NFL 2013 Fantasy Football Sleeping 7: Arizona's Defense Can Score from Anywhere

Alfred Konuwa@@ThisIsNastyFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2013


Despite the looming resurgence of Larry Fitzgerald, the Arizona Cardinals defense and special teams could be more fun to watch than its offense. 

Very little analysis and thought process goes into drafting NFL defenses in many leagues.  They just seem to come off the board on order of ADP as owners begin to tire from hour(s) of draft-day laboring. 

This is a mistake.  Analyzing critical defensive statistics and situations can lead to drafting a defensive powerhouse, which tends to be one of the higher-scoring entities in fantasy football even in standard scoring systems. 

According to projections (h/t, a top-10 D/ST will average 191.76 points. 

Those are WR1 numbers (h/t

In the age of offense, stout defenses are few and far between, and they can be the difference between the fantasy playoffs and the consolation round. 

The Cardinals provide bountiful scoring opportunities from a defensive standpoint.  Many forget that this was one of the top defensive units when Arizona's offense could maintain drives early last season.  Much of Arizona's now-distant 4-0 start to begin 2012 could be credited to a strong defensive effort led by a ball-hawking secondary. 

Rising star Patrick Peterson and co. even managed to finish second in interceptions in 2012. 

But once the offense began to wane—facilitated by a nightmarish revolving door of quarterbacks—it became impossible for an otherwise talented defense to keep up.  Arizona's defense would go on to allow 30.7 points per game during the final four games. 

Now, with upgrades at quarterback and a possibly improved secondary with the addition of budding star Tyrann Mathieu, the Arizona Cardinals appear to not only stifle opposing offenses, but score on them as well. 

Mathieu should also give the Cardinals a boost on special teams, where he excelled in college in punt returns, and where he has continued to shine during the preseason. 

'I think he will be in the mix for defensive rookie of the year honors.'

— NFL (@nfl) August 15, 2013

Defensive line anchors Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell will be featured in a hybrid 3-4 system drawn up by veteran defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.  Dockett was clearly frustrated by last year's scheme, saying:

I hated [former Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton's] scheme. I really hated it. I played it because I needed to. But this defense is based on guys and what their ability allows them to be good at. What they were drafted for.

Bowles' system is expected to be more tailored to the individual talents of the linemen, creating more opportunities for sacks and tackles for losses. 

If Carson Palmer can be efficiently protected by a retooled offensive line, an aggressive, well-rested and playmaking defense/special teams unit will feast on turnovers and touchdowns. 

 2013 Projection: 41 Sacks, 19 INT, 315 ypg, 6 TD

#Sleeping7: Alex Smith (QB; 16.12 ADP) | Le'Veon Bell (RB; 5.05 ADP) | Giovani Bernard (RB; 8.03 ADP) | DeAndre Hopkins (WR; 8.08 ADP)Kenbrell Thompkins (WR; 12.03 ADP) | Michael Floyd (WR; 10.03 ADP)  | Jordan Cameron (TE; 11.08 ADP) | Arizona Cardinals (D/ST; #13)

The 2013 Sleeping Seven is brought to you by a five-time Fantasy Football Champion.  It documents criminally unheralded players with an Average Draft Position (ADP) past the fourth round.  Combine a team of reliable studs with a steady diet of late-round overachievers, and a juggernaut awaits.

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