2014 fantasy football profiles and projections (D/ST 1-15)

Auction...............$9

Bye Week.............4

The last image of the Seattle Seahawks domination over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII will no doubt lead to the defending champions being the first defense off the board in most fantasy leagues. And it's not a bad idea, either as the Seahawks had the top-ranked defense in the NFL in 2013. The Seahawks also finished the year with 195 fantasy points in standard leagues, good for second behind the Kansas City Chiefs. Everything starts up front for the Seahawks who have quality depth on the defensive line to shut down the run and more importantly to fantasy, harangue opposing quarterbacks. That line combined with Richard Sherman and the rest of the "Legion of Boom" led the NFL with 28 interceptions in 2013. And don't be scared off by the Madden cover jinx, either.

Auction...............$7

Bye Week.............8

The 49ers have had one of the most dominant defenses in fantasy and reality over the past couple of years. In fact, the 49ers have ranked in the top three in total defense for three consecutive seasons, including two top-two finishes in 2011 and 2012. And San Francisco is poised for another great fantasy season in 2014. The 49ers ranked sixth overall in fantasy points (standard formats) last year and should have no trouble reaching that total again. Of course, the 49ers will have to account for the loss of NaVorro Bowman early in the season because of an injury he sustained in the 2013 NFC Championship Game at Seattle. But the 49ers have great depth and should be able to overcome the loss of one of the best inside linebackers in the game today.

Auction...............$6

Bye Week.............12

The Panthers were one of the surprise defenses of 2013, and there is no reason to believe there will be a drop off this season, either. The Panthers ranked second behind the league-leading Seahawks in total defense and total points allowed. The leader of the defense, of course, is young linebacker Luke Keuchly, who has established himself as one of the bright young stars in the league right now. The Panthers also helped themselves in the 2014 NFL Draft as well as the team selected underrated star defensive end Kony Ealy, who could be one of the great value picks from the draft. Ealy will join a line anchored by last year's first-round pick Star Lotulelei who had a great rookie season.

Auction...............$6

Bye Week.............4

This might come as a surprise to many football fans out there, but the top defense in the AFC North is not the traditional powers of the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. Instead, it's the Bengals who ranked sixth-overall in total defense in 2013. The team was consistent in stopping both the run and the pass as they ranked fifth both categories. The Bengals ranked fourth-overall in fantasy points among defenses. The big key was touchdowns. Cincinnati tied with Kansas City with seven total touchdowns scored by the defense last season.

Auction...............$5

Bye Week.............4

The Broncos reached Super Bowl XLVIII on the strength of a prolific offense. But the Broncos defense could just be as formidable this season. The Broncos will get Von Miller back, and will pair him with Demarcus Ware, who the team signed after he was released by the Cowboys. The team also made a move to bolster its secondary when they took Aqib Talib right out from under the noses of perhaps their biggest rivals, at least in terms of AFC Championship Games. The veteran cornerback has been a true shutdown cornerback when he's been healthy. So while you might not ever get to the point where the Broncos are considered a defensive club, the unit will certainly be able to add some fantasy firepower in its own right.

Auction...............$5

Bye Week.............4

The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks will get all of the attention from fantasy players in the coming 2014 fantasy football draft, but the St. Louis Rams have the opportunity to be the best of the west. The Rams already boasted a very strong defensive line and then they went out and made a huge impact during the 2014 NFL Draft when they selected defensive tackle Aaron Donald to go along with standout defensive ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long and not to mention incumbent Michael Brockers who was already a monster in the middle for the Rams. St. Louis ranked just behind the Panthers and Bills with 53 sacks during the 2013 season.

Auction...............$5

Bye Week.............10

The Patriots were one of the top defenses in all of fantasy football last season, despite a lack of some big-name players. But that could all change this season. The Patriots lost Aqib Talib to the rival Denver Broncos during the free agency period in the 2014 offseason. But New England responded to that by going out and getting a player who had tormented them for years, Darrelle Revis who be paired with Brandon Browner. The Patriots then wisely made amends with Vince Wilfork to keep him with the team for many more years and then went out and added his potential successor when they selected Dominique Easley with the 29th pick in the draft.

