By: Nate Leer
At Fan Sports Lists, we are of the belief that investing in Ds and Ks any earlier than the last rounds of a draft is almost always a bad move. While there are a couple elite options at each spot, to get them you have to pass up quality QBs, RBs and WRs which is a mistake and the mid-level options are not worth reaching for until very late in a draft.
So the goal becomes targeting up-and-coming units – obviously defenses but also special teams for Ds and offenses for Ks – and looking for what appear to be good early season match-ups.
Below are 5 Ds to target and 5 Ks based on availability (average draft position over 140 for Ds and 150 for Ks on Yahoo and ESPN), possible upside and favorable early match-ups:
Defenses – look for offenses that just plain suck or are at least likely to turn the ball over a bunch:
- Eagles: The Eagles have what appear to be 2 great match-ups to start the season. With new D-coordinator Jim Schwartz, expect an upgraded, pressure-based D that could yield fantasy rewards.
- Jets: The Jets have decent match-ups early, some talented play makers on D and a head coach committed to strong D.
- Washington: They have a tough match-up to start (Steelers) but a bunch of good to great match-ups after that and they were able to severely impede opposing passing games last year.
- Ravens: The Ravens first half of the season is filled with offenses that could turn the ball over a bunch.
- Dolphins: The Fins have good to great match-ups every other week to start the season and a couple elite pass rushing players gives the defense potential to produce sacks and turnovers.
Kickers – target Ks from good offenses with tough match-ups or Ks for average offenses with favorable match-ups early:
- Matt Prater – Lions: The Kitties start out with a number of soft defensive match-ups and their offense should move the ball. However, without a proven power runners or a big-bodied receiving target, they could really struggle in the red-zone leading to plenty of FG opportunities.
- Roberto Aguayo – Buccaneers: The rookie has had a bumpy start to his NFL career but the talent is undeniable. The Bucs offenses looks good but a string of tough match-ups to start the season could lead to plenty of FGs.
- Brian McManus – Broncos: A strong-legged K who could get lots of field goal opportunities with a poor offense but a strong D, he has a tough match-up to start (Panthers) but some weak Ds after that.
- Sebastian Janikowski – Raiders: The Raiders offense is a bit of a mystery but if they have trouble punching the ball in, Seebass still has the leg to convert plenty of FGs.
- Matt Bryant – Falcons: The Falcons should be a high-scoring offense but tough match-ups weeks 2, 4, 5 and 6 could produce more FGs.