Welcome to Your New Elite Fantasy Football Team Defense

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Welcome to Your New Elite Fantasy Football Team Defense
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Every year, it seems, fantasy football owners can count on certain defenses in the league to provide elite fantasy production on a consistent basis.

You know…like Baltimore, New England, Pittsburgh, and even Chicago. Defense/special teams that seemed to always be good for 12-20 fantasy points per week, with a few 30-point blowouts. In some cases, these defenses gave owners an advantage over opponents. At least a little peace of mind.

But like most things, change is inevitable. The Steelers, Bears, and Patriots were all less than stellar at times during the 2009 campaign. Meanwhile, squads like the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints broke onto the scene like gangbusters, notching fantasy points in bunches for their visionary owners.

Want to be one of those visionaries in 2010? Want to know which defense to target via trade or draft in dynasty leagues this spring or summer? Just take a long, hard look at…

San Francisco. Yes, the 49ers.

Perhaps not a huge stretch up front considering how well they fared last season, the Niners are still greatly underappreciated in fantasy circles this year. What’s to like about the squad in 2010? Consider these important five points:

1. The schedule. Let’s face it…as much as we’d like to ignore the fact, defenses fair much better against suspect passing attacks and unestablished run games. The Niners are blessed with being in the NFC-West, and subsequently get two games apiece against the Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin-less Arizona Cardinals, a rookie QB in Sam Bradford with the Rams and an improving yet still not-so-intimidating Seattle Seahawks. The out-of-conference schedule is also appealing, especially the matchups with the Chiefs, Raiders, and Buccaneers. That makes at least nine games out of their 2010 regular season slate as savory as a freshly grilled rack of baby back ribs.

2. The Ted Ginn effect. Interesting how much attention is given to the offseason movement of players like Santonio Holmes and Brandon Marshall and the subsequent fantasy ripple effects. Sure, Ted Ginn’s individual value isn’t something to get excited about, but his arrival in San Francisco has definite ramifications on the squad’s special teams. His return abilities were on display last year with Miami and he gives the Niners a home run threat on every kickoff return booted his way. San Fran fared well without him last year, so imagine how much better they could do this season with Ginn fielding kicks.

3. The rapidly improving offense. How does an offense help a defensive’s fantasy stats, you ask? By helping put pressure on opponents. The more points the Niners can score, the more opposing quarterbacks will feel pressured to force the ball into tight coverage. The more risks offensive coordinators will take to keep from falling behind. Meanwhile, as the Niners offense plays ball control, it keeps the defense off the field and more well-rested to make big plays when their time comes to take the field.

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