, but do not expect much more from the rookie linebacker in Week 4. (Photo courtesy of nola.com)

Marcus Peters (CB/KC)- Bench Peters. Bench Peters. The Bengals offense is flat-out torching everybody right now and that will continue this week versus the Chiefs. Make no mistake about it, Marcus Peters is going to be a fantasy monster this season, as long as opposing offenses throw his way. This week, he will likely be matched up versus A.J. Green, who is an elite receiver and can burn any corner. Peters was one of the two best corners in the NFL Draft and has proven tough as nails in coverage this season, despite being beat for scores and big plays. If Peters is going to accumulate stats this week, it will be after the catch as I do not think he can jam or disrupt Green this week and would be very surprised if the Bengals let him go versus Marvin Jones. Peters may get one pass defensed, but be wise and leave him be this week versus Dalton and Co.

3 Star

Robert Ayers (DE/NYG)- Ayers (Achilles tendon) missed last week’s tilt versus the Redskins. This week the Giants defense has a difficult opponent: Buffalo. Ayers had a nice first season with the Giants, compiling five sacks in 12 games last season after missing the first four games of the 2014 season. With Jason Pierre-Paul still out, Ayers will look to build upon his 2014 campaign. With neither LeSean McCoy nor Sammy Watkins the Bills offense could be somewhat hampered, but it has been the solid play by Tyrod Taylor that has the Bills at a 2-1 record. While McCoy was expected to be the bell cow for the Bills run game this season, he has been disappointing thus far, and yet to score a touchdown. Without two main threats on offense, there could be an opportunity for Ayers to posted a sack or two, but do not expect a huge game from him as Taylor takes care of the ball and is very elusive on the run.

Jared Allen (DE/CAR)- The Panthers one glaring hole is at defensive end and with Charles Johnson (hamstring) shelved for a while, the Panthers were wise to trade for Jared Allen. Allen is not the sack monster he used to be with the Vikings, but he will give a Panthers line a much needed punch in the pass rush department. Ideally, Allen would have Kuechly and Johnson to work alongside, but Kuechly will be out one more game, meaning Allen will be the biggest sack and run defense threat versus the Buccaneers and rookie signal caller Jameis Winston. Do not expect an overly stat filled day, but Jameis is still working out the rookie kinks and is very error prone as he continues adapting to the pace of the NFL. This should spell a sack or two for Allen as a baseline with room for tackles. (Photo courtesy of proplayerinsiders.com)

Jayrone Elliot (LB/GB)- With the discombobulation of the 49ers offense and Colin Kaepernick, don’t be surprised if Kaep mistakes Elliot for one of his receivers. After a porous four interception performance versus the Cardinals last week, the Packers will look to continue the 49ers offensive woes by harassing Kaepernick all day. A former undrafted free agent and special teams player, Elliot stepped in for Sam Barrington (ankle) in Week 2 and he could be a sneaky play this week given his ability to tackle and play hard every down. Elliot is a tackler, but he has shown the ability to also defend the pass as evidenced by his pick of Wilson in Week 2. Elliot is an unknown quantity, but a smart play this week versus a weak quarterback in what could be a blowout. I’m booking Elliot for a sack and pass defensed.

JJ Wilcox (S/DAL)- The Saints-Cowboys game will be a shootout, and if Drew Brees (rotator cuff) is still out, the opportunity for defensive plays opens up. The Saints have struggled as a whole this season and injuries to Brees, Jairus Byrd and Rafael Bush have been huge blows to the team as they start the season 0-3. Brees, through the two games, he has played has been very uncharacteristic with an even 2:2 TD:INT ratio and two fumbles. While the Cowboys secondary has given up three scores to opposing receivers the past two weeks, the Saints also need to fix the offensive line and offense before we see vintage Brees. Wilcox has played pretty solid football with three passes defensed in three games and will be heavily involved in coverage this week trying to stop the Saints offense. Wilcox is a explicitly a free safety and will not see many plays near the line of scrimmage because of his deficiencies in tackling near the line, but will be valuable for the Cowboys secondary versus the pass. If he is on your wire, he could be worth a flier as he could be in for a decent day, including a pick in a high-scoring affair in New Orleans.

