Fantasy Football 2012: Analyzing the Most Underrated Defenses

John RozumCorrespondent IJuly 10, 2012

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 9: Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos reacts to a play against the San Diego Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 9, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Bart Young/Getty Images)
Bart Young/Getty Images

Defense plays a major role in fantasy football just like in real football. And if you're in a league that also allows points for touchdowns on special teams, selecting the right defense is vital to winning a championship.

The Denver Broncos are one of the more underrated defenses going into the 2012 season, as they were quite vulnerable against the run last year. Still, the Broncos present a stronger unit this season, and the sack-masters are now helped by an improved secondary and interior defensive line.

Along with Denver, though, there are other underrated defenses you must consider for fantasy. So, let's check them out and see what each offers.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars' strength is simply not allowing many points. Mel Tucker's defense ranked inside the Top 10 against the rush and pass in 2011, and although the Jags finished 5-11, the defense allowed only 20.6 points per game (ranked No. 11).

Now, Jacksonville presents a more explosive offense to control the game tempo and a new corner in Aaron Ross who will create turnovers. Jacksonville is one of the most complete and technically sound defenses, and its success comes from discipline.

In turn, that allows for many sack opportunities and forced fumbles. Jacksonville isn't a flashy defense, but the Jags know how to lock it down each week.

Cincinnati Bengals

Much like Jacksonville, the Cincinnati Bengals were ranked in the Top 10 against the rush and pass. However, on a more impressive note, the Bengals also ranked No. 9 in allowing just 20.2 points per game.

The AFC North isn't the most explosive division either, so Cincinnati need not worry about letting up 30-plus points too often. Also, the Bengals made impressive additions with rookies Dre Kirkpatrick, Devon Still and George Iloka.

Cincy's defensive front is strong against the run, and the added talent to the secondary will benefit from the increased number of passing situations. The Bengals rarely missed assignments in 2011. Expect that to be reduced in 2012.

Dallas Cowboys

Fielding an extremely vulnerable pass defense in 2011 that ultimately cost Dallas its season, 2012 has a much more positive outlook.

The Cowboys added Brandon Carr, arguably the most underrated cornerback in the game, and selected LSU's Morris Claiborne in the 2012 draft. Elsewhere in the front seven, DeMarcus Ware got a pass-rushing partner in Tyrone Crawford to force more turnovers.

Inside linebacker Sean Lee is a playmaker against the pass, and Claiborne picked off 11 passes during his final two college seasons. Being in the pass-happy NFC East and fielding a potent offense, the Cowboys will see a vehement rise in sack and turnover opportunities.

With all the potential and talent that now exists, it's reasonable to anticipate an overall well-done performance from the Doomsday Defense in 2012.

Denver Broncos

The sack duo of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil is just the tip of the Rocky Mountains regarding the Broncos' defense.

Rookie defensive lineman Derek Wolfe improves the front wall, as he can play both tackle and end. Depending on the game situation, Wolfe's versatility is what will benefit Denver's front seven the most.

In the secondary, cornerback Tracy Porter is a great complement to Champ Bailey, and rookie Omar Bolden will likely contribute as a nickel/dime back. Other solid players such as Wesley Woodyard and Robert Ayers will also be effective in shutting down the run and getting quarterback pressure.

Denver's defense is nearly complete across the board, and despite a rough schedule in 2012, the Broncos have the elite individual talent to make some noise early on.

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