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2010 Player Rankings: Team Defenses
Updated: September 9, 2010   Print this page Print 
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Arizona Cardinals YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 19
Keeper: 19
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 142 18 11 36   1 7
2008 127 13 17 31   1 5
2009 113 21 8 43   1 1
Avg 127 17 12 37 0 1 4
Proj 101 17 10 35   1 2

The Cardinals had become a decent fantasy defense over the past few years, scoring three defensive TDs in 2008 and ranking among the league leaders in both sacks and interceptions last season. However, three of their top four tacklers—Karlos Dansby, Bryant McFadden, and Antrel Rolle—will be wearing different uniforms this year. The secondary added Kerry Rhodes from the Jets, while veterans Joey Porter and Paris Lenon join the linebacking crew; despite the influx of experience, draft picks Dan Williams and Daryl Washington may still be asked to contribute immediately. With so many moving parts and relatively little upside, the Cards are the kind of defense you pick up for a spot start during a bye week as opposed to one you count on all season long. There’s talent in the return game in LaRod Stephens-Howling, Steve Breaston, and rookie Andre Roberts; if your league rewards special teams play, bump them up accordingly.

Atlanta Falcons YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 23
Keeper: 23
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 85 16 11 25     1
2008 96 10 8 34 1 1 3
2009 102 15 13 28     3
Avg 94 14 11 29 0 0 2
Proj 91 16 11 30     1

The Falcons clearly aren’t there yet defensively, but three defensive TDs last year would indicate they’re heading in the right direction. Atlanta added a couple of playmakers on that side of the ball in free-agent signee Dunta Robinson and first-round pick Sean Weatherspoon, but aging John Abraham is the only semblance of a pass rush the team currently has to offer. Eric Weems racked up solid yardage as a return man, but the Falcons have produced only one return touchdown in the past three seasons.

Baltimore Ravens YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 4
Keeper: 4
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 3%
2007 102 17 6 32   3 1
2008 144 26 8 34 3   6
2009 120 22 10 32   1 3
Avg 122 22 8 33 1 1 3
Proj 130 22 12 36 2 1 3

It’ll be extremely difficult for blockers to get to Ray Lewis now, what with roughly one third of a ton of defensive lineman (Haloti Ngata and Terrence McCoy) to get through first. The Ravens also added playmaking linebacker Sergio Kindle to a unit that already includes Jarret Johnson (6.5 sacks) and Terrell Suggs (4.5 sacks in an injury-shortened season), and a healthy Ed Reed is expected to return to centerfield in the Baltimore secondary. Over the past two seasons only the Packers have more interceptions or defensive touchdowns than the Ravens, and those two things aren’t unrelated; Baltimore loves to turn the tables on a pick and bring it all the way back the other way. The Ravens are consistently one of the first fantasy defenses off the board, but you know what you’re getting—and you won’t be disappointed. The return game adds little to the mix, though Donte‘ Stallworth could handle punt return duties and provide a bit of a spark.

Buffalo Bills YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 21
Keeper: 21
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 122 18 13 26 2 2 3
2008 98 10 12 24   2 3
2009 110 28 5 32     2
Avg 110 19 10 27 1 1 3
Proj 93 18 8 28   1 2

First, the good: Aaron Schobel racked up 10 sacks and NFL interception leader Jarius Byrd was the top non-roided-up defensive rookie in the league, keying a secondary that picked off 28 passes. The bad was just about everything else, as Buffalo recovered just five fumbles and regressed in most other key defensive fantasy stat categories. Dwan Edwards should help up front, and there’s talent in the secondary alongside Byrd, but any optimism has to be tempered by the departure of special teams guru Bobby April. Buffalo was always good for a couple return TDs under April’s watch, but they came up empty last year and April was washed out in the coaching purge. Roscoe Parrish, Fred Jackson, and Leodis McKelvin are talented return men, but it’s tough to see the special teams unit bouncing back sans April.

