No longer raving over Baltimore Ravens defense

      October 18, 2012 @ 15:11:47 PDT

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Baltimore Ravens LB Ray Lewis
Sorry, Ray, but plenty of doubt here

The Baltimore Ravens defense looks like something out of Edgar Allan Poe's brain. They're showing tragic flaws similar to those of their rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers - chiefly age and injuries coming back to bite them. Their misery makes "The Pit and the Pendulum" look like a nursery rhyme.

Ray Lewis (triceps) hit the new Injured Reserve with low odds of returning this year, and emerging blanket CB Lardarius Webb (torn ACL in right knee) fell onto the traditional, season-killing variety. Ed Reed is gutting it out through a labrum tear in his shoulder. Haloti Ngata will continue suiting up despite an MCL tear in his knee.

They've actually survived for a while as a top-10 fantasy D (54.0 standard scoring points so far), but they're in grave danger of falling down. This ain't your older brother's Ravens D. And it won't be, even if Terrell Suggs rushes back to action from his torn Achilles' in the next few weeks. The pass rush hasn't been the same, and how much acceleration will Suggs have this year when he's on the field? It won't be enough to make Baltimore a lineup mainstay.

Maybe matchups with the Cleveland Browns (Week 9), Oakland Raiders (Week 10) and the San Diego Chargers (Week 12) will prove profitable, but other than that, it's a difficult flight path.

Time to buck legacy and look for other forgotten waiver options. (Never trade for a team defense. Never ever. Ever ever.) Many lightly owned alternatives (with accompanying remaining schedules) look better in the long haul.

Over the last month, the Miami Dolphins (Bye: 7) are tied with the team in the next graf for a league-high 4.0 QB takedowns per game. Cameron Wake can bolster any ranking in the category, of course, as noted by his 4.5-sack Week 4, his first registered occurrences of the season. Well, he got to the slinger once in each of the two subsequent games, and Miami took advantage of matchups in that time. Take out the upcoming dice rolls against the New England Patriots and Miami has an outside shot at top-5 DT numbers the rest of the way. They have a schedule for which it helps to plan ahead.

Start: @NYJ (Week 8), @IND (9), TEN (10), BUF (@11, 16), JAC (15)

Consider: SEA (12), @SF (14)

Avoid: NE (13, @17)

If Michael Brockers regains his footing, the St. Louis Rams (Bye: 9) could improve on their strong front and become a stealthy-dangerous unit. The DC-by-committee approach has worked well. They're a top-10 sacks team this year, and their defensive backfield is one of the most improved groups in the league, thanks to corners Cortland Finnegan and rookie Janoris Jenkins.

Some games from the middle bracket could easily turn into top-notch matchups at their respective points in the year. With their difficult month ahead and looming off-week, they'll sit on most wires for a bit, so you can scoop them up while no one's looking for your late-season push.

Start: NYJ (11), @ARI (12), @BUF (14)

Consider: SF (@10, 13), MIN (15), @TB (16), @SEA (17)

Avoid: GB (7), NE (8)

The Denver Broncos (Bye: 7) sit as a top-five squad with 18 sacks on the year. Their wild performance against a trigger-happy Philip Rivers in Week 6 inflated their overall success, but they got after him along the line and will continue using that as their strength. They'll eventually get the suspended D.J. Williams back to shore up the linebacker corps.

Start: @CAR (10), KC (@12, 17), @OAK (14), CLE (16)

Consider: @CIN (9), SD (11), TB (13), @BAL (15)

Avoid: NO (8)

Several more examples await....

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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