NFL Fantasy Football Defense Rankings Week 8: Top Picks And Sleepers, Who To Start, Sit [NFL 2013]

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Captain Munnerlyn Carolina Panthers
Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn picks off a pass in the first quarter of Carolina's 30-15 victory over St. Louis in Week Seven.

Weeks Eight and Nine could be the longest for fantasy owners this year, with six teams sitting out each week, by far the most of the season.

That obviously includes top scoring defenses like the Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, and Chicago Bears. Owners need alternatives, and the best one could be the Carolina Panthers.

Fifth against the pass and fourth against the run is just the tip of Carolina’s iceberg. The Panthers reached 3-3 last week by pounding the St. Louis Rams for four sacks, and three turnovers, including cornerback Captain Munnerlyn’s 45-yard interception return.

Over the last four weeks Carolina has given up 7.75 points per game, with two of those games on the road. The Panthers are also well balanced with nine total interceptions and 19.0 sacks.

They’ll meet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night, a team reeling from the loss of running back Doug Martin and still breaking in rookie quarterback Mike Glennon. Reserve rookie runningback Mike James is likely to get most of Martin’s touches, and has only tallied 17 carries over five games, while the Panthers should pressure Glennon into plenty of mistakes. Also, even with Martin in the lineup the Bucs were only 20th in rushing this season.

The only drawback for Carolina is being on the road on a short week, but as the Charlotte Observer points out, the Bucs have lost 11 of their last 12 games, including six straight at home.

This should be a slow, plodding game with both teams trying to bust out the run often. That translates into a low score that favors fantasy owners.

Check out the four other teams below, that could have a big Week Eight.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are top five against the pass, but middle of the pack against the run. However, against rush-only Oakland this week, Pittsburgh with LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons should have a big week.

Green Bay Packers

Normally it’s a bad idea to bet against Adrian Peterson, especially when the Packers have plenty of injuries at linebacker. But this is the same Packer squad that held high-flying Detroit to nine points in Week Five, and has outscored opponents 72-39 during their three-game win streak. The Packers are also third in total rushing, and the Vikings have way too many questions at quarterback.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns young defense is poised to be very special, unfortunately their offense is nowhere. Fortunately, the Browns face a one-dimensional Kansas City offense in Week Eight. This will be another slow game, with Browns corners Joe Haden and T.J. Ward very capable of picking off the mostly inaccurate Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.

New York Jets

Yes, they let up 27 points in Week Seven to New England, but they also held Tom Brady to zero touchdowns with one pick returned for a score, and sacked him four times. Cincinnati, winners of five of its last six games, is a tougher opponent but has only picked off five passes this year. That’s a good sign for New York and quarterback Geno Smith, who likely won’t give-up a pick-six.

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