I’m not going to get fancy with the defenses. My advice is to look at a reputable list such as this one, cough cough, and cross-examine it with the end-of-year scoring for your league in 2011. There you have it, that is as good as it gets when trying to pick defenses. Don’t go crazy and draft real early on any of them. The difference between 1 and 10 isn’t much. In a deep league of 16, I might go a little early because the difference between 1 and 16 is much greater. Take for instance in 2011. Number one on ESPN standard scoring had 169 points and the tenth best came in at 129, a difference of 40. That comes out to roughly 2.5 pts a game. If we compare #1 to #16 the difference amounts to 4.25 pts a game. So I wouldn’t mind selecting a top-tier defense a couple of rounds early in deep leagues but not more than a couple.
1. San Francisco – 2011 finish #1
Few teams have the kind of talent that the 49ers possess on the defensive side of the ball. If the offense can put up just a few more points a game, this defense will be even better.
2. Chicago - 2011 finish #2
Few teams are as steady as the Bears on defense. They put up top ten numbers every year, and now that Hester should be back to almost full-time returning duties, that makes Chicago even more dangerous.
3. Houston - 2011 finish #5
The loss of Super Mario to Buffalo will hurt them initially but I believe they have the talent and coaching to make up for it. They did use their first round pick on a DE from Illinois this year to help fill the gap.
4. New York Jets - 2011 finish #7
They want to be what the 49ers were last season. We’ll see if Tebow can help them out with that.
5. Baltimore - 2011 finish #3
Always near the top, this season should be no different.
6. Philadelphia - 2011 finish #6
7. Seattle - 2011 finish #4
8. Detroit - 2011 finish #8
As long as the offense doesn’t sputter, the defense should be a decent bet to improve.
9. Pittsburgh - 2011 finish #10
10. Buffalo - 2011 finish #15
11. Dallas - 2011 finish #17
I think the Cowboys actually have a decent shot at actually being as good as their fans might think this season. They addressed their weakest point on the team in the draft, in defensive back, and the offense is loaded. But it is the Cowboys…
12. Green Bay - 2011 finish #13
If Green Bay doesn’t get picked up early based on name alone, this team has the potential to be top 3 when all is said and done. But they finished 13 last season so hopefully people let them slide and let me swoop in.
13. Atlanta - 2011 finish #12
14. Cincinnati - 2011 finish #9
15. Tennessee - 2011 finish #16
16. Arizona - 2011 finish #14
17. Jacksonville - 2011 finish #11
Not sure how they finished eleventh in 2011, fluke? Sleeper?
18. New England - 2011 finish #19
19. Denver - 2011 finish #21
20. New York Giants - 2011 finish #22
Of the teams that are in the second half of this list, I see the G-Men moving up first.
21. Kansas City - 2011 finish #18
22. Miami - 2011 finish #20
23. Washington - 2011 finish #24
24. San Diego - 2011 finish #25
25. Minnesota - 2011 finish #26
I feel bad for Jared Allen. I really do.
26. Carolina - 2011 finish #30
27. New Orleans - 2011 finish #28
28. Tampa Bay - 2011 finish #32
29. Oakland - 2011 finish #29
30. Cleveland - 2011 finish #23
31. Indianapolis - 2011 finish #31
They can’t be better that quickly, right?
32. St. Louis - 2011 finish #27
Maybe Jeff Fisher can turn it around quickly but 2011 might be rough.