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: From an actual football perspective, Kawann Short has had a fantastic season even if it hasn't translated to fantasy. In Week 7, it all came together. The Panthers defensive lineman overwhelmed the Eagles for eight total tackles, a pair of sacks and a forced fumble. It's hard to advocate starting an interior lineman on a week-to-week basis but it's nice to see such a talented player have a very productive IDP day.
Linebacker: There probably aren't a lot of people outside of Duval County that are familiar with Telvin Smith, but the second-year linebacker is a bona fide playmaker. Just to reinforce the point, Smith is tied for the top spot among all IDP scorers this season. Smith feasted against the Bills in Week 7 with a touchdown and a 19.50 fantasy point day. If you haven't jumped on board yet, now's the time.
Defensive back: The Dolphins might have a new attitude, but the song has remained the same for Reshad Jones. The Miami defensive back scored his second touchdown in as many weeks to roll to a season-high 18 points. Jones has totaled double-digit fantasy points in four of his six contests and is tied with the aforementioned Telvin Smith as the top defensive scorer in fantasy.
What went wrong
» Bobby Wagner was able to suit up and play against the 49ers in Week 7, but he wasn't much of a factor in the defense's domination of San Francisco. Wagner had just seven total tackles and is likely still dealing with the effects of a pectoral strain that kept him out of Week 6. He's a big a part of what the Seahawks do defensively as anyone and can hopefully get well against Matt Cassel and the struggling Cowboys offense.
» Maybe the word is out on Josh Norman. After scoring 6.50 or more fantasy points in each of his first four games, Norman has tallied just 6.50 fantasy points combined in the past two weeks. It's all fun and games having a shutdown corner on your fantasy roster when no one knows how good he is. Now that the word is out on Norman's ball-hawking skills, the fantasy jig might be up.
Week 8 boomer
Landon Collins, DB, New York Giants: Collins hasn't been spectacular but the rookie has been steady all season long, scoring six or more fantasy points in all but one game. With middle linebacker Uani' Unga (neck) looking questionable, Collins could be asked to provide more run support in addition to his duties in the passing game. With the Saints struggling to muster a consistent ground attack, Collins could rack up a large number of tackles in Week 8.
Week 8 buster
Cameron Jordan, DL, New Orleans Saints: Jordan has posted back-to-back quality stat lines thanks to his ability to get to the quarterback. That isn't likely to continue this week against the Giants. Big Blue has done a good job protecting Eli Manning, allowing just nine sacks this season -- fourth-fewest in the NFL. It also helps that Manning is adept at getting rid of the ball quickly. This figures to be a tough day for Jordan to post big totals.
Week 8 sleeper
Frostee Rucker, DL, Arizona Cardinals:Calais Campbell has undeniably been a beast this season, whiche means he's likely to draw extra attention from the Cleveland Browns suspect offensive lineup. That could open things up on the other side of the defensive line for Frostee Rucker to make some plays. The veteran lineman is tied for the team lead in sacks and should find plenty of opportunities to go after the Browns quarterbacks -- whomever they might be.
First down: It's looking more like Jason Pierre-Paul will play football this season. The Giants are closing in on a deal with the pass-rushing defensive end and he could make his debut as soon as Week 10. After missing so much of the season, it might take JPP a few weeks to get back into game-shape and his game makes him sack-dependent. With so many other playmaking defensive linemen available, Pierre-Paul is a stash at best right now.
Second down:Jerraud Powers was quietly having a good season playing in a loaded secondary, but the Cardinals will have to live without their veteran corner for the next couple of weeks as he deals with a hamstring strain. Justin Bethel is likely going to be the next man up for Arizona. With Patrick Peterson playing across the way, Bethel could see plenty of action this week against Cleveland.
Third down:Jabaal Sheard has been a nice addition to the Patriots linebacker corps this season, even if he hasn't been an IDP monster. Now he might not be available to either group. Sheard missed practice on Tuesday and might not be available for Thursday's game against the Dolphins as he deals with an ankle injury. This could be a significant loss considering Miami's newfound offensive efficiency.
Fourth down: Washington linebacker Ryan Kerrigan suffered a broken hand in Sunday's comeback win over Tampa Bay but is hoping that he won't need to miss any time. Kerrigan had screws inserted into his hand and is determined to play in Week 9 against the Patriots. It helps that Washington has a bye this week, which will allow Kerrigan more time to get healthy.