I know it is pretty early. But you know the early bird, the worm and all that. Anyway, your fantasy drafts are beginning. And while some of you are playing coy and not drafting defenses, some of you are going for that top defense. And I haven’t even mentioned my IDP buds, who know the value of a really good defense anchored by a steady defensive line.
So here are the preseason top five defensive lines.
5. Denver Broncos
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2014: 3rd in total yards allowed; 2nd against the run
There is no question regarding DeMarcus Ware. Even less questions about Von Miller. Spoiler alert: he is looking in his best form during training camp. And let’s not forget new acquisition Shane Ray. All this and defensive guru Wade Phillips moving all the pieces. Look for this tandem to take advantage of the mismatches Phillips will create for them with his schemes. This means double digit sacks for Miller. Double digit sacks for Ware. And not one, not two but three players with double digit sacks, come on down Ray.
4. New York Jets
2014: 6th in total defense; 5th against the run; 6th in sacks
I know you think this is undervalued. And perhaps you are right. But keep in mind Sheldon Richardson will be missing a few games due to his untimely shenanigans. And there is a new system in place. And there seems to be some uh … problem inside the building?
But there is a new boss in town and head coach Todd Bowles has already demonstrated he isn’t in for childish shenanigans. This is one of the most talented defensive lines. Muhammad Wilkerson is a beast. Rookie Leonard Williams’ is chock full of potential for Bowles to mold. And Bowles’ reputation for untimely blitz packages and chaos galore will serve this line well.
3. Carolina Panthers
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2014: 10th in yards allowed per game; 16th in rushing yards per game
If linebackers are your fetish, then you are in the right place. Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis are the real deal. They anchor this defense with a football IQ that is off the chart. Now they have added Shaq Thompson. Not to mention they are just plain gifted with freakish athletic ability. Greg who?
So can they hold up the rest of the line? They won’t have to with Charles Johnson, Kony Ealy, Star Lotulelei, Dwan Edwards, Kawann Short, Wes Horton, and Mario Addison, will hold up their end. Johnson did his part last season. Ealy needs to pick it up a bit. But again, when you have stud linebackers holding up their end and then some?
2. Buffalo Bills
2014: ranked 4th overall; ranked 1st in sacks; 3rd in yards per play
Last season the Bills’ defense anchored a playoff hopeful run. That was with Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator. Schwartz did not employ very many blitzes and they still dominated. Gone is Schwartz. Enter blitz mix master Rex Ryan. It will be awesome. Don’t pay attention to those who lament the loss of Kiko Alonso, he didn’t play last year and they did okay. Did I mention master blitzer Ryan is at the helm? Think of what this means for Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes, Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus. Dareus had 10 sacks last season and blitzing wasn’t a priority.
Just think in 2013 when Mike Pettine was in charge of this group the Bills had 57 sacks. Pettine learned from Ryan. So now they have the real thing making their moves. Can 70+ sacks be attainable for this squad?
1. St. Louis Rams
2014: 16th in points allowed; 17th in yards allowed
Forget that they are being masterminded by Gregg Williams. If Phillips is a defensive guru, then Williams is a deity. And now he is in his second year with the team. You remember how this defense finished last season right?
And look at the talent. This defensive line will have five first round selections: Chris Long, Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers, Aaron Donald and newly acquired Nick Fairley. So you have Fairley and Brockers stopping the run. You have Quinn, Long and Donald making quarterbacks cry.
If this isn’t one of the first defense off your board, why are you playing?
Forget the secondary, well, don’t, but remember this team is led by a very good defensive line. Bobby Wagner, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and KJ Wright make teams think twice about running. This defense finished the NFL season with the fewest points and fewest yards allowed, for two years running.
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