First Tier – Must Starts
- Chicago – Da Bears are playing outstanding defensive football, and face Cody Pickett’s San Francisco 49ers this week. Re-read that last sentence.
- Indianapolis – The top-ranked fantasy defense (in many scoring formats) gets one of the worst teams this week. Let’s hope they don’t get complacent.
- New York Giants – The G-men have two solid fantasy-scoring weeks in a row under their belt, and now face a Viking team decimated by injuries and various debacles. This one should be a laugher.
- Pittsburgh – They continue to post solid fantasy numbers. Cleveland’s offense doesn’t really strike fear in the eyes of anyone. With the Steeler offense nursing some bumps and bruises, the defense (with some bumps and bruises of its own) will have to step up to insure a Brown upset doesn’t happen.
- Carolina – OK, so Jet QB Brooks Bollinger looked somewhat decent in the 2 nd half last week, but things will be different against the Panthers. The Jets will struggle to keep this one close, as the Panther D dominates. Carolina is 5 th in the NFC with a +5 give/take differential. The Jets have thrown 11 INTs and have fumbled 4 times this season. All signs point to the Panther D having a solid outing.
Second Tier – Solid Starts
- Atlanta – Packer QB Brett Favre will test the Falcon secondary, you can bet on that. The Packers give it away quite a bit: 19 total turnovers this season, and a -9 give/take differential. Atlanta, on the other hand, is +6. Do the math.
- Jacksonville – Averaging 8 fantasy points the two weeks after their bye, and face a Raven offense once again led by the disappointing Kyle Boller. The Ravens have a horrible -8 give/take differential, while the Jags are a solid +7.
- Tampa Bay – Are the Washington Redskins coming back to Earth? Perhaps. Before a big 17-10 win against the Eagles, they were blown out by the Giants, and lost a couple heartbreakers to the Broncos and Chiefs. More telling is their give/take ratio: they have only caused a lackluster six turnovers this season, while they’ve given it up 15 times. Expect the Buccaneer offense to test Brunell & Company.
Third Tier - Best of the Rest
- Seattle – The Rams have been the thorn in the side of the Seahawks for a few years. This time, the Seahawks get their revenge. They’ve averaged one INT a game this season, and Ram QB Marc Bulger, returning from a shoulder injury, will look to test the Seahawk secondary with a WR corps also returning from various injuries.
- Denver – Raider QB Kerry Collins has only thrown 2 picks this season; a pretty incredible stat considering his track record, and the amount the Raiders were going to pass this season. But the Broncos have posted a solid +9 give/take, and you know this AFC West game is going to be a high-flyin’ shootout, so the opportunities for picks and big defensive plays will be a-plenty.
- New England – Maybe it’s time to give these guys another shot. They appear to be much more fired up with Tedy Bruschi back in the lineup, and despite a patchwork secondary, Dolphin QB Gus Frerotte has thrown 9 INTs this season, so the potential is there for the Patriots to have a solid defensive outing on Sunday.
- Buffalo – Their Week 10 opponent, the Chiefs, tend to throw the ball a bit. The Bill secondary is built with quality players, so the potential for some INTs is good. Tread carefully, however, as Chief QB Trent Green has avoided throwing picks this season (only three). Consider, though, the Bills have a +8 give/take differential.
Note: League scoring used for this column is 2 points for safety, fumble recovery, blocked punt or FG, 1 point for blocked PAT or sack, 6 points for defensive or special team TDs, and anywhere from 10 to 2 points based on points allowed.