With the wild free agency market this offseason a whole lot of teams went out and stacked up their defense. It’s a great feeling knowing that you drafted a defense that can consistently put up fantasy points throughout the fantasy football season. Here are my top ten defenses for the 2011 fantasy football season.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers- The Steelers have been disrupting offenses for a while now and it’s going to continue this season. With James Harrison and Lamarr Woodley coming off the edge pressuring the quarterback it’s going to lead to a lot of sacks for Woodley and Harrison. Too go along with the pressure that Woodley and Harrison are bringing off the edge, Troy Polamalu is going to be holding down the secondary and making sure that nothing gets by him. Polamalu is the leader of that defense and when Troy is healthy he’s the best safety in the league. As a complete unit, the Steelers are going to be hard to run or pass against. They are going to put up great numbers on the stat sheet which will translate into fantasy points. Look for the Steelers to force a lot of fumbles, sacks, and overall ruckus on Sundays.
2. Philadelphia Eagles- The other team in Pennsylvania really did it big this off-season and signed some big time defensive players. The first is Nnamdi Asomugha. The second best cornerback in the league over the past 4 years gets to play on the other side of Asante Samuel who isn’t too shabby himself. The Eagles also acquired Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in a trade that sent Kevin Kolb to Arizona. To say that Eagles are well off at the cornerback position is an understatement. I really can’t wait to see opposing quarterbacks try and throw against Asomugha, Samuel, and Rodgers-Cromartie. The other free agent that the Eagles signed that is going to make an immediate impact is Jason Babin. With Babin’s speed off the edge he’s going to get to the quarterback. Now when all the opposing receivers are blanketed by Asomugha, Samuel, and Rodgers-Cromartie, Babin is going to be taking off quarterback’s heads a bunch of times every game. This is a scary defense and one of, if not, the best fantasy option.
3. New York Jets- A Rex Ryan defense is always going to be tough and one of the best in the NFL. The Jets didn’t go out and sign any big name free agents this offseason but they signed the players that they needed to sign to keep one of the top defenses in the league intact. Darrelle Revis is the best cornerback in the NFL when he’s healthy and he’s the leader of the Jets secondary. Resigning Antonio Cromartie was a must and the Jets were able to do that. With Revis and Cromartie playing opposite each other it’s going to be a headache for quarterbacks to throw against these guys. The Jets also resigned pro-bowler David Harris to lead the line backing corp. The Jets drafted Mohammed Wilkerson who has the potential to plug up the middle and help stop the run. It looks like the Jets are going to make a push towards the Super Bowl again this year so expect the defense to step their level of play up.
4. Green Bay Packers- They are the reigning Super Bowl champs and I feel like a lot of people are going to be sleeping on the Packers defense. The Packers secondary is very good and experienced with Charles Woodson at cornerback and Nick Collins at free safety. Tramon Williams who ‘s playing on the other side of Woodson showed us that he can cover other teams number two wide receivers effectively. The Packers line backing core is held together by the flowing hair of A.J. Hawk and Clay Matthews. Matthews is the packers best speed rusher and Hawk is the leader of the defense. Desmond Bishop is a bull at the right inside linebacker position and is going to help stop the run (that is if they get past the defensive line). The Packers defensive line is held together by nose tackle B.J. Raji. Raji is huge and it seems like every time the ball is near him it gravitates towards him. With Raji’s gravitational pull on the defensive line look for the Packers defense to keep opposing teams out of the red zone.
5. Chicago Bears- The Bears did let All Pro defensive tackle Tommie Harris go this off-season but that’s okay because of everyone else they’ve got on their defense. Julius Peppers is the best defensive end in the NFL and is always disrupting opposing offenses in one way or another. On the other side of the defensive line you’ve got Israel Idonije who can really get after the quarterback. I think that the Bears have the best combination of defensive ends in the NFL. It’s going to be scary to see what Peppers and Idonije can do this season rushing off the edge. Brian Urlacher is the leader of Chicago’s defense and a tackling machine. Urlacher has got Lance Briggs to his right and Nick Roach to his left who both can stop the run and cover tight ends. In the secondary you’ve got two very experienced players in Chris Harris and Charles Tillman. They may not be picking the ball off much but they aren’t going to let receivers find the end zone. Lovie Smith has always been about defense and the Bears of 2011 are going to produce fantasy points because of the stress that Smith puts on defense.
6. New York Giants- The Giants come into this season looking real good on the depth chart. The Giants defensive line is where all the action is. With Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Chris Canty, and Mathias Kiwanuka as your starting defensive linemen, it’s very intimidating for opposing quarterbacks. With Osi and his issues, second year player Jason Pierre-Paul may get a chance to step in at defensive end. Pierre-Paul showed last season that he can rush the quarterback and isn’t too bad in pass coverage and against the run. In the secondary the Giants have two great safety’s in Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips. Antrel Rolle is great against the run which will be big this year because the Giants aren’t that string at any of the linebacker positions. Phillips can also play the run well but is a really good pass defender. Corey Webster is going to be starting at cornerback and he’s going to be able to hold his own against number one receivers. The Giants are going to put up double digit fantasy points every week no matter who’s on the field.
7. Baltimore Ravens- The Ravens have always had a strong defense and I expect the Ravens to have a string defense again this year. Ray Lewis is still doing his thing running the defense from the middle line backer position and Terrell Suggs is as versatile as they get at the right outside linebacker spot. The Ravens went out in the draft and got Alabama monster Terrence Cody to play nose tackle. In the secondary the Ravens have a rising star at cornerback in Lardarius Webb. The Ravens also have the veteran Ed Reed playing free safety and Chris Carr at the other cornerback spot. Baltimore has always been known for making turnovers and taking to the end zone which is a great stat to have in fantasy football.
8. New Orleans Saints- The Saints defense really broke down in the playoffs last year and this year I expect them to bounce back from that one bad game. The Saints defensive line looks very string with Sedrick Ellis, Will Smith and Shaun Rogers. Those three guys are going to be putting pressure on the quarterback constantly. Jonathan Vilma is a tackling machine at the middle linebacker position and is the leader of the defense. In the secondary the Saints have mediocre players but between them they are a good unit that can cover top wide receivers. New Orleans isn’t going to give up too many points and that’s what fantasy owners like to see.
9. New England Patriots- I don’t know how anyone is going to run the ball up the middle against the New England Patriots this season. Vince Wilfork is a monstrosity in the middle and is always plugging up run lanes. To go along with Wilfork the Patriots went out and signed another monstrosity in Albert Hainesworth. If Hainesworth can get his act together and start playing like he did in Tennessee teams should just throw away any running plays that go up the middle. Jerod Mayo is another tackling machine that anchors the line backing crew in New England. Middle linebacker Brandon Spikes is looking to have a big sophomore season and Rob Ninkovich will play well at the left linebacker spot. In the secondary the Patriots have got 4 guys that really play well together in Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Brandon Meriweather and Leigh Bodden. McCourty is the best out of the four of them but these guys can really shut down a passing game when their all on the field.
10. San Diego Chargers- The Chargers got a boost in their secondary when they signed Bob Sanders this off-season. To go along with Sanders in the secondary, the Chargers have two very good cornerbacks in Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason. San Diego’s line backing core is kind of thrown together with newly signed Takeo Spikes playing the right inside linebacker spot and Shaun Phillips playing left outside linebacker with speed to rush the quarterback. The Chargers defensive line is anchored by Luis Castillo at right defensive end. San Diego’s defense overall is going to play well together on Sunday. Not a bad fantasy option if you can’t grab one of the other defenses on this list.