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2013 Fantasy Football Preview: D/ST    

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This may seem a bit light but I feel as though I am a bit behind the 8-ball for the Vortex, College Football starts one week from now, and there just aren’t that many good fantasy defenses this year. I have ranked eight teams that really stood out to me. After that you will be facing a disadvantage just riding one D/ST. The best strategy to play is if you can’t get one of the top teams then just play Defense Roulette. You may be better served even with one of these teams. Just hit the free agent market every week and pick the best matchup you can. But if you don’t like the idea of that then stay tuned and splurge a bit more for one of these teams…

8. Bears

The Good:

Devin Hester is due for a big season.

Last year they led the league in takeaways and touchdowns scored.

They should benefit from a better offense and more rest.

The Bad:

They play an awful lot of hire flying offenses.

They have changed coaches and mindsets and that may take away from they good they play together.

They lost Brian Urlacher.

The Skinny:

Last season they got a ton of points out of guys that I’m not sure I truly trust. Tim Jennings had a career year and Julius Peppers rose from the dead. With a new coaching tree, focused on getting the offense into gear (and the loss of a leader, no thanks to themselves, they probably deserve to suck) the defense may suffer. Devin Hester however may once again get overlooked after a down season and make up for some things.

7. Broncos

The Good:

Last season the Broncos had the second best fantasy defense.

They led the league in sacks with 52.

They especially excelled against rushing teams.

They only allowed five rushing touchdowns all season. Plus they signed Terrance Knighton,       re-signed Kevin Vickerson and drafted Sylvester Williams to help jam up the middle.

They also brought in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to help create an impossible to beat secondary alongside Champ Bailey.

Matt Prater has a big boot and will be kicking in Mile High Stadium for eight games.

Trindon Holliday returned both a punt and a kick for a touchdown last season.

The Bad:

The schedule will be more difficult

Champ Bailey may not be ready for the season opener thanks to a sprained foot.

Von Miller will be suspended for the first six games.

Elvis Dumervil isn’t with the team thanks to fax-gate

The Skinny:

The Broncos’ D scares me a bit. The early injuries are a bad omen for the season. Given the dynamic passing offense the defense may get complacent early in the season and with the Ravens, Giants, Eagles and Cowboys on the schedule in the first six weeks that is tough to score without some of your leaders. They should sure up later on in the year if they can get, and stay healthy, but deciding to really ride them may cost you.

6. Cincinnati

The Good:

51 sacks last year.

Aggressive defense.

As a rookie the former Alabama Crimson Tide, Dre Kirkpatrick was injured all last season and should have an impact this year.

An offense that should be better.

The introduction of James Harrison.

The Bad:

Tougher schedule.

More pressure.

Aggression can also fail, miserably.

While a threat, nowhere near a guarantee that they score at least one special teams touchdown.

Kicker Mike Nugent isn’t exactly a fantasy stud.

Still big questions in their secondary.

The Skinny:

I feel like the bad outweighs the good in this instance but I just can’t move them back any farther. Denver makes me too nervous. I feel like if you let someone else grab the Broncos they might be available for you by the time Week 6 happens. The Bengals are a bit better on the whole this year but again you may find them available come Week 6ish. They open with games @ Chi, vs Pitt, vs GB, @ Cle and vs NE. If you think even for a second that 99% of Bengals owners will not drop them after facing one of those five difficult games then you are going to lose your league anyway so just trust me. If you draft them plan on carrying a second defense to play roulette with them early. But they do play the Bills, Jets, Dolphins, Browns (at home obviously), Chargers and the Colts (at home), after that brutal open.

Tangent: Yes I wrote at home for Browns and Colts because I think that makes a big difference in that game. The rest don’t fully matter because their opponents are inferior, at least in my, not so humble opinion.

I feel like they have enough young talent with enough speed to make an impact on your season. But only if you are willing to sacrifice a roster spot for them early in the year.

5. Rams

The Good:

They tied Denver with the most sacks one year ago with 52.

Tavon Austin new in the return game.

Greg the Leg kicks in a dome.

Chris Long and Robert Quinn attacking the passer from the outside.

The young potential stud, Janoris Jenkins may be left on an island.

Jeff Fisher’s experience.

The Bad:

They have to fix the run game.

They are young.

