The Huddle on Facebook Facebook   The Huddle on Twitter Twitter   The Huddle Mobile Mobile Welcome, Guest. You are not logged in.   | Login  |  Help
HOME FANTASY DRAFT KIT IN SEASON ARTICLES NEWS STATS FORUMS TEAMS PLAYERS NFL DRAFT NFL ABOUT myHuddle

FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT KIT

2008 Player Rankings: Defenses
Updated: September 2, 2008
Sort This Page By: Rank Movement: Huddle Rankings: Projected Stats: Huddle Cheat Sheets:
Tier 1
Chicago Bears YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 1
Keeper: 1
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 3%
2005 104 24 10 40   1 4
2006 138 24 20 40   5 4
2007 124 16 17 41 1 6 2
Avg 122 21 16 40 0 4 3
Proj 159 20 17 41 1 4 3

If your league includes special teams scores, the Bears are hands-down the top fantasy defense. Chicago’s dozen return touchdowns over the past three seasons is more than any two other teams have compiled during that time. Of course, 11 of those touchdowns have come since Devin Hester joined the Bears in 2006, and don’t sweat Devin’s additional receiver responsibilities; they shouldn’t keep him from excelling at his return duties. But there’s actually more to the Bears than just Hester; maybe you’ve heard of Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs? The front four applies plenty of pressure as well, and if Mike Brown is finally healthy he’s a threat to score from his safety position—especially in overtime.

Minnesota Vikings YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 2
Keeper: 2
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 3%
2005 86 24 11 33     3
2006 104 21 15 30 1 1 5
2007 126 15 17 38 1 1 8
Avg 105 20 14 34 1 1 5
Proj 150 19 17 40 1 1 5

Add the NFL’s leading sacker to the Williams Wall and what do you get? We’ll find out when Jared Allen and the Vikings take the field in 2008. But that’s not all the Purple have going for them. Ball-hawking safety Madieu Williams joins Darren Sharper in a secondary that will look markedly better thanks to the improved pressure provided by Allen. Free agent acquisition Maurice Hicks should help upgrade the return game, but the D doesn’t need much assistance; they’ve scored 16 defensive touchdowns over the past three seasons, 33 percent more than any other team. The aggressiveness flowing from Allen’s pass rush should uptick the sack, pick, and fumble numbers as well, making Minnesota the top option for any league that excludes special teams scores from defensive scoring.

San Diego Chargers YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 3
Keeper: 3
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 3%
2005 78 10 10 46     2
2006 107 16 12 61     3
2007 138 30 18 42   2 6
Avg 108 19 13 50 0 1 4
Proj 144 21 14 44   1 4

First pick Antoine Cason replaces a pair of departed free agents in the secondary, but for the most part the San Diego defense remains stable. And that’s a good thing, considering no team has sacked more quarterbacks over the past three seasons than the Chargers. But the Chargers are more than just Shawne Merriman; Shaun Phillips on the other side brings his own heat, and Luis Castillo finds his way onto plenty of IDP teams as well. Antonio Cromartie moves into the starting lineup full-time on the heels of a 10-pick season; he’s a pick- six threat every time the ball is in the air. Darren Sproles brings plenty to the return game as well, making the Chargers a solid pick in any defensive scoring format.

Tier 2
Dallas Cowboys YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 4
Keeper: 4
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 3%
2005 75 15 11 37     2
2006 95 18 13 34   1 4
2007 99 19 10 46     4
Avg 90 17 11 39 0 0 3
Proj 141 21 11 41   2 4

It’s not as if the Cowboys’ defense had major holes to fill, but when Zach Thomas falls into your lap and you have an extra first-round pick to throw at a cornerback making such moves becomes a no-brainer. The biggest question with this unit may be how they can best use—or hide—Roy Williams. Elite corner Terence Newman, first-round pick Mike Jenkins, and safety Ken Hamlin should allow Williams to continue to play linebacker, but in coverage the Horse Collarer is a liability. Williams didn’t even record a sack last season, leaving those duties in the more than capable hands of DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis. America’s Team received little from its specials last season, but if Felix Jones takes over kickoff returns that should change. And Pacman Jones’ reinstatement would push this defense/special teams unit from a top-10 group to one of the best in the league—at least as long as Jones avoids the temptation to make it rain at Baby Dolls or LaBare.

