Fantasy Football 2013: Underrated Defenses That Will Rack Up Massive Points

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Fantasy Football 2013: Underrated Defenses That Will Rack Up Massive Points
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Patrick Peterson and the Arizona Cardinals will improve this season.

A scoring defense saves seasons in fantasy football, especially when those defenses are underrated.

Every team in your fantasy league will have multiple offensive players that score consistently, so possessing a defense that also gets it done on a weekly basis unfolds as a competitive advantage.

Whether it's multiple sacks, turnovers or a special teams touchdown, those points accumulate rather quickly. Although that's to be expected from obvious defenses such as the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos, the following defenses offer just as much potential entering this campaign.

 

Cleveland Browns

Watch out for the Cleveland Browns in 2013.

Cleveland has significantly bolstered its defense since the 2012 season concluded. In free agency, pass-rusher Paul Kruger joined (via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com) after winning Super Bowl XLVII with the Baltimore Ravens.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Kruger also comes off his best season with nine sacks, six defended passes and 42 tackles. The Browns then drafted LSU linebacker  Barkevious Mingo, a speedy defender that collected 15 sacks and forced four fumbles for the Bayou Bengals.

After Cleveland recorded 38 sacks a season ago, along with 12 recovered fumbles, the Browns' front seven will increase production. Cornerback Joe Haden has also been provided with a potential sidekick in Leon McFadden from San Diego State.

McFadden defended 46 passes between 2010 and 2012, which displays No. 2 corner potential. In short, Cleveland filled areas of need and are only going to improve next season.


Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons only gave up 14 passing touchdowns and recorded 20 picks in 2012.

Safety Thomas DeCoud recorded six interceptions, and veteran corner Asante Samuel snagged five.  Atlanta also brings in strong complements from the draft in Washington's Desmond Trufant and Southeastern Louisiana's Robert Alford.

Trufant defended 38 passes throughout his college career, whereas Alford amassed seven picks the past two years. Additionally, late-round safety Kemal Ishmael was a gem pick, as he forced six fumbles for Central Florida.

However, the pass rush is where the Falcons must get immediate production. Getting only 29 sacks a year ago was costly, but youngster Jonathan Massaquoi possesses great potential, as well as rookie Malliciah Goodman (who forced eight fumbles).

Mesh in the presence of Osi Umenyiora from the market, per Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, and Atlanta is set up front. Now it's just a matter of actually getting pressure to inflate turnover opportunities.

Which defense performs better in 2013?

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Arizona Cardinals

Daryl Washington's off-the-field issues aside, the Arizona Cardinals remain a strong defense for 2013.

For one, the pass defense only allowed a 54.3 completion percentage in 2012, and the pass rush will build on its 38 sacks. Arizona also addressed its defense during free agency, as Karlos Dansby returns, according to Darren Urban of the teams' official website.

Dansby accounted for 134 tackles and nine defended passes last season, which will help stuff the run and shell the intermediate level. The Cardinals also bring in playmakers Tyrann Mathieu and Alex Okafor via the draft.

Mathieu was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2011 and forced 11 fumbles in two seasons for LSU. Okafor racked up 12.5 sacks and forced four fumbles last fall.

The pass rush and run defense will improve, which will help create turnovers. Factor in Peterson's talent as a punt returner, and Arizona is quite appealing for fantasy football this season.

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