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: We've been waiting and finally it happened -- Cameron Wake had a big game. The Dolphins defensive lineman spent his afternoon living in the Titans backfield with four sacks and a pair of forced fumbles. After injuries limited him to just 0.5 fantasy points all season, this was a welcome outing. Hopefully Wake can keep the momentum going next week against the Houston Texans.
Linebacker: It's become a continual theme for defenses to pick on Peyton Manning this season, which sounds strange considering Denver is still undefeated. The Browns were the latest to feast on the aging quarterback with Karlos Dansby doing much of the damage. The veteran linebacker racked up seven tackles (five solo) and a pair of picks
Defensive back: The Monday night contest between the Giants and Eagles wasn't the most aesthetically pleasing affair, but the Philadelphia defense gave you a little something to smile about. Nolan Carroll had an equally productive night for IDP managers. The Eagles corner had six total tackles and a pick-six for his first double-digit fantasy week of the season. We'll see if he can have similar success next week against a lackluster group of Carolina Panthers receivers.
What went wrong
» Where has Mario Williams gone? The man who has collected 38 sacks over the past three seasons has just two so far in 2015. Week 6 offered a low point in the campaign with just one tackle and no quarterback takedowns. Williams has been vocal about his deployment in the team's defensive scheme this season and his disappearing act on the field could suggest that his frustration has some merit. We can only hope that things change this week against the Jaguars and their suspect offensive line.
» Through the first five weeks, the Browns had allowed 18 sacks and the team gave up four more in the loss to the Broncos. Without DeMarcus Ware in the lineup, you'd think Von Miller could get at least one, right? Wrong. The Denver pass-rusher was held without a sack and recorded just one assisted tackle. Miller's reliance upon the sack makes him a risky weekly start in IDP leagues, but it's still shocking to see him be so unproductive in such a good matchup.
Week 7 boomer
Eric Kendricks, LB, Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings have big hopes for the rookie and in his first career start, he delivered with 10 total tackles and a sack. This week he goes against a Lions offense that found a spark last week but still hasn't shown any consistency. Kendricks' ability to make plays all over the field should pay off against the freewheeling Matthew Stafford.
Week 7 buster
Antwon Blake, DB, Pittsburgh Steelers: You might not know Blake's name, but he's in the top 10 at his position with three double-digit outings in the first six weeks. This week facing the Chiefs might be a tougher task. Not necessarily because Kansas City's passing game is particularly efficient, but because quarterback Alex Smith is notorious for not taking chances down the field. Smith has thrown just three picks this season, which is possible when you average fewer air yards per attempt than any quarteback in the league. It might be tough for Blake to grab an interception.
Week 7 sleeper
Michael Wilhoite, LB, San Francisco 49ers: You probably don't realize this, but Wilhoite is tied for fifth in tackles through the first six weeks of the seaosn. He's especially made his presence felt in the last two weeks with 29 total tackles and an interception. This week, the Niners take on the run-heavy Seahawks offense which should provide plenty of chances for Wilhoite to make plays in the middle of the field.
First down:Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier appears on track to play in Week 7 against the Kansas City Chiefs. The second-year linebacker has been hampered by a shoulder injury that has kept him out of action since Week 2. His return could bolster a Pittsburgh defense that has been steadily improving since the start of the season. Shazier was playing at a pretty high level before he suffered the injury and hopefully he can return to form against an uninspired Chiefs offense.
Second down: The Chargers might be without Eric Weddle for this week's game against the Raiders. The bushy-bearded safety was struggling to walk after leaving last week's game with a groin injury. Weddle insists that he'll be ready to play in Week 7, but it will be worth monitoring as the week goes along.
Third down: Speaking of insisting ... Randy Gregory says he'll be available for the Cowboys game against the New York Football Giants. Gregory hasn't played since the first week of the season because of a high-ankle sprain. The rookie's return could add firepower to a pass rush that has been improving nearly every week.
Fourth down: The Falcons are adding depth to their linebacking corps with the addition of Philip Wheeler. The veteran last played with the 49ers in the preseason but was released before the regular season. While he has nearly 500 tackles in his career, don't expect him to be a major fantasy contributor in Atlanta.
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