Carolina Panthers YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 22
Keeper: 22
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 97 14 17 23     2
2008 99 12 13 37     2
2009 115 22 15 31 2   1
Avg 104 16 15 30 1 0 2
Proj 91 15 12 29 1   1

On the bright side, the Panthers still have a solid linebacking corps led by Thomas Davis and Jon Beason and a talented secondary with Richard marshall and Chris Gamble, so they could extend their run of three straight seasons in the top 10 in fumble recoveries and build on last season’s 22 INTs. And even when Julius Peppers was around they weren’t piling up copious sacks, so maybe he won’t be missed. Still, remove an impact player like Peppers from the Panthers defense and tough to see them improving their fantasy production. Don’t expect a boost from the special teams; Carolina hasn’t tallied a kick or punt return touchdown since Steve Smith and He Hate Me turned the trick—in 2003.

Chicago Bears YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 8
Keeper: 8
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2007 157 16 17 41 1 6 2
2008 136 22 10 28 1 1 6
2009 111 13 15 35 1 2 1
Avg 135 17 14 35 1 3 3
Proj 113 17 15 37 1 2 2

The Bears have struggled to get to the passer the last two seasons, but the offseason addition of prize free agent Julius Peppers should alleviate that problem—unless, of course, he’s bitten by the same injury bug that cost Brian Urlacher most of last season and annually seems to claim large chunks of the secondary. If Lovie Smith is able to get everyone to the field in one piece, the Chicago defense is chock full of playmakers—from Peppers and Urlacher to Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs, and Zackary Bowman. The numbers form the past two seasons don’t match up with the talent (only one defensive touchdown last year), but there’s no doubt this group has the capacity to post elite fantasy defense stats. The same can be said for the return game, which has produced just three touchdowns the past two seasons combined after busting off six in 2007. So long as Devin Hester and Johnny Knox are allowed to hold on to their return game duties, there’s some serious upside to the Chicago D/ST unit.

Cincinnati Bengals YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 18
Keeper: 18
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 122 19 15 22 1 1 4
2008 83 12 12 17     3
2009 108 19 6 34   1 3
Avg 104 17 11 24 0 1 3
Proj 102 18 12 30   1 2

The Bengals’ run-stuffing defense drew most of the attention last year, but it’s worth noting that Cincy also tallied three defensive touchdowns for the second straight season—one of only nine teams to do so. The Bengals’ defensive stars—Antwan Odom, Keith Rivers, the cornerback tandem of Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall—aren’t exactly fantasy names, but it’s tough to quibble with the results. If rookie Carlos Dunlap can help Odom generate a pass rush, the Bengals might move from mid-level fantasy defense to legitimate fantasy helper. The return game could also provide a boost, with Bernard Scott, Quan Cosby, and rookie Jordan Shipley all slated for duty.

Cleveland Browns YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 25
Keeper: 25
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 108 17 10 28 1 3 1
2008 0            
2009 0            
Avg 108 17 10 28 1 3 1
Proj 86 16 9 30 1 3 1

Twin brother Rex gets all the publicity, but Rob Ryan may have done the better job with his defense last year in taking the Browns from a woeful 18 sacks to 40 in 2009. Sadly, the Browns generated just 19 turnovers and no defensive touchdowns, so their fantasy value was negligible. Worse, Kamerion Wimbley (6.5 sacks) was traded to Oakland and Matt Roth (4.0 sacks) wants a trade, so the Browns will need to find new ways to generate pressure. While the defense doesn’t offer much of fantasy import, if your league includes special teams touchdowns you need to vault the Browns into your top 10 on the strength of Josh Cribbs and his four TDs last year.

Dallas Cowboys YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 9
Keeper: 9
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2007 128 19 10 46     4
2008 117 8 14 59 1 1 1
2009 102 11 10 42   2 1
Avg 116 13 11 49 0 1 2
Proj 112 12 13 51   1 2

Over the past three seasons no team has more sacks than the Cowboys, and yet they’ve failed to translate that pressure into either INTs (28th and 30th the past two seasons) or defensive scores (just one each in 2008 and 2009). The draft didn’t produced the expected help in the secondary, though Dallas did land the eventual replacement for the aging Keith Brooking in Sean Lee. So unless you see a significant upgrade somewhere in the Cowboys’ returning secondary, you’re bound to get more of the same in 2010: plenty of sacks from Demarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, and Jay Ratliff, but not a whole bunch more help with your defensive fantasy scoring. If Felix Jones and Patrick Crayton remain in their roles as return men, special teams scoring would bump up the Dallas D/ST a notch; however, Jones might be the ‘Boys’ starting running back and Crayton may not have a roster spot.

