Let’s take a look at the individual defensive players that changed teams this off-season. It was a pretty busy off-season, with some key players moving to new teams, and will be fantasy producers as a result.
Mike Peterson (ATL): The veteran Peterson, after falling out of favor with the Jacksonville coaching staff, moves several hundred miles north to Atlanta and joins a good, young LB corps for the Falcons. Peterson will occupy one of the outside linebacker positions with the young stud-to-be Curtis Lofton manning the middle. Obviously Peterson’s value will be diminished if he plays the strong side. As the WLB, though, he’ll be a solid LB2.
Eric Barton (CLE): After having a resurgent 2008 season, Barton left New York to pair up with D’Qwell Jackson in the middle of the Browns’ linebacking unit. He’ll likely put up similar stats to his first few injury-free seasons with the Jets. There should be plenty of tackling opportunities for the Brown defense, but Barton projects no better than a LB3.
David Bowens (CLE): Bowens followed Barton from the Jets west to Cleveland, and appears to have a starting gig on the outside opposite the young and talented Kamerion Wimbley. Bowens won’t have much fantasy value, unless you’re in a huge or dynasty league.
Keith Brooking (DAL): The big names at LB were many this off-season. Brooking, after 11 seasons with the Falcons, comes to the Cowboys to occupy the spot left vacant by last season’s free agent LB Zach Thomas, who left town for Kansas City. Brooking has been a fantasy stalwart, but his value take a bit of a hit due to the Cowboy’s scheme. He may produce as a decent LB3 or backup.
Matt Stewart (DAL): Stewart will be buried on the depth chart at OLB. Even if Greg Ellis is shown the door, Stewart would have to beat out a couple of good young LBs to be fantasy-relevant.
Andra Davis (DEN): After seven decent seasons in Cleveland, Davis joins another 3-4 defense in Denver. D.J. Williams is obviously the best Bronco LB, but Davis could surprise people with 75-80 solos. If you’re looking for a solid backup LB, look for Davis in the later rounds of your draft.
Larry Foote (DET): Foote leaves the Super Bowl champs to take the MLB spot for the Lions. He could put up 100+ total tackles with ease. If Paris Lenon could do it, why couldn’t Foote? Foote will have to – ahem – keep on his toes if he’s to hold off rookie Deandre Levy.
Cody Spencer (DET): Spencer will be the third-string MLB for the Lions and has limited fantasy value with the prospect Levy ahead of him.
Buster Davis (HOU): Davis has made the rounds in the NFL in a couple of years, but may have found a home in Houston backing up the mega-stud DeMeco Ryans. Davis is a bit undersized, but is an able tackler. Davis should be owned by all Ryan dynasty owners.
Adam Seward (IND): Seward has shown some promise as a backup LB for the Panthers, and comes to the Colts to serve as the primary backup to Gary Brackett in the middle. Brackett dynasty owners should grab Seward as insurance.
Zach Thomas (KCC): After a pretty lackluster showing in Dallas, Thomas moves north to Kansas City to join a budding Chief squad. He’ll challenge for the lead in total tackles as Derrick Johnson struggles to fully break out. Thomas will be drafted as a LB3 in most leagues, but could easily put up LB2 numbers if he can regain his 2006 form.
Monty Beisel (KCC): Beisel re-joins the team that drafted him in 2001. He’s proven to be a capable role-player and will play in spot duty behind Derrick Johnson and Zach Thomas.
Vinny Ciurciu (NEP): Ciurciu fits the Patriot scheme nicely, but unfortunately he’ll be buried on the depth chart and will be lucky to see the field in spot duty.
Michael Boley (NYG): Boley had a breakout season in 2006 before a rather quiet 2007 season. If he’s manning the weak side for the G-men, he’ll likely top 100 total tackles and will be a big-time sleeper in the IDP world.
Larry Izzo (NYJ): Izzo is a special teams wiz and won’t see much time on the defensive rotation.
Kevin Burnett (SDC): Burnett may actually figure into the rotation with somewhat average talent ahead of him in the middle for the Bolts. If you own Stephen Cooper in a dynasty format, it’s probably prudent to grab Burnett as insurance.
Marques Harris (SFO): Harris is a competent backup LB who will see spot duty on the outside for the Niners. He won’t be beating out young bucks Parys Haralson or Manny Lawson, but could see some situational snaps. He’s not fantasy relevant.
Angelo Crowell (TBB): Crowell is another on the list of pretty solid LBs who moved teams this off-season. He may fight for time at the SLB spot for the Bucs, which would drop his fantasy value significantly. However, there’s a good chance he starts on the weak side, which means big things (that guy Derrick Brooks had countless awesome seasons at that spot).
