2012 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Defensive team

by Cory J. Bonini on August 27, 2012 @ 14:55:00 PDT


Each year fantasy football owners gain a leg up on their competition by finding sleepers in their drafts. KFFL.com has identified these candidates for the 2012 season and analyzed why you want them on your team.

Other players fall into the undervalued category: Their fantasy stock isn't as high as it should be, and you often can land them on the cheap to help bolster your lineup. Generally, undervalued players are veterans that are coming off a down year or returning from injury and have slipped below the radar of most fantasy owners. KFFL will help you take advantage of their oversights on your quest to building a championship roster!

Note: All Average Draft Position (ADP) figures are based on standard-scoring, 12-team leagues.


Denver Broncos defensive team/special teams | ADP: 18th round

2012 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 secondary has improved with the additions of strong safety Mike Adams, starting cornerback Tracy Porter and reserve nickel corner Drayton Florence. D.J. Williams is facing a suspension, but Wesley Woodyard is a more-than-competent replacement at weakside linebacker.

Denver has one of the most ferocious pass rushes in the league, led by defensive end Elvis Dumervil (suspended one game) and outside 'backer Von Miller. Dumervil could face a suspension, which would knock this defense down a notch, so stay abreast of his situation.

One of the most intriguing intangible aspects working for this defense is the addition of Peyton Manning (neck). Strong play could give the D more time to rest, especially late in games, if No. 18 is able to carry the offense on his shoulders.

The AFC West is a wide-open division that doesn't exactly have a wealth of offensive talent this year. The most stable quarterback in the group - Philip Rivers - is coming off a 20-interception season.

Draft the Broncos' D as a low-end No. 1 if you're looking for a team with upside and little risk.

San Diego Chargers defensive team/special teams | ADP: N/A

2012 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

Outside linebackers Jarret Johnson and rookie Melvin Ingram bring necessary athleticism to the defense; an improved pass rush will help this secondary perform at a higher level.

John Pagano takes over for Greg Manusky at defensive coordinator, and his aggressive style should do wonders for a defense that has struggled to find the quarterback in recent years.

Rookie safety Brandon Taylor is in the mix with veteran Atari Bigby on the strong side, while fellow rook Kendall Reyes will vie for the starting right defensive end job. San Diego is very deep up front and has considerable talent from top to bottom on this side of the ball.

Trent Cole, DE, Philadelphia Eagles
Impressive DL rotation

Draft them in the second to last round as a No. 1 unit once the more stable teams come off the board.


Philadelphia Eagles defensive team/special teams: ADP: 15th round

2012 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 strong became stronger this offseason through the draft and free agency. An always feisty group, Philly's D added veteran DeMeco Ryans to play middle linebacker, nickelback Brandon Boykin, first-round defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and strongside linebacker Mychal Kendricks. Brandon Graham (knee) could return to give them even more pass rush.

The much-maligned Wide 9 defensive line scheme came into its own as the 2011 season progressed, which gives hope for an explosive pass-rushing front four. This defense is extremely deep across the board and has a rather friendly schedule for fantasy purposes. We would be remiss if DeSean Jackson's name wasn't thrown out there as being one of the most dangerous return specialists in the game, although the Eagles appear poised to go with the explosive Damaris Johnson. Either way, his performance is just gravy on top of a hefty helping of D.

The Eagles aren't necessarily undervalued as much as they are capable of being the No. 1 overall fantasy unit by the end of the season. They come off the board as a midrange defense, which lends to this categorization. You can justify drafting them as the top group this year, if they are your preference.

New England Patriots defensive team/special teams: ADP: 16th round

2012 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 Patriots finished as the No. 7 fantasy defense last year in standard scoring and should be even better this year after a flurry of offseason improvements. This group gets to play three turnover-prone AFC East squads twice apiece.

New England drafted defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Dont'a Hightower in the first round. They added quality bodies in reserve linebacker Bobby Carpenter, a potential starter at free safety (Steve Gregory) and veteran end Trevor Scott. Last year's second-rounder Ras-I Dowling (hip) comes back from injury to bolster their cornerback depth.

The Pats are coming off the board, on average, as the 11th defense in drafts. That is simply perception overtaking reality. Draft them with confidence as a high-end No. 1 group.

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Fantasy football sleepers: 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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