Denver Broncos YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 24
Keeper: 24
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 111 14 15 33 1 1 2
2008 64 6 7 26     2
2009 123 17 13 39   2 2
Avg 99 12 12 33 0 1 2
Proj 89 12 12 36   1 1

The Broncos still have Elvis Dumervil, at least for now, and have scored a couple defensive TDs each of the past three seasons. The addition of Brian Dawkins contributed to Denver seeing an increase in the turnovers they created, and the Broncos’ 3-4 defense is starting to take shape with Jamal Williams and Justin Bannan up front. Still, there’s nothing here to suggest a major spike in fantasy numbers, and aside from one big day Eddie Royal didn’t offer much in the return game last year so you can’t expect a boost there, either.

Detroit Lions YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 20
Keeper: 20
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 139 17 18 37 1 1 4
2008 78 4 16 30 1   1
2009 92 9 13 26 2   3
Avg 103 10 16 31 1 0 3
Proj 93 10 14 31 1   2

Signs of life in Detroit last season: the Lions led the league in safeties, tied for fourth in fumble recoveries, and scored three defensive touchdowns. Add Kyle Vanden Bosch, two new starting corners, and first-round pick Ndamukong Suh to standout sophomore safety Louis Delmas and there’s almost cause for optimism. They’ll need to generate more of a pass rush—only three teams had fewer sacks last year—but when’s the last time you were actually paying attention to Detroit’s defense? There’s young talent in the return game even if Jahvid Best is too busy as a running back to chip in; keep an eye on Derrick Williams and Aaron Brown.

Green Bay Packers YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 1
Keeper: 1
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 3%
2007 128 19 9 36   2 4
2008 137 22 6 27   2 7
2009 143 30 10 37 1   4
Avg 136 24 8 33 0 1 5
Proj 128 24 10 35 1 1 4

Few if any teams hawk like the Packers; their 30 INTs led the NFL last year, and they’ve finished third and sixth in the two previous seasons. And with the ball in their hands, the Green Bay defense turns positively offensive; over the past three seasons no team has more than the Pack’s 15 defensive touchdowns. Imagine how good their secondary could be if they started generating a real pass rush. The downside to Green Bay’s defense is that last year’s defensive POY Charles Woodson and opposite corner Al Harris are 33 and 35, respectively, with 26 seasons of NFL experience between them. There are other playmakers in the Packer secondary—Nick Collins, Tramon Williams—and Clay Matthews is an emerging star, but just how much can you trust a defense that gave up 51 points with its season on the line? If the points allowed don’t concern you, Green Bay’s defense will generate plenty of its own scoring to warrant serious fantasy consideration. The Pack didn’t return a kick for a touchdown last year after posting two in each of the previous seasons; with the likes of Williams, Will Blackmon, and Jordy Nelson handling those chores, a bounceback would seem to be in order.

Houston Texans YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 26
Keeper: 26
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 125 11 15 31   4 3
2008 87 12 10 25   2 1
2009 106 14 13 30 2 1 2
Avg 106 12 13 29 1 2 2
Proj 85 12 12 29 1 1 1

The Texans have three defensive TDs in two of the past three seasons, but until last year they hadn’t done much more to help the fantasy bottom line. In 2009 they stepped up their turnover take, and the hope is that first-round pick Kareem Jackson can replace Dunta Robinson to continue that trend. Mario Williams’ sack total slipped again, to 9.0 last year, and he still needs more help than Antonio Smith has been providing. Houston’s return game has provided seven special teams scores over the past three years, matching the defense, so if your league’s scoring system credits D/ST you might want to upgrade the Texans slightly.

