When assessing the 2012 Fantasy Defense rankings, I wanted to keep a few things in mind.
First, last year was last year. I don’t want to put too much emphasis on what a DST (defense/special teams) did last season. The schedules are different. Their opponents have either gotten better or worse. Their own personnel have gotten better or worse. Rarely does a team ever stay the same. Plus, a team could have gotten most of their Fantasy points in a handful of games, while giving up tons of points and yardage in the other 10 or so games. Plus, last year’s player lockout didn’t allow a lot of offenses to click early on, which helped some defenses’ numbers.
Second, defensive touchdowns and special teams touchdowns are usually more luck driven than they are talent driven. Turnovers are a little more of a display of defensive strength (or in the Saints’ case a few years ago, a display of their offensive strength, forcing teams to throw from the second quarter on just to catch up).
Third, what’s a team’s division looking like? Do they face a couple of green signal-callers under center twice a year, which makes for four games with high turnover possibilities?
The Best Defense is a Good Offense
According to Wikipedia, that adage applies to military strategy, as well as football. “Generally the idea is that offensive action preoccupies the opposition and ultimately its ability to directly harm.”
According to Gonospedia, great offenses give the defense several advantages:
- A high-scoring offense can put another team in a hole quickly, forcing them to throw early and often to get back into the game. Defenses are then able to relax against the run, and wait for passes with an extra defender or two downfield.
- An offense that has to throw is also on its heels, with a quarterback dancing under pressure. This means pass rushers looking for a sack-and-strip are licking their chops.
- A high-scoring offense allows the defense to get long rests between each possession, and the opposing team’s offense feels like it needs to capitalize every time they get on the field. That leads to more turnover chances.
Call them: San Francisco 40-MINE-rs
That makes no sense. What I’m saying is, normally, I like to wait to take a defense until three or four are already taken. Normally, I’d tell you that taking the top unit in the 2012 Fantasy DST Rankings is an unwise move because so much changes from last year to this year. But the Niners are a different story.
The Niners DST led the league in Fantasy scoring last season. They were first in rushing defense, tied for the league lead in takeaways, and only one team allowed fewer points. They are an aggressive defense (first in sacks, first in defensive fumble recoveries, tied for second in INTs and tied for second in forced fumbles), and they only had three defensive touchdowns last season. That sounds like a bad thing, but it’s a GREAT thing. It means – their Fantasy scoring numbers weren’t high because they scored lucky touchdowns. Those numbers were high because this was one tenacious D!
This defense returns all 11 starters and they will have a full year of tutelage under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s system. He only had them for a month before last season began. Imagine what he can do with a full year of prep!
Understand that Fantasy writers hate to be the first to take a DST, so I expect your opponents will draft the Niners DST much earlier.
- The ADP stats at MyFantasyLeague shows this unit going in Round 10.
- MockDraftCentral’s ADP stats has them going in Round 12 or 13.
- The Niners DST is going in the ninth round in FantasyFootballCalculator.com’s mock drafts.
While the Niners DST isn’t the beneficiary of having a high-scoring offensive counterpart, they wreak havoc and are well-deserving out the top spot in these 2012 Fantasy Defense Rankings.
2012 Rookies: Top 30 Overall | QB | RB | WR | TE
2012 Fantasy Defense Rankings
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David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.