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Article:Fantasy Forecast: Defenses and Kickers

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Generally speaking, week to week, the difference between Fantasy defenses is very small.  The draft mantra most people go by is second to last pick-defense, last pick-kicker.  This makes sense for a couple of reasons:

First, why waste a high pick on a defense when you can usually just drop and add whoever is playing the 49ers, Falcons, Dolphins, Bills, etc this week?  Second, why waste a high pick on a kicker when no one knows how the Hell to forecast them?  Do you pick kickers with high powered offenses?  Sure, but they usually just get extra points.  So do you pick kickers with mediocre offenses, hoping they get a lot of long field goal attempts?  How about kickers in domes?  Every year there seems to be a few of each of these guys in the top ten, so why bother?

Let’s assume everyone follows the draft mantra: end your draft defense-kicker.  Then my draft strategy is, draft a good team up front, take the best defense available with your third to last pick, and potentially the “best” kicker available with your second to last pick.  This way you can grab some one with a little more certainty before other players/teams start coming off the board.

The other draft mantra a lot of people go by is draft defenses way too early.  Which is fine, draft those midlevel running backs and wide receivers while they do that.  Do that all day long.  I love watching defenses come off the board early, solidify your team everywhere else and move on.

Anyway, with some certainty, here are the rankings:


Tier 1 – The Best

1.  New England – They lost some players, Asante Samuel for one, but they have the easiest schedule in the league and an offense capable of eating a lot of second half clock.  On top of this, opponents have to go play in some pretty harsh conditions in the winter.

2.  San Diego – The high powered (science!) Chargers defense is solid.  They create a lot of havoc and force a lot of turnovers.  LdT can grind out clock late in games as well.

Definitely Maybe

3.  Chicago – The Chicago defense is overrated, particularly because the unit is aging.  But their schedule isn’t bad this season, and they have Devin Hester on special teams, so they are almost actually rated accurately.

Solid Defenses

4.  Seattle – Something of a Fantasy defense surprise last year, but they churned out good numbers, and have an easier schedule this year.

5.  Dallas – Again, one of the better schedules (opponents matter more than personnel, see?) in the league this year, but their defense can play a little as well.  Plus, there’s no Fantasy penalty for horse collar tackles.

6.  Minnesota – They have a tough schedule this year, but a solid defense.  Their schedule has a great finish though, look to pick them up if someone gets disenchanted and drops them.

7.  Indianapolis – Their defense suffered some injuries last year, but back at full strength they are very formidable.

8.  New York Giants – The loss of Strahan hurts, but if they play anything like they did in the playoffs they should put up good numbers.

9.  Denver – Their defense went from one of the leagues best to, well, not.  The loss of their defensive coordinator probably hurt them, but I’m drafting them here on strength of schedule and home field advantage. 

10.  Tampa Bay – Their defense put up solid numbers last year.  Their schedule includes some easy games and some hard games.  Interesting stuff.

11.  Jacksonville – One of the better schedules in the league.

12.  Pittsburgh – The Steelers have a better real defense than they do a Fantasy defense, if that makes any sense.

There, that’s enough, don’t you dare draft a second defense, seriously, I’m not even kidding.  The Packers were seventh last year, and the Titans were tenth.  They have two of the worst schedules in the league this year, so I don’t like them at all from a Fantasy standpoint.  Plus, Rogers will likely put the Packers defense in some bad field position this season, so you know, there’s that.  Easy scores for the other team are bad for your Fantasy team.

The Ravens were sixth in the league in yards allowed last year, but 22nd in points allowed.  They have a pretty rough schedule and they are getting old.  Their time as elite defense is waning.


I’m basically pulling a little information about each kicker, and hoping it helps.

1.  Rob Bironas – He is of the good kicker, lots of long field goal variety player.

2.  Stephen Gostowski – Or as I like to call him “The Kicking Pole”.  He is of the high volume extra point variety.  The Patriots rarely kick long field goals anyway.

3.  Nick Folk – High volume extra points and plays in a dome.  Points!

4.  Shayne Graham – He gets a good amount of opportunities, and he has a good leg.

5.  Jason Hanson – He is of the bad team, long field goals in dome variety kicker.  See Bironas, Rob plus dome.

6.  Josh Brown – As the Rams offense bounces back to form, so do Wilkins’ kicking numbers.  More volume, more points.

7.    Nate Kaeding – A high volume kicker I believe is what I call them.

8.  Robbie Gould – See Hanson, Jason.  Subtract dome.

9.  Kris Brown – If everyone stays healthy, the offense should have a pretty productive season.  Produce equals points for the kicker.

10.  Phil Dawson – Good kicker, good opportunities.  Next.

11.  Jeff Reed – Good kicker, good opportunities.  Is anyone even still reading?

12. Olindo Mare – Leg isn’t so strong, but should get good kicking opportunities.

That does it for kickers, like I said, those rankings mean the least of anything you could ever possibly read about sports, but you still need one on your team.

Now that all the positions are ranked, I will go ahead and rank out all the players against each other, or set draft rankings.  Let’s see how well the old running back-running back draft mantra holds up.

Coming Soon: Overall Draft Rankings

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