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Fantasy Football: Final 2013 Defense/STs Rankings

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Defense and Special Teams in Fantasy Football

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With the first NFL game of the season only nine days away, football frenzy is in full force. Football is all over televisions, internet, the radio and in general public discussion as the pre-season winds down and in people are participating in fantasy football drafts like it is going out of style. In these drafts, much of the attention goes to Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson or other big-name superstars that will rack up a massive amount of points throughout the season and send fear through opponents.

While these types of players are nice to have, what fans are missing out on by looking solely at star players is the other positions that can make or break one week's matchup or even a whole season. The one position specifically that fans are overlooking in fantasy drafts is the defensive and special teams units.

Much like in the action on the field, the defensive and special teams units are the glue that holds a team together. This is because in most leagues teams are built on somewhat of an even scale, making your matchup each week often come down to a small amount points. One interception, fumble recovery, blocked punt, sack or touchdown from a defensive or special teams unit can be the difference in swinging a matchup where your team is not a clear favorite. With this in mind, it is imperative to have a strong defensive and special teams unit if you want to win your fantasy football league.

Many people will conclude that they should go solely with the team that allows the least amount of points, which sounds good on paper, but does not equate to the best fantasy football team. We are here to help you figure out who to draft by providing a ranking of every defensive and special teams unit in the game for fantasy purposes.

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32. Jacksonville Jaguars

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

To put it simply, the Jaguars' defense will be awful during 2013. They are coming off of a season when they allowed the third-most yards in the NFL and were tied for third in points allowed. Stay away if at all possible.

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31. Oakland Raiders

Kelley L. Cox-USA TODAY Sports

By all accounts, the Raiders are a sink that is going downhill quickly. Not that there has been much room to go downhill, but after ranking 28th in the NFL in points allowed last season, don't expect much improvement. No amount of turnovers or sacks can hide allowing 27.7 points per game again.

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30. Tennessee Titans

Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

The Titans actually ranked dead last in points allowed last season at 471, or 29.4 per game. Playing in a division that includes Andrew Luck, Josh Freeman and Matt Schaub will only expose the team's weaknesses on defense again.

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29. New Orleans Saints

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

The Saints are an interesting proposition with Sean Payton coming back. They are surely expected to win more football games, but can he help their defense that ranked 31st in points allowed last season? I wouldn't bet on it as his team's mantra has always been to outscore their opponents, not suffocate them with tough defense.

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28. Buffalo Bills

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo has seemed to try and get better on the defensive side of the football in recent years, but to no avail. They have Mario Williams, who can be expected to pick up 10-12 sacks during the season, but even with him on the roster, they allowed 27.2 points per game last season. Expect minimally better points allowed this year, but don't count on this defense.

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27. Washington Redskins

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins seemed to have things figured out on the offensive side of the ball, but it's a whole different story on defense. Last season, they caused the fourth-most turnovers of any team in the NFC, but still managed to allow the 22nd most points in the NFL. In a tough division, it is tough to see these totals getting any better, and they will likely cause less turnovers.

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26. Indianapolis Colts

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts have historically been a poor defensive team, and even after Peyton Manning left, things changed. They simply hope hold the opposition long enough that Andrew Luck can get the ball and score points -- not a good recipe for fantasy success.

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25. Detroit Lions

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

While their offense ranks amongst the best in the NFL, defense has been holding this team back for years. They ranked 14 out of 16 teams in the NFC in turnovers caused last season, and 27th in the NFL in points allowed. Stay away from the Lions.

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24. Philadelphia Eagles

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles are a team that could head up the rankings a bit this year or fall to the bottom of the pack. If Chip Kelly is able to implement his offensive strategy to a point that team's defenses are worn out, then the Eagles defense will inherently have an advantage through rest. If it doesn't work, then we will see a lot of the Eagles defense on the field, and a lot of the opposition celebrating in the end zone.

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23. Minnestoa Vikings

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings actually ranked 14th in the NFL in points allowed last season, but couldn't get teams to turn the ball over to save their lives. They ranked 12th in the NFC in forced turnovers, a stat that needs to be higher for a team that is league average in points allowed.

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22. San Diego Chargers

Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego ranked fifth in the AFC in turnovers forced last season, and 16th in the NFL in points allowed. This made them an average fantasy team last season, but could be a sleeper this year. If Dwight Freeney can come in and have a big year, expect the Chargers to be a sleeper defensive and special teams unit.

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21. Atlanta Falcons

Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons are a good team for stopping the opposition from scoring and creating turnovers, but not lethal in special teams. They are a safe pick on defense, but not one that will win you games.

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20. Carolina Panthers

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers have a league-average defense, but could be a sleeper to get points from special teams with Ted Ginn Jr. expected to return kicks. Ginn has the ability to return any ball to the house and could make the Panthers a surprisingly stronger team on defense and special teams.