08-28-08 Update: The reinstatement of Pacman Jones means more than just a rain storm at Baby Dolls; his return skills, both with a pick or a punt, boost the ‘Boys defense/special teams unit a couple notches. Mix in Felix Jones' potential as a kick returner and the Dallas D/ST should be one of the first units off your draft board.

Seattle Seahawks YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 5
Keeper: 5
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2005 100 16 11 49   1 3
2006 85 12 14 41   1 2
2007 111 20 14 45 1 3 2
Avg 99 16 13 45 0 2 2
Proj 140 18 14 46   2 3

When you think Seahawks, defense isn’t generally the first thing to come to mind. That’s changing, thanks primarily to the efforts of Lofa Tatupu and Marcus Trufant. That duo combined for 194 tackles and 11 interceptions, pacing a Seattle defense that finished top-five in both sacks and picks last season. Nate Burleson was one of just five specialists to return both a punt and a kick for a score last season, but if his presence is required more on offense the Hawks may need to seek another option. The Hawks are plenty formidable as a fantasy defense without Burleson’s contributions, but if he is replaced you may want to downtick them a notch or two.

New England Patriots YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 6
Keeper: 6
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2005 63 10 8 33     2
2006 85 22 13 44   1  
2007 126 19 12 47   2 6
Avg 91 17 11 41 0 1 3
Proj 135 20 12 47   1 3

Sure, some of their big-name guys are getting a bit long in the tooth. But Bill Belichick has plenty of experience plugging guys into his system, and with first- round pick Jerod Mayo joining the fray it’s not as if the Patriots will be devoid of talent. The true test will come with New England’s plug-and-play secondary, which took another hit this past offseason with the departures of Asante Samuel and Randall Gay. Rookies Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite could push for playing time in a group that features players who have toiled for 10 different teams besides the Pats. Wes Welker and Ellis Hobbs are both return threats, though Hobbs may see those duties decline if he’s the team’s topped corner. Sans home video, we’ll learn if Belichick’s coaching is genius or technology.

Baltimore Ravens YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 7
Keeper: 7
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2005 91 12 14 41   1 3
2006 136 28 12 60     6
2007 79 17 6 32   3 1
Avg 102 19 11 44 0 1 3
Proj 133 20 10 43   2 3

Used to be you just penciled the Ravens in as the top defense and moved on. How far have the mighty fallen? Last year Baltimore mustered just one defensive touchdown and recovered the fewest fumbles in the league. The names remain the same, but Ray Lewis and Chris McAlister are both in double digits in service time and Ed Reed isn’t even the best fantasy safety on his own team anymore. Franchised end/linebacker Terrell Suggs could follow Adalius Thomas out of town, though it’s tough to see Ozzie Newsome letting that happen. The Ravens’ saving grace last season was what Yamon Figurs brought to the return game, as the rookie used his 4.3 speed to score on both a punt and kick return. Factoring in Figurs the Ravens remain a viable fantasy defense; without special teams, they’re in serious danger of being relegated to the category of “nothing special”.

Green Bay Packers YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 8
Keeper: 8
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 68 10 11 35     2
2006 109 23 10 46     5
2007 100 19 9 36   2 4
Avg 92 17 10 39 0 1 4
Proj 127 19 10 39   1 4

Only two teams have scored more defensive touchdowns the past two years than the nine Green Bay has posted. Considering the Pack’s sacks dipped dramatically last season and they’ve been near the bottom of the league in fumble recoveries the past two seasons it’s rather impressive that they’ve managed to score that many times given the limited opportunities. Green Bay’s defense has playmakers in Aaron Kampman, A.J. Hawk, and Charles Woodson, plus Kbeer Gbaja-Biamila can still get to the passer and Atari Bigby seems to have a nose for the ball. However, the loss of Corey Williams could hurt. Woodson, Will Blackmon, and Tramon Williams provide a potent return game, but again there’s a loss—in this case Koren Robinson—that will be felt. With no Brett Favre to bail them out, the Pack will have to rely on its underrated defense more frequently this season—which could actually be a fantasy boon.

