There are still many traditionalists that are set in their ways who are almost offended that fantasy football is so prevalent in how we assess the modern game. Check this out for an oxymoron; the fantasy game is a healthy epidemic, one that has gone viral and is a respected indicator of player performance.
This is one of those instances where the fantasy football rankings are useful for emphasizing a point. The point in question is that some previously-revered defenses that have been traditionally good not so good anymore.
The NFL draft system was designed as a leveler, and it seems that the carousel has finally rolled around for the likes of the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants, both of whom are famed for their hard-nosed defenses as the foundation on which they build their success. This is simply no longer the case; the Giants’ defense ranks 28th overall in fantasy points, while the Steelers even more astonishingly sit 31st and just one place above the Jacksonville Jaguars.
To think, people used to fear these defenses.
The Giants’ defense are unsurprisingly owned in just 13.8 percent of NFL standard fantasy leagues, yet they are creeping back in to relevance and pushing for our attention. Their defensive improvements have gone hand-in-hand with recent results; the Giants are playing a little defense again and they now have three wins on the bounce — it isn’t rocket science.
Much of the credit will go to linebacker Jon Beason and to the Giants GM Jerry Reese for making the trade that has sparked his defense back to life. Beason’s all-action mentality has rubbed off on his compatriots and as the Giants are getting healthier on the other side of the ball, competition for places is causing a noticeable upturn in production.
Beason led the field in tackles with 12 (11 solo, one assist) in his debut and the Giants haven’t looked back, having provided the leading tackler in three of their last four outings.
Veteran secondary stars Antrel Rolle and Terrell Thomas have also made noteworthy contributions in the revolution of the Giants’ D. In the last three games, Rolle has two interceptions, a forced fumble and a game-leading 12 combined tackles. Thomas, who has battled back from multiple ACL surgeries, was recognized with the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award for an outing against the Philadelphia Eagles which saw him register 11 combined tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
Let’s not forget the fact that the Giants gave up more points to the opposition in the opening five games of the season than any other team in the Super Bowl era. Such was that multitude of their turnaround, they went from this lowest of lows to going nine quarters of football without allowing an offensive score through Weeks 6-8 of this season.
The Giants were a team conceding points for fun during a disastrous 0-6 start to the 2013 campaign. What was once a porous secondary that looked excruciatingly susceptible through the air has picked up their game so significantly that the Giants now rank 11th overall against the pass. In addition, balance has been achieved with a top-10 run defense that has limited such fantasy stars as Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy in recent weeks.
Not only are the Giants getting better at stifling the opposition, they are also contributing more where it matters in fantasy football: sacks, interceptions, fumbles and touchdowns have all been prominent as the W’s have begun to unfold.
Over their past two games, the Giants defense have ranked third among all teams in fantasy football, registering 17 and 15 points in Weeks 8 and 10 respectively. Eight of the Giants’ 14 team sacks have come during those past two games, each time seeing four individuals recording a sack a piece with everyone wanting to get in on the action.
From the very worst in this field through six weeks of the season to the very best over the last three weeks, this is your chance to ride this bandwagon and pick up the Giants’ defense while they are healthy and hot. The next three outings against the Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins provide ample opportunity for them to build on their recent successes — you heard it here first!