Fantasy Football Player Analysis: Defensive team

by Cory J. Bonini on August 2, 2012 @ 17:41:34 PDT

 

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KFFL's player analysis will be updated and expanded on regularly through the offseason. Be sure to sound off in the comments section below!

1) Philadelphia Eagles | Defense/special teams

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
02412110149281139

Fantasy analysis: Philly tied the Minnesota Vikings for the most sacks (50) in the league last year. Their front line is as deep as they come and has the talent to rival anyone in the NFL. DeMeco Ryans was added to shore up the linebacking corps, while the loss of Asante Samuel is addition by subtraction in the secondary. Rookie defensive tackle Fletcher Cox is a versatile beast and figures to start Week 1. Getting after the quarterback will help this unit produce more turnovers. Consider them around the 14th round in standard leagues.

2) San Francisco 49ers | Defense/special teams

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
01643021191216740

Patrick Willis, ILB, San Francisco 49ers

Fantasy analysis: Jim Harbaugh's group showed a marked turnaround in 2011 and ranked in the top five of fantasy point-earners at the position. San Fran created 38 takeaways and reached the quarterback 41 times on the year. Ted Ginn Jr. gives this team a boost as a return man, if your league scores special teams points. Playing six games against the NFC West is a defensive coordinator's dream, and all 11 defensive starters from a year ago return. Fantasy owners should consider the 49ers as early as the 14th round in typical virtual setups.

3) Green Bay Packers | Defense/special teams

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
02453111207271238

Fantasy analysis: Green Bay's defense scored the most fantasy points in 2011, and that happened with only 29 recorded sacks on the year. They have improved their pass rush, on paper, with the first-round pick of Nick Perry at outside linebacker. This unit produced five defensive touchdowns, plus two special teams scores, last year. Dom Capers' aggressive philosophy is ideal for fantasy success. Some shuffling in the secondary is worth keeping an eye on in preseason play, and this group isn't as good for leagues that deduct for yards or points allowed. Select them as a top-five unit in 2012 drafts.

4) New England Patriots | Defense/special teams

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
022451222014261141

Fantasy analysis: A strong fantasy D from 2011 (ranked seventh) appears to be even stronger with the draft additions of defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Dont'a Hightower. Steve Gregory comes over from San Diego to play free safety, and strong safety Patrick Chung is healthy. New England has a deep front seven and almost as much in reserve in the secondary. Look for improvement from their 40-sack, 34-takeaway, four-touchdown 2011 season. This group is very undervalued as the 11th defense chosen, on average.

5) San Diego Chargers | Defense/special teams

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
02264112148261038

Fantasy analysis: We're really high on San Diego turning around their defense this year. A new coordinator in John Pagano should do wonders for this talented group. The Bolts spent several key picks on improving this side of the ball and brought in a key free agent in linebacker Jarret Johnson. A better pass rush, led by Shaun Phillips and first-round pick Melvin Ingram, should help bolster their paltry 21 takeaways from a season ago. San Diego is a risky sleeper defense that you can land late in your draft after the sexy picks come off the board.

6) New York Giants | Defense/special teams

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
022210011612251231

Fantasy analysis: New York's front four is arguably the most dangerous in the league, led by third-year stud Jason Pierre-Paul. His 16.5 sacks led the 2011 Giants and helped them to 48 QB takedowns on the year. This defense created 31 turnovers and finished eighth in fantasy points scored. Terrell Thomas (knee) tore his ACL again, and Aaron Ross left in free agency. Rookie Jayron Hosley enters the fray, while last year's first-round cornerback selection Prince Amukamara is healthy. This defense's success is predicated on their pass rush. Draft them as a midrange DT1.

7) Detroit Lions | Defense/special teams

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
02223012158251136

Fantasy analysis: The strength of Detroit's 2011 fantasy defense came by way of 41 sacks and seven - yes, seven! - defensive touchdowns. The latter number will come down to earth. Five passes went back to the house on 21 interceptions. That isn't a sustainable ratio, and this secondary has regressed with the loss of cornerback Eric Wright. The contract dispute between the Lions and defensive end Cliff Avril has been ugly. Detroit's big-play D from a year ago will be tough to replicate; this unit is a risky midrange No. 1.

8) Chicago Bears | Defense/special teams

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
021051132113221243

Lance Briggs, OLB, Chicago Bears

Fantasy analysis: Chicago scored the third most fantasy points in 2011 and has improved along the D-line in the offseason. Shea McClellin is a tenacious pass-rushing end, and Brian Price was acquired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to rotate at tackle. Julius Peppers is always a bright spot for a defense, but he'll need help if the Bears want to record more than 33 sacks in 2012. This D is getting up there in age and has some question marks at safety, but veteran leadership, as well as quality coaching, goes a long way. Chicago is a safe but unspectacular No. 1 defense.

