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With the lockout over, camps and pre-season games finally under way all I can say is welcome back NFL. However, with the extended lockout came a free agent signing frenzy like never seen before. Many players have new homes, some in new positions, and some in new schemes. The breakdowns below will help to show who went where and how it will impact their fantasy value as well as who stayed put and what to expect from them too. In addition, many teams have new defensive coordinators and you can read about them in the 2011 Coaching Changes article. If you have any additional questions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can also follow me on twitter @IDPSteve. Scoring system used for this article: solo tackle (2), assisted tackle (1), sack (3), forced or recovered fumble (3), interception (3) and pass defended (1).
Defensive Line: For the purpose of this article, Terrell Suggs is considered a DE. There might be some league management systems that list Suggs as a LB and if that is the case then you have lost one of the few stud DL that there is. As a LB, Suggs is next to worthless for fantasy owners. In DT mandatory leagues Haloti Ngata is one of the top DTs you will find in the league.
Linebacker: The Ravens linebacker situation can be summed up in just four words, “The Ray Lewis Show”. Lewis is getting up there in age but he is still one of the most productive fantasy LBs around. Lewis is also on record as saying he will retire if the Ravens win the Super Bowl this year. Unfortunately, for dynasty league owners the Ravens do not have a 100% lock for the heir to Ray Ray’s job.
Defensive Back: The Raven’s secondary was far from good last year, at least NFL wise. Of course, it did not help that future Hall of Famer Ed Reed started last year on the PuP and was not able to see the field until week 7. Even then, when Reed got on the field he was not able to help fantasy owners all that much. While Reed is much like Ray Lewis with his heart, desire, leadership, and attitude, he does not accumulate stats as Lewis does. Dwan Landry’s departure looked like it would open up an opportunity for Tom Zbikowski to be a fantasy sleeper but that opportunity flew out the window when the Ravens signed SS Bernard Pollard. Make no mistake about it that Pollard is a liability in coverage but he can provide support in the box with the best of them. If Pollard can see enough snaps this year then he could finish in the top 10 but if he ends up in a rotation with Zbikowski then his fantasy value would take a big hit. If you can land Pollard as a DB3 that would minimize your risk and the upside could prove fruitful. In an attempt to help their secondary the Ravens also drafted CB Jimmy Smith, if Smith can secure a starting CB spot then he could end up having very nice value based on the rookie corner rule. You know, where rookie corners usually are thrown at often which leads to fantasy points.
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