The Pick is in on this year’s Top Defense

As everyone in this industry, including us, is working on preliminary 2008 player and team projections, it seems that it’s wide open as to which team deserves the #1 ranking for defensive teams.

But to me, it’s a pretty easy call: the Minnesota Vikings.

Last year was a big year for DT/ST touchdowns, as four teams had eight of them, and several more were in the 5-6 range. The Vikings, however, had an amazing eight defensive scores, to go along with a special team touchdown, so they led the league with 9 DT/ST TDs.

This is a defense that struggled in the secondary for most of the year, but the deeper we got into the season the better they performed on the back end. Through their first eight games, for example, they were the 7th worst defense in (fantasy) points allowed to QBs, yet a few weeks later they were basically middle of the pack, and they were the 12th best in the league their final five games.

I honestly can’t say for sure that CBs Cedric Griffin and Marcus McCauley will be very good corners, but they might be, and it’s fair to say that Griffin, McCauley, and Antoine Winfield form a solid trio, and their coverage should be better this year with Madieu Williams added. And while I fully understand how it’s dangerous to assume your secondary will be ok no matter what if you can rush the passer, one has to believe that the addition of Jared Allen, one of the best pass-rushers in the league (and perhaps the best overall DE in the biz) will help their coverage.

This is an opportunistic defense that has a nose for the endzone and is absolutely loaded with talent and playmakers after adding the deadly Allen. They’re already great against the run and with offenses rendered one-dimensional, they’re going to be able to force a lot of turnovers and make a lot of big plays. The one issue is that they don’t have a great return man, but they should be good for 1-2 special team scores.

All of this stuff is great, but consider this: The Vikings play in the NFC North. This is a division that will feature a rookie LT blocking for either Rex Grossman or Kyle Orton, and the Vikes get to play the Bears twice. The Lions will start a rookie at RT, and Jon Kitna is a turnover machine who gets sacked a ton, and the Vikes play Detroit twice. They also play the Packers, who no longer have Brett Favre, one of the toughest quarterbacks to sack of time. Their schedule doesn’t look all that great otherwise, with games against Indy, NO, TB, Jac, and NYG, but they do also get Car, Ten, Hou, Atl, and Ari, which are solid matchups. You could argue that 11 of their 16 matchups are either favorable or medium for fantasy.

The best news is that they probably won’t go off the board until after 2-3 other defenses do, so they should be a good value.

If you’ve noticed over the years, we’re usually able to identify 1-2 defenses that will be breakout units and good values, and we’ve hit some major homeruns the last 4-5 years.

This year, the #1 choice is clear.

Category: Fantasy Football

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7 Responses

  1. jbeau says:

    This is an obvious no brainer for sure. I will be waiting to hear your other picks. I benefited last year when you picked Vikings and Packers. Most people jumped on the Bears, Ravens, Cowboys while I sat back loaded my team up and picked Packers and Vikes in later rounds.

  2. NYBrewCrew says:

    Last year I was able to add the Viking as my #2 Defense. I won’t have that option this year. The last few years owners have drafted defenses way too early like Chicago and Baltimore. I think the Vikings Defense will be hype up as well and it will be to high of a prices for me to draft this year.

  3. FFRich says:

    I agree, I believe the Vikings will be over-hyped and will be the first Def drafted in many (most) leagues this year and will come at too steep a price.

  4. jbeau says:

    Getting two underrated average defenses is the way to go, and then just play the matchups each week. Thats what I did. I play IDP in most of my leagues, but the 2 leagues I did do D\ST this strategy worked for me.

  5. [...] http://www.fantasyguru.com/blog/?p=229The Lions will start a rookie at RT, and Jon Kitna is a turnover machine who gets sacked a ton, and the Vikes play Detroit twice. They also play the Packers, who no longer have Brett Favre, one of the toughest quarterbacks to sack of … [...]

  6. bjchapin1 says:

    I agree with you John that the Vikes will be a strong unit. Using many of your same arguments regarding the weakness of the QBs in the NFC North, couldn’t you argue that the Bears will be a bit undervalued this year? Obviously, the precence of Hester probably still makes them one of the top 5 D’s off of the board, but last year you likely needed to use a pick in the 5th-7th round range to acquire them (depending if you play in a league where someone grabs the #1 D early, this seems to be gaining popularity in the past couple of years), this year maybe that falls somewhere like 8th-10th? Keep in mind the main reason that the CHI D stunk last year was injuries to Urlacher, Harris, Brown, Tillman, AND Vasher, all Pro-Bowl players. Assuming everyone is healthy, they could be a bit of a value pick. The too get to play T. Jackson, Rodgers, and Kitna twice and have other good QB matchups of CAR, TB, ATL, and HOU. Thoughts?

  7. John Hansen says:

    The Bears could be a value, yes, but mainly because of Hester. Their D-line is really thin, so they could suck against the run again this year. And where was the pass rush last year? Who knows what Brown has left, and a healthy Vasher and Tillman together can do only so much. But yes, they are still a good unit to target later. The Viking D will likely go earlier, but I’ve seen some rankings already with NE and SD ahead of them.

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