First off, apologies to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – welcome back to the National Football League. The Pittsburgh Steelers once again look like the dominant champs of old – but in first halves only. What did we learn this past Sunday? The usual – that the NFL is unpredictable, but we love to try anyway. So if you’re streaming defenses, or need some bye-week fill-ins in your IDP league, here are some suggestions.
D/ST Sleeper: Denver Broncos – The Broncos host the surprisingly 3-0 Arizona Cardinals this week – but nothing can kill a team’s momentum like a bye week, which Arizona is coming off of – and despite plenty of talent at receiver, the Cards still have major questions at QB and RB. Look for the Denver D to make some big plays – and they’ll need to, because the Arizona defense is legit.
DL Sleeper: Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers – Steeltown visits Jacksonville this week, and the Jags have given up 20 sacks in four games already. Heyward plays defensive end; he should pick up another sack (or two) for himself.
DL Sleeper: Bennie Logan, Philadelphia Eagles – Logan has two seven-tackle games out of four, and a home matchup versus the St. Louis Rams should provide plenty of opportunities to get to the quarterback and stuff the running backs.
LB Sleeper: Jabaal Sheard, Cleveland Browns – Yes, he’s the backup – but questionable health ahead of him, plus a great matchup at Tennessee, makes him worth rolling the dice on if you’re really strapped for linebacker help. Sheard has definite pass-rush ability and Locker/Whitehurst (whichever one plays) practically have giant “sack-me” signs on their jerseys.
LB Sleeper: Michael Wilhoite, San Francisco 49ers – As long as Navorro Bowman and Aldon Smith are out, Wilhoite is your man alongside Patrick Willis. He won’t make anyone forget the aforementioned trio, but he should be good for six or seven tackles to help prop up your defense.
DB Sleeper: Sam Shields, Green Bay Packers – So far Thursday games have been an abomination, with lopsided slopfests replacing competitive football. This week the Packers host a Vikings team with questions at QB, a thin receiving corps, and a RB no one’s quite ready to buy into yet (Matt Asiata). Expect a big play or two from Shields to go along with four to six tackles.
DB Sleeper: Jimmy Smith, Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens travel to Indianapolis this week to play the Colts, who will be certain to air out the ball. Maybe Smith can step in front of one – or at the least, get credit for a tackle when he pushes a receiver out-of-bounds after the catch. Check the injury report for Lardarius Webb, his opposite starting corner – Webb might be out, meaning fewer targets at Smith and more at backup Asa Jackson. Colts QB Andrew Luck doesn’t shy away from throwing the ball in anyone’s area, though.