Indianapolis Colts YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 16
Keeper: 16
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 124 22 15 28 2 1 2
2008 112 15 11 30     5
2009 104 16 10 34   1 2
Avg 113 18 12 31 1 1 3
Proj 105 17 12 35   1 2

Yes, Indy has a defense, and while they haven’t done much of fantasy note the past two seasons they have scored six defensive touchdowns in that span. You’d think a lineup that includes Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis would get more sacks and create more turnovers; maybe the addition of first-round pick Jerry Hughes will revitalize a pass rush that has barely averaged two sacks a game over the past two seasons. A full 16 games from one-time defensive POY Bob Sanders would also help generate better fantasy numbers, but don’t get your hopes up; Sanders has missed 24 games the past two seasons and played in more than six games just twice in his six NFL seasons. Indy’s return game adds nothing to the D/ST fantasy bottom line, either.

Jacksonville Jaguars YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 30
Keeper: 30
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 119 20 9 37   1 3
2008 83 13 4 29 1   3
2009 64 15 10 14      
Avg 89 16 8 27 0 0 2
Proj 81 15 9 26     1

Used to be the Jaguars were built on defense, but after last season’s abysmal showing—last in sacks, just 25 turnovers created, zero defensive or special teams touchdowns—Jack Del Rio decided to go back to the drawing board. Enter first-round pick Tyson Alualu and free agent pass-rusher Aaron Kampman, along with middle linebacker Kirk Morrison. It’s clear the Jags won’t be reascending to that lofty defensive perch any time soon, and until they start demonstrating things have turned around they’re nothing but a dim blip on the fringe of the fantasy radar.

Kansas City Chiefs YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 28
Keeper: 28
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 91 14 9 37 1   1
2008 86 13 16 10     3
2009 104 15 13 22 1 1 3
Avg 94 14 13 23 1 0 2
Proj 82 12 10 33   1 1

The Chiefs have done a decent job of forcing fumbles, and they’ve also scored three defensive TDs in each of the past two seasons. However, aside from first-round pick Eric Berry this is essentially the same personnel group that has produced just 32 sacks in two seasons. Romeo Crennel takes over as coordinator, but until Kansas City has the players to make their 3-4 tick it’s tough to get too excited about them as a fantasy entity. How much the return game contributes is tied directly to how often they let Jamaal Charles handle those chores.

Miami Dolphins YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 11
Keeper: 11
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 92 14 8 30   1 2
2008 114 18 12 40 1   2
2009 110 15 6 44   2 2
Avg 105 16 9 38 0 1 2
Proj 109 17 10 42     2

Miami’s defense has hung around the fringe of fantasy relevancy the last two seasons, ranking in the top six in sacks each year and scoring a pair of defensive touchdowns in both 2008 and 2009. Looking to take a step forward, the Dolphins used seven of their eight draft picks on the defensive side of the ball, adding 3-4 end Jared Odrick and linebackers Koa Misi and A.J. Edds to last year’s haul, bookend corners Vontae Davis and Sean Smith. DC Mike Nolan loves to bring the heat, and pressure usually translates into turnovers. If you’re looking for a team to make that move from fantasy helper to fantasy difference-maker, Miami certainly has the elements in place.

Minnesota Vikings YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 5
Keeper: 5
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 3%
2007 158 15 17 38 1 1 8
2008 125 12 13 45 3 1 3
2009 116 11 13 48 1 2 1
Avg 133 13 14 44 2 1 4
Proj 120 12 16 45 2 2 3

The Williams Wall, thanks to the maze that is our courts’ appeals process, will return intact; playoff hero Ray Edwards will be back, perhaps on a one-year deal looking for a payday; and Jared Allen’s mullet should grow back after he sheared it for his summer wedding. That’s the core of the Vikings defense, meaning that once again they’ll be tough to run on and get plenty of sacks. However, Minnesota has seen its defensive TD total decline each of the past two seasons; to reverse that trend, they’ll need improved linebacker play—perhaps from E.J. Henderson, slated to return after breaking his leg last December. The secondary also needs to step up its play after finishing in the bottom five in the league in INTs last year. Cedric Griffin may not be ready for the start of the season after tearing his ACL in the NFC title game, which means Minnesota will need immediate contributions from veteran Lito Sheppard and rookie Chris Cook. What the Vikings have been missing in defensive TDs, 2009 ROY Percy Harvin has helped them find in the return game.

