Most fantasy football owners’ wait until the last couple rounds to draft a defense, but once and awhile a defense it is worth reaching for a unit. One of these up-and-coming defenses to keep tabs on this summer is the Cleveland Browns DEF/ST.
Cleveland’s defense was eighth best against the pass (221.1 yards/game) and 18th best against the run (111.3 yards/game). They were truly an underrated fantasy unit across the board.
Cleveland has a very formidable pass rush. Jabaal Sheard led the team with 5.5 sacks, while nine other players also racked up two sacks or more. The entire unit knows how to get after the quarterback and they have a good deal of young talent hitting their prime.
Former first round pick, OLB Barkevious Mingo, also racked up five sacks in 2013 and the linebacker really started to come alive towards the end of his rookie season. The young pass rusher will be even better in his sophomore season and will be a key aspect of the pas rush in 2014.
Cleveland recorded 40 sacks last year and finished tied for 16th best in the league. They were also 20th in the league with 14 interceptions and had an overall turnover differential of -8. The defense by no means displayed any big-play defense and seems to be in the middle of the pack in most categories.
The unit will also be shifting over towards new D.C. Jim O’Neil’s defensive philosophy, which will take some time to get comfortable with and will impact the unit’s overall fantasy production early on. Any new defense takes time to fully absorb and the entire unit will have a learning curve with this new system.
Cleveland will be a decent sleeper defense to grab towards the end of the draft, but don’t feel like you have to reach for the Dog Pound defense. There are plenty of options out there that can be just as productive in the final round.
Bye Week: 4
Projected Round: 18
Auction Value: $1