Fantasy Football 2012: 5 Defenses Fantasy Owners Must Snag
As NFL training camps begin, it is a great way for people to preview how successful a team and its players will be.
It is also a time for fantasy football fanatics to begin researching and scouting players they want to draft for their teams.
One aspect that is often overlooked is defense. These statistics depend on the overall performance of 11 players as opposed to just one.
So, as fantasy football owners begin their research, here are five defenses to keep an eye on and that would be great additions for a team.
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When Terrell Suggs injured himself this offseason, many people started to write off the Baltimore defense. With many of their players getting older and a lot of young, new faces taking over, no one knew what to expect from this almost-always dominating team.
What the Ravens have re-shown thus far is that Suggs is not the only great defender on this team. Ray Lewis is still playing at a high level and is the leader of the team, Haloti Ngata plugs the running holes in the middle and frees up the linebackers to make open tackles, and Ed Reed is still one of the most dangerous safeties in the league who is always lurking down the field.
Young players such as Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith have grown and developed into more complete corners, and rookie Courtney Upshaw has proven he is ready to step in for Suggs.
Even though there are some new pieces in the Baltimore defensive puzzle, they will find a way to gel together and have yet another fantastic statistical season.
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A big offseason by the Buffalo Bills has raised their defensive stock value and makes them a dark horse in the fantasy draft.
The Bills began by landing Mario Williams, who was the top defensive player available in the free-agent market. Williams is arguably the league's best pass-rusher and is a talented player who gives offenses trouble. Despite missing 14 games over six seasons due to injuries, he still managed 53 sacks. The Bills also brought in veteran defensive end Mike Anderson to add to their defensive experience.
Buffalo drafted cornerback Stephon Gilmore in the first round of the draft to help its weak secondary. Gilmore was a big-time playmaker for the South Carolina Gamecocks and was one of the top cornerbacks in college football.
These new faces will only add and improve the somewhat-solid defense already in place. If everything breaks right, the Buffalo Bills defense will easily soar into the top 10 and will put a stop to offenses.
San Francisco 49ers
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As teams quickly found out last year, the San Francisco 49ers are stacked.
Led by wily veteran Patrick Willis, the defense struck fear in some of the league's most potent offenses and finished first in team defense. Justin Smith had a breakout season, Carlos Rogers was a first-team All-NFL cornerback and Aldon Smith was in contention for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The defense carried the 49ers to a 13-win season last year, and they did not give away many unforced errors. With the combination of veteran leadership and young, rising talent, the 49ers will be tough to move against. They also have the confidence of their unbelievable performance last year.
San Francisco is arguably the NFL's best defense, and the scary part is that its best performances have yet to come.
New York Giants
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The New York Giants defense suffered a series of injuries throughout the 2011 season. Their statistics left a lot to be desired, and they were carried along by Eli Manning and the offensive attack.
Everyone was so banged up that no one really knew who would be playing where.
When the Giants defense as a whole is healthy, it arguably is one of the most dominant. The Giants' pair of defensive ends in Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck is unstoppable. Teams often have to pick one to focus on, leaving the other completely free.
As preparations for the 2012 season roll around, the Super Bowl champs are ready to make another strong run at the Lombardi Trophy. With the defense 100 percent, their chances to repeat are that much higher.
New England Patriots
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The New England Patriots surprisingly had the 31st-ranked defense last season. Under coach Bill Belichick, fans know that was not going to last long.
The Patriots used their first six draft picks on defensive players. Their two first-round choices, Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower, will bring much-needed youth and physicality to the front seven, and second-round pick Tavon Wilson will bring speed and stability to the secondary. They also signed a couple of veterans during the offseason to bring in for leadership roles.
Belichick and the New England defense are itching to show their opponents their new defensive swag. They want to relieve Tom Brady and the offense from some of the pressure, and show that they can rack up a lot of turnovers and shut down lethal offensive attacks.
Because of their dismal numbers in the past, not many people will be jumping on the Patriots' defensive bandwagon. With their new confidence and schemes, though, New England is a dark horse in the defensive game and will show why it is now more unstoppable than ever, and why Belichick is simply a genius.