Fantasy Football Rankings: Why Cincinnati Bengals Defense Is a Sleeper Pick

Scott SewellCorrespondent ISeptember 17, 2011

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 11:  Running back Peyton Hillis #40 of the Cleveland Browns is tackled by defensive players of the Cincinnati Bengals during the season opener  at Cleveland Browns Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Team Defenses are the most maddening position in fantasy football.  Instability is the one constant that you can count on when evaluating which Team Defense to draft for your fantasy team. 

Adding to the frustration, it's also the most useless position on your fantasy team.  Most of us play in 10 or 12 team leagues, but there are only 32 NFL teams.  This means we’re only drafting the top third of the league. While the difference between the top ranked team and the 10th ranked team might be significant, the difference between fourth or fifth ranked to 10th, generally, is not. 

The lesson is simply this; wait until the last round of your draft to select your Team Defense.  The No. 4 WR on the Cleveland Browns depth chart has a better shot at being a significant contributor to your team than virtually any defense that you pick.  Okay, maybe Cleveland was a bad example….

The instability within the ranks from year to year means that each season several teams jump into the top 10 that weren’t there the year before and the waiver wires soon become abuzz as these teams are gobbled up. 

The Cincinnati Bengals Defense is currently only owned in 1.4 percent of all leagues on ESPN.  That’s an astonishingly low number for a team just two years removed from being sixth in points allowed and fourth in yards allowed on defense.

The Bengals are a young, energetic and very talented defense that are poised to make a big leap this year.  While the loss of star cornerback Jonathan Joseph is cause for worry, the improvements throughout the rest of the unit should offset most of that loss.  

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 11: Linebacker Rey Maualuga #58 of the Cincinnati Bengals tackles Peyton Hillis #40 of the Cleveland Browns during the fourth quarter at Cleveland Browns Stadium during a season opener  on September 11, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. T
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Rey Maualuga has matured into the ball hawking man in the middle that the Bengals envisioned when they drafted him in 2009.  Michael Johnson, Robert Geathers and Domata Peko have formed the foundation of a young, aggressive defensive line that will be in the backfield of opposing offenses all season long. 

Newcomers Nate Clements and Thomas Howard provide the Bengals youngsters’ with a veteran presence that can set the example for the kind of work that needs to be done to be successful.

Best of all, the Bengals still have Leon Hall, and Hall is still one of the top corner backs in all of football.  Hall made several great plays on Sunday versus the Browns and that ultimately helps to take pressure off of Nate Clements on the other side of the field. 

When Hall plays the way he did on Sunday it frees the Bengals up to send Reggie Nelson and Chris Crocker to help on Clements’ side of the ball, essentially creating two-on-one situations in favor of the defense.  This is the very reason Darrelle Revis and the Jets have been so successful the past few years.

The icing on the proverbial cake is the Bengals schedule.  The Bengals have 13 weeks until they have a legitimately tough defensive matchup (Houston).  Their next six opponents are Denver, San Francisco, Buffalo, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, and Seattle; that sounds like fantasy football gold to me. Go get yourself some Who Dey and thank me later.


Want more? Follow me on twitter @fortsonisgod