9) Houston Texans | Defense/special teams

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
02022011171025841

Fantasy analysis: Wade Phillips worked his magic last year to transform Houston into a 3-4 defense to be reckoned with. This group lost Mario Williams in free agency, but he missed most of last year with an injury anyway. Edge rushers Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin are more than capable of getting to the passer. J.J. Watt anchors the front three at the left end position, and Houston boasts a pair of former first-rounders at the starting cornerback spots. Houston was an awesome real NFL defense but not so prolific in fantasy scoring (21st overall). They need to make more big plays by finding the end zone. How much can they improve in Year 2 under Phillips? They may be overvalued as the fifth D off the board.

10) New York Jets | Defense/special teams

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
02093120149201435

Fantasy analysis: Rex Ryan's defense has to do a better job of getting to the QB (35 sacks in 2011) and become less reliant on big plays. Those change-changing moments will come if there is steady pressure on the opposing passer. The Jets' defense is inexperienced at defensive end and is getting up there in age at linebacker. The defense's depth is questionable, at best. This could be the year the Jets' D takes a major step backward.

11) Arizona Cardinals | Defense/special teams

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
019831021710221042

Fantasy analysis: Arizona's defense was almost the polar opposite of the 2011 Cowboys group for big plays. They couldn't buy a takeaway (19) despite racking up 42 sacks, but the special teams play was insane. Patrick Peterson scored four times on the year - don't count on that happening again. The defense, especially the secondary, should be better with healthy returns from Adrian Wilson, Kerry Rhodes and Greg Toler. Inside linebacker Daryl Washington is coming into his own. Arizona is a boom-or-bust unit that may not provide weekly consistency.

12) Buffalo Bills | Defense/special teams

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
02723111178271746

Fantasy analysis: Mario Williams was the prize of the offseason for Buffalo. They have a disruptive front four and a blossoming secondary with an underappreciated trio of linebackers sandwiched in-between. The Bills scored seven times on defense and special teams last year despite recording a lousy 30 sacks. That kind of big-play production is an aberration. Expect more of a pass rush this year, but it would be foolhardy to count on as many scores. Look for a push toward the top 10; Buffalo's defense is worth a flier as a low-end DT1.

13) Baltimore Ravens | Defense/special teams

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
016631111610171038

Fantasy analysis: Baltimore's defense is one of the most overrated groups in fantasy circles. The loss of Terrell Suggs (Achilles') is huge, and even if he makes it back this year, don't count on his explosive nature to return until 2013. Ed Reed and Ray Lewis are getting grey, while the pass-rushing replacements for Suggs are unproven. Aside from the 48 sacks recorded, which is a figure bound to regress, three fumble recovery returns for touchdowns powered this fantasy defense last year. You can't count on that happening again. This group recorded just 26 takeaways last year. Let someone else waste a high pick on them.

14) Dallas Cowboys | Defense/special teams

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
024810011210261432

Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos

Fantasy analysis: A retooling of the secondary should make a considerable difference for the 'Boys. Last year, this group found the end zone only one time - including special teams play. Their 42 sacks hold up for a No. 1 fantasy DT, yet they logged only 25 takeaways. Rob Ryan gets a full offseason to turn this thing around in Big D. Fantasy owners can take a chance on them as a high-upside, low-cost flier.

15) Denver Broncos | Defense/special teams

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
024852121411261046

Fantasy analysis: Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller lead the pass-rushing charge for this unit. Peyton Manning will even help the defense by keeping it off the field so much. The sack total (41) was there last year, although only 18 total takeaways marred their fantasy value. Tracy Porter and Mike X. Adams improve the secondary, but D.J. Williams will miss the first six games due to suspension. Denver is a No. 2 defense worth targeting.

16) Pittsburgh Steelers | Defense/special teams

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
01791001129181137

Fantasy analysis: Think about this for one second: The fifth worst fantasy defense from last year is drafted No. 2 overall among its 2012 counterparts. That's called blind hype, people. Pittsburgh is a great real-life defense. This group has finished 25th or worse in fantasy scoring in two of the past three seasons. They are old and struggle to take away the football (15 turnovers in '11). Don't say you weren't warned!

17) Seattle Seahawks | Defense/special teams

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
01605113251419745

Fantasy analysis: Seattle ranked ninth in points scored among fantasy defenses last year, but that largely came from four interceptions returned for touchdowns. That's tough to bank on happening again. This group has a chance to return to the top 10 if they can become more versatile on defense (22 INTs, only nine fumble recoveries). Rookie linebacker Bruce Irvin will be the key to reaching the quarterback more than their 33 takedowns from 2011. They are too risky to be a No. 1 fantasy defense, but it never hurts playing six games in the NFC West.

18) Kansas City Chiefs | Defense/special teams

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
02224112169251144

Fantasy analysis: KC has the pieces in place to be a strong fantasy defense but needs more of a pass-rushing presence to make this happen. Their 29 sacks from a year ago tied for the third fewest in the league and contributed to just 26 takeaways. Arguably their best defensive player, safety Eric Berry, is working his way back from knee reconstruction. Temper your expectations for the first half of 2012 but keep them in mind for the second half.

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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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