Real football isn't all about the offensive players. Why should fantasy football be any different? Every week here in Reading the Defense, we're looking back at the fantasy week that was and offering help for the week that's to come.
Defensive line: When you talk about the Raiders defense this season, the talk generally centers around Charles Woodson or Khalil Mack. But in Week 10, it was Mario Edwards Jr. who stole the spotlight. The rookie defensive end had the best game of his young career with eight tackles and a sack against the Vikings. Edwards is starting to see a greater percentage of the defensive snaps in Oakland and could start to make a bigger impact as the season winds down.
Linebacker: The Giants might have suffered a bitter defeat to the Patriots this week, but it's hard to pin any of that on Jasper Brinkley. The veteran linebacker had his best game of the season with nine tackles and just his second career sack. With Jon Beason officially done for the season, there could be more starts and snaps in Brinkley's future. This week's game against Washington and its inconsistent run game could provide plenty of chances for Brinkley to rack up tackles.
Defensive back: It's been an up and down season for Dashon Goldson, but the veteran safety stepped up with a nice day in Week 10. Or at least a nice play. Goldson intercepted Drew Brees and took it back to the house on his way to an 11-point fantasy day. It hasn't been a great season for Washington's secondary but facing a weak Carolina receiving corps this week could offer a bit of a boost.
What went wrong
» J.J. Watt might have had a lot to say about Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense after Houston's win on Monday night, but the stud defensive lineman didn't do a lot of talking in the stat sheets. Cincinnati did a good job of neutralizing Watt and holding him to just two tackles and a sack. That might seem like a pretty good fantasy night for most defensive linemen, but J.J. Watt isn't most defensive linemen.
» Stephone Anthony has quietly been putting together a solid IDP fantasy season, but Week 10 was not his best moment. In a week where the Saints defense was roundly embarrassed by Kirk Cousins and the Washington offense, Anthony was limited to just a pair of touchdowns. The Saints have a bye week and just made a change at the defensive coordinator position. We'll see if this can help the rookie get back on the right track.
Week 11 boomer
Justin Houston, LB, Kansas City Chiefs: Houston is one of the most sack-dependent players in all of fantasy football. Good news! The Chargers have a bad offensive line and throw the ball a lot. If that doesn't add up to lots of sack opportunities for Houston, I don't know what will. Houston should be able to get to Philip Rivers more than once this week which should make for some decent fantasy production.
Week 11 buster
Ziggy Ansah, DL, Detroit Lions: The Raiders' passing game has taken a big step forward in the past month. Much of that has to do with Derek Carr getting the ball out quickly and an offensive line that is giving him time to deliver the ball accurately. That, combined with a struggling secondary, is bad news for the Detroit pass rush in general and Ansah specificially. The Lions front could have a tough time getting to the Raiders quarterback this week. IDP owners shouldn't expect much from this matchup.
Week 11 sleeper
Will Hill, DB, Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens secondary has been notoriously terrible this season. But this week they get to face a Rams passing game featuring newly installed starting quarterback Case Keenum. Keenum is good for a few downfield shots and without any real pass-catching threats, there is an opportunity for a ball-hawking defensive back to jump in and make a play or two. Don't be surprised if Hill pulls in a pick.
First down: There's a new man in charge of the New Orleans Saints defense. Rob Ryan was fired after the team's defensive disaster against Washington last week and Dennis Allen has taken over the position. The Saints aren't the most talented defensive group, though with players like Cameron Jordan and Stephone Anthony this group shouldn't be as bad as it's been all year. We'll see if the bye week helps fix anything.
Second down:Jadeveon Clowney is expected to return to the field this week against the New York Jets. Clowney missed Monday's win over the Bengals with a lower back injury and has played just 11 games in his first season and-a-half in the league. This week's game against the Jets wouldn't seem conducive to Clowney having big production. New York doesn't give up a lot of sacks, mostly because the offense is predicated on the run. But if Geno Smith makes the start over Ryan Fitzpatrick, it could help Houston's pass rush a little bit.
Third down:Giants defensive back Prince Amukamara appears on track to return after the team's Week 11 bye. Amukamara suffered a pectoral injury against the 49ers in Week 5 and hasn't played since. His presence would certainly be welcomed by a Big Blue secondary that hasn't been very good for much of the season.
Fourth down: The season is over for Sen'Derrick Marks. The Jaguars defensive lineman was placed on injured reserve with a torn triceps after a second opinion revealed that he wouldn't have a chance to be healthy for the team's final seven games this season. Marks palyed in just four games this season and leaves a big hole in the middle of Jacksonville's defensive line. It's a tough blow for a player who tore his ACL last December.