Scouting the Defense/Special Teams

Mario Williams of the Houston Texans. (David J. Phillip/AP)
Mario Williams of the Houston Texans. (David J. Phillip/AP)
Posted: August 25, 2011

SCOUTING REPORT

Baltimore: Was third in fewest points allowed, but were mediocre in takeaways (16th) and even worse in sacks (t-27th).

Dallas: New coordinator Rob Ryan is trying all kinds of experiments, including moving Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff up and down the line of scrimmage.

Eagles: I'll wait for a season to see how they fare under Juan Castillo before making them my fantasy defense.

Houston: If there's one thing new coordinator Wade Phillips can do it's coach a defense. Former No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams was moved from d-end to linebacker as Phillips installed his 3-4 alignment.

Kansas City: A young defense that will have to generate more takeaways to become fantasy viable. Rookie linebacker Justin Houston is an enigma. He was dominant at times at Georgia, but also failed a marijuana test before the draft.

New England: Defensive line was looking good even without Shaun Ellis and Albert Haynesworth.

Seattle: The new kickoff rules, which will result in more touchbacks, hurt the Seahawks. Seattle had five return touchdowns last year, but three of them were on kickoffs by Leon Washington.

QUICK HITTERS

On the way up: Atlanta

On the way down: Oakland

Riskiest pick: Eagles

Sleeper: Denver

Late-round look: Kansas City

Please avoid: Indianapolis

THE TOP 20 (With Bye Week)

1. Pittsburgh, 11

2. New England, 7

3. N.Y. Jets, 8

4. Green Bay, 8

5. Dallas, 5

6. Chicago, 8

7. Eagles, 7

8. N.Y. Giants, 7

9. Atlanta, 8

10. Detroit, 9

11. New Orleans, 11

12. San Diego, 6

13. Baltimore, 5

14. Denver, 6

15. Kansas City, 6

16. Tampa Bay, 8

17. St. Louis, 5

18. Minnesota, 9

19. Miami, 5

20. Houston, 11

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