Freeney helps out Chargers
, DST SD,
News: Dwight Freeney
has signed on with the Chargers, giving them a pass rush presence in the wake of losing premier outside linebacker Melvin Ingram
to a torn ACL in an OTA workout earlier this month.
Freeney played as an outside linebacker last year and had one of his least productive seasons. He had a total of 12 tackles and five sacks over 14 games. Freeney will give the Chargers something
but he's far from enough to put this unit on the Draft Day map for Fantasy owners. Keep the Chargers DST away from your team.
Depth helps Titans defense
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The Titans added some good depth on defense in the NFL draft, picking up Missouri linebacker Zaviar Gooden
, LSU defensive end Lavar Edwards
and UConn cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson
, among others. With the team adding safeties George Wilson
and Bernard Pollard
as their only major free agent signings, the rookies help out what is already a good if not underrated defense.
The Titans finished last season 24th against the run and 26th against the pass, so they needed help everywhere. While they didn't have one dominant pass rusher the Titans did have four players with at least 5.5 sacks each. If one of their pass rushers breaks out, the rest of the defense should be considered fit enough to help contain opponents. Their early season schedule is a mixed bag (at the Steelers and Texans before home dates against the Chargers, Jets and Chiefs), making them a good-but-not-good-enough option to take with a late-round pick this summer.
Jones a spark for Steelers D
, DST PIT,
The drafting of Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones
should give the Steelers a much-needed shot of defensive help. Jones caused mayhem at Georgia, making 28 sacks over two years with the Bulldogs. He'll replace James Harrison
, who left for the Bengals. Safety Shamarko Thomas
from Syracuse and cornerback Terry Hawthorne
are the other potential impact rookies for the Steelers, who did not add any significant veterans via free agency.
There are still a number of "old" veterans for the Steelers including Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Ike Taylor, Brett Keisel and Larry Foote. All of those guys entered the league in 2002 or 2003. If the Steelers are lucky they'll get by with most of those guys for the balance of the season. However if injuries take a toll then their replacements aren't exactly stellar and the unit's performance could slide. For the first time in a while there's some concern that the DST won't be one of the top options for Fantasy Football owners, even with a really attractive open-season schedule (they don't play a front-line quarterback until Joe Flacco in Week 7). They'll get picked, but smart owners won't reach for them.
Vikings D improves through draft
, DST MIN,
The Vikings might have been shy about adding defensive talent via free agency but splurged in the NFL draft. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd
and cornerback Xavier Rhodes
were first-round picks, linebacker Gerald Hodges
made it in Round 4 and defensive tackle Everett Dawkins
and linebacker Michael Mauti
rounded out the draft.
With Kevin Williams getting older and Antoine Winfield off to Seattle, both first-round picks made a ton of sense. Hodges could also compete for a starting job. Their schedule isn't quite loaded with bombastic offenses but there don't appear to be a lot of low-scoring games in their future either. We like the moves the Vikes made and would consider them among your options for a final-round pick; they nearly finished as a Top 12 DST option last season.
Jags replenish secondary in draft
, DST JAC,
Of the Jaguars' eight draft picks, five address the defensive secondary. Their selections include strong safety Jonathan Cyprien from FIU, Connecticut cornerback Dwayne Gratz
, Florida free safety Josh Evans
, New Mexico State cornerback Jeremy Harris
and Appalachian State cornerback Demetrius McCray
. Those five men join a defense relatively low on top talent and barely stocked with notable free agents.
It could be a tough year for the Jaguars, especially when you consider their schedule: They have two dates with the Colts, two with the Texans, two with the Titans, one game each with the teams in the AFC West and NFC West plus games at Cleveland and vs. Buffalo. Gus Bradley might chalk up 2013 as a rebuilding year for his defense, particularly if he lets his rookie defensive backs get a lot of playing time. No one should draft the Jaguars DST this summer.