Tough schedule.

May not have much offense to help them.

The Skinny:

This is a big time gamble. The Rams play in probably the toughest division in the NFL yet they are part of the reason that would make that true. Their run game was so bad last year mostly because guys like Quinn and Long just tried to get to the QB on the outside, freeing up the inside run game. That is a double downer given that they need to fix that deficiency so they will need to stay home more. Meaning their sack totals will probably go down hurting your fantasy team. However maybe that can positively affect their points allowed.

They do have one of the better young kickers in the league and he will be kicking in a dome in more than eight games this year.

The biggest help this defense could receive is if the young offense can give them a rest. They should all benefit from Jeff Fisher’s experience and a full year of it under their belts. Jeff has a history of connecting with younger teams and they could really gel this year.

As far as possible touchdowns for riding this team… as a rookie Janoris Jenkins had three pick sixes and now with the dynamic, possible Percy Harvin 2.0, in the return game, they could explode with +6’s for you.

4. Steelers

The Good:

Young Talent.

Recovering from an “off year” in which they only allowed 19.6ppg.

Missed Polamalu early and often last season.

They get to play the Jets, Bills, and Dolphins with only the Jets being on the road.

The Bad:

The Steelers were just 25th in takeaways last season.

Early bye week.

Plays New England and Green Bay on the road as well as high scoring Detroit and Chicago at home.

Lost James Harrison.

The Skinny:

Their young talent may not be totally proven but if you don’t trust the Steelers to post a great defense again you are an idiot. What’s not to like? Hood, Keisel and Heyward (at DE), Timmons, Foote, Woodley (at LB), Taylor, Allen, Polamalu and Clarke (at DB). Maybe they have a weakness at NT but they have a lot of faith in their crew, and I trust the Steelers on defensive decisions.

The Steelers are going to once again lock teams down and with Polamalu back they should force more turnovers and score more points.

The return game also features more potential with Emmanuel Sanders returning kicks and Antonio Brown once again returning punts. Both of whom are capable of taking it to the house. Expect more than one return touchdown from this special teams, this season, from this team.

3. Houston

The Good:

They signed Ed Reed.

JJ Watt is brilliant.

Cushing is back.

Nice schedule.

Keshawn Martin may be good.

The Bad:

A few possibly rough weeks.

No proven kicker.

Keshawn Martin may be bad.

Antonio Smith suspended for Week 1 and is now on watch.

The Skinny:

The Texans can score points in an abundance of ways. They can get to the quarterback and Jonathan Joseph and Ed Reed should be able to capitalize on the poor quarterbacks. Keshawn Martin ranked 5th in average punt return and this year will be trusted with both returning duties. He should return at least one for a touchdown and maybe that’s not the type of advice you are looking for in a #3 team trust me in saying that anything he does will be gravy.

2. 49ers

The Good:

They are part of a clear cut top two.

They were in the top 4 of passing and rushing yards allowed, last year.

Also last year, they were 2nd in points allowed.

As good as they were they were young, grew a year, and brought in Nnamdi Asomugha.

LaMichael James in the return game.

The Bad:

Much tougher schedule.

Target on their back.

They have lost Dashon Goldson.

The Skinny:

With LaMichael returning both kicks their return game could be ignited while their defense goes along with business as usual. They are dominant and can stop even the best of foes. This is one of the rare teams that will allow very few points while actually putting points on the scoreboard with their defense and special teams.

1. Seahawks

The Good:

Great schedule.

Very strong at returning kicks.

Stronger defensive line.

Defensive backs still stout.

Offense should be one year older and one year better.

The Bad:

Percy Harvin may not play… that’s all I have.

The Skinny:

This is the best defensive football team on the planet. They were probably just that last season but now they have added Cliff Avril to their defensive line and will get Chris Clemons back. Not to mention this defense is especially young and buying into their coaches mentality. To be honest they might be so good that a keeper selection may be worthy depending on your league format.

The offense can move the sticks kill clock and give the defense rest. If Percy Harvin can get healthy he will make that happen even more efficiently and he may help the return game as well, not that Will Blackmon and Golden Tate will need help given their ability to create holes and make plays. The Seahawks are the cream of the crop, the perfect storm. If you have them hold on tight and ride them out.


Friday, August 23, 2013

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