By Derek of The Sportmeisters
Hello again, sports fans! Sportmeister Derek here, and I am ready for some football.
After watching some preseason games and seeing all of the different players that were playing in the games, it had me thinking of who were the guys to watch out for this year that you don’t hear very much about. In fantasy terms, who are your fantasy sleepers for the 2009 fantasy season?
Today, I am going to tell you who are your top five fantasy sleeper defense/special teams units to look for in your fantasy drafts. Now, D/ST units are normally not drafted until the middle to later rounds anyway, but there are still some that will last way longer than they should, making them prime sleeper candidates. Let’s get started!
1. New York Jets - Projection: 45 Sacks, 18 Interceptions, 19 Forced Fumbles, 16 Fumble Recoveries, 4 Defensive TD, 305 Points Against, 4900 Yards Against, 2 Safeties, 3 Return TD
This is the defense that I think you should expect huge things from this year. With new defensive genius Rex Ryan as head coach, the signings of LB Bart Scott and S Jim Leonhard, and the trade for CB Lito Sheppard, the Jets are poised for defensive greatness.
They still have LBs Calvin Pace and David Harris, DT Kris Jenkins, and CB Darrelle Revis to go with those new additions, not to mention one of the most dynamic return men in the NFL in RB Leon Washington. The Jets aren’t expected to be a top-five D/ST unit by most, which would explain their ADP of 106 (Round 11) in CBS Sports drafts.
I do expect the Jets D/ST unit to be a top-five fantasy unit this year, though, and I would draft them with high expectations.
2. New England Patriots - Projection: 35 Sacks, 17 Interceptions, 14 Forced Fumbles, 11 Fumble Recoveries, 3 Defensive TD, 335 Points Against, 4750 Yards Against, 1 Safety, 1 Return TD
The Patriots are still coached by Bill Belichick and still have their veteran leaders in LBs Tedy Bruschi, Adalius Thomas, and DE Richard Seymour. They have a few good young players to add into the mix, and they added DE/LB Derrick Burgess from Oakland.
The Patriots D/ST unit should bounce back from a disappointing fantasy year in 2008. They are being taken late, as their ADP of 105 (Round 11) in CBS Sports drafts shows, so if you need a No. 1 fantasy D/ST unit and you are in the middle rounds, look for the Patriots and expect good results.
3. San Diego Chargers - Projection: 39 Sacks, 16 Interceptions, 14 Forced Fumbles, 11 Fumble Recoveries, 3 Defensive TD, 350 Points Against, 5200 Yards Against, 1 Safety, 2 Return TD
We all know what happened to the Chargers last year. When LB Shawne Merriman went down, it seems like the entire defense went down with him.
However, not only does he return this year, they also will have a full year with new defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. I expect the Chargers to bounce back to fantasy glory under Rivera, who did lead the Chicago Bears to defensive greatness a few years ago.
With speedy RB Darren Sproles as their return man, this looks like a D/ST unit that should be taken higher than its ADP of 121 (Round 13) in CBS Sports drafts. I fully expect the Chargers to return to their 2007 status, when they led the NFL with 30 interceptions and had 42 sacks, which means plenty of fantasy points.
4. Chicago Bears - Projection: 33 Sacks, 18 Interceptions, 13 Forced Fumbles, 10 Fumble Recoveries, 5 Defensive TD, 350 Points Against, 5175 Yards Against, 1 Safety, 2 Return TD
OK, there’s no way the Bears can be that bad for three straight years...can they? I don’t think so.
LB Brian Urlacher appears to be healthy again and looks to rebound from his worst statistical year in 2008. Plus, there’s no way you can hold WR/KR Devin Hester without a KR/PR touchdown for two straight years, even if he is trying to be their No.1 WR.
I don’t expect them to be a top-five defense, but they could definitely produce within the top 10. I don’t favor them over the Chargers, but it looks like most people don’t agree as their ADP is 115 (Round 12) in CBS Sports drafts, a few spots ahead of San Diego. The Bears could wind up being a nice fantasy sleeper.
5. Dallas Cowboys - Projection: 49 Sacks, 13 Interceptions, 17 Forced Fumbles, 13 Fumble Recoveries, 3 Defensive TD, 370 Points Against, 5100 Yards Against, 1 Safety, 1 Return TD
Boy, were they a bust last year or what? The Cowboys D/ST unit was highly touted last year, and I thought they would be the best fantasy unit around. However, injuries and suspensions led them to a disastrous fantasy season.
The one bright spot, though, was LB DeMarcus Ware, who had a league-leading 20 sacks. Ware is back, and they brought in DE Igor Olshansky from San Diego. The Cowboys should have plenty of sacks, but an inexperienced secondary could get torched.
They will also be getting RB Felix Jones back in the return game and that will add some value. Most people are being careful about draft them as their ADP of 127 (Round 13) in CBS Sports drafts shows. They could be busts again, but they could also be great, and, remember, Wade Phillips is running the defense this year and he led San Diego to a few great defensive years. You can get them late and possibly get more than you bargained for.
Those are my top five sleeper D/ST units of the 2009 fantasy season. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email them to me at Derek@Sportmeisters.com.