Time to start changing your preseason perceptions and realizing that the 2010-2011 NFL season is already drastically different than last year. As it pertains to fantasy football, determining your players’ best match-ups is often key in determining your best lineup. So, which defenses have looked good, which have started bad, and which are just ugly?
Overall Defense – Sure, the Browns have faced two abysmal offenses in Tampa Bay and Kansas City, but even without tackling machine D’Qwell Jackson, Cleveland is allowing just 300 yards a game, including less than four yards a carry on the ground. They aren’t a number one unit yet, but don’t be embarrassed to pick up the Browns if they have a good matchup going forward.
Kansas City Chiefs
Overall Defense – Romeo Crennel has done a masterful job as the new defensive coordinator in Kansas City, and that doesn’t figure to change. Brandon Flowers has been a stud in the secondary, Eric Berry should only get better, and LSU flops Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson actually look like top five picks. Plus, Derrick Johnson, one of the few proven studs for KC, seems rejuvenated under Crennel. Just ask James Harrison, and he will tell you this isn’t the same Chiefs defense as in 2009.
Overall Defense – As a Dolphins fan, I was obviously excited about the arrival of Karlos Dansby and Brandon Marshall in free agency. However, the best free agent pickup Miami management made was naming Mike Nolan to be the team’s defensive coordinator. As with Denver last year, Miami is off to a dominating start, but a drop off for the Dolphins doesn’t seem on the horizon. Unlike in Denver, Nolan inherits a defense that is familiar with a 3-4 approach and has 3-4 personnel. The Fins have a daunting early schedule, but after Green Bay, New England and a Ben Roethlisberger led Steelers, Miami faces Cincinnati, Baltimore, Tennessee, Chicago, Oakland, Cleveland, the Jets, Buffalo and Detroit.
Pass Defense – With the return of a healthy Brian Urlacher and a motivated Tommie Harris, as well as a still dominating Lance Briggs, the Bears run defense is tops in the NFL. Unfortunately, Julius Peppers seems to be more beneficial in the run game than in rushing the passer, since Chicago’s secondary is getting picked apart once again. Granted, they have allowed just one touchdown through the air, (although Calvin Johnson should have made it two), but giving up so many yards should bode well for owners of Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre, Tom Brady and Michael Vick down the road.
New England Patriots
Pass Defense – I understand Cincinnati put up meaningless yards and points on the Patriots in week one, but to allow three touchdowns to Mark Sanchez is unforgiveable. The secondary is very young, and while talented, they will have their ups and downs all season. It doesn’t help that the New England pass rush is weaker than it has been in past seasons. Feel free to go with a quarterback facing the Pats if your top signal caller is facing a tough opponent such as Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Baltimore, Miami, etc.
Pass Defense – New Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is installing a new 3-4 defense, but he currently doesn’t have the roster to effectively run his scheme. It would be nice if Fat Albert Haynesworth would cooperate, but without him there is no one offenses need to double-team. As a result, the pass rush is not nearly as effective as hoped, putting extra responsibility on cornerbacks Carlos Rodgers and DeAngelo Hall. And while LaRon Landry has played much better than he did last season, the secondary and the rest of Washington’s 3-4 defense will struggle until they have the right personnel.
Pass Defense – If you have a quarterback going against the Texans, don’t let Mario Williams scare you. In the first two weeks of the season, Houston is 2-0, but their pass defense is dead last in the league, giving up an average of 411 yards a game. While Brian Cushing’s return at outside linebacker should help some, the Texans lack a proven cornerback or a safety to scare opposing wide receivers, and that won’t change as the year continues.
Rush Defense – Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are a terror when opposing teams pass, but running the ball against the Colts defense is like a knife through butter. With Bob Sanders missing numerous games, and possibly the season, Indy will be suspect against the run all year, so MJD, Chris Johnson, Arian Foster and other running backs facing the Colts this season should have a field day.
Rush Defense – Normally football pundits write off long runs as an aberration, but when a defense allows a 50-yard touchdown run in week one, and an 80-yard touchdown run in week two, it is a cause for concern. To make matters worse for Atlanta, they still have Pierre Thomas twice, Ray Rice, Cedric Benson, LeSean McCoy, Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.
About the Author
Written by Robert Bode
A sports die-hard through and through. I grew up playing almost every sport possible, and to this day I try to stay as active as possible. However, since I'm not a professional athlete, talking and writing about sports is the next best thing. A University of Florida graduate but living in my hometown of Washington D.C. (well Northern Virginia), my favorite teams are the Florida Gators, Miami Dolphins, Chicago White Sox, Washington Nationals, Real Madrid, good up-tempo NBA teams (so not the Knicks), and Washington Capitals.