Arizona Cardinals YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 9
Keeper: 9
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 105 15 11 37   4 3
2006 95 16 17 38   1 3
2007 113 18 11 36   1 7
Avg 104 16 13 37 0 2 4
Proj 125 19 12 39   1 3

It may surprise you to learn that since 2005 only the Bears have scored more defensive and special teams touchdowns than the Cardinals. That’s right, the Cardinals are a legitimate fantasy helper—and their offseason suggests they’re serious about getting even better. Arizona signed ex-Titans pass rusher Travis LaBoy, and the draft yielded two more pass rushers and a cornerback with a name familiar to those who track returns. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could see time at the nickel, but even without him the Arizona secondary has juice in Rod Hood (two return touchdowns last year) and corner-turned-safety Antrel Rolle, who tallied three pick-sixes last season. Assuming Ken Whisenhunt doesn’t steal Steve Breaston for more offensive duties, the Cards’ return game is solid as well. Unless you live in the greater Phoenix area you shouldn’t have any trouble acquiring the Cardinals as your fantasy defense, and odds are you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Buffalo Bills YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 10
Keeper: 10
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 82 17 13 38 1 1 1
2006 96 13 11 40 1 1 4
2007 91 18 13 26 2 2 3
Avg 90 16 12 35 1 1 3
Proj 123 16 12 35 1 2 3

The Bills made some noise in the offseason by trading for Jaguars defensive tackle Marcus Stroud, signing linebacker Kawika Mitchell from the Super Bowl champion Giants, then drafting cornerback Leodis McKelvin in April. Factor in last year’s second-round selection, Paul Posluszny, who returns from a broken forearm and talented young safeties Ko Simpson and Donte Whitner, and when McKelvin cracks the starting lineup the Bills will have five starters drafted in 2006 or later. So there’s some potential here. Including Bobby April’s perennially productive special teams unit boosts Buffalo as well; in fact, only four teams have scored more defense/special teams touchdowns over the past two seasons. Roscoe Parish and Terrence McGee each housed a return last year, and you know April will have his charges ready to go again. If there’s a sleeper fantasy team defense this year, it could very well be the Bills.

Tennessee Titans YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 11
Keeper: 11
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 87 9 11 41 1   4
2006 104 17 11 26 1 3 5
2007 86 22 12 40     2
Avg 92 16 11 36 1 1 4
Proj 122 18 12 36 1 1 3

If you’re wondering why the Titans saw their defense/special teams touchdown total drop from four and five the previous two seasons to just two last year, look no further than your local pole-dancing establishment. That’s where you’ll most likely find Pacman Jones, who was single-handedly responsible for five of Tennessee’s nine D/ST scores in 2005 and 2006. Now you’ll find Pacman in Dallas (we suggest checking at Baby Dolls), but don’t just write off the Titans and wait for Jones to make it rain; Tennessee still sports Keith Bulluck, Chris Hope, and last year’s top pick, Michael Griffin, plus Kyle Vanden Bosh and a potentially rejuvenated Jevon Kearse to pressure the passer. This year’s first-rounder, Chris Johnson, will bring plenty of speed to the return game—maybe even enough to erase the memories of Pacman and allow the Titans to move forward.

