Fantasy football preview: Scouting the defenses

Posted: August 27, 2009

Ravens: Led the league in forced turnovers and should be the first unit considered on draft day.

Steelers: Still a decent option, even if Super Bowl winners rarely repeat. Lawrence Timmons will take Larry Foote's spot at inside linebacker and William Gay replaces Bryant McFadden at safety. Otherwise, everybody's back.

Giants: An already good unit should be better with the return of defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who missed all of last year with a left knee injury.

Vikings: Anything they get out of rookie returner Percy Harvin is bonus for a unit already near the top of the list.

Patriots: A solid defense, but they really don't make enough big plays. Former Eagles defensive end Derrick Burgess takes over for Mike Vrabel at outside linebacker.

Bears: After finishing 21st in yardage allowed last year, the Bears made Rod Marinelli the defensive line coach. Marinelli also had a tough campaign in 2008. He was the head coach of the 0-16 Lions.

Eagles: After losing their heart (Brian Dawkins), soul (Jim Johnson) and middle linebacker (Stewart Bradley), the Birds are a middle-of-the road pick.

Cowboys: Former defensive coordinator Brian Stewart took the fall for last year's meltdown. Stewart is now on Andy Reid's staff, and head coach Wade Phillips is guiding Dallas' defense.

Chargers: San Diego becomes a starting option in larger leagues as long as Shawne Merriman stays healthy. He played in only one game last year after ripping up his left knee.

Redskins: Getting monster defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth will help stop the run, but it doesn't make Washington much more than bye week filler.

The draft board: the top 20

1. Ravens 7

2. Steelers 8

3. Giants 10

4. Titans 7

5. Vikings 9

6. Patriots 8

7. Dolphins 6

8. Bears 5

9. Eagles 4

10. Cowboys 6

11. Panthers 4

12. Jets 9

13. Chargers 5

14. Redskins 8

15. Colts 6

16. Cardinals 4

17. Falcons 4

18. Packers 5

19. 49ers 6

20. Buccaneers 8

Quick hitters

* On the way down: Panthers

* Riskiest pick: Bears

* Sleeper: Chargers

* Please avoid: Broncos

* On the way up: Giants

Note: bye week is at the end of each line

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