A list of the best defenses to draft for the 2013 fantasy football season.
The Seattle Seahawks run a 4-3 base defense coordinated by Dan Quinn.
Injured Defensive Players:
Chris Clemons (knee), Cliff Avril (foot), Michael Bennett (shoulder), Bruce Irvin (suspended four games)
The Seahawks have arguably the strongest home field advantage in the game (11.9 PPG, 1st), and last season they were also formidable on the road (19.4 PPG, 3rd). But while the Seahawks ranked eighth in yards per play (5.1) and third in yards per pass attempt (6.2), they finished 23rd in yards per carry (4.5) and 18th in sacks (36), and their defensive line was exposed in the playoffs. To bolster the line, the team added defensive ends Cliff Avril (Lions) and Michael Bennett (Buccaneers). The line still figures to be tested early, though, as Chris Clemons (11.5 sacks) might not be ready for Week 1 after ACL surgery, and Bruce Irvin (eight sacks) is suspended the first four games. The Seahawks also lost run-stopping DT Alan Branch (Bills) in free agency, but hope to have found his replacement in third-round draft pick Jordan Hill (Penn State). As for special teams, returner Leon Washington (Patriots) became expendable when the team acquired Percy Harvin, who is every bit as explosive in the open field. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley left to become head coach in Jacksonville, but under new DC Dan Quinn (University of Florida), expect the Seahawks defense to rely again on one of the league’s top secondaries – second-fewest TD passes allowed (15), third-fewest 25-plus yard completions (21), eighth in interceptions (18) – led by physical corners Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner and a young, speedy linebacking corps while the defensive line finds its footing.
The San Francisco 49ers run a 3-4 base defense coordinated by Vic Fangio.
Injured Defensive Players:
In just their first year running the team, Niners coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio took an underperforming team and molded them into the most fearsome defensive unit in the league. Ball carriers would have had an easier time escaping Alcatraz Island than they did getting away from Patrick Willis and the 49er front seven; the Niners held opponents to a mere 77.2 yards on the ground per game last season. What will they do for an encore? From a fantasy perspective, there’s no reason to think they won’t be even better in 2012. San Francisco was the fifth-best fantasy DST last season, but it achieved that ranking with a relatively small number of big plays. The Niners forced 19 fumbles and picked off 23 passes, but only converted one of those turnovers into a defensive touchdown. The only teams ahead of San Francisco in last season’s DST rankings – the Lions, Bears, Ravens and Packers – had a similar number of turnovers, but converted more of them into touchdowns. Another mark in San Francisco’s favor: their PR/KR specialist, Ted Ginn Jr., is a real gamebreaker. Ginn scored on a kickoff return and a punt return last season. The Niners defense won’t have many changes heading into the season opener. The team’s top defensive draft pick, OLB Darius Fleming out of Notre Dame, tore an ACL during minicamp and will be sidelined for the year.
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