Colts D gets a makeover
, DST IND,
The Colts ranked 29th vs. the run and 21st against the pass last season, numbers that just won't sit well with coach Chuck Pagano. So the team went out and brought in five new starters in free agency and padded their depth in the NFL draft. Among the veterans added are pass rusher Erik Walden
, safety LaRon Landry
and cornerback Greg Toler
. Florida State's Bjoern Werner
and Oregon's John Boyett
are the highlights from the draft. The changes are aimed at making the Colts better in every area.
The changes are proof that Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson are working hard to make the team better but the players they brought in don't suggest a brilliant turn-around, at least not at first. Walden has nine sacks in five seasons, Landry has been productive when he hasn't been on the inactive list with injuries and Toler's career has been spotty. Furthermore, Werner might be miscast as an outside linebacker with the Colts. There are too many good DSTs to take in Fantasy Football ahead of the Colts. Use them as a one-week replacement option off waivers, if at all.
Texans D gets deeper in draft
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The addition of safety Ed Reed
was the biggest move the Texans made defensively this offseason, but many drafted players should pad their depth. Safety D.J. Swearinger
could be the heir-apparent to Reed at free safety, Sam Montgomery
and Trevardo Williams
are pass rushers and Chris Jones
adds beef to the defensive line.
Perhaps the biggest improvement the Texans will make as a defense won't be a new face but the return of an old one: Brian Cushing is expected to be back in time for training camp. That could be huge for a defense that already has a stellar playmaker in J.J. Watt and many other very good players. The DST is worth taking with a late pick on Draft Day.
Jones part of Packers draft haul
, DST GB,
The Packers defense didn't get any help via free agency -- in fact they parted ways with Charles Woodson
and Erik Walden
while extending the contract of Clay Matthews
. But they did draft help in the form of defensive end Datone Jones
, defensive tackle Josh Boyd
, outside linebacker Nate Palmer
, cornerback Micah Hyde
and inside linebacker Sam Barrington
The rookies are nice, and there's potential for Jones, Palmer and Hyde to be contributors this year, but really the veterans on the Packers are what make them a quality defense. Even with a fairly tough schedule to begin the season and an early bye in Week 5, the Packers DST is worth a final round pick in drafts.
Ansah highlights Lions' offseason
, DST DET,
Defensively, the Lions' biggest move was selecting BYU pass rusher Ezekiel Ansah
with a first-round pick in April. He was one of four rookie defenders taken by the team and should be one of at least three new starters on the Lions defense along with defensive end Jason Jones
and safety Glover Quin
. Fellow rookie cornerback Darius Slay
might also start.
Detroit needed to field a pass rush somehow and Ansah was a good way to start it up. The depth along the D-line is still an issue, and Ansah's lack of experience could also lead to some struggles. This alone makes the Lions DST a suspect option on Draft Day since pressuring the quarterback is a pretty big deal. If they can't do it, they'll give up a ton of points and ultimately end up in a bunch of high-scoring games. The Lions begin the season against the Vikings, Cardinals and Redskins, not a murderer's row of offensive production but certainly some challenges. We wouldn't draft the Lions DST but would consider them off waivers as a one-week replacement.
Mingo latest addition for Browns D
, DST CLE,
The Browns have been busy this offseason, adding talent via free agency but making the biggest splash in the NFL draft. Free agents Paul Kruger
, Quentin Groves
and Desmond Bryant
were added to the front seven with Kruger and Groves specifically there to help the pass rush. That unit was bolstered with first-round pick Barkevious Mingo
joining the crew with a first-round pick in April. The Browns also added cornerback Chris Owens
from the Falcons, rookie defensive backs Leon McFadden
and Jamoris Slaughter
and high-risk prospect Armonty Bryant
The Browns defense hasn't been a staunch unit for some time but the addition of defensive coordinator Ray Horton along with a slew of new faces might make them a fairly competitive unit. Remember they still have cornerback Joe Haden and linebacker D'Qwell Jackson along with an underrated pair of D-linemen in Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin. The Browns might be in for a decent matchup in Week 1 against the Dolphins at home before taking on the Ravens and Vikings in back-to-back road games. That's not a great start for them by comparison to elite defenses but owners who like to play matchups with DSTs could consider the Browns with a final-round pick. Otherwise expect them to be available off waivers for one-week use during the year.