When stats lie: Don't fear Giants, Jets defense

Here's a warning for fantasy football players who are deeply immersed in the pregame ritual of poring over every available NFL stat: Don't believe them.

Well, believe most of them, but definitely forget the rankings that show the Redskins, Giants and Jets have the stingiest pass defenses in the league. All three teams should be easy to pass on this week despite their glorious numbers.

The Redskins have allowed a league-low 162.7 yards a game, but that's skewed by the fact they opened against six straight incompetent teams that don't fully understand the forward pass. All you need to know about Washington defenders is that they didn't see fit to cover Brandon Marshall, who was slowed last week only by a series of Chris Simms bounce-passes.

As for the second-ranked pass defense of the Giants, their numbers are likewise built on the stomping of bad offenses during their 5-0 start. In their four-game slide, the Giants' banged-up secondary has allowed 262 yards a game and 11 touchdowns.

Finally, the Jets are simply coming apart at the seams, and Tom Brady will be eager to pile up big numbers to put last week's fiasco behind him.

As you reassess your options against these fast-fading defenses, here's a look at some players to start and some to sit in Week 11:



-Donovan McNabb's 450-yard day last week was his third huge game this season, but he hasn't had two in a row yet. That should change against a Bears pass defense that has allowed more touchdowns than all but four teams.

-Matt Ryan has been miserable during the Falcons' offensive skid, throwing just one TD in each of the past three games. A dose of the Giants' secondary should help him bounce back.

-In other sophomore slump news, it seems like a long time since we were celebrating Joe Flacco's big arm and Baltimore's more balanced offense. He has one score in his past three games, but he'll be playing comeback against Indy's questionable defensive backs.

-Even with all his sore body parts and the Vikings leading the NFL in sacks, Matt Hasselbeck could put up some good numbers. The Vikings rank 23rd against the pass, and Hasselbeck's been getting the ball out quicker.


Please, in the name of Jason Campbell, don't start these guys:

-David Garrard should be in handoff-only mode as the Jags punish the Bills' defense that's dealing with the distraction of a fired coach in addition to being terrible. (Plus, Maurice Jones-Drew owes fantasy owners for taking a knee at the 1-yard line, so he may get all the scores.)

-If Chicago's Jay Cutler is on your roster, well, sorry. The Eagles rank third in the league in interceptions and second in sacks, two stats that are sure to skyrocket after Sunday night.

-Don't gamble on Matthew Stafford or Brady Quinn despite the horrible defenses they face. A Lions-Browns game is no place for football stats.


-Maybe the Giants used the bye week to figure out a way for Brandon Jacobs to start plowing over people again. He averages 115 yards after the bye the past two years, and Atlanta's defense ranks 26th against the run.

-Likewise, wonder if the Cowboys figured out their big giant line only blocked for five Marion Barber carries last week. Barber had 114 yards and a score about a year ago against Washington - the last time he had a 20-carry game.

-The Vikings' vaunted run defense has trouble against slippery and fast little guys, so look for good numbers from Seattle's Justin Forsett. He's starting in place of the injured Julius Jones, and he also catches lots of passes.

-LeSean McCoy, likely getting the workload in place of the injured Brian Westbrook, should pop into the end zone a few times after Cutler interceptions set the Eagles up in good position.


-It's nice of the Chargers to get that Denver collapse over with early this year. Seems like it'll happen through the air, so keep LaDainian Tomlinson on the bench. (Helpful hint: I'm almost always wrong when it comes to predicting LT recently.)

-The Titans' defense has shown signs of life, while the owners of Houston running backs have been in a Bud Adams sort of mood lately. Look for more struggles and more time-share from Steve Slaton and Ryan Moats.

-The Cardinals aren't proclaiming Chris Wells the main back yet, but his two scores should keep Tim Hightower on the fantasy bench.


-It's this simple for Brandon Marshall owners: If Kyle Orton can start, go with Marshall. Bench him if it's Chris Simms. (Hard to imagine Broncos fans a year ago pining for Orton.)

-How in the world has Pittsburgh's Santonio Holmes gone eight straight games without a score? Here's betting he snaps that streak at Kansas City.

-Minnesota's Sidney Rice must stay in the starting lineup until Brett Favre's arm starts to go. He's had yardage totals of 201, 176 and 136 over the last month.

-New Orleans' Robert Meachem has two long scores the past two weeks, and Tampa Bay has allowed the league's most 40-yard pass plays.


-Kansas City's Dwayne Bowe is out with a drug suspension, but don't think Chris Chambers will slide in and put up some stats. The Steelers are a bit angry after last week's loss, and the Chiefs still aren't blocking.

-Forget Santana Moss' reputation as a Cowboy killer. He has gone for at least eight catches and 115 yards in three of his past four against Dallas, but it's not worth gambling on the Redskins' passing game.

-Jason Avant's the latest Eagles receiver to drive us crazy by randomly putting up massive numbers. He's sure to follow his 156-yard day with a 22-yard output.


FREE AGENT SHOPPING LIST: RB Justin Forsett (123 yards, TD), RB Jason Snelling (starter if Michael Turner out), WR Jason Avant (154 yards), RB Michael Bush (114 yards, TD), WR Brandon Gibson (93 yards).



Big Hits: I guaranteed 700 yards and 7 TDs combined for Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, and they finished with 702 yards and 7 TDs. I expected good things from Carolina's Steve Smith (2 TDs), Brandon Marshall (2 TDs) and Brett Favre (344 yards, TD). I also expected failure from Carson Palmer (178 yards, 0 TDs).

Big Misses: I predicted success for Rashard Mendenhall (36 yards rushing) and Pierre Thomas (37 yards). I thought flops were coming from T.J. Houshmandzadeh (165 yards), Robert Meachem (TD) and Jamaal Charles (103 yards, TD).


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