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1UP Fantasy Player Rankings: Team Defense
San Francisco 49′ers - Cupcake division, 11 returning starters, money in the bank.
Chicago Bears – Grabbed the #2 defense ranking last year despite being atrocious against the pass. Expect that to improve
Houston Texans - Despite losing Super Mario, the Texans 3-4 scheme has been a revelation under Wade Phillips. They made some serious moves to address the loss of their star DE, and these young players will be hungry to prove themselves. Don’t forget, they play in a mistake prone division featuring exclusively Rookie or Year-2 QB’s (Luck, Gabbert, Locker)
Baltimore Ravens - Yes, Suggs will miss his share of games (most likely 6-10), but there is too much talent on this defense to ignore, and Ed Reed and Ray Lewis will be back again.
Detroit Lions – Alot of questions here. Offseason behavioral problems led them to cut one of their cornerbacks, bringing back questions from 2011 about the ability and necessary maturity of their secondary. If certain people such as Nick Fairley manage to buckle down, we could be looking at a top defense here. As it stands now, they have a very high upside for where you can draft them, and this young, opportunistic defense should have plenty of opportunities to capitalize off teams chasing them in games.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Should be hurt by age much more than division rivals, Baltimore. Their tried and true nose tackle, Casey Hampton is fighting injury, and was seemingly prematurely activated from the PUP. Other 30+ year old veterans: Harrison, Polamalu, Taylor, and Keisel are all mainstays, and if any of them happen to go down, the Steelers could struggle defensively. The loss of Mendenhall on the opposite side of the ball means that Pittsburgh will have more trouble controlling the clock and field position than they have in the past; leaving the defense out there for longer stretches. This is the last thing you want with age.
Green Bay Packers
New York Jets – A Rex Ryan defense will be tough. No doubt about it. The questions are raised on the other side of the ball.