Tips When Drafting a Fantasy Football Defense

Michael WhooleySenior Writer IAugust 30, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 28:  Wide receiver Jerheme Urban #85 of the Arizona Cardinals catches a pass for the first down against Atari Bigby #20 of the Green Bay Packers during the second quarter at the University of Phoenix Stadium on August 28, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

As a saying from one of my favorite movies goes: “Crab cakes and football - that’s what Maryland does.” This quote from Wedding Crashers might need a slight revision though, as it would read better as “Crab cakes and DEFENSIVE football - that’s what Maryland does!” . Because while their crab cakes are amazing, they don’t match the excellence of the Baltimore Ravens’ defense.

A few, short moments later, the character, Flip, from Wedding Crashers, talks about a “sacked lunch.”  Why do I mention this? Because it’s the perfect transition to my next point.

When you’re looking for the D/ST that you want on your roster, look no further than: the Sack.

It’s great to say that a defensive unit put up seven TD’s last year, but is there any way that you can project that statistic to occur again? D/STs are hard to gauge on a year-to-year basis. Unless you are fortunate enough to have the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Baltimore Ravens, you are probably looking at whatever rankings your esteemed fantasy site gives, and picking the top team available.

The reason I emphasize the sack, is threefold:

1. Sacks are worth one point in standard leagues, and they can be accumulated quickly.

2. Sacks often times lead to forced fumbles. Forced fumbles lead to fumble recoveries. You may not get a point for a forced fumble, but you should get two for a fumble recovery.

3. Fumble recoveries lead to potential Defensive TDs.

So it’s not an exact science, but the fact that a sack can lead to nine points makes it the highest scoring D/ST play.

Side Note: High-scoring offenses should log more sacks than others as they force teams to throw more towards the end of games.

Bruno Boys Lerman’s Fantasy Projections:

Green Bay Packers, D/ST:  I’m expecting big things from the Green Bay Packers D/ST this year. Not only do they play in a turnover prone division (Favre had 24 TO’s in 2008, Cutler 20, anyone want to guess as to how many the Lions will have this season), but word out of camp is that their defense has been stellar. They also used their first round pick on OLB Clay Matthews who figures to do a great job disrupting opposing passers.

Mark my words, this D/ST will be in the Driver’s seat in Mr. Rodgers neighborhood.

New York Jets, D/ST:  Coach Rex Ryan comes over from Baltimore (perhaps the best defensive team over any 10-year stretch), and he allows fighting during training camp as long players do not disrupt the brawl. Sounds like a winning combination for smash mouth football to me. The New York Jets were a viable option last year, and they are only improving as an all-around defensive team.

With a rookie QB, the Jets will rely on their defense as much as the Ravens did last year. With a great free agent pickup in Bart Scott and the maturation of the entire defense, the Jets are a force to be reckoned with this season.

Cleveland Browns, D/ST:  So, this team may not be as good as everyone thought when Derek Anderson was somebody else, and perhaps their team doesn’t scare anybody. But, look how bad the Jets were before Eric Mangini got there and how far they have come. He will turn this team into a competitive squad by year’s end.

The Browns have some legitimate depth at the defensive back position and if Josh Cribbs can come back strong like he did in 2007, this team could post some surprising numbers for a D/ST by the end of the year. This isn’t to say that this team is draftable unless it is a 28-team league, but you heard it here first. They will surprise people.

If all else fails you throughout the season, and the D/ST you picked has been awful, just pick up any defense that plays Kansas City, Oakland, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Denver, or any other less than stellar offense, and you will probably get yourself some much needed points at the position.

Rule #76: No excuses, win a fantasy football championship. It’s a simple task, right?