2009 fantasy football is coming aoon—a look back at 2008 defenses

Last month we started looking at last season’s statistics for position players in fantasy football land, and today we’ll look at a position many often overlook. That’s fantasy defenses, which can sometimes put up just enough points to earn your team a victory once in a while. It’s always smart to try and grab one of the top units, although as we’ve seen before, things change, sometimes drastically, from year to year with fantasy D’s. Me? I like to grab my defense before my kicker. This list is based on point totals from one of my leagues, so keep in mind that stats vary from year to year.

1. Baltimore Ravens—The Ravens’ defense is perennially awesome, and we’ll find out for sure how much of that was due to former coordinator Rex Ryan, who is now the head honcho for the Jets. Ryan took plenty of players with him too, like LB Bart Scott and S Jim Leonhard, but the Ravens still have Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs. Reed just keeps getting better every year, and his sick nose for the ball is one reason the Ravens had a league high 26 picks. They will keep scoring low as always, but their 34 sacks last season isn’t much to get excited about. Bottom line: The Ravens won’t be a number one this year, but are still top 10.

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NFL Playoff Preview: Colts need to get healthy in a hurry

The Indianapolis Colts have a lot going for them these days. They’ve won nine straight, will play the San Diego Chargers Saturday in the opening round of the NFL playoffs, and their starting quarterback just won his third career MVP award.

About the only thing working against the Colts, is the amount of injuries they’ve amassed over the past couple weeks, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

The most notably injury is to strong safety Bob Sanders, whose knee continues to bother him. Tony Dungy says he expects Sanders to play Sunday, although it’s unclear at this point whether or not he’ll be slowed by the injury.

One player who won’t suit up is linebacker Gary Brackett, who missed the entire week of practice due to a fibula injury, and has missed the past four games. Defensive tackle Eric Foster, wideout Pierre Garcon, guards Jamey Richard and Mike Pollack, and defensive back Keiwan Ratliff are all listed as questionable.

Philip Rivers has been outstanding all season despite his top receiving weapon Antonio Gates missing time due to injury, as well as LaDainian Tomlinson having a rare down year. Point being, for as well as Manning has played over the second half of the season, the Chargers are more than equipped offensively to get into a shootout with the Colts.

Having a healthy Sanders in the defensive backfield is the key for Indy. He’s a game changer and he can erase mistakes in the blink of an eye. But if he can’t play, or is slowed by his knee injury, it’s no secret opponents have been able to run the ball effectively against the Colts’ defense. And if the Chargers can get LT and Darren Sproles rolling like they did against the Broncos in their division-clinching win in Week 17, there’s no reason to think that San Diego can’t pull away in the second half and force Manning and the Colts’ offense to be one-dimensional.

Before their 23-20 win over the Chargers on November 23 of this year, the Colts had lost their previous three games against San Diego, including a 28-24 playoff loss in Indianapolis last season. Every team struggles with certain opponents, and the Chargers could be the Colts’ thorn.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Colts’ injuries will affect their play on Saturday. One named not previously mentioned was Indy linebacker Freddy Keiaho, who is expected to play. If they can get a healthy Sanders in the mix, the Colts will be more than ready to take the Chargers best shot. But if Sanders and company can’t go, there’s a chance not even a three-time MVP will save them.

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