New England Patriots YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 14
Keeper: 14
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 157 19 12 47   2 6
2008 81 14 8 31   1  
2009 105 18 10 31     3
Avg 114 17 10 36 0 1 3
Proj 106 17 11 36 1 1 2

Three years ago the Patriots were serious fantasy helpers, ranking among the league leaders in sacks and picks while scoring six defensive touchdowns and two more via the return game. In 2008 New England fell off dramatically, and while they scored three defensive touchdowns last year they failed to dent the leader board in any defensive statistical category. The Patriots have been trying to get younger—this year’s crop includes Devin McCourty, Brandon Spikes, and Jermaine Cunningham—but they still need the likes of Derrick Burgess and Tully Banta-Cain to contribute in order to return to fantasy relevancy. Wes Welker’s injury hurts the return game as well as the passing game.

New Orleans Saints YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 7
Keeper: 7
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2007 110 13 10 32 1   5
2008 92 15 7 28 1 3  
2009 167 26 13 35   1 8
Avg 123 18 10 32 1 1 4
Proj 117 20 12 34 1 2 3

Add to the list of things that went right for the Saints last year an opportunistic defense that not only created the second most takeaways but took a league-high eight of them to the house—a whopping eight more than the previous season. Give plenty of credit to DC Gregg Williams and his aggressive style, but you have to wonder if he’ll be able to create the same magic without Charles Grant (second on the team in sacks) and Scott Fujita (seventh in tackles, second in fumble recoveries). The secondary should get even faster with first-round pick Patrick Robinson joining a talented group that already includes Tracy Porter, but unless the Saints get pass-rushing contributions from Alex Brown and Bobby McCray those numbers may start trending in the wrong direction. Reggie Bush is still a threat in the return game, but he was merely ordinary in that capacity last year with a long of just 23 yards.

New York Giants YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 10
Keeper: 10
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2007 139 15 10 53   1 5
2008 110 17 5 42 3   3
2009 104 13 11 32   1 3
Avg 118 15 9 42 1 1 4
Proj 111 16 11 43 1 1 2

The wheels fell off for the Giants’ vaunted pass rush last season, yet they still managed to find a way to score three defensive touchdowns. Big Blue’s offseason focus came on the defense, where they drafted Jason Pierre-Paul and Chad Jones and signed Antrel Rolle to address the front and back ends of their pass defense. If the Giants are able to avoid the injuries that blew up their defensive line last season, and if Pierre-Paul is as big a pass-rushing sensation as his handstand video on YouTube was, then the sack numbers should tick back up. And better secondary play, especially at the safety position, should make harried passers pay more dearly than they have in the past. Domenik Hixon doesn’t get the ink of other return men, but he has the skills to bump up the Giants’ D/ST unit in leagues where returns matter.

New York Jets YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 3
Keeper: 3
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 3%
2007 101 15 6 29   3 2
2008 137 14 16 41   1 5
2009 112 17 14 32   1 2
Avg 117 15 12 34 0 2 3
Proj 122 18 15 39   1 3

It’s easy to anoint Rex Ryan as Gang Green’s savior, but fantasy-wise the Jets actually took a slight step backwards in 2009; to wit, they had more sacks, more fumble recovers, and more than twice as many defensive touchdowns in 2008 as they did under Ryan last season. However, the step backwards was a small one, and the Jets’ D was still pretty doggone good paced by all-world corner Darrelle Revis and the linebacking corps of Calvin Pace, Bart Scott, David Harriss and Bryan Thomas. With a year of experience in Ryan’s schemes, the addition of Jason Taylor to the pass rush, and upgrades such as Antonio Cromartie and first-round pick Kyle Wilson to the secondary, the Jets will be even more formidable in 2010. If Ryan is able to squeeze anything out of former first-round pick Vernon Gholston, being converted from linebacker to end, they could be downright dominant. The Jets are also excited about using Brad Smith more in the return game after the versatile slash-type player averaged 31 yards per kickoff return on just 10 opportunities.

