It can be tempting to be carried along by the wave of excitement surrounding a rookie. Watching that incredible college tape and imagining the performances translated to the NFL stage. It can turn stubborn sceptics into believers. So when Arizona landed the highly-lauded Isaiah Simmons with the 9th overall pick, many were ready to crown the Arizona unit as the comeback D/ST of the year. Truthfully, the Cardinals are not quite ready to take that step up.
No one can argue that Simmons doesn’t instantly elevate the Arizona defence. DC Vance Joseph will have spent lockdown cooking up plays that utilise the rookie’s unique skill-set. Yet overall, the Cardinals DST still resembles the poor 2019 side.
Arizona scored a paltry 68 points in (100 less than division rivals San Francisco) in standard scoring last year. Arizona’s new rookie is simply the polish added to a turd. Though it looks nice and shiny, it still reeks.
The Cardinals are still a bottom-heavy defence, anchored by a talented secondary. Sadly, that mean secondary can only paper over the defensive cracks. Patrick Peterson, Budda Baker and Byron Murphy carry a poor defence suffering from a dismal defensive line.
The frontline is a mix of serviceable veterans and bargain-basement free agents. Without an elite rusher, the unit looks as scary as the latest Paranormal Activity. Goff, Garrapollo and Wilson will be relishing this year’s divisional matchups.
Though an improved offence will bring a welcome drop in field time for the outfit, the Cardinal D/ST should be avoided at all costs.
The Dolphins D/ST were the laughing stock of the fantasy world in 2019. Recording an embarrassing 44 points in standard scoring, the Miami defence sat bottom in the NFL. Divisional rivals New England topped the charts with almost 200 more points.
But before you scoff at the need to warn you away from the Floridian outfit, bear with me. Many a fantasy prophet will proclaim the revamped unit a sleeper for the new season. My fantasy brethren, I am here to steer you well clear.
Miami presents an interesting case for redemption in 2020. Only 5 members of the 2019 defence project to start on the current depth chart. During an aggressive off-season, the Dolphins added free-agency experience to their 11 draft picks. 3 defensive players alone were taken within the first 3 rounds of the NFL draft.
The Dolphins will also benefit from a division in transition this coming season. With Tom Brady moving to Tampa, 2020 could be the year New England is finally dethroned. Brian Flores finally has a team to mould into greatness.
Although not unique to Miami, the upcoming off-season is currently shrouded in uncertainty. Yes on paper, the defence looks to be a drastic upgrade on the 2019 corps. Former Bill Shaq Lawson will finally fill the void left by Ndamukong Suh. Byron Jones is set to showcase what an $82 million Cornerback looks like. Ex-New England duo Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts bring the quality expected from Belichick graduates.
But, rebuilding doesn’t happen overnight. There is no guarantee the defence will be allowed the time to integrate the new personnel and learn a new system. Fade the Dolphins in 2020, perhaps 2021 will be their year.
Joe Burrow’s Bengals are another franchise praying for a breath of fresh air. Cincinnati will be hoping to end their status as the NFL’s perennial whipping boys. No pressure Joe.
Though the Cincinnati offense looks close to completion, the defensive side of the ball still needs some work.
Despite singing 9 defensive rookies, Logan Wilson is the only first-year with any chance of an instant impact. For all the draft picks and surprising aggressiveness during free-agency, only 3 new Bengals project to start. DJ Reader will no doubt be as large a presence as his new contract. The ex-Minnesota duo of Trae Waynes and Alexander Mackensie are solid, if unspectacular, additions to an already formidable secondary. This trio aside, its very much as you were.
Cincinnati gifted owners a meagre 3.8 points per game in standard-scoring last year. Imagine your Wide Receivers making 3 catches for 10 yards each and shutting up shop for the day. That was the Bengals D/ST in 2019.
The AFC North is headlined by a fearless Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield’s new offensive line and a returning Big Ben. The Bengals still look like the basement boys for at least another year. Despite the multiple additions, it’s hard to see where they improve on the 3.8 PPG.
Burrow broke college records and waltzed into the NFL to much fanfare. However, even the best rookie Quarterbacks struggle. Any stutters from the local boy ramp even more pressure on the defence. Who dey? Not my D/ST thanks.