Fantasy Football Sleepers 2011: Which Defenses are Worth Drafting?

Dominic KopekCorrespondent IIAugust 29, 2011

Fantasy Football Sleepers 2011: Which Defenses are Worth Drafting?

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    It's that time again and we are all preparing for our fantasy drafts. Defense is always a tough fantasy pick to take. Every year there are a few defenses that are high draft picks and end up being busts. There are two ways to fix that problem. One, don't waste a high draft pick on a defense, and two don't waste a high draft pick on a defense. It is very easy to get reliable defenses late in your draft and I will go over the top sleeper defenses that are worth a draft in your fantasy league.

Detroit Lions

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    This picture describes why the Lions are now becoming an up and coming team in the NFL. They have stocked up on talent on the defensive ball and are taking it out on offenses this preseason. The signings of Stephen Tulloch, Justin Durant and Eric Wright in addition to Chris Houston and Louis Delmas's health should vastly improve their pass defense. 

    It is clear that this unit will rack up a bunch of sacks this season with just Avril and Suh already combining for 19 sacks last year. With a healthy Kyle Vanden Bosch, Corey Williams and first round pick Nick Fairley also getting in the mix; the Silver Crush should easily eclipse their 44 sacks from last year (which was already good for 6th in the league).

    They were also fourth in the league in fumble recoveries (15) and tied for 8th in touchdowns (3). 

    It will be easy to say with their great offseason that the Lions will easily eclipse all of these totals from last year and definitely vault into a top 12 fantasy defense this season. According to fantasyfootballcalculator.com they are going late in the 11th round of fantasy drafts. This is a great value pick as they have potential to be great this year.

San Diego Chargers

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    The San Diego Chargers have made a huge make over on their defense this offseason. With a projected five new starters, this group, which had a pretty good season last year, is going to look vastly different.  In addition to signing Takeo Spikes, they also improved in the draft. Their first three draft picks this year were all defense, Corey Liuget is a huge run stopping defensive lineman to go along with DB Marcus Gilchrist and projected starter LB Jonas Mouton. They signed former All-Pro Bob Sanders too, who will line up next to stud safety Eric Weddle.

    The Chargers killed quarterbacks last year ranking second in the league with 47 sacks, but only forced 23 turnovers. They were however first in total defense with only 271.5 yards allowed per game and with this improved group of starters should vault them into being a top 12 fantasy defense.

    According to fantasyfootballcalculator.com they are going in the 14 round. If you want to sit and wait to snag a top defense San Diego is the defense to wait on.

New York Giants

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    Justin Tuck looks a little sad that his New York Giants have been crushed with injuries this offseason. Already losing Terrell Thomas, Marvin Austin and Brian Witherspoon for the season along with Osi Umenyiora and Prince Amakumara for extended periods of time it is scary to see what else will hit them. 

    The Giants are going to roll Antrel Rolle at corner to fill in for Thomas to start opposite Corey Webster and Aaron Ross to go with Kenny Phillips and Deon Grant at safety their secondary wont bee too wounded. They also still have Gabe Watson, Chris Canty and Jason Pierre-Paul lining up with Umenyiora and Tuck on the D-line which projects out as a solid group. At linebacker Jonathan Goff, Michael Boley and Mathias Kiwanuka were already their projected starters, no major injuries to worry about here yet.

    Overall, this group should still wreak havoc on quarterbacks and look to equal their 46 sacks to go along with their 39 turnovers from last year and continue to be a top 10 defense.

    According to fantasyfootballcalculator.com the Giants are going in the 13 round so they are providing good value as well.

New Orleans Saints

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    New Orleans has consistently been a draftable fantasy defense, year in and year out. They have been on a little bit of a slide since their turnover hungry Super Bowl championship team but are still rosterable.  They were seventh in points allowed to go along with second and third in fumbles forced and recovered respectively. 

    This group still has the potential to accumulate a ton of sacks with pass rusher Will Smith teaching rookie stud Cameron Jordan everything he knows to go along with Alex Brown, Sedrick Ellis and free agents Shaun Rogers, Aubrayo Franklin and Turk McBride.

    With all four starters returning in the secondary Malcolm Jenkins, Roman Harper, Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer will undoubtedly improve on their lowly nine interceptions from a year ago and the pass rush will definitely help those numbers.

    It is clear that New Orleans looks to improve this year on defense with their draft and signings this offseason and should no doubt be a top 10 fantasy defense.

    New Orleans is being drafted late in the 12th round according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com.

7: Atlanta Falcons

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    The Atlanta Falcons have a young and upcoming defense.  They are already dominate against the run and look to improve against the pass this year.  With the signing of pass rush specialist Ray Edwards to go with John Abraham the sacks should definitely improve from last season's total of 31. What better than a healthy pass rush to help the young Falcon secondary.

    With all four starters in the secondary returning it will be easy to see the improvement this season. Brent Grimes, Duanta Robinson, William Moore and Thomas DeCoud will look to improve on the 22 interceptions they had last year which was good for fourth in the league. 

    Overall, look for this young group to just get better and remain a top 10 fantasy defense. The Falcons are by far the best value in this year's drafts, being taken late in the 14th round according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com. Take them and then laugh at all your league mates for not having to waste a high draft pick on a defense.

    So there ya go, five sleeper defenses that you can pick late in your draft and not have to sacrifice depth at more important fantasy positions.