New York Giants YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 12
Keeper: 12
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 102 17 20 41   2 2
2006 72 17 11 32     2
2007 114 15 10 53   1 5
Avg 96 16 14 42 0 1 3
Proj 122 16 11 44   1 3

The Giants are World Champions because they get after the passer. They did it all season long, leading the NFL with 53 sacks, and by mussing Tom Brady’s hair they earned a date with the Lombardi Trophy. Even with Michael Strahan announcing his retirement the G-Men can still bring plenty of heat with Osi Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka, and Justin Tuck. That can only help a secondary which lost Gibril Wilson but added first-round pick Kenny Phillips; the Giants intercepted just 15 passes last year (19 teams had more), but they returned 20 percent of those picks for touchdowns. Big Blue gets a slight boost from returners R.W. McQuarters, Domenik Hixon, and Ahmad Bradshaw, though the latter may be pressed into running back duties and see his return work limited. Odds are the Giants’ defense will be overrated after last year’s Super performace; they’re a solid fantasy contributor but not necessarily elite.

08-25-08 Update: Osi Umenyiora is the Giants leading sacker over the past four seasons and his loss is a huge blow to the pass rush and their ability to create turnovers. As a result New York slides out of the second tier and should not be considered a starting team defense for your fantasy team this season.

Tier 3
Philadelphia Eagles YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 13
Keeper: 13
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 74 17 10 29   1 2
2006 99 19 10 40     5
2007 68 11 8 37     2
Avg 80 16 9 35 0 0 3
Proj 120 15 10 40   2 3

For all the talent the Eagles have had and the aggressiveness of Jim Johnson’s blitz schemes, the Eagles defense hasn’t been much for fantasy production. Last year they generated just 19 turnovers, and in typical scoring systems only the 49ers fared worse. Doesn’t help that the Eagles haven’t had a kick or punt return touchdown in two seasons. Trevor Laws’ motor could help charge the defense, which added Asante Samuel to a talent-laden secondary that still (for now) includes Lito Sheppard and Brian Dawkins. Second-round pick DeSean Jackson should give the return game a much-needed boost, but we’ll need to see more playmaking from this defense before rewarding them with any fantasy street cred.

08-26-08 Update: Talent and depth in the secondary—Lito Sheppard is a pretty nice option for your nickel—will allow Jim Johnson to blitz almost as much as he likes to... since more than every play isn't a realistic option. Factor in what we've seen from rookie DeSean Jackson in the return game and the Eagles D/ST has big-play potential written all over it.

Carolina Panthers YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 14
Keeper: 14
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 105 23 19 45     3
2006 75 14 8 41     2
2007 66 14 17 23     2
Avg 82 17 15 36 0 0 2
Proj 118 18 15 40     2

Fantasy owners who drafted the Panthers last season were surprised when they sat down to breakfast and saw Julius Peppers staring up at them from the back of a milk carton. Carolina’s sack total dropped by almost 50 percent, taking a significant bite out of their fantasy value. The Panthers still scored a couple defensive touchdowns, but they haven’t received much from their return game in three seasons. So… if you believe Peppers is off the carton and back in opposing backfields harassing quarterbacks, the Panthers are worth a shot as a fantasy defense with a little bit of upside. If you think Peppers has peaked at 28 and his best football is behind him there’s nothing in Carolina to float your boat.

08-26-08 Update: Julius Peppers looks to be on a mission to prove last year's struggles were an aberration. If he's back it upticks the entire defense across the board, because he'll be disruptive up front and allow the Panther secondary to make plays. We're still throwing the "cautiously" in front of the "optimistic", but when you're plucking a defense at the end of your draft Carolina has as much upside as anyone.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 15
Keeper: 15
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 92 17 13 36 1 1 3
2006 63 11 9 25     3
2007 86 16 19 33   1 2
Avg 80 15 14 31 0 1 3
Proj 118 15 15 34   1 3

These are not your older brother’s Bucs. Their sacks were off dramatically last season, though the hope is sophomore Gaines Adams can help turn that number around. Their secondary is also showing signs of age; hence the selection of Aqib Talib in round one. Derrick Brooks is still around, though he’s not the game-wrecker he once was. Where the Bucs might gain some steam, surprisingly enough, is in the return game. Last year the Bucs returned two—two!—kicks for scores, one punt and one kickoff, and they spent a second-round pick on Dexter Jackson to upgrade that area even further. Used to be the Bucs were a default pick for a solid fantasy defense; that’s no longer the case. However, they’re lurking right on the fringe of fantasy viability—especially if you include special teams.

