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FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT KIT

2011 Player Rankings: Defenses
Updated: September 8, 2011
Top 10's:        
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Tier 1
Green Bay Packers YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 1
Keeper: 1
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 3%
2008 137 22 6 27   2 7
2009 143 30 10 37 1   4
2010 135 24 8 47     4
Avg 138 25 8 37 0 1 5

The defending Super Bowl champs finished second in both sacks and INTs last season, paced by top-five performers (Clay Mathews and Tramon Williams) in each category. Losing Cullen Jenkins and Nick Barnett takes a bite, but B.J. Ryan is a budding star and Charles Woodson is still a threat to take any pick all the way back. If your league’s scoring system includes special teams touchdowns, rookie Randall Cobb threatens to be a difference-maker.

Philadelphia Eagles YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 2
Keeper: 2
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 3%
2008 150 15 14 48 1 2 5
2009 160 25 13 44 2 2 4
2010 125 23 11 39   1 2
Avg 145 21 13 44 1 2 4

The Philly defense struggled in its first season without legendary defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, and with last year’s first-round pick Brandon Graham still recovering from microfracture surgery things weren’t exactly looking up. Then the lockout ended, and in short order the Eagles added Cullen Jenkins and Pro Bowler Jason Babin to their defensive line and Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to a secondary that finished third in the league in INTs last season. This is a defense chock full of playmakers; add to that special teams coach Bobby April and DeSean Jackson in the return game and you have the makings of an elite fantasy DST unit.

Pittsburgh Steelers YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 3
Keeper: 3
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 3%
2008 129 20 9 51 1   3
2009 109 12 10 47     3
2010 142 21 14 48   1 3
Avg 127 18 11 49 0 0 3

The Steel Curtain was up to its old tricks once again, leading the NFL in sacks and finishing in the top five in both interceptions and fumble recoveries. While Pittsburgh’s defense is a total team effort that consistently plugs in players who succeed, the tone is set by two of the league’s premier defenders: James Harrison, who rushes the passer as well as he runs his mouth; and Troy Polamalu, the playmaking safety who ranked second in the league in interceptions and first in hair. The Steelers defense is a perennial fantasy helper, and this season will be no different.

Tier 2
New York Jets YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 4
Keeper: 4
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 3%
2008 137 14 16 41   1 5
2009 112 17 14 32   1 2
2010 134 12 18 40 2 2 3
Avg 128 14 16 38 1 1 3

Rex Ryan’s wrecking crew ranked second in fumble recoveries and fifth in defensive touchdowns, and essentially the same unit that led the Jets to back- to-back AFC title games returns for another run. Darrell Revis shuts down one half of the field, but that doesn’t necessarily lead to much in the way of fantasy scoring--though it did set the table for backup corner Dwight Lowery to score two defensive TDs. And that, in a nutshell, is the Jets’ fantasy defense: no standout performers, but everybody gets the job done.

New England Patriots YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 5
Keeper: 5
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 3%
2008 81 14 8 31   1  
2009 105 18 10 31     3
2010 166 25 13 36   3 6
Avg 117 19 10 33 0 1 3

The Pats ranked second in defensive touchdowns and first in interceptions en route to leading all fantasy defenses a year ago with 160 points. The unit returns Pro Bowl performers Devin McCourty (second in the NFL in INTs), Jerod Mayo, Brandon Merriweather and Vince Wilfork; add to that mix Albert Haynesworth, the latest malcontent Bill Belichick will surely find a way to motivate. Julian Edelman brings a bonus element in leagues where kick return scores count as well--not that the Patriots need much assistance.

Chicago Bears YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 6
Keeper: 6
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2008 136 22 10 28 1 1 6
2009 111 13 15 35 1 2 1
2010 128 21 14 34   3 1
Avg 125 19 13 32 1 2 3

Da Bears have always been known for their defense, and a lineup stocked with Pro Bowlers--Urlacher, Briggs, Peppers--rarely disappoints. The return game lost the underappreciated Danieal Manning to free agency but still boasts Devin Hester, who single-handedly jumps Chicago’s fantasy ranking if your league counts his special teams TDs.

New York Giants YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 7
Keeper: 7
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2008 110 17 5 42 3   3
2009 104 13 11 32   1 3
2010 124 16 23 46      
Avg 113 15 13 40 1 0 2

Holding on to Osi Umenyiora (at least for the time being) should keep the G-Men at or near the top of the sacks heap; Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, and Jason Pierre-Paul assist in that regard as well. That much pressure not only paced the Giants to fifth in the league in sacks, it also helped them lead the NFL in fumble recoveries. And yet somehow the Giants failed to score a defensive touchdown last year; perhaps adding Prince Amukamara and Marvin Austin via the draft will turn those tides.

Baltimore Ravens YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 8
Keeper: 8
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2008 144 26 8 34 3   6
2009 120 22 10 32   1 3
2010 105 19 8 27   1 3
Avg 123 22 9 31 1 1 4

No longer are the Ravens a no-brainer fantasy defense; despite a cache of Pro Bowlers that still includes Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata and Ed Reed they finished 29th in sacks and 28th in fumble recoveries last year. Despite missing six games Reed led the NFL with 8 picks; as long as he’s on the field, Baltimore remains a fantasy threat.

Tennessee Titans YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 9
Keeper: 9
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2008 130 20 11 44     4
2009 110 20 7 32     4
2010 112 17 8 40 2 2 1
Avg 117 19 9 39 1 1 3

With Pro Bowler Jason Babin leaving via free agency, the Titans will need last year’s top pick Derrick Morgan to pick up the pass rushing slack. Barrett Ruud upgrades the middle of the defense, and the secondary is still full of playmakers like Michael Griffin, Cortland Finnegan, and Chris Hope. If your scoring system counts returns, Marc Mariani is among the best in the league.

Dallas Cowboys YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 10
Keeper: 10
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2008 117 8 14 59 1 1 1
2009 102 11 10 42   2 1
2010 137 20 10 35   3 4
Avg 119 13 11 45 0 2 2

Wade Phillips is out and Rob Ryan in as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator; and you thought they brought pressure before! DeMarcus Ware returns to defend his sacks crown, part of the pressure that produced the third-most defensive touchdowns in the league last year. There are still questions in the secondary, but expect Ryan to throw enough at opposing defenses for the ‘Boys to be a solid fantasy option again this season. Don’t worry about Dez Bryant being less involved in the return game; Bryan McCann and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah are underrated in that regard.

   
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