Fantasy football overvalued players: Defensive teams/special teams

by Cory J. Bonini and Tim Heaney on September 10, 2010 @ 10:40:00 PDT's analysis of fantasy football overvalued players for the 2010 season will be updated weekly throughout the offseason. We have separated our busts and overvalued players this year, so be sure not to confuse the two.

Busts are also overvalued players in some cases, but the latter usually has a hype machine inflating his perceived value. We have a keen eye for these players and have a strong track record of identifying them. No one likes doing the dirty work, so let do it for you! Be sure to check for weekly updates.

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

Defensive team/special teams

Minnesota Vikings | ADP: 11th round

The Vikings led the NFL in sacks last year with 48, but that is about the end of their fantasy strengths. They finished tied multi-way for 26th in the league in interceptions (11) and their 10 fumble recoveries ranked just 24th (multi-way tie). They recorded just one defensive touchdowns, and anything you get in the return game (two scores) can be considered a bonus.

Star defensive tackle Pat Williams should be safe from suspension, but the 317-pound lineman turns 38 in October. Middle linebacker E.J. Henderson is coming off a severe leg fracture. The Vikings' starting cornerbacks, Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin (knee), are both coming off major injuries - the latter isn't close to coming off the Phyiscally Unable to Perform list. The Vikings drafted cornerback Chris Cook and signed another in veteran Lito Sheppard, whose play has tailed off in a big way.

Fantasy value: Drafting the Vikings as high as their ADP is foolish. You're better off waiting a few rounds and snagging a unit with fewer question marks. Minnesota should not be the second defense drafted. 

Pittsburgh Steelers | ADP: 12th round

The good: Pittsburgh ranked second in the league in sacks (47). The bad: They fell to 25th in interceptions (12) and tied multi-way for 17th in fumble recoveries (10). They will receive a boost with a healthy Troy Polamalu (knee) at strong stafety, but after a career-threatening ligament tear in 2009, how good will he be in '10?

In standard fantasy scoring, the Steelers ranked a pathetic 24th, a long way from their 2008 10th-place finish. How about 2007? Tied for 22nd. The year before? A healthy 13th. You get the point.

Fantasy value: The Steelers' defense is awesome in real football, but virtual owners perennially overvalue this group. They are being drafted as the seventh defense right now. Pittsburgh is very good at limiting opponents' yardage and touchdowns, but they don't rack up enough of the key counting stats to make them a superpower unit for fantasy teams, contrary to popular belief.

Dallas Cowboys | ADP: 13th round

You'll get sacks; Dallas ranked seventh in the NFL last year with 42 QB sandwiches. Elsewhere? Not so promising: tied for 26th in interceptions (11) and tied for 17th in fumble recoveries (10) while serving as an uninspiring option in standard scoring leagues. Wade Phillips' defense can bring it, but they can't create turnovers - in part thanks to their boring safety play. You're relying almost solely on quarterback pressure.

Dallas might again succeed in suppressing opponent points scored (second fewest last season), but takeaways separate great fantasy defenses from the mediocre. Sure, sacks are a stable source of points each week, but on a relative scale, you should rather take a more turnover-friendly defense at this price.

Fantasy value: Because of their sacks, the Cowboys could still be a useful No. 1 defense at times, but the Cowboys' D is tame in scoring fantasy points when compared to cheaper units. The Star blinds many drafters. Don't overpay for Big D's D if you can wait on other options while building up elsewhere.

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Also see:

Sleepers: QB | RB | WR | TE | PK | DT
Busts: QB | RB | WR | TE | PK | DT
Undervalued players: QB | RB | WR | TE | PK | DT
Overvalued players: 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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