Houston Texans YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 16
Keeper: 16
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 59 7 9 37   1  
2006 68 11 11 28     3
2007 99 11 15 31   4 3
Avg 75 10 12 32 0 2 2
Proj 118 14 12 36   2 3

When you keep spending first-round picks on defensive linemen, eventually you’re going to have a pretty good defensive line. Okay, the Browns disproved that theory with their Courtney Brown and Gerard Warren picks, but the plan seems to be working out for the Texans. Trouble is, Houston will likely play the first half of the season without their top corner, Dunta Robinson, who is still recovering from a knee injury. Unless Antwaun Molden hurries into the lineup all that pressure up front might go to waste. Defensively, the Texans are still likely a year (or at least the length of Robinson’s PUP-list stay) away from providing a productive fantasy defense. If, however, your league incorporates special teams touchdowns they may have already arrived; their four return touchdowns ranked second only to Devin Hester and the Bears last season. Andre Davis is back to return kicks, and Jacoby Jones still has the promise of two preseason punt returns from last year to live up to.

Indianapolis Colts YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 17
Keeper: 17
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 106 18 13 45   1 4
2006 63 15 11 25   1 1
2007 87 22 15 28 2 1 2
Avg 85 18 13 33 1 1 2
Proj 118 19 14 32 1 1 2

It wasn’t just Dwight Freeney’s injury that slowed the Indy defense last season; they actually slipped by 20 sacks between the 2005 and 2006 seasons. Maybe it was for the best that they weren’t getting to the quarterback, though, because their 22 interceptions ranked second in the league. A healthy Freeney certainly won’t hurt Indy’s speed-first defense— and another full year from playmaker extraordinaire Bob Sanders helps as well. Sanders filled the IDP stat sheet from all angles, sans Freeney the lone individual standout on a team where ten different players contributed an interception and a dozen recorded sacks. Essentially that same crew returns, with potential contributions from rookies Phillip Wheeler and Marcus Howard tossed in for good measure. T.J. Rushing is a top-10 punt returner and an above average kickoff return man, a bonus if your league includes special teams scores. Ultimately, however, the key to Indy’s defense being a fantasy factor hinges on players staying healthy.

Pittsburgh Steelers YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 18
Keeper: 18
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 85 15 15 47 1   1
2006 86 20 9 39   1 2
2007 79 11 14 36   1 2
Avg 83 15 13 41 0 1 2
Proj 117 16 14 39   1 2

Year One of the Mike Tomlin era wasn’t much different than Year 15 of the Bill Cowher era, primarily because defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau remained in Pittsburgh under the new regime. However, the Steel Curtain’s stat line continued to decline: sacks were down for a second straight season and interceptions declined as well. The good news: no team forced more fumbles than the Steelers, so plays are still being made. The linebackers (and really, that group includes strong safety Troy Polamalu) are still the heart and soul of this defense, and as Tomlin continues to wed his Cover-2 upbringing with the Blitzburgh heritage there will be plenty of opportunities for the Steelers defense to put up fantasy points. They’re no longer the perennial fantasy pick they once were, but they’ll go off the board on name recognition alone… and there’s a chance they won’t disappoint.

New York Jets YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 19
Keeper: 19
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 77 21 7 31     3
2006 78 16 9 35   2 1
2007 80 15 6 29   3 2
Avg 78 17 7 32 0 2 2
Proj 117 19 8 33   2 3

Only three teams have sacked the quarterback less frequently over the past three seasons than Gang Green, which is why Jets fans are excited about the arrival of Vernon Gholston in Gotham. Lack of pressure, combined with an astonishingly low 20 fumble recoveries the past three years—eight teams have at least twice that number over the same span—makes it tough to trust the Jets defense for fantasy production. At least they’ve consistently scored defensive touchdowns—three, three, and two the past three seasons—and Pro Bowl return man Leon Washington adds a bonus to leagues that factor in special teams scores. The Jets have taken steps, but it’s tough to see this defense making the leap from perennial bottom-10 fantasy unit to one worth paying attention to on drauction day.

