The New England Patriots finished fourth last season in scoring for Fantasy Football defenses/special teams and experts expect much of the same in 2013 by pre-ranking them sixth. But the Pats defense was completely hit or miss last year. In 2012, they had four weeks where they scored over 15 points but they also had six weeks where they scored five points or fewer, including two weeks in the negatives.
The reason for this disparity is because of the opportunistic defense they put out on the field. They were second in the league with 41 takeaways, including a league leading 21 fumble recoveries. But when you’re a defense that goes for turnovers, you are prone to give up the big play.
In order to stabilize this defense and become more consistent for Fantasy owners, a strong showing in the secondary would be ideal. The combination of Aqib Talib and Alfonzo Dennard should provide stability at the cornerback position. The Pats will continue to be stout against the run because of their superb linebacking core led by Brandon Spikes. The maturation of Spikes, Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower will help this team keep opposing runningbacks out of the end zone.
The Patriots also brought in former New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks Leon Washington to return kicks. While he is not as speedy as he once was, his eight career kick returns for touchdowns should give Fantasy owners confidence in 2013.
The Patriots young players on defense, Spikes, Hightower, Mayo and Chandler Jones will be even better in 2013. Add in a full year of Talib and Leon on the returns and the Patriots could easily finish higher than their project rank of sixth.