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19. Miami Dolphins

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Miami was excellent at stopping the opposition from scoring but brutal in causing turnovers. Without impact players on special teams, this makes them a safe, if unsexy, pick.

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18. New York Jets

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets have always had great defensive and special teams units on paper under Rex Ryan. The issue has been how often will they be on the field? The Jets' offense limits the defensive and special teams units from being the impact fantasy unit they could be.

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17. Dallas Cowboys

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas was not especially good at stopping the opposition from scoring or creating turnovers last season, ranking 24th in the NFL in points allowed and 15th in the NFC in turnovers caused. While they do have some threats rushing the passer and on special teams, they are not a team that can be expected to make a real difference.

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16. Kansas City Chiefs

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs are a team going through a change with Andy Reid now the head coach, but he has never been a defensive guru. For a Chiefs defense that was not great last season, that is a bad omen, and special teams cannot pick up all the slack.

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15. New York Giants

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants have great pass rushers, making them a threat to pick up points off of sacks and fumbles. This led to them ranking second in the NFC in turnovers caused last season and if the team clicks this year, they could jump into the top-10 for defensive and special teams units.

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14. Cleveland Browns

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns are a team that has made great strides without the football in recent years, but are still dragged down by offense. If Brandon Weeden is able to show improvement this season, then we could see the team's defensive and special teams units flourish in a big way as they will not be as fatigued from being on the field all game.

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13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

tampa bay
Tim Heltman-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers' fantasy value is going to be very hit or miss this season. The team will get a number of interceptions with Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson now part of their defensive backs corps, but will still be haunted by a bad defensive line that was awful at getting to the quarterback last season.

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12. Green Bay Packers

green bay
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Packers will again be a defensive and special teams unit that is just above average. After ranking 11th in the NFL total points allowed and 10th in the AFC in turnovers created during the 2012 season, there will not be much growth or decline from this unit.

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11. St. Louis Rams

st. louis
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams will generate a large amount of points through sacks as they tied the NFL lead during the 2012 season. While doing this, they will again be close to league average in points allowed as they tied for 14th in the NFL in 2012, and are a very safe fantasy choice.

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10. Arizona Cardinals

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals are a team that will gain fantasy points through their return team. With Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and Javier Arenas returning kicks, they will likely be able to give a team a boost over the edge in certain weeks. Keeping them around for when they can provide this boost would be a wise decision.

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9. Denver Broncos

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

After being one of the top-five defenses in the league last year, the 2013 season will be a bit of a step back for the Broncos. With Von Miller out for six games, the team will be without their defensive leader, and their fantasy ranking will take a step down as a result. During the second half of the season when Miller is back and in full form, they could turn back into one of the top-five fantasy defense and special teams units.

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8. Pittsburgh Steelers

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are the NFL's model of consistency, and the 2013 season will not change that. They will again rank in the top-10 in the NFL in points allowed, and although not flashy, they will not blow a fantasy matchup on any given week.

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7. Cincinnati Bengals

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

After picking up 51 sacks last season and adding James Harrison to the fold during the offseason, the Bengals defense will be very strong for the 2013 season. They are a safe pick to generate points for your team each week and will be very consistent.

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6. Baltimore Ravens

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Even after losing Ed Reed and Ray Lewis in the offseason, this defensive unit is scary. New addition Elvis Dumervil will pick up much of the slack left by Lewis, and this team will again be one of the best in the league.

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5. New England Patriots

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

New England will be significantly aided by their division being weak, and can expect to be amongst the best teams in the league at keeping teams out of their end zone. After leading the AFC in interceptions last season with 20, they may actually create more turnovers this season, delighting fantasy owners everywhere.

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4. Houston Texans

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A Texans defensive unit that has been known for punishing the quarterback actually got better this offseason with the addition of Ed Reed. Reed will add another dimension and create more points through turnovers than in previous year for the Texans.

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3. Chicago Bears

Ed Sczcepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears have historically been a fearsome defense, and the 2013 season will continue that trend. They will get to the quarterback at a great rate and create turnovers while doing so. With Devin Hester in the return role, it can be expected that they will get a decent amount of points from returns as well.

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2. San Francisco 49ers

san francisco
Kelley L. Cox-USA TODAY Sports

This team has been one of the most consistent in the league on defense in recent years. With Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith getting to the quarterback and making his life miserable, you can bet that the team will be a turnover-creating machine once again.

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1. Seattle Seahawks

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

After leading most fantasy football leagues in defensive and special units points last season, the Seahawks will be at it again this year. With Pete Carroll running the show, expect them to be aggressive, fast paced and out for blood on each play. They may actually be better in fantasy than last season, if that can be believed.