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Fantasy football: Look beyond defensive reputation

Troy Polamalu

Troy Polamalu Photo Credit: Getty Images

T?he Steelers have spent four decades building a reputation for being one of the NFL’s toughest defenses.

But they’re not impenetrable in 2010.

That much became obvious in Week 6 when rookie Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy, making his first start, passed for 281 yards against Pittsburgh.

Yet, some fantasy owners did not seem to get the memo that the Steelers are ranked 26th against the pass. My opponent in one league last week was so scared off by the Pittsburgh matchup that he benched New England quarterback Tom Brady, who passed for 350 yards and three TDs and ran for another.

My point: Base your lineup decisions on reality, not the reputation of the opposing defense.

Here are some other examples of matchups that might surprise you:

It’s tough to throw on Buffalo. The one-win Bills are ranked seventh against the pass and have allowed just one 100-yard receiver this season — Detroit’s Calvin Johnson last week.

Carolina is no passing patsy, either. The Panthers haven’t given up more than 85 yards to any receiver this year. Among the wideouts they’ve silenced: the Giants’ Hakeem Nicks, Cincinnati’s Terrell Owens and New Orleans’ Marques Colston.

Atlanta shuts down rushers. In their last seven games, the Falcons have not allowed any running back to run for more than 77 yards. The only rushing TD against them during that span came from a wide receiver, Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson.

Run wild against Cincinnati. Forget what the Bengals’ defense did in 2009; they are 22nd against the run this season. That ranking is even more concerning considering Cincy has played a host of teams that have struggled to run the ball all year — Indianapolis, Miami, Tampa Bay and Carolina.

Ryan Chatelain ( is amNewYork’s fantasy football columnist.

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Matt Cassel, QB, Kansas City (vs. Arizona): Seattle’s Matt Hasselbeck and Minnesota’s Brett Favre had field days against the Cardinals in recent weeks.

Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore (at Carolina): The Panthers allow 131.6 yards per game on the ground.

Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets (vs. Houston): The Texans’ last-ranked pass defense has made stars out of Jacksonville’s Mike Thomas and San Diego’s Seyi Ajirotutu the last two weeks.


Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh (vs. Oakland): The Raiders have only allowed two quarterbacks to top 200 yards.

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Tampa Bay (at San Francisco): The 49ers give up just 3.7 yards per carry and have not allowed a 100-yard rusher this season.

Mike Williams, WR, Seattle (at New Orleans):
The Saints allow 166.3 passing yards per game and have surrendered just six scores through the air, both league lows.


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