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East Coast Offense: More Reason to Wait on Defenses

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

Why You Shouldn't Draft Defenses Until the Last Couple Rounds - Exhibit Z

It's not like this is something you don't already know, but this season the contrast between preseason ranking and performance is so stark, it's worth emphasizing:

The Top-5 Defenses in fantasy points per game are as follows:

1. Pittsburgh
2. Seattle
3. Tennessee
4. New England
5. Arizona

Here are some other notable ones:

7. Detroit
9. New York Jets
16. Green Bay
25. Minnesota
26. San Francisco
28. Baltimore

It's only six games, and the Steelers have performed as advertised, but otherwise, it's been almost totally random.

A Good Problem to Have

The Eagles have already had one quarterback controversy when Kevin Kolb lost his job due to injury, and now they might have another as Kolb lit up the Falcons and 49ers the last two weeks. Kolb's slated to start this week in Tennessee, and with another good game could supplant Michael Vick. While there's no way for us to know what Andy Reid will decide once Vick returns, we do know that whoever it is should be good, and you want to start him. Consider that only Peyton Manning (103.4) has a higher QB rating than the Eagles' QBs (103.3), and only Philip Rivers (9.1) has averaged more yards per attempt (8.0). The Eagles are fourth in touchdown passes, tied for last in interceptions allowed (2) and seventh in yards. And that doesn't include Vick's 187 rushing yards.

A Bad Problem to Have

With David Garrard concussed and unlikely to practice early in the week, and Trent Edwards dealing with a sore thumb and also possibly out, the Jaguars signed Todd Bouman. Maurice Jones-Drew has always been able to perform well in spite of his environment, but this might be Steven Jackson circa 2008-09 where the TDs are hard to come by.

Odds to win the Super Bowl

Unlike last year when the Colts, Saints and Vikings got off to blazing starts and were the overwhelming favorites, this year, it's far more wide open. Here are the current odds:


New York Jets 6:1
Pittsburgh Steelers 7:1
Baltimore Ravens 8:1
Indianapolis Colts 9:1
New England Patriots 9:1

Notice anything strange about this? They're all AFC teams. Seems like a no-brainer to take a few NFC teams at a higher payout.

New Orleans Saints 11:1
Atlanta Falcons 14:1
Green Bay Packers 14::1
New York Giants 15:1
Minnesota Vikings 16:1
Philadephia Eagles 18:1

I like the Giants and Eagles best at those numbers.

One other interesting note: Remember in the preseason when the 49ers were -175 to win the division against the entire field? Now they're +400, behind the Rams +300, the Cardinals +160 and the Seahawks +130!

Just Doing His Job

There's been a dust-up about James Harrison's comments after KO'ing both Josh Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi Sunday. He said:

I don't want to injure anybody. There's a big difference between being hurt and being injured. You get hurt, you shake it off and come back the next series or the next game. I try to hurt people.

I have to agree with Harrison, who was subsequently fined $75,000 for his work. It's his job to make offensive players fear and dread coming into his area of the field, and anything he can say to create that impression further is good. As in poker, table image is important. But it's the league's job to fine and/or suspend him if he violates rules against helmet-to-helmet contact.

NFL's Super System

Rex Ryan is the Doyle Brunson of the NFL. In Super System Brunson talks about pounding and pounding on people with raises and re-raises to the point where he picks up a ton of uncontested pots. When someone does finally play back, Brunson usually has the worst of it, i.e., is an underdog, but he's won so many other pots that overall his strategy is profitable. And of course, he will draw out sometimes, too. Rex does the same thing, relentlessly blitzing, making the quarterback get rid of the ball too early, knocking him down and keeping him off balance and guessing. When teams do pick up the blitz or take shots down the field, they'll often succeed, but overall the relentless pressure will cause mistakes, break up the offense's rhythm and cause them to fall behind. As good as Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie are, they'll get beat in one-on-one situations sometimes, and Rex knows this. But overall, it's a winning strategy.

Things to Take Away from Week 6

  • Steve Spagnuolo's defense in St. Louis can bring the heat. After sacking Philip Rivers seven times Sunday, they're tied for sixth in the league with 17. Given what Spagnuolo was able to do with the 2007-08 Giants, I expect this to continue, with James Hall, Chris Long and Fred Robbins all capable of getting to the quarterback.

  • Apparently Mike Tolbert's not going away as the goal-line vulture. Ryan Mathews looked good again and will one day have a big game when the Chargers aren't playing from behind, but Tolbert will severely cut into his TD total.

