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The case against the Jets' defense

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Posted Aug. 14, 2010 @ 2:42 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

This is the 37th in a series of opinionated fantasy football columns that will be posted daily in July and August, providing fantasy owners with some insights to consider as they prepare for their drafts. You can get an in-depth preview of the upcoming fantasy football season with the purchase of the Yahoo! Sports / Pro Football Weekly Fantasy Football Guide 2010, available now in newsstands and bookstores, or online at PFWstore.com.

It’s hard for me to say that the Jets will have a bad defense this season. I just can’t do that.

But I have a hardened belief that there are very few fantasy defenses — I am talking about a handful per decade — that are really worth taking anywhere above the final two rounds of your fantasy draft.

The NFL is too topsy-turvy from year to year. Great players typically remain great, but even the best of units can see a fall from grace.

For me, even with Rex Ryan calling the shots, Kris Jenkins back from injury and a terrific cast of other players, I would never reach for the Jets’ defense this year. That's even more true with Darrelle Revis' holdout continuing.

It’s less a knock against the Jets as it is a statement of the unpredictability for the performances of fantasy defenses.

Every year I identify about seven or eight defenses I think will be very good to excellent. Typically, that list consists of most of the top five or six groups in the PFW fantasy rankings and a handful of lower-rated units I think are being undersold. And when the first four or five of my teams are off the board, I consider taking a defense with my next pick. But only then, never sooner. I have been burned too many times in the past by reaching for a defense when other quality is on the board.

The Jets will be one of those groups I put on my list. But I will let someone else reach for them.

Right when fantasy owners were reaching for the Steelers, Giants and Titans — all considered top-five fantasy defenses last year — ridiculous bargains such as Miles Austin, the Giants’ Steve Smith, Ray Rice, Shonn Greene, Vernon Davis and others were going off the board. Ask yourself now which choices you would make.

Fantasy defenses can be real assets, no question. At their best, they can be weekly point producers that can carry an above-average fantasy team to the postseason. Anyone who is lucky enough to land one of these groups can attest to that.

But there are seldom more than three or four truly elite teams that fall under this category each season. And rarely is it that a group sustains that greatness for very long. A superior defense one season — ahem, the Giants — can fall flat on its face the next.

That’s why I am selling on the Jets. Pump me full of truth serum and I might acknowledge that there is little chance of them completely flopping in 2010. But it wouldn’t shock me to see them fall short of expectations.

Don’t get caught reaching for them or other defenses too high in your draft when there is plenty of real quality available at other positions available.

 

For authoritative coverage and analysis of NFL news, free agency and fantasy football, visit ProFootballWeekly.com.

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