FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Team Defense Rankings: Week 1
John Tuvey
September 5, 2012
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Rank Team Opponent Comments
TIER 1
1 Texans vs. Dolphins Wade Phillips is playing chess; in his first NFL start, with a rag-tag band of receivers, Ryan Tannehill is barely playing checkers.
2 Lions vs. Rams No team scored more defensive touchdowns last season than the Lions, and they open 2012 feasting on one of the league's shakiest offensive lines
3 Bills at Jets The Jets served up a league-high seven defensive TDs a year ago; adding Tim Tebow isn't likely to help improve that stat.
4 Bears vs. Colts A pressure defense at home against a rookie quarterback in his first pro start--and oh yeah, Devin Hester in the return game.
5 Seahawks at Cardinals John Skelton is down yet another offensive tackle; time to turn the Seahawks pass rush loose.
TIER 2
6 Cardinals vs. Seahawks It's not so much facing Russell Wilson in his first NFL start as it is what Patrick Peterson can do with the ball in his hands.
7 Packers vs. 49ers The Pack's 31 INTs last season led the NFL; hosting Alex Smith is a nice way to begin defense of that title.
8 Jets vs. Bills Rex Ryan still knows his way around a defense; if the preseason is any indication Revis & Co. may have to create their own scoring opportunities.
9 Eagles at Browns Philly doesn't blitz like they used to, but they'll bring more than enough heat to unsettle a very young Cleveland offense.
10 Giants vs. Cowboys Few teams can bring the relentless heat like the defending champs; Dallas will learn early if moving Tyron Smith to Tony Romo's blind side was a wise choice.
11 Raiders vs. Chargers Philip Rivers is down several weapons and a couple key offensive linemen; you know the Raiders are going to get after him in prime time in the Black Hole.
12 49ers at Packers The Niners sport a talented defense, but even they aren't likely to turn Aaron Rodgers over in Lambeau--not enough to be a real fantasy helper, anyway.
13 Vikings vs. Jaguars No team recorded more sacks last season than the Vikings, and last we checked Blaine Gabbert was a wee bit skittish in the pocket.
14 Ravens vs. Bengals So long as Ed Reed and Ray Lewis are still on the field, the Ravens are still a formidable fantasy defense.
TIER 3
15 Chargers at Raiders Carson Palmer was prone to turnovers in the preseason; maybe he's still unsure what color jersey he's throwing to.
16 Steelers at Broncos The Steelers are down a safety when they travel to Denver, and they won't be facing Tim Tebow this time around either.
17 Saints vs. Redskins Another rookie quarterback making his pro debut; even if there isn't a pool of money the Saints have plenty of incentive to get after RG3.
18 Jaguars at Vikings Christian Ponder made some very questionable decisions last season; there's no guarantee he's done making them, either.
19 Patriots at Titans The Pats are still a bit undermanned on the defensive side of the ball, but their offense applies enough pressure that mistakes will be made.
20 Cowboys at Giants Eli threw just one pick in 80 throws against Dallas last year--a far cry from the five INTs he served up to the Cowboys in 2010. 
21 Falcons at Chiefs Atlanta is looking to its offense to apply the pressure and its pass rush to handle the mop-up; easier said than done in Arrowhead.
22 Panthers at Buccaneers Carolina has just one D/ST TD in its last 22 games, and it's been three full seasons since they tallied such a score in a division game.
22 Broncos vs. Steelers Peyton allowed Indy to apply pass rushing pressure and generate defensive fantasy points; can he do the same for Miller and Dumerville in Denver?
23 Bengals at Ravens Cincy generated just one turnover in last season's series; tough to see them going into Baltimore and turning that tide the other direction.
24 Buccaneers vs. Panthers Tampa Bay scored three defensive TDs over the final six weeks of the season. Can the new regime keep the momentum going?
25 Browns vs. Eagles Michael Vick has been known to turn the ball over a time or two; mix in Josh Cribbs in the return game and we're sayin' there's a chance.
TIER 4
27 Colts at Bears The defensive changeover will take time, but don't completely write off what Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney could do to Jay Cutler.
28 Chiefs vs. Falcons If the Falcons' offense is as ready to explode as everyone seems to think, you don't want to throw the Chiefs' D in front of that bus.
29 Rams at Lions Jeff Fisher will have his Rams playing hard, and the Lions' offensive line remains in need of some upgrading.
30 Titans vs. Patriots The Titans lost return ace Marc Mariani and are facing Tom Brady; neither add up to much in the way of defensive fantasy points.
31 Dolphins at Texans With Houston pound, pound, pounding the ball on the ground there won't be many opportunities for the Miami defense to make plays.
32 Redskins at Saints It's not as if the Redskins defense is going to roll over for Drew Brees and the Saints, but for fantasy purposes they may as well.

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