  • Tom Brady's merits a downgrade without Moss, but only a slight one. Brady was still a 24-28 TD guy before Moss arrived, and that was when the Pats had Corey Dillon and a top-notch defense.

  • Without Randy Moss to draw attention to opposing defenses on the outside, and other quality possession options in New England like Aaron Hernandez and Deion Branch, I'm extremely bearish on Wes Welker going forward, especially when you consider he won't likely be 100 percent healthy until next year. In fact, in a 12-team 2-WR non-PPR, he's droppable.

  • Ndamukong Suh already has 4.5 sacks, a 12-sack pace from the defensive tackle position.

  • Ahmad Bradshaw has good speed, excellent quickness and outstanding vision. His ability to stop on a dime, change direction and find the best running lane were impressive Sunday. Like Mathews, he'll lose goal-line touches all season, though.

  • As much as I complain about Calvin Johnson's underuse in Detroit, it's worth noting he's got 55 targets, tying him for 7th in the league with three other players. That's a pace for 146 on the season - which while not ideal hardly constitutes neglect.

  • As a Steve Smith owner, I'm glad John Fox named Matt Moore the starter again, but it doesn't make a whole lot of sense now that he let the rookie destroy any hope the team had of making the playoffs. At this point, he might as well have let Clausen mop up.

  • You have to boost Chris Johnson's stock even further in light of what happened last night the same way you had to boost Tom Brady in 2007. Clearly, he's aiming to set records, and Jeff Fisher is on board even in a blowout when it made no sense to have him in the game. It infuriated me because I should not only have won but had the weekly high-score in the 14-team Yahoo Friends and Family League, but for Johnson's late TD.

  • I didn't watch a lot of the Pittsburgh-Cleveland game, but Colt McCoy got 8.5 YPA on 33 attempts, despite losing his top two receivers to James Harrison's helmet-to-helmet hits? Why is Jake Delhomme even on the roster at this point? And why the hell did Ben Roethlisberger throw that last touchdown to Heath Miller? You're supposed to run out the clock there, not take away the Browns cover! That's a rare backdoor cover from the favorite.

  • I think there might be a correlation between the Saints throwing the ball downfield to their big, fast receiver (Robert Meachem), and being efficient on offense.

  • Chris Ivory's emergence means Pierre Thomas will not have serious value this year even if he gets healthy in the next couple weeks.

  • Greg Jennings should be a top-15, if not top-10, receiver the rest of the way.

  • Ryan Torain had a lot of good holes to run through and ran with some power, but otherwise was not overly impressive. Fred Davis is worth a look with Chris Cooley out, though any tight end will do these days.

  • Has Austin Collie (53 targets) replaced Dallas Clark (53) as Peyton Manning's No. 2 read? Has Collie (five targets inside the 10) replaced Reggie Wayne (2) as his first look near the goal line?

    Things to Watch for in Week 7

  • Will Dallas lose yet another big game Monday night against the Giants?

  • Aaron Rodgers tries to halt Green Bay's slide against the Vikings.

  • The Chargers have to beat the Pats at home to avoid 2-5.

  • The Eagles travel to Tennessee in a battle of first-place teams.

    Beating the Book

    Rams +2.5 at Buccaneers

    The Rams were impressive at home last week, getting pressure on Philip Rivers all day, and moving the ball with some consistency. The Bucs meanwhile got blown out at home by the Saints. That's why the Bucs have to be the value this week - buy them low and sell St. Louis high. Moreover, the Rams have played far worse on the road so far this season. Back the Bucs.

    Buccaneers 27 - 19

    We lost with the Broncos last week to go 4-2 in this forum and 44-42-4 on the season. We were 10-7 in this forum last season, 131-122 overall. We were 12-5 in this forum in 2008. From 1999-2009 we've gone 1439-1262 (53.3%, not including ties).

    The full article comes out on Thursday morning.

    Surviving Week 7

    I had the Giants last week in this space, though I eventually (and unwisely) switched the to Chargers in the full column based on the prospective payout. Here's what I'm looking at this week:

    Team Opponent Percent Taken
    RavensBills 47.2%
    SaintsBrowns 22.2%
    BroncosRaiders 14.7%
    ChiefsJaguars 7.9%
    SeahawksCardinals 3.8%
    OtherN/A 4.2

    I'll crunch more numbers when the full article comes out Thursday night, but my first instinct here is to take the Ravens despite the modest payout. They're still less than 50 percent taken, and I fear the Browns against the Saints more than the Bills in Baltimore. I can't trust the Broncos, Seahawks or Chiefs despite the somewhat higher payout. Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind when the full artice comes out Thursday night.