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Eight team defenses scored TDs in Week 6. Also, eight defenses - seven of which were among the TD scorers - finished the week with more than 10 fantasy points.
Both figures sounded like a lot to me, but I went back and checked the previous five weeks this season, and was surprised to find that seven different defenses scored TDs in Week 1 and Week 5. Week 6 was the busiest so far this year for defenders or special teams players finding the end zone, but not by much.
Team defenses rank ahead of kickers in terms of draft priorities, but that doesn't say much. Some fantasy team owners are happy owning one and streaming the best available defense for their bye weeks, or even for multiple weeks if they see a defense with a better match-up than the one they own. Other owners take defense for granted, settling for drafting whichever defense is available that has the lowest points-against from the previous year, and sticking with it for the season.
But, like every other active fantasy team position, defense offers an opportunity to score points, whether it's by sack, INT, fumble recovery, block or TD. Look at the top teams in your league, and I'm betting a common component is that they have opportunistic defenses, or at least that the team owners are opportunistic about seeking defenses on the waiver wire that score - as opposed to just keeping opponents' scores low.
If you know what to look for, a good defense can be almost as valuable a fantasy scorer as a good offensive position player.
Week 6 Winners
QB: Matthew Stafford, DET.
Playing the Bears this year made a winner out of a QB that struggled the first five weeks of the season. His 405 yards and five TDs seemed like a flashback to when Stafford was a top five fantasy QB, but it's tough to get too excited about his big week - and by the time he plays the Bears again in January, the fantasy slate will be finished.
RB: Chris Ivory, NYJ.
After 166 yards rushing in Week 5, he came within four yards of having his second straight 150-yard game. He has never had a 1,000 yard rushing season, but at 27 he's starting to play himself into the top 10 fantasy RB discussion.
WR: Alshon Jeffery, CHI.
I was among those who didn't think he would do much last week after missing so much time. He was a game-time decision yet again, which doesn't give much confidence, but in a shootout he reeled in eight balls for 147 yards and a TD. Unless injury rears its head again, he's back to being the No. 1 WR on a team that has to throw.
TE: Benjamin Watson, NO.
He was really a fantasy non-factor coming into last week, but caught a whopping 10 passes for 127 yards and a TD. Hard to see this happening again, but perhaps Drew Brees has returned to targeting his TEs more frequently even though Jimmy Graham is gone.
Week 6 Losers
QB: Eli Manning, NYG.
Manning the Younger has been a pretty safe play this season, minimizing INTs and getting a couple TD passes in almost every game, but that ended in Week 6, with 189 yards passing, one TD and two INTs - a sorry output made worse by the fact that so many experts called Manning a must-start Monday night against the Eagles defense.
RB: Eddie Lacy, GB.
Yes, he has landed as the loser RB for the second week in a row - that's how bad he's been. He had a meager four carries for three yards, getting his only fantasy points on two catches for 17 yards. It appeared that backup James Starks took over the starting role. Lacy was supposed to have finally been healthy after injury problems, but it sure didn't seem that way.
WR: Randall Cobb, GB.
Another Packer who seems to be barely treading water. Three catches and 38 yards in Week 6 on just five targets suggested QB Aaron Rodgers is looking elsewhere. Cobb finally seemed to have the No. 1 WR job all to himself in GB, but hasn't had more than 50 yards receiving or a TD since Week 3.
TE: Vernon Davis, SF.
The 49ers had a good game offensively, but Davis only saw one target and had no catches. He had been injured and mostly a non-factor this year to begin with, and hardly seems like the starter anymore, with fellow TE Garret Celek seeing an increasing number of snaps.
* SI.com sees Carson Palmer, QB, ARI, as the top fantasy QB play for Week 7 against BAL, a week after he threw for 421 yards and a TD, but also two INTs, in a losing cause. Palmer has great WRs to work with, though he has been a little inconsistent thus year, with a couple games under 200 yards passing.
* CBS Sports is eyeing Todd Gurley, RB, STL, as its start of the week as he looks for his first career TD against a Cleveland defense that hasn't been able to stop anyone. Gurley has rushed for 146 yards and 159 yards in his first two starts, so put two and two together on this one.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.