Jacksonville Jaguars YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 20
Keeper: 20
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 93 19 9 47   1 2
2006 71 20 4 35   1 1
2007 90 20 9 37   1 3
Avg 85 20 7 40 0 1 2
Proj 116 19 10 40   1 2

When the Jags packaged picks to get their hands on a pair of pass rushers in the 2008 draft, they did it because they saw how the Giants subdued Tom Brady with an aggressive pass rush and figured the way past Indy and New England in the AFC would be via the almighty sack. An unexpected side effect of this game plan should be an uptick in fantasy stats, something that has eluded the otherwise stout Jaguar defense over the past few seasons. More pressure should equate to more turnovers, and if Jacksonville elevates its sack total back into the 40s it will allow a stacked secondary to make plays. Maurice Jones-Drew may see his touches in the return game limited as his backfield duties increase, which certainly downgrades the Jags in fantasy leagues where special teams touchdowns matter. However, Jacksonville’s commitment to getting after the passer makes a perennially mediocre fantasy defense a whole lot more interesting. They’ll still be overvalued on draft day, but at least this year they’ll at least approach their expected production.

Denver Broncos YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 21
Keeper: 21
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 85 20 16 29 1   3
2006 79 17 13 35 1   2
2007 82 14 15 33 1 1 2
Avg 82 17 15 32 1 0 2
Proj 116 16 15 34 1 1 2

Say this for the Broncos: they’re consistent. Over the past three seasons their stat line hasn’t strayed more than three picks, two fumble recoveries, three sacks, and one score from their average campaign of 17 interceptions, 15 fumble recovers, 32 sacks, and three defensive/special teams touchdowns. They’ve tried shuffling the personnel, but the numbers remain relatively unchanged. So, what should you expect from the additions of Boss Bailey, Niko Koutouvides, and Marcus Thomas? Oh, maybe 17 interceptions, 15 fumble recoveries, 32 sacks, and three defensive/special teams touchdowns. Rookie Eddie Royal might charge the return game, but there’s little reason to believe Denver’s defense takes a significant step forward in fantasy production.

Detroit Lions YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 22
Keeper: 22
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 100 19 12 31 1 3 3
2006 68 12 18 30 1   1
2007 104 17 18 37 1 1 4
Avg 91 16 16 33 1 1 3
Proj 116 16 14 32   1 3

With Mike Martz out of Motown, now maybe Rod Marinelli’s defense will get a little bit of ink. Thanks to 37 sacks and four defensive touchdowns last year the Lions were actually a top-10 fantasy defense in many formats. Marinelli continues to collect Cover-2 players from his Buccaneer days, and while they may be a little long in the tooth they certainly know their way around the defensive side of the football. Some of the more familiar faces—Boss Bailey, Shaun Rogers—are gone, and it’s not like fantasy owners will go out of their way to select the Lions. But it’s worth keeping an eye on Detroit in your free agent pool, as they could be an effective plug-in play in 2008.

Cincinnati Bengals YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 23
Keeper: 23
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 84 31 13 28   1 1
2006 72 19 12 35     1
2007 88 19 15 22 1 1 4
Avg 81 23 13 28 0 1 2
Proj 112 20 14 26   1 2

For all their foibles on the defensive side of the ball, the Bengals actually brought a little bit of game to the fantasy table last season. Obviously, much of the boost came from four defensive touchdowns—three on fumble returns —and as that’s twice as many as Cincy scored the previous two seasons combined it’s tough to bank on a repeat. Linebacker Keith Rivers will be the third straight first-round pick to step directly into the Bengals’ starting defense; he won’t be enough to turn things around all by himself, but he’s definitely a step in the right direction. Glen Holt brings a little excitement to the return game, but with Chad Johnson pouting and T.J. Houshmandzadeh in a walk year the Bengals may be forced to press Holt into duty on offense and limit his special teams work. Ultimately, these still are the Bengals. The free agency losses of Justin Smith and Madieu Williams will be felt, and one-time defensive “genius” Marvin Lewis will have his hands full just directing this group north of respectability.

