1. Houston Texans (@MIA) – Even with the loss of Mario Williams I expect the Houston Texans to once again be a top tier fantasy option. Wade Phillips was able to keep his defense at the top of the pack even after Williams went down with injury last year. It helps to have a run dominated offense, to limit the amount of time opponents have the ball. Expect Ryan Tannehill to get a rude awakening to the NFL. Rookie mistakes should happen, which is always a good thing for opposing defenses.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (@CLE) – After a season to forget the ‘Dream Team’ has a great opportunity to start 2012 the way they expected 2011 to go. They get to face a rookie Brandon Weedon, who suffers from inexperience and a serious lack of weapons. Even if rookie Trent Richardson plays, it’s hard to believe that he will be as effective as he would be if he were 100%.
3. Minnesota Vikings (JAX) – The Vikings are getting a Blaine Gabbert led team. That is starting Rashad Jennings instead of MJD. At home. It’s hard to imagine a better scenario for a team that struggled last year against the pass(26th), but held it’s own against the rush(11th).
4. Seattle Seahawks (@ARI) – Last year the Seahawks’ defense finished in the top 10 in both point per game and yards per game allowed (7th and 9th respectively). A big reason for that is they played in an offensively challenged division. The good news for them, is that they are still in the NFC West and none of the other teams have done much in terms of improving on the offensive side of the ball, Arizona included. I’m high on Seattle for the year, and this week is no exception.
5. Baltimore Ravens (CIN) – I think the Ravens entered the year underrated in fantasy circles. They’re the Michael Turner of defenses. I’m not going to consider them over-the-hill until they show me signs of being so. I am also slightly down on Andy Dalton, after his very solid rookie year. I just don’t think he has the arm strength to be considered dangerous, and until they find a compliment for AJ Green I’m not sure how he’s going to be able to squeeze balls to him through double coverage.
6. Chicago Bears (IND) – While Andrew Luck may very well be the next great quarterback, he is still about to play in his first real NFL game. No matter how you prepare yourself there is a steep learning curve when you bring your game to this level. While I think he could be solid in this game, I also expect the Colts to play it relatively safe, and to not expose Luck to too many scenarios where he could fail. As a result the Bears defense should be in good shape this week, and having Devin Hester as your kick returner never hurts.
7. Buffalo Bills (@NYJ) – The Bills have been saying they wanted to improve their defense for years, but this offseason they finally put their money where their mouth is. They brought in former #1 pick Mario Williams to anchor their defensive line. They may not win this game, but they won’t give up a lot of points to the offensively inept Jets either.
8. Green Bay Packers (SF) – The last meaningful game the Packers played was a huge disappointment for them as they fell the Giants in the divisional round of the playoffs. They expected to win it all and they still do. If they come out firing on all cylinders, the 49ers may be forced to be more aggressive which isn’t how they want to play. This could lead to some mistakes from Alex Smith and company.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars (@MIN) – As bad as their offense was last year, the Jaguars’ defense actually did a decent job. It sounds like Adrian Peterson might play some, but even if he does there’s no way he’s close to what he used to be. I’m expecting this game to be a slow-paced punt-fest. Bad for the eyes, but good for both defenses.
10. Detroit Lions (STL) – I don’t think the Lions are a top half defense, but I ranked them 10th this week anyways. Until Sam Bradford and the Rams show me something, you will most likely be seeing their opponents inside my top 12.
11. Atlanta Falcons (@KC)
12. New York Giants (DAL)
13. Arizona Cardinals (SEA)
14. New York Jets (BUF)
15. Denver Broncos (PIT)
16. Dallas Cowboys (@NYG)
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (@DEN)
18. San Francisco 49ers (@GB)
19. Indianapolis Colts (@CHI)
20. New England Patriots (@TEN)
21. New Orleans Saints (WAS)
22. Cincinnati Bengals (@BAL)
23. San Diego Chargers (@OAK)
24. Miami Dolphins (@HOU)
25. Carolina Panthers (@TB)
26. Oakland Raiders (SD)
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (CAR)
28. Tennessee Titans (NE)
29. Kansas City Chiefs (ATL)
30. Cleveland Browns (PHI)
31. Washington Redskins (@NO)
32. St. Louis Rams (@DET)
Written by Ilyn Yeh exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com
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