Top 3 Linebacker Movers: Michael Boley, Mike Peterson, Eric Barton
Rodney Leisle (DT – ARI): Leisle is simply a backup at a position that yields only meager fantasy stats.
Tank Johnson (DT – CIN): Where else would the troubled defensive tackle go? No other team has more potential drama. Johnson will likely serve as a spot-duty player and only has value in deep dynasty leagues, if at all.
C.J. Mosley (DT – CLE): Mosley will pair up with Shaun Smith to back up Shaun Rogers in the middle of the Brown line. He has little to no fantasy value, even in the deepest of dynasty leagues.
Igor Olshansky (DE – DAL): Olshansky was a bit under-utilized and perhaps under-performed for the Chargers. He’ll get a second chance to make an impact lining up on the other side from Marcus Spears for the Cowboys. Don’t expect Olshanksy to rack up big sack numbers, but could serve as a productive backup DE in deep dynasty leagues.
Ronald Fields (DT – DEN): After the new regime came in and shifted everyone around, they brought in Fields, from San Francisco, to plug up the middle of the 3-4. Don’t expect Fields to produce from a fantasy standpoint.
Grady Jackson (DT – DET): The veteran Jackson comes in to start in the middle of the Lion defense. Jackson has never been much of a sack-master, and don’t expect it to start now that he’s joined the Lions.
Otis Grigsby (DE – MIN): Just a backup, won’t have any fantasy value buried on the depth chart.
Jimmy Kennedy (DT – MIN): If you own one of the big Williams boys in a dynasty format, you might want to stash Kennedy as a backup.
Rod Coleman (DT – NOS): The veteran Coleman joins the Saints as a backup after a season marred by injury. Don’t expect Coleman to have much left in the tank.
Rocky Bernard (DT – NYG): In one of the bigger off-season moves, in terms of defensive linemen, the active tackle joins a defense that is certainly not devoid of defensive line talent. With Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield firmly entrenched as the starters, don’t expect Bernard to put up big fantasy stats. Bernard should be owned in dynasty leagues, though.
Marques Douglas (DE – NYJ): Douglas had a few productive seasons for the Niners, but won’t be productive enough in the Jet 3-4 to warrant much fantasy consideration.
Howard Green (DT –NYJ): Green is simply a backup at a position that doesn’t yield much fantasy value.
Demetric Evans (DE - SFO): Evans comes in after the Niners lost Marques Douglas to the Jets. Evans will serve as a situational end, but won’t put up the stats necessary to make him fantasy-relevant.
Colin Cole (DT - SEA): Cole gives the Seahawks some depth at defensive tackle, but won’t be a fantasy producer.
Corey Redding (DT - SEA): With Rocky Bernard gone, Redding moves into a starting role for the Seahawks. He actually could put up serviceable numbers in leagues that require you start a DT.
Jovan Haye (DT – TEN): Haye will be the leading candidate to get playing time with the departure of Albert Haynesworth. He could duplicate his 2006 stats, given the way Haynesworth performed in this spot. Haye’s an intriguing option in deeper leagues and those that start DT.
Albert Haynesworth (DT – WAS): And finally, in one of the biggest off-season moves, Albert Haynesworth joins the Redskin defensive line. He joins what could be a very formidable line. Don’t expect his fantasy numbers to improve or even approach his 2008 numbers. But he’s a talent that can’t be ignored and is a must-own in leagues that start DT and in all dynasty leagues. And in larger leagues that lump DT with DE, you should consider him as a DL2.
Top 3 Defensive Line Movers: Albert Haynesworth, Rocky Bernard, Corey Redding
Bryant McFadden (CB – ARI): Could actually slide in as a deep sleeper in large formats. Is now the starter opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who has proven to be a very solid corner in his first couple seasons in the league.
Jamal Fudge (S – ATL): Has some serious competition for the starting spot, but if he lands it, he could offer some serious value. Keep an eye on the battle.
Chris Carr (CB – BAL): Will have value in leagues that give points for kick/punt return stats. Will be used in spot defensive duties too.
Dominique Foxworth (CB – BAL): Is going to start for the Ravens, and could certainly have some value as the Raven defense is set to impress yet again.
Drayton Florence (CB – BUF): Will be the primary CB backup, but will likely have limited to no fantasy value, even in the deepest of leagues.
Josh Bullocks (S – CHI): Joins an extremely crowded and pretty talented set of safeties. Will probably get some time, even if he doesn’t excel enough to take the starting spot. Keep your eye on the battle, because we saw Kevin Payne (who should start) put up solid numbers at this position last season.
Glenn Earl (S – CHI): Like Bullocks, joins a crowded backfield, but Earl will be used as a backup only.
