- Scott Engel, ESPN Fantasy Games
It's time for this week's regular session of fantasy football therapy. Let's talk about the issues that have been weighing on your mind, and we'll come up with some strategies to deal with them. We can work through these problems. Each week, I'll closely examine significant challenges that face your prominent players and threaten the stability of your fantasy teams. I'll help you tackle these concerns and redirect you toward success and peace of mind.
ISSUE: The Baltimore defense/special teams is a big disappointment.
OUTLOOK: The Ravens are the 13th-ranked defense/special teams unit in ESPN leagues right now. The unit has accumulated only 33 points so far, and totaled only 1 point last week against the Browns, when the team allowed 27 points for the second time this year. The Ravens have remained sturdy against the run, allowing only 71 rushing yards per game, but they have also allowed 230.8 passing yards per game, which ranks them 10th in the AFC. The Ravens have intercepted only three passes, and have only six sacks. The absence of defensive end Trevor Pryce, who led the team with 13 sacks last year, is a major reason Baltimore isn't able to generate the same amount of pass pressure recently. The Baltimore Sun is now reporting he may not return from a broken wrist until Nov. 5. Without Pryce, opposing offenses are double-teaming Terrell Suggs, who doesn't have a sack yet this season. Baltimore has also felt the loss of linebacker Adalius Thomas. Left outside linebacker Bart Scott has taken over many of Thomas' responsibilities and is now less free to attack the passer without Thomas, who provided 11 sacks of his own last year. Scott, like Suggs, had 9.5 sacks in 2006, and has none in 2007. Cornerback Samari Rolle has missed the past two games because of an illness. It all adds up to Baltimore not being able to effectively pressure opposing passers, without Pryce and Thomas. That leaves the secondary vulnerable, especially in single coverages and without Rolle to boot.
1dMarc Stein and Ramona Shelburne