With training camp around the corner, it's time we take another look at the 2013 fantasy football team defense landscape.
1. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks allowed the fewest points last year, yielding just 15.3 points per game. They finished fourth in the league with 306.2 yards per game allowed.
Adding Antoine Winfield’s veteran presence to an outstanding secondary anchored by Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas makes this an elite unit. Cliff Avril, who recorded 9.5 sacks last year for the Detroit Lions, gives them even more beef up front.
2. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers finished just behind the Seahawks with 17.1 points per game allowed. They ranked third in total defense with 294.4 yards per game allowed.
Patrick Willis anchors the defense, while Aldon Smith, who recorded 19.5 sacks last year, is a total menace. Justin Smith should return to form following surgery on his triceps, which will really solidify their front line.
3. Houston Texans
The Texans took a slight step back defensively last year, but they still finished in the top 10 in both scoring defense (20.7 ppg) and total defense (323.3 ypg).
Their struggles were primarily in pass defense, but the addition of future first-ballot Hall of Famer Ed Reed should help. Having a healthy Brian Cushing will also be huge. Oh, and they still have J.J. Watt.
4. Denver Broncos
The Broncos will miss Dumervil, but they still have Von Miller terrorizing opposing quarterbacks. Denver finished second in total defense (290.8 ypg) and fourth in scoring defense (18.1 ppg).
The addition of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will help their secondary.
5. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens will miss the leadership of Reed and Ray Lewis, but they reloaded. A clerical error allowed Elvis Dumervil to slip out of the Denver Broncos’ grasp. Baltimore snatched him up to pair with Terrell Suggs, who should be healthy after missing half of the season with an Achilles' injury.
Michael Huff came over from the Oakland Raiders to soften the blow of Reed’s departure. All-Pro Haloti Ngata anchors the defensive line.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers led the league in total defense with 275.8 yards allowed per game. They ranked sixth in scoring defense (19.6 ppg). Troy Polamalu’s health will be the key to their success or lack thereof.
7. Chicago Bears
Da Bears finished third in scoring defense (17.3 ppg) and fifth in total defense (315.6 ypg). A lot of their success last year was predicated on their ability to turn turnovers into touchdowns. That isn’t something you can bank on every year.
They will miss Brian Urlacher’s leadership, but D.J. Williams will help fill the void. Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman give the Bears a stud at every level of their defense.
8. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals finished sixth in total defense (319.7 ypg) and eighth in scoring defense (20.0 ppg). Geno Atkins (12.5 sacks) and Michael Johnson (11.5 sacks) form an underrated one-two punch. Rey Maualuga is coming off a career-high 122 tackles.
9. New England Patriots
The Patriots bend (373.3 ypg) but don’t break (20.7 ppg) on defense. The Patriots have invested heavily on defense with draft picks in recent years, which should be important, as the offense will likely be less explosive with the release of Aaron Hernandez and the departure of Wes Welker.
10. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons had similar numbers as the Patriots (365.6 ypg, 18.7 ypg). They yielded a fair share of yards, but they did the job in keeping the points off the board.
They added Osi Umenyiora and rookie Desmond Trufant to bolster their defense.
11. St. Louis Rams
Chris Long has reached double-digit sacks in the past two seasons. Robert Quinn joined him with 10.5 of his own last year to give the Rams a solid one-two punch.
James Laurinaitis had 142 tackles last year. He’s a machine. The Rams finished 14th in both total defense (342.6 ypg) and scoring defense (21.8 ppg).
12. Green Bay Packers
Clay Matthews is a force, keeping quarterbacks on alert. The Packers finished 11th in both total defense (336.8 ypg) and scoring defense (21.0 ppg).
13. Arizona Cardinals
Patrick Peterson has lived up to his expectations in leading an underrated Cardinals defense. They finished 12th in total defense (337.8 ypg) and 17th in scoring defense (22.3 ppg).
14. New York Giants
Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck were underwhelming last year, but they have the ability to bounce back in a big way. The Giants allowed a ton of yards (383.4 ypg), which ranked 31st in the league, but they ranked 12th in scoring defense (21.5 ppg).
15. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings ranked 16th in total defense (350.0 ypg) and were tied for 14th in scoring defense (21.8 ppg). Jared Allen is a beast, and Brian Robison gives the Vikings a nice one-two punch.
If Desmond Bishop proves healthy, he will bolster the linebacking corps, which is anchored by the tackling machine Chad Greenway. The secondary is young but has plenty of upside.
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