5 Star

Corey Liuget (DT/SD)- Liuget has gotten off to a bad start this season, but a date with the Browns run offense should provide him a spark to get back on the right foot. The Browns have a grand total of one rushing score and five receiving scores, meaning there is some semblance of productivity at quarterback, but none whatsoever in the run game. The Chargers defense will be a challenge for the Browns this week as they are the best pass defending defense to date and will be allowed to key in on the Browns leading scorer Travis Benjamin while continuing to shutdown the run game of the Browns. With the Browns struggling to move the ball this week, look for Liuget to be aggressive and get after Luke McCown. He will get a sack this week in San Diego, book it. (Photo courtesy of gottlieb.radio.cbssports.com)

Pernell McPhee (LB/CHI)- When healthy, McPhee is one of the league’s top outside linebackers. The Bears Week 4 matchup with the Raiders is appetizing, despite the seeming growth of quarterback Derek Carr (one INT, one sack) this season and immediate impact of rookie wideout Amari Cooper. The problem with Oakland is their run offense which has two rushing scores. Carr’s stats do not suggest McPhee will have a good day versus an improving Oakland offensive line, but he is a havoc wreaker who knows how to get to the quarterback and disrupt plays. Since Week 15 last season, McPhee has five and a half sacks and two passes defensed. Don’t forget that he played in a limited capacity with Baltimore last season and was able to be productive as an OLB/DE, suggesting that with Jared Allen gone, McPhee will be the Bears best source of sacks and tackles for loss on the Bears defensive line. The Raiders may try to block him, but he will find ways to make an impact this week.

Patrick Robinson (CB/SD)- It’s easy to say that Robinson and the Chargers secondary are going to have a field day with Luke McCown. When it comes to the offense, the Browns would be better off deploying Johnny Manziel than McCown as the former is more of a threat in the run game and has a better QBR through the Browns first three games. With that said, both are candidates for throwing picks, given the weakness of the run game. Robinson is a corner who plays near the line and will deliver the boom increasing his value this week versus a Browns offense highly dependent on the home run play. Robinson has one pick on the season, but a big day in San Diego is sure to double his interception total and provide fantasy owners a big day from the Chargers safety.

David Bruton Jr. (S/DEN)- The Broncos secondary is a silently solid group, led by Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. Opposing offenses are wise to shy away from these two ball hawks, opening up opportunities for Bruton Jr., and Roby. Those watching Sunday Night’s Broncos-Lions tilt saw Bruton Jr. come up with a decisive pick off Matthew Stafford to help seal the win for the Broncos. With the run heavy Vikings on tap, headed by All Day, the Broncos secondary may not get as many opportunities for interceptions. If Minnesota falls behind early, they will be forced to rely upon Teddy Bridgewater’s arm and not Adrian Peterson, giving Bruton Jr. and chances for big plays. While this should be an interesting matchup in the Mile High City, Bruton Jr. should be a major contributor this week and one key defensive player to keep an eye on given his play making ability on an aggressive Broncos secondary. (Photo courtesy of zimbio.com)

D/ST

Colts (vs. JAX)- As the Colts look to get back on track this season, look for them to be more reliant upon their secondary with a lack of a pass rush. The good news is the Jaguars are not exactly the best passing offense and can be disrupted easily. Do not be fooled to easily as rookie running back T.J. Yeldon is the future at the position for the Jaguars, but also has ball security issues, opening up the chances the Colts can take this week. The downside with the Colts defense is they lack a threatening presence in the return game, limiting their upside week to week. However, this week could be a solid time to deploy the Colts defense as the Jaguars are a young team with an offense that is extremely error prone versus a solid Colts secondary laden with ballhawks, led by Dwight Lowery and top corner Vontae Davis.

Vikings (@ DEN)- The Vikings will upset the Broncos for the simple reason that the Broncos need to get the running game off the ground. The Broncos may have Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders as their top receiving options, but the Vikings Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Harrison Smith will be the disruptive factors that blanket the Broncos stellar receiving options. With a dangerous duo in the return game: Cordarrelle Patterson on kick returns, Marcus Sherels on punt returns, the Vikings could be in for a special teams score and a solid defensive game versus a seemingly one-dimensional, pass heavy Broncos offense while C.J. Anderson struggles to move the ball.

Thanks for tuning for Week 4’s edition for IDP advice and see you next week. As always, feel free to hit me up at bamafan55577@gmail.com with any questions, or leave it here on the board and I’ll be happy to reply.

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Our guests this week are Davin Joseph, Eric Paulen, and Matt Barkman. Davin is a 2-time Pro Bowl Guard and 2006 1st round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Eric Paulen is an Emmy and Peabody Award winner with significant experience leading large film/video production projects spanning all genres of television with A&E, ESPN, HBO Sports, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated, The Travel Channel, WWE Network, The NBA, NHL Productions, NFL Films, and NCAA. Matt Barkman is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com. His articles publish every Saturday and he focuses on the QB/TE positions.
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