THE CHEAP SEATS Fantasy Football Preview, Defense

Posted: August 19, 2010 by The Cheap Seat Fan in Gaming, NFL

In the final installment of our fantasy football preview, we look at team defenses, a crucial part of any team’s output. The right defense is a steady week to week contributor that can make a huge difference in how your team plays out. However, it is also one of the most volatile positions to draft for, as one with a high value is worth the mid round pick, but the vast majority are worth waiting well into the late rounds to make the selection, because its contribution won’t be significant enough to make a vast difference in your success or failure.

It’s also critical to understand the difference between the hype and the reality of the defense. There are good defenses that consistently play well, but don’t put up huge stats (i.e. Indianapolis Colts and Oakland Raiders). That doesn’t pay off well in fantasy play, you need stat hounds that play on good limiting defenses (i.e. DeMarcus Ware in Dallas, Charles Woodson in Green Bay). Finding the balance is key and not wasting the high pick on reputation.

I don’t suggest taking any defense before the 10th round, and then only the elite units should go. In my estimation in 2010 that counts among only 4 to 5 teams out of 30. If you miss out on the early, pick don’t fret, just wait and grab one of the other solid mid range units. Most likely you used your earlier pick to create better depth and impact at another position, so the lost should be a break even. However, the bonus of landing a premier team is undeniable and much like a kicker, can make the small difference that pays out big.

Defenses

Bart Scott leads a Jet defense that had few holes in '09...and improved for this year.

1. New York Jets

–          2009: Avg. Points vs: 12.8, 32 Sacks, 17 Interceptions, 14 Fumbles Recovered, 3 TD

–          Key Players: Darrelle Revis-CB, Bart Scott-LB, Kris Jenkins-DT, David Harris-LB, Jason Taylor-LB, Antonio Cromartie-CB

–          Summary: Rex Ryan’s arrival in New York last year shot the Jets all the way into the AFC Championship game, led by this unit, which could improve on all its numbers across the board. It has a all-around approach and the pass rush will get plenty of sacks and feed the secondary which features the NFL’s premier coverage threat in Revis. Trend: Upwards

2. Minnesota Vikings

–          2009: Avg. Points vs:  18.0, 48 Sacks, 11 Interceptions, 13 Fumbles Recovered, 1 TD

–          Key Players: Jared Allen-DE, Pat Williams-DT, Kevin Williams-DT, Antonio Winfield-CB

–          Summary: The Vikings boast the league’s best defensive line. They constantly apply pressure to the quarterback and led the NFL in sacks in 2009. Their weakness is in the secondary, and they don’t get many interceptions or touchdowns as a unit. Trend: Steady

3. Pittsburgh Steelers

–          2009: Avg. Points vs: 19.1, 47 Sacks, 12 Interceptions, 10 Fumbles Recovered, 3 TD

–          Key Players: Troy Polamalu-S, James Harrison-LB, LaMarr Woodley-LB, Larry Foote-LB

–          Summary: They are still amongst the elite pass rushing units in football. However, they still finished strong and enter this season with the heart and soul of their unit, Polamalu, back after missing the majority of ’09. His presence alone will improve every number the defense displays in 2010. Trend: Upwards

4. San Francisco 49ers

–          2009: Avg. Points vs: 17.1, 44 Sacks, 18 Interceptions, 15 Fumbles Recovered, 4 TD

–          Key Players: Patrick Willis-LB, Manny Lawson-LB, Nate Clements-CB, Takeo Spikes-LB, Aubrayo Franklin-DT

–          Summary: A versatile and attacking defense, the 49ers are the fast growing unit in the league. Led by the do everything effort of Patrick Willis, the 49ers play in division with several shaky and young offenses and should be able to parlay this into another great season. Trend: Upwards

The 49er defense will go as far as Patrick Willis carries them....and he is still reaching his potential. Scary.

5. Green Bay Packers

–          2009: Avg. Points vs: 17.8, 37 sacks, 30 Interceptions, 10 Fumbles Recovered, 4 TD

–          Key Players: Charles Woodson-CB, AJ Hawk-LB, Nick Collins-S, Clay Matthews-LB, Nick Barnett-LB

–          Summary: The elite turnover defense in the NFL over the last two years. They lead the NFL in interceptions and their young linebacker corps is steadily improving. The loss of Aaron Kampman could lower their sack total, unless BJ Raji fills the gap and the age of their coverage unit is bound to become an issue before long in the interception total. Trend: Downwards

6. Baltimore Ravens

–          2009: Avg. Points vs: 16.3, 32 Sacks, 22 Interceptions, 10 Fumbles Recovered, 3 TD

–          Key Players: Ray Lewis-LB, Ed Reed-S, Terrell Suggs-LB, Haloti Ngata-NT

–          Summary: They have a decline image based only in the fact they are still not at the complete shutout level they were at for so many years. They still force an exceptional number of turnovers and give up very few points often. The health of Ed Reed may decrease the capabilities of this unit, as he may miss the first 2 months of the season. Trend: Steady

With Ray Lewis and (eventually) Ed Reed, the Ravens will be a stingy, brutal unit as usual.

7. New York Giants

–          2009: Avg. Points vs: 26.3, 32 sacks, 13 interceptions, 11 Fumbles Recovered, 3 TD

–          Key Players: Osi Umenyiora-DE, Justin Tuck-DE, Corey Webster-CB, Antrel Rolle-S, Keith Bullock-LB, Jason Pierre-Paul-DE

–          Summary: They overhauled much of their defense, bringing in Rolle and Bullock, and get Umenyiora back from injury this year. This could be one of the premier pass rush units in football this year and a greatly improved pass defense as well. Trend: Upwards

8. Cincinnati Bengals

–          2009: Avg. Points vs: 18.8, 34 Sacks, 16 Interceptions, 10 Fumbles Recovered, 2 TD

–          Key Players: Leon Hall-CB, Johnathan Joseph-CB, Antwan Odom-DE, Rey Maualuga-LB

–          Summary: Cincinnati comes from everywhere and has a playmaker at every position; there are very few defenses that have more options or fewer holes. They are a young overall unit and should continue to get better this season again. Trend: Upwards

9. Philadelphia Eagles

–          2009: Avg. Points vs: 20.6, 44 Sacks, 25 Interceptions, 13 Fumbles Recovered 4 TD

–          Key Players: Trent Cole-DE, Asante Samuel-CB, Ellis Hobbs-CB, Brandon Graham-DE

–          Summary: The Eagle defense could be on the field a lot this season, depending on how the offense adjusts to their new leader and direction. This could be good and bad, if it fatigues from overuse, but they still have an overall solid unit that may improve on its already impressive sack total with rookie Brandon Graham. Trend: Steady

10. Dallas Cowboys

–          2009: Avg. Points vs: 15.2, 42 Sacks, 11 Interceptions, 10 Fumbles Recovered, 1 TD

–          Key Players: DeMarcus Ware-LB, Terence Newman-CB, Jay Ratliff-DT, Michael Jenkins-CB

–          Summary: They have a diverse amount of talent everywhere on the field, but being able to have DeMarcus Ware, who fills the defensive stat sheet up by himself, makes this team worth obtaining. Newman and Jenkins are one of the best cornerback tandems in football as well. Trend: Steady

While the offense in Big D gets the headlines, the Terence Newman/DeMarcus Ware lead a D that could make the difference.

Top Sleeper Options: New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts

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