Fantasy football sleepers: Defensive teams

by Cory J. Bonini on September 7, 2011 @ 10:45:35 PDT's analysis of fantasy football sleepers will help you identify the characteristics that go into making up a sleeper. These gems can be fairly well-known players or the lesser heralded guys you may not know much about. Fear not, since no one likes doing the dirty work, has done it for you!

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Note: All average draft position (ADP) figures are based on 12-team, non-PPR leagues unless specified otherwise.

Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions
Round 2

Detroit Lions | ADP: 18th round

2011 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Score Allwd Off Pts Allwd Tot Def TD Tot Spec Tm TD Fum TD Int TD Int Fum Rec Pass TD Allwd Rush TD Allwd Def Scks

Even with the foot injury that will sideline Nick Fairley throughout this critical learning session, Detroit's line is very deep, and their offseason additions rival those made by the Philadelphia Eagles. Check out some of these names: Justin Durant, Stephen Tulloch, Eric Wright, Erik Coleman and Keyunta Dawson. Outside of Tulloch, who is reunited with Jim Schwartz, none of those players is a special talent, but each one will make his mark when called on.

Detroit's offense should be much better, which will allow the defense to take breathers and not be so gassed every series. The front line features Ndamukong Suh, but Cliff Avril, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Sammie Hill, Lawrence Jackson and Corey Williams all play integral roles. This is arguably the deepest group in the league. The linebacking corps should be downright nasty. The secondary will get some help from what figures to be a strong pass rush.

Cincinnati Bengals | ADP: N/A

2011 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Score Allwd Off Pts Allwd Tot Def TD Tot Spec Tm TD Fum TD Int TD Int Fum Rec Pass TD Allwd Rush TD Allwd Def Scks

The Bengals posted a lowly 27 quarterback takedowns last year, but Carlos Dunlap and Robert Geathers, when healthy, provide a pass rush for Mike Zimmer's squad. Speedy linebacker Manny Lawson was signed to help bolster the rush, and Nate Clements will replace Johnathan Joseph (Texans). Free safety Reggie Nelson will have a better grasp of the offense, as well.

Cincinnati produced only 16 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries as a team. Neither statistic is terrible, but mild improvements could land this unit in low No. 1 fantasy football territory, just as long as the offense is somewhat competent.

Consider the Bengals draftable as a second group in deep fantasy leagues. They have some upside because of their continuity and chemistry, so take a chance if your league configuration warrants carrying a pair of DTs. 

Marcel Dareus, DE, <a href=
How big of an impact can he make?

Buffalo Bills | ADP: N/A

2011 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Score Allwd Off Pts Allwd Tot Def TD Tot Spec Tm TD Fum TD Int TD Int Fum Rec Pass TD Allwd Rush TD Allwd Def Scks

Insert prized defensive line selection Marcell Dareus with the third overall pick, and Buffalo's defensive line could be quite formidable. While Dareus may be a better fit for a 4-3 three-technique spot, the five-technique in this defense will allow him to make plays on the perimeter instead of up the middle.

Paul Posluszny left as a free agent and was replaced by Nick Barnett, who is a better fit for Buffalo's 3-4 alignment. Kirk Morrison was added to bolster the inside linebacker position, too. Donte Whitner left; the Bills drafted Da'Norris Searcy and still have the versatile Bryan Scott on roster to fill the void. This talented secondary also added Aaron Williams in Round 2 of the draft.

Shawne Merriman will be the wildcard for this defense. Buffalo's pass rush could be fierce or may sputter all year long. Their return game is quite strong, if your league awards points for such.

Buffalo's D has a lot of fantasy football potential and should improve on their low interception count (11) if their equally disappointing sack figure (27) increases. Draft them as a second unit; your reward could be a low-end No. 1 fantasy defensive team at a miniscule cost.

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QB | RB | WR | TE | PK | DT

About Cory J. Bonini

Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.

Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.

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