St. Louis Rams YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 24
Keeper: 24
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 88 13 14 41 1 1 2
2006 78 17 15 34     2
2007 79 18 10 31 1 1 2
Avg 82 16 13 35 1 1 2
Proj 112 17 12 34 1 1 2

The addition of Chris Long can only help a defense whose sack totals have slide two straight seasons and which received just 5.5 sacks from its defensive ends last year. And more pressure should translate to even more production from a talented secondary that includes O.J. Atogwe and Fakhir Brown—and may soon also feature speedy corner Justin King, who fell to the Rams in the fourth round. Dante Hall is less an X factor and more a Zzz factor in the return game, bringing little to the fantasy production table. In a year or two perhaps the Rams will be worthy of fantasy attention, but at this juncture they’re barely a blip on the radar.

Cleveland Browns YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 25
Keeper: 25
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 46 15 8 23      
2006 75 18 9 28 1 1 2
2007 81 17 10 28 1 3 1
Avg 67 17 9 26 1 1 1
Proj 106 18 10 30 1 2 1

The Browns used the draft to upgrade the interior of their defensive line—not by picking players, but by trading the selections for established run-stoppers Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers. That plugs a major hole in the middle of Cleveland’s defense and should free up their linebackers to make plays. However, their secondary was left wafer-thin with Davin Holly’s injury and the pressure up front—even with burgeoning star Kamerion Wimbley—isn’t enough to cover for that deficiency. The Browns are making baby steps, and in a league where special teams scores count the presence of return man Joshua Cribbs— the AFC’s Devin Hester—at least makes Cleveland worthy of mention. However, in most fantasy scoring systems they’re still at least a year away from relevancy.

Miami Dolphins YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 26
Keeper: 26
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 92 14 17 49 3   1
2006 96 8 19 47 2   3
2007 70 14 8 30   1 2
Avg 86 12 15 42 2 0 2
Proj 105 12 13 35 1 1 2

After a nice run amongst the perennially helpful fantasy defenses—thanks largely to Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas—the Dolphins nearly fell off the grid last season. Their sacks fell by a third and their fumble recoveries by more than half as Miami tumbled into the bottom five fantasy defenses in 2008. With Thomas now in Dallas and Taylor looking to mamba (or is it cha-cha?) his way out of town, the Phins don’t appear to have much in the way of upside. Bill Parcel’s track record suggests that eventually this franchise will field a potent defense again; however, unless Big Tuna motivates Taylor by telling him the opposing quarterback voted for Kristi Yamaguchi, it’s not likely to happen this season.

Oakland Raiders YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 27
Keeper: 27
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 61 5 14 36     1
2006 83 18 5 34 1   4
2007 67 18 8 27 1   2
Avg 70 14 9 32 1 0 2
Proj 102 18 8 30 1   3

If you thought it was tough to throw on the Raiders the past couple of seasons, how do you think it will be now with the additions of DeAngelo Hall and Gibril Wilson in the secondary and Kalimba Edwards and Greg Spires to rush the passer? Of course, if you thought it was easy to run on the Raiders the past couple of seasons, how do you think it will be now that Warren Sapp has retired and the team did little to address its most glaring weakness? This defense isn’t set up to generate fantasy points, especially if opponents can spend two-thirds of the game on the ground churning out five yards a pop. As such, despite the presence of Hall and Wilson it’s difficult envisioning the Raiders as anything more than a spot fantasy starter in weeks where they face the offensively-challenged Chiefs.