Oakland Raiders YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 27
Keeper: 27
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 93 18 8 27 1   2
2008 114 16 8 32 2 5  
2009 77 8 12 37      
Avg 95 14 9 32 1 2 1
Proj 84 12 11 34 1 1  

Aside from Nnamdi Asomugha nothing on the Raiders’ defense has stood out of late, and shutdown corners really don’t bring much to the fantasy table. Adding Kamerion Wimbley and first-round pick Rolando McClain to Richard Seymour and company should have the ship headed in the right direction, but considering that Oakland hasn’t scored a defensive touchdown in two years there’s still a long way to go. The Raiders’ return game, which led the NFL in 2008 with five TDs, pitched a goose-egg last year and needs to prove itself all over again to be trusted.

Philadelphia Eagles YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 2
Keeper: 2
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 3%
2007 87 11 8 37     2
2008 150 15 14 48 1 2 5
2009 160 25 13 44 2 2 4
Avg 132 17 12 43 1 1 4
Proj 125 19 13 44 2 2 2

By almost any measure, Philly’s first season with Sean McDermott at the helm was a success: they finished second in defensive TDs, third in sacks, fourth in INTs, and seventh in fumble recoveries in 2009. The “almost” references the 58 combined points surrendered to Dallas in the regular season finale and first-round playoff loss, but by that point the Eagles’ defense had likely boosted your fantasy team as far as it needed to go. This year’s edition adds first-round pick Brandon Graham and veteran Darryl Tapp to a deep and aggressive pass rush; speedy Ernie Sims and the return of Stewart Bradley, who missed all of last year with a torn ACL, to shore up the linebacking corps; and second-round pick Nate Allen to fill the void left by last year’s departure of Brian Westbrook. All the pieces are in place for another strong defensive showing, and if your league’s scoring system rewards kick returns it’s worth noting that special teams guru Bobby April joins DeSean Jackson to give the Eagles a serious leg up in that area as well.

Pittsburgh Steelers YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 6
Keeper: 6
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2007 104 11 14 36   1 2
2008 129 20 9 51 1   3
2009 109 12 10 47     3
Avg 114 14 11 45 0 0 3
Proj 119 16 12 45   1 3

The Steelers defense is a brand name like Bacardi, or a movie franchise like the Jason Bourne series: you know what you’re going to get going in, and though there might be some slight differences you know you’re going to enjoy it. The Steelers have 47 and 51 sacks the past two seasons and scored three defensive touchdowns each of those campaigns; that’s unlikely to change, with the likes of James Harrison and Lamarr Woodley (23.5 sacks between them) unleashed on defenses once again. If Troy Polamalu can stay healthy Pittsburgh’s D goes from merely formidable to elite, as the Head & Shoulders spokesmodel is good for a couple turnover touchdowns all by himself. The Steelers also focused on improving their special teams units over the offseason, and return man Stefan Logan wasn’t all that bad even before the upgrades.

San Diego Chargers YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 15
Keeper: 15
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 186 30 18 42   2 6
2008 102 15 9 28 1 1 3
2009 111 14 11 35 1 1 3
Avg 133 20 13 35 1 1 4
Proj 105 17 12 33 1 1 2

The Chargers were a formidable fantasy defense in 2007, ranking among the league leaders in every relevant statistical category; while they’ve scored three defensive touchdowns in each of the two seasons since then, they’ve done nothing else to suggest they’re capable of another monster fantasy season. Not coincidentally, Shawne Merriman has missed 17 games over the past two years and has just four sacks during that span. With Merriman in his current state—and without playmaking corner Antonio Cromartie, dealt to the Jets—the Chargers barely register on the fantasy radar; if the Bolts are without him (again) for any length of time, you can all but write them off. Darren Sproles provides a spark in the return game, but even with the mighty mite returning kicks San Diego has just two return touchdowns combined over the past two seasons.

San Francisco 49ers YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 13
Keeper: 13
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 81 12 9 31 1   1
2008 96 12 6 30   1 4
2009 128 18 15 44     3
Avg 102 14 10 35 0 0 3
Proj 107 16 12 37 1 1 2

The Niners took a major step forward defensively last year, tying for third in sacks and first in fumble recoveries while scoring three defensive touchdowns. It doesn’t hurt to have Patrick Willis in the middle, but San Francisco is getting contributions from Justin Smith and Manny Lawson as well. Even if rookies Taylor Mays and Navarro Bowman don’t contribute immediately, the 49ers defense appears to be on its way to being a fantasy helper. The arrival of Ted Ginn should also kick-start a return game that has just one touchdown over the past three years.

