Our friends at MockDraftCentral.com can be thanked for the average draft placement (ADP), and each of these figures will also be current to provide you the most accurate information available. According to Mock Draft Central, the following information is from performance leagues without point-per-reception scoring and has been updated weekly.
Pittsburgh Steelers | Average draft placement: 98.5 | Last week: 96.4
If your league provides bonus rewards for defenses that allow small yardage and points totals, the Steelers carry more weight; still, you shouldn't be THIS optimistic. Despite ranking second in the NFL in sacks in 2008, they were the 10th-ranked defense in standard fantasy football formats. The name values of strong safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker James Harrison will probably inflate their worth once again.
Fantasy value: They're typically the first defense off the board, but don't let your logic be drowned out by Super Bowl highlights. You don't need to select a defense this quickly, even if they did frighten opposing quarterbacks last year. In our standard scoring system (one point per sack, two points per turnover, six points per touchdown), the Steelers defense didn't even crack the top five last season. In fact, they were the 10th-best fantasy defense, yet they are somehow going No. 1 overall for defensive teams? For as crazy as it may sound, the Arizona Cardinals defense scored more fantasy points than the Steelers did! Let someone else fawn over Polamalu's locks while you use this opportunity to pluck a skills player that can help your depth.
Baltimore Ravens | Average draft placement: 112.8 | Last week: 109.9
The departures of defensive guru Rex Ryan and key linebacker Bart Scott hurt. Baltimore twists the knife when they remind you that a 34-year-old Ray Lewis will direct the linebackers, and they're crossing their fingers at cornerback (the dynamic duo of Fabian Washington and Domonique Foxworth). Of course, this unit has tons of rings under its bark and has been reaching the quarterback less often since 2006.
How much of the effectiveness and similarities from Ryan's scheme will former linebackers coach Greg Mattison carry over? Their offense lacks explosiveness and can't be counted on to spell the D often.
Fantasy value: Being selected, on average, as the No. 2 defense going within the first 11 rounds, the Ravens are still riding the fantasy draft coattails of their predecessors. There are too many questions for this new incarnation to tab them as if they were the impact squads of past seasons. This is too early to target a defensive team, especially one with this many question marks.
Tennessee Titans | Average draft placement: 138.9 | Last week: 138.9
The Titans were one of the best late-round values last season, but reasons for a fall-off are mounting. Let's start with the heart of their D last year, run-stuffing defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who was lost to free agency. As admirably as defensive tackles Jason D. Jones and Tony Brown played down the stretch, the current Titans' line probably won't achieve the same amount of penetration without the big man commanding double teams.
Though former secondary coach Chuck Cecil should ease the transition, they also said goodbye to former defensive coordinator and new Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, whose abstract situational analysis helped revamp their in-game approach.
Fantasy value: Their rushing defense propelled them to success last year, yet you should expect more balanced attacks to test Tennessee this year. Their No. 6 ranking on draft boards is lofty considering they lost the biggest quotient to their sacks success last season.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
Don't miss these great reports....
Recent KFFL releases
Fantasy Football Rankings: Standard Scoring
Fantasy Football Rankings: PPR Scoring
Fantasy Baseball Closer Depth Charts: White Sox chaos coming?
Fantasy Football Rankings: Scoring only