Kansas City Chiefs YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 28
Keeper: 28
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 77 16 15 28   1 2
2006 74 15 15 32   1 1
2007 68 14 9 37 1   1
Avg 73 15 13 32 0 1 1
Proj 102 15 12 34 1 1 1

With Jared Allen, the Chiefs were a bottom-three fantasy defense last year. Allen’s gone, and despite the presence of Tamba Hali and the arrival of young blood in the form of Glenn Dorsey and Brandon Flowers it’s going to get worse before it gets better in Kansas City. There’s some potential in the return game with B.J. Sams, assuming he can stay both healthy and out of trouble, but not nearly enough to boost this defense anywhere near fantasy consideration.

New Orleans Saints YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 29
Keeper: 29
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 45 10 9 26      
2006 69 11 8 38   1 1
2007 87 13 10 32 1   5
Avg 67 11 9 32 0 0 2
Proj 101 12 10 33   1 3

Give ‘em credit; at least the Saints are trying. They’ve spent first-round picks on pass rushers—only to watch one end face charges of involuntary manslaughter and the other skip offseason workouts while angling for a new contract. They’ve pursued free agent secondary help—signing Randall Gay this offseason even after being burned badly by the Jason David signing the previous year. And they’ve traded for linebacker Jonathan Vilma in hopes of solidifying a position that’s troubled them for years. To this point the sum has been far less than the total of the parts, and while you should feel free to keep an eye on the Big Easy to see how everything comes together down the road there’s little reason to throw any draft day love at the Saints defense.

Washington Redskins YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 30
Keeper: 30
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 75 16 12 35     2
2006 47 6 6 19 2 2  
2007 73 14 10 33 2   2
Avg 65 12 9 29 1 1 1
Proj 99 15 10 35 1 1 1

Over the past three seasons only the Saints have produced fewer turnovers than the Redskins, which goes a long way towards explaining why this defense has produced almost 30 points fewer per season than the average fantasy defense. Dan Snyder didn’t do much to upgrade the defensive personnel this offseason, which means there’s still a gaping hole at safety—and not a whole lot of productivity amongst the remainder of the cast as well. Your best bet is trying to guess which two games will produce defensive/special teams touchdowns and spot starting the Skins there; obviously, that’s not a very promising bet at all.

Atlanta Falcons YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 31
Keeper: 31
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 80 16 13 37 1   2
2006 77 12 14 37 1   2
2007 58 16 11 25     1
Avg 72 15 13 33 1 0 2
Proj 99 15 12 31 1   2

New head coach Mike Smith comes from Jacksonville, where they played some pretty good defense; he’ll learn quite early in the process that he’s not working with the same talent pool in Atlanta. The Falcons’ most dynamic defensive player, DeAngelo Hall, was dealt to Oakland in the offseason, giving this unit even less sex appeal—and considering Atlanta’s defense started with all the appeal of a Bea Arthur-Estelle Geddy three-way, that’s almost unfathomable. Give Smith a couple more drafts to add talent and check back with the Falcons’ defense in 2010 or so; until then, they’re off the fantasy radar.

San Francisco 49ers YEAR FF PTS INT FUM SACK SF STTD DFTD
Huddle Rank: 32
Keeper: 32
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 84 16 10 28     5
2006 73 14 13 34     2
2007 60 12 9 31 1   1
Avg 72 14 11 31 0 0 3
Proj 94 13 11 34     2

Marvin Lewis, Romeo Crennell, Mike Nolan… it’s like these successful defensive assistant coaches can’t take their players with them when they land head coaching jobs. Nolan has actually added quite a bit of talent the past couple years, this year tossing Justin Smith into a mix that already includes Patrick Willis and Nate Clements. Unfortunately, Smith isn’t enough to upgrade a unit that recorded 21 turnovers, 31 sacks, and one defensive touchdown last year into one that you should care about on fantasy drauction day.

   
^ Back to Top  

Related Features

Ease of Schedule Passing
Ease of Schedule Rushing
Better Than Average Rankings
Consistency Rankings
a d v e r t i s e m e n t