Seattle Seahawks YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 29
Keeper: 29
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 145 20 14 45 1 3 2
2008 99 9 11 35     4
2009 92 13 10 28     3
Avg 112 14 12 36 0 1 3
Proj 83 14 12 22 1 1 1

Seattle’s defense peaked as a fantasy helper in 2007, but despite their sacks and turnovers falling off dramatically over the past two seasons they’ve still somehow scored seven defensive touchdowns in that span. The addition of first-round pick Earl Thomas in the middle of their secondary will help, but Chris Clemons alone isn’t enough to patch the holes along the defensive line. When healthy, Lofa Tatupu is a difference maker at linebacker, and the Seahawks hope last year’s first-rounder Aaron Curry can get there as well. Leroy Hill has some off-the-field issues to confront before he can contribute. The return game hasn’t scored in two years, and primary return man Justin Forsett may be pressed into duty as the team’s feature back so that bleak streak may continue.

St. Louis Rams YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 32
Keeper: 32
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 107 18 10 31 1 1 2
2008 88 12 14 30     1
2009 71 8 12 25     1
Avg 89 13 12 29 0 0 1
Proj 71 11 11 27      

The one guy on the Ram capable of making plays—Oshiomogho Atogwe—was just allowed to walk via free agency, and even before his departure the Rams were dead-dog last in the league with just eight interceptions. You’ll get a little something from Chris Long and Ohio State alums James Laurinaitis and Bobby Carpenter, but not enough to give St. Louis a second look on fantasy draft day.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 17
Keeper: 17
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 121 16 19 33   1 2
2008 131 22 8 29   2 5
2009 110 19 10 28   2 2
Avg 121 19 12 30 0 2 3
Proj 104 20 11 31   1 2

The 2010 Bucs are a long way from the dominant fantasy defense of the Warren Sapp/Derrick Brooks days, but rookie defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price are a great set of building blocks. Not only will they keep blockers off of Barrett Ruud, they should also attract enough attention to free up Stylez G. White to get to the quarterback. Ronde Barber may be on his last legs, but Aqib Talib and Tanard Jackson carry on the tradition of playmakers in the Tampa Bay secondary. The Bucs have eight defensive touchdowns over the past three seasons, and with an improved front it wouldn’t be shocking to see the playmakers in their back seven take advantage. Clifton Smith and Sammie Stroughter have mildly rejuvenated the Buccaneers return game.

Tennessee Titans YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 12
Keeper: 12
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 120 22 12 40     2
2008 130 20 11 44     4
2009 110 20 7 32     4
Avg 120 21 10 39 0 0 3
Proj 108 18 11 38     2

The Titans had their defensive issues last year, especially against the pass. However, they’re also the only secondary with at least 20 INTs each of the past three seasons; in fact, only two other teams have had 20 in two of the last three years. Tennessee also scored four defensive touchdowns, tied for second in the league, so even if they were giving up yardage they were helping fantasy squads. Their Achilles’ heel last year was a lack of sacks, and while the loss of Kyle Vanden Bosch via free agency doesn’t help the Titans did snag Derrick Morgan in the first round of the draft. This isn’t the dominant Titans defense of a few years back, but with Cortland Finnegan, Michael Griffin, and Chris Hope in the secondary there are more than enough playmakers to make Tennessee a legitimate fantasy entity.

Washington Redskins YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 31
Keeper: 31
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 97 14 10 33 2   2
2008 66 13 5 24   1  
2009 74 11 6 40      
Avg 79 13 7 32 1 0 1
Proj 79 11 9 35 1    

The Redskins are a case study in how a team can be a pretty good NFL defense and still be a lousy fantasy defense. Washington ratcheted up the sacks last season to 40, good for eighth in the league; however, they created just 17 turnovers and failed to score a defensive touchdown for the second straight season. With the new regime looking to make its existing personnel fit into a 3-4 scheme, it’s likely to be a while before Washington is worthy of fantasy consideration.

   
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