Fantasy impact of defensive free agency signings

The 2015 NFL offseason has been one of the most exciting when it comes to big-name players changing teams, either via trade or by signing contracts with new teams. Of course, most of the movement that will affect fantasy values happened on the offensive side of the football. However, there were also a few moves that will alter values on the defensive side of the field ... both in standard leagues and for owners who participate in individual defensive player (IDP) formats.

Here's a look at the defenders and defenses that were affected most as we look to 2015.

Ndamukong Suh, DL, Miami Dolphins: Suh left the Motor City for South Beach, signing a massive six-year, $114 million deal with the Dolphins. A strong pass-rusher who is also stout against the run, Suh helped the Detroit Lions in allowing the second-fewest fantasy points (14.28 PPG) to opposing running backs last season. That's over four fewer points per game than Miami allowed, so facing the Fins will be a tougher task for runners. In IDP leagues, Suh figures to remain on the DL2 radar.

Haloti Ngata, DL, Detroit Lions: The Lions replaced Suh with Ngata, who had been an IDP asset earlier in his career but has seen his numbers falter in recent seasons. On a positive note, he helped the Baltimore Ravens allow the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs (12.99 PPG) last season. So while the loss of Suh hurts the Lions' line, this unit should still be tough against the run as long as Ngata is on the field. That means opposing runners will continue to have tough matchups against the Lions in 2015.

Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets: Revis doesn't hold a lot of IDP value (it's hard to score fantasy points when no one throws in your direction), but his impact on the matchups is enormous. The last time Revis and fellow cornerback Antonio Cromartie worked together in the Big Apple (2011), the Jets allowed a mere seven touchdown catches and the fourth-fewest fantasy points (15.14 PPG) to wide receivers. Gang Green were also stubborn against quarterbacks that season, allowing an average of fewer than 12 fantasy points per game to the position.

New England Patriots defense: Aside from losing Revis, the Patriots also lost corner back Brandon Browner (Saints) and defensive lineman Vince Wilfork (Texans) this offseason. While the team was able to retain safety Devin McCourty, this unit still won't be as bad a matchup for opposing quarterbacks and receivers compared to 2014. New England allowed just 15.42 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks and the fourth-fewest fantasy points to wideouts (19.12 PPG) ... those two averages are likely to rise next season.

Kiko Alonso, LB, Philadelphia Eagles: One of the biggest deals from a fantasy standpoint included LeSean McCoy, who was traded to the Buffalo Bills for Alonso. Almost eight months removed from an ACL reconstruction, he's expected to be back in time for the start of training camp. He was a major fantasy asset as a rookie, posting 159 total tackles and the sixth-most fantasy points among linebackers. The presence of fellow linebacker Mychal Kendricks could hurt Alonso's appeal, though, so consider him a LB2 in drafts.

Curtis Lofton, LB, Oakland Raiders: Lofton is a tackling machine who ranked sixth in fantasy points among linebackers last season, but he's never posted huge numbers in the sacks or passes defensed categories. And while Lofton is expected to fill the starting middle linebacker role with his new team, whether he remains an every-down player under new coach Jack Del Rio remains to be seen. Remember, Khalil Mack and Sio Moore both played well last season and could push Lofton out of a prominent role. Such a scenario could hurt his IDP prospects.

St. Louis Rams defense: The Rams added defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who isn't much of an IDP asset but adds depth to one of the most formidable defensive lines in the league. As part of the Lions defense, albeit in eight games, Fairley helped a unit that allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to runners. Now in St. Louis, he joins fellow linemen Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers and a defense that surrendered the seventh-fewest points to opposing backs (15.13 PPG) in 2015. So while Fairley has no real IDP value, his presence makes the Rams defense an even tougher matchup for runners.

Brian Orakpo, LB, Tennessee Titans: The Titans re-signed linebacker Derrick Morgan and added Orakpo, who missed nine games last season but racked up 10 sacks during the 2013 campaign. The team now has some real upside in their pass rush with lineman Jurrell Casey also in the mix. That makes the Titans defense a potential matchup-based option for fantasy fans next season. Orakpo isn't going to record a lot of tackles, however, and being listed as a linebacker will be a detriment to his IDP appeal.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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