Marcus Hamilton (CB – CHI): Only Tillman owners in deep dynasty leagues need to know this name.
Corey Ivy (CB – CLE): Will spend some time as a nickel corner and backing up the starters, but will have very limited fantasy value, even if one of the starters goes down with injury.
Hank Poteat (CB – CLE): Just a backup, and not a fantasy consideration.
Gerald Sensbaugh (S – DAL): The new starting strong safety for the Cowboys. Could have some fantasy value, so track his early progress.
Brian Dawkins (S – DEN): One of the biggest off-season DB moves. Dawkins brings years of experience – and fantasy worth – to the Bronco defense. He’ll obviously be the starter, and will be an effective fantasy performer. Not quite DB1 material but a very solid DB2 with potential for a bit more.
Andre Goodman (CB – DEN): Another potentially significant add (fantasy-wise) for the Broncos. Goodman is slated to start opposite super-shutdown corner Champ Bailey, and that means he’ll get plenty of tackling and pass-defense opportunities.
Renaldo Hill (S – DEN): And to complete the triumvirate of new Bronco defensive back starters, Hill takes the FS spot next to Dawkins. Typically, this spot won’t provide the kind of numbers the SS spot would, but Hill could provide some depth for your fantasy squad, provided you’re in a deep dynasty league.
Philip Buchanon and Anthony Henry (CBs – DET): Henry and Buchanon are now the starting CBs for the Lions. One of these guys could potentially have some fantasy value; hard to say which one, though. Henry’s probably the more able tackler, but Buchanon is probably the better in pass coverage and can take INTs to the house. Watch how training camp unfolds, who looks better in preseason, or maybe wait until the first few weeks to jump on the guy that gives you the most.
Eric King (CB – DET): Will likely have limited value as the primary CB backup for the Lions.
Anthony Smith (S – GBP): Brought on board to provide some experience and depth to the Packer defensive backfield. Limited to no fantasy value.
Sean Considine (S – JAC): Considine likely replaces Gerald Sensbaugh as the starting SS for the Jags. Sensbaugh had spells of decent production, and Considine was pretty effective, in spots, for the Eagles in past years, so pay attention to Considine in training camp to see if you can grab yourself a solid sleeper.
Eric Green (CB – MIA): Will have to stave off a ton of competition for one of the starting CB spots for the Fins. Will likely have limited fantasy value.
Gibril Wilson (S – MIA): Definitely the biggest off-season DB move, perhaps the biggest defensive move period. Wilson performs, fantasy-wise, no matter where he’s at. His value could be siphoned off a bit with Yeremiah Bell entrenched in the more productive position, but both DBs will find a way to put up fantasy stats.
Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden (CBs – NEP): Likely the starting CBs for the Patriots, and one of these vets could certainly emerge as a decent fantasy option. Bodden probably has the most left in the tank, but pay attention to training camp and preseason to see who emerges as the better fantasy option.
Jabari Greer (CB – NOS): Will challenge for a starting spot for the Saints at corner. Will likely lose out to super-rookie Malcolm Jenkins or Randall Gay, though. Limited fantasy worth.
Pierson Prioleau (S – NOS): He’s got a name Saints fan know how to pronounce, but will likely stick as a backup only.
Darren Sharper (S – NOS): Sharper brings years of experience, and a little skills left in the gas tank, to the Saints. Roman Harper is the Saint DB to own, but Sharper could put up decent stats, making him a good backup option in very deep leagues.
C.C. Brown (S – NYG): Could see extended playing time, but doesn’t appear to have much fantasy value for this defense.
Jim Leonhard (S – NYJ): Leonhard had some decent stats for the Ravens in years past and will start for the Jets and could serve as the kick returner. Keep an eye on this guy, as he could put up some decent fantasy stasts.
Donald Strickland (CB – NYJ): Just a backup, and not a fantasy consideration.
Rashad Baker (S – PHI): Just a backup, and not a fantasy consideration.
Sean Jones (S – PHI): Has oodles of talent, and just battled injuries – and could have just been in the wrong scheme – in Cleveland. Moves to the Eagles, will likely snatch the starting FS spot, and could regain his status as a fantasy stud.
Keiwan Ratliff (CB – PIT): Just a backup, and not a fantasy consideration.
James Butler (SS – STL): Butler showed flashes of production for the Giants, and enters 2009 as the starting SS for the Rams. With O.J. Atogwe rising in value, Butler will likely have limited fantasy value, but stranger things have happened.
Lito Sheppard (CB - NYJ): The veteran hasn't had much fantasy value in a few years, but still has decent ballhawking skills and will start opposite the emerging Darrelle Revis for the Jets.
Top 3 Defensive Back Movers: Gibril Wilson, Brian Dawkins, Sean Jones