Sports Magazine

Football Fantasyland 2012: Know Your Defense/Special Teams

By Brettclancy @thebrettclancy

So, with drafts underway and everyone worrying about their skill positions I wanted to take a minute to discuss defense. D/ST and kickers are often highly underrated in fantasy because there’s usually a much smaller point discrepancy among the top 10 or 12 at the position than at the skill positions. This can actually a little misleading as a lot of teams will put up one or two huge number games and then be average to mediocre the rest of the year, but still come out on the high end at season’s end because of those isolated performances. And even if the gap isn’t huge compared to other positions, it could still be significant enough to cost you your playoff spot. Good defense will win you games, good consistent defense could land you championships.

Now watch as I play devils advocate to myself and tell you there’s no reason to draft a defense earlier than the second to last round. Actually, make that very little reason. What I said before was important and if you’re playing in a league with people who are new to fantasy they are prone towards filling their roster and grabbind a D/ST early. So why shouldn’t you? To be honest it’s mostly because I don’t trust the schedules of some of the top defenses this year.

I want badly to tell you drafting the 49ers defense in the 7th round (which is where they tend to go in the mocks I’ve been doing, but it’s usually by an autodraft, so take it with a grain of salt) is the best thing you can do for your team, but I just can’t. This years schedule includes games against Rodgers (week 1) Stafford (week 2) Brees (week 12) Brady (week 15) and SF can be beat through the air, especially against teams who don’t have much of a run game to take away. Eli Manning and Jay Cutler also pop up in weeks 6 and 11 respectively. I’m not too concerned about either of them because they can be pick prone and in Cutler’s case the defense should be shredding through the Bears O-Line and pressuring hard all day. So you’ve got 4 (potentially) rough weeks, plus the bye. The good news is the rest of the schedule is the remainder of the NFC West (twice), AFC East and Vikings. All said…if they’re still on the board in round 11 or 12 when I pick, I’ll be taking them.

It’s worth noting another top ranked defense, the Texans will also face Rodgers, and Brady but have an otherwise unintimidating schedule. Baltimore only gets Brady (and Romo if you want to count him) but are missing their top pass rusher in Terrell Suggs. Jury is still out for me on how tough the AFC North will end up being this year. (I’m thinking Dalton could see a slump, Weeden may be 28 but is still a rookie and will make some mistakes, and no real good words coming out of Steelers camp so far, but I’ve learned not to underestimate them.)

Bottom Line is this. If you have a defense you think you want, take a quick peak at their schedule. Every team is going to have a few tough games on paper, just make sure you know about them. Also, keep the special teams aspect in mind. A good returner can break a game not just for his team, but for yours as well.

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