My "Fantasy Outlook" series travels to the land of defensive teams in its final installment. The purpose is to illustrate situations that casual fantasy footballers may not be aware of or in a light they may not have considered.
I have three main rules to live by with defensive teams, in no particular order. 1) Never be too loyal or married to one team 2) Always thoroughly know your scoring system, because it matters more with DTs than almost any position 3) Real life defensive success doesn't always translate to fantasy football production.
Be sure to check out our Cheat Sheet Calculator for customized rankings tailored to your league's scoring rules.
Bills, Mario could be super
Pittsburgh Steelers: In reference to Rule 3, the Steelers are the Troy Aikman of fantasy football. Sometimes they'll give you an awesome game, but they're far better in real life than our virtual pastime. Last year's version is a great example: Pittsburgh didn't take away the ball (20) enough to matter. They may hold opponents to a low score, which does help in some systems (remember Rule 2?), yet every year someone grossly overvalues them because of their reputation.
Buffalo Bills: There is enough individual talent to be a great fantasy asset in upstate New York. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is aggressive and knows his way around that side of the ball. Should the transition back to a 3-4 base go smoothly, this group could be more than the occasional matchup play.
Cleveland Browns: Similarly to the Bills, Cleveland has a lot of potential on D. New coordinator Ray Horton comes over from the Arizona Cardinals, where he turned their otherwise suspect group into a touchdown powerhouse. He is extremely aggressive and takes smart chances that often lead to big plays.
Detroit Lions: I see people drafting them as a starting unit and I have to question why. There is a fair amount of individual talent here, but a lot has to go Detroit's way to become a formidable fantasy unit. Nick Fairley has to stand out at interior tackle, while rookie end Ezekiel Ansah needs to be a force from Day 1. I don't see this unit as being much more than the occasional waiver wire play, but they are worth a draft pick if you're desperate for a shot in the dark.
Denver Broncos: Someone in your league will draft them, and, for the most part, I don't have an issue with it. Lower your expectations, at least early in the year, while they regroup their wounded pass rush. Denver's D could easily be one of the more disappointing groups in the NFL, however, from a fantasy perspective. Don't be afraid to cut bait if they struggle once Von Miller returns from his looming suspension (Rule 1).
Also See: 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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