Auction...............$5

Bye Week.............6

The Chiefs went from NFL.com sleeper pick to the top fantasy defense in all of the league during the 2013 season. The Chiefs took the fantasy world by storm last season with monster weeks against the Jaguars and Cowboys to open the year. But it was a huge game against the Eagles in Week 3 that really put them on the fantasy map for good. And the team figures to once again be in the mix for top fantasy defenses in 2014. The Chiefs added some depth in the draft with DE Dee Ford and CB Phillip Gaines to ensure this team is ready to take on the likes of Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers in the coming season. One bit of caution, the Chiefs need to find a return presence to make up for the loss of Dexter McCluster who went to the Tennessee Titans.

Auction...............$5

Bye Week.............4

Don't be surprised, but the rising fantasy defense out in the west is none other than the Arizona Cardinals, who finished fifth among fantasy defenses in 2013. The Cardinals took a great defense and added Antonio Cromartie opposite of Patrick Peterson. And then they brought out the hammer in the first-round of the 2014 NFL Draft with Deone Bucannon who will play safety opposite Tyrone Mathieu to former pretty formidable secondary. An added bonus to this squad is the return prowess of Peterson and you could very well be looking at the absolute steal in the defensive category.

Auction...............$4

Bye Week.............9

The Bills ranked eighth in fantasy points scored in 2013 after the team made a headlines with the as they signed Mario Williams. The team didn't have a huge, headline-making addition this year, but the signing of CB Corey Graham and LB Brandon Spikes should provide some added punch to a defense that will has a budding superstar in Kiko Alonso, who is cited as one of the top picks in all of the 2013 draft. The strength of the Bills fantasy production came from the pass rush which led the AFC with 57 quarterback sacks last year. Only the Carolina Panthers had more sacks (60) than the Bills in 2013.

Auction...............$4

Bye Week.............4

There is no doubt Johnny Manziel is going to garner a ton of publicity for the Cleveland Browns. But the ball club has quietly laid the foundation for what could be one of the toughest defenses in the league. The Browns were active in the free-agent market as they added Karlos Dansby, hard-hitting T.J. Ward and Dante Whitner to the squad. General Manager Ray Farmer also made a bold stroke during the draft when he moved down and took cornerback Justin Gilbert, who many considered the most-ready player at the position. Gilbert will join a Browns' lineup which already has one of the best cornerbacks in the game today, Joe Haden.

Auction...............$3

Bye Week.............9

The Bears were uncharacteristically near the middle-of-the-pack in terms of defense during the 2013 season, but things are looking bright for the Monsters of the Midway. Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings are one of the most productive and effective cornerbacks when healthy. Both are true ball hawks in every sense of the word. Plus the team went out and added CB Kyler Fuller in the first-round of the draft to add some youth. Of course, the big move came when the Bears added DE Jared Allen to the squad after he jumped from the rival Vikings. He replaces Julius Peppers who left for Green Bay as a free agent. But this does represent a rather sizable upgrade for the Bears as Allen is both younger and had more sacks than Peppers had during the 2013 season.

Auction...............$3

Bye Week.............9

The Packers should be much improved on defense, as Julius Peppers left the rival Bears to join the Packers. Green Bay might have been better served to wait for Jared Allen, but Peppers will still be an upgrade. First-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix should provide some instant stability to the secondary. If the Packers can manage to stay healthy, this could be a surprise unit.

Auction...............$3

Bye Week.............7

Lovie Smith is back in the NFL, and those who enjoy fantasy football might be wishing for some of that old Chicago magic, which made the Bears defense one of the best in the game. And the Buccaneers are not far off. Tampa Bay finished 13th last year in fantasy points scored. Not too bad for a team which had some stars, but were ultimately done-in by a lack of depth. The team also lost Darrelle Revis, but that probably shouldn't hurt too badly. The team signed CB Alterraun Verner who is probably a better fit for Lovie's system. And linebacker Lavonte David is one of the best in the business, despite his snub from the Pro Bowl last year. David should thrive under Smith and develop into the Lance Briggs of this defense.

Auction...............$3

Bye Week.............11

The Ravens are still one of those defenses that seem to come off the draft boards early, but it's been a while since the heady days of this unit being the most dominant in the league. The Ravens finished third-overall among defenses in 2011, but the team is coming off back-to-back finishes outside of the top 10, including 12th overall last season. But this is the Ravens and they just find a way. The team was able to nab C.J. Mosley in the first round of the draft and later added Tim Jernigan to the defensive line. Terrell Suggs is now a full season away from his injury and looks ready to go.

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