2017 Outlook: Baltimore's D/ST finished eighth in fantasy points and posted eight top-10 weeks (third most) last season. In addition, the Ravens have topped the NFL in blocked kicks each of the past two seasons (four in 2016). They also were tied for tops in the league in interceptions (18) last season, but ranked in the bottom half of the league in forced fumbles (14) and sacks (31). Baltimore added Tony Jefferson, Brandon Carr and Marlon Humphrey to a now-loaded secondary that already included Jimmy Smith, Eric Weddle and Lardarius Webb. The front seven isn't quite as impressive, but includes talent in the form of C.J. Mosley, Brandon Williams, Tyus Bowser and 34-year-old Terrell Suggs.
2017 Outlook: The Rams' D/ST finished top-12 from 2012-15, but collapsed to 23rd last season. They ranked 22nd in forced fumbles (12), 24th in sacks (31) and tied for 19th in D/ST touchdowns (one) after ranking in the upper-half of the league in all three categories the previous three seasons. On the plus side, they ranked top-eight in tackles for loss (102) for the seventh consecutive season. Connor Barwin, Nickell Robey-Coleman and Kayvon Webster were far from spectacular offseason acquisitions, but T.J. McDonald is gone to Miami. Aaron Donald is one of the game's best players, but he needs more help behind him.
2017 Outlook: Following a 27th-place finish in 2016, the Redskins' D/ST has ranked 21st or worse in fantasy points during eight of the past nine seasons. Big yardage has been the primary culprit as of late; Washington allowed 6,046 yards last season and 6,090 in 2015, both The Jaguars' D/ST has finished eight of the past nine seasons 21st or worse in fantasy points, which includes a 20th-place finish in 2016. fifth highest in the league. The Redskins ranked fifth in forced fumbles (17) and ninth in sacks (38) last season. Chris Baker and Ricky Jean Francois are gone, but Washington did well targeting value players in free agency, scooping up Zach Brown, Terrell McClain, Stacy McGee and D.J. Swearinger, and added Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson in the draft. Josh Norman, Mason Foster and Ryan Kerrigan lead the unit.
2017 Outlook: The Dolphins snuck into the 2016 playoffs despite a defense that allowed the fourth-most yards (6,122) last season. They've now allowed 6,000-plus yards each of the past two years. Miami's D/ST still ended up as a mid-pack unit thanks to 16 interceptions (ninth), 16 forced fumbles (seventh) and a league-high-tying four blocked kicks. William Hayes and T.J. McDonald are strong additions, but the latter is suspended for half the season. Lawrence Timmons was also signed, but he hasn't played well since 2014. This is a solid unit led by Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake and Reshad Jones, but note that the average age of the six names mentioned above is 31.4 and none are under 29.
2017 Outlook: The defending NFC champions allowed the sixth-most points (406) and eighth-most yards (5,939) last season, but leveled out their fantasy production with the fifth-most forced fumbles (17), third-most passes defensed (87) and five D/ST touchdowns. Atlanta's D/ST hasn't posted a top-15 fantasy season since 2011, but this is a unit on the rise. Dontari Poe was signed away from Kansas City and joins a solid defensive line that also includes emerging Vic Beasley Jr. Deion Jones, De'Vondre Campbell and Kemal Ishmael form an intriguing, young linebacker group and this is a talented secondary led by Desmond Trufant and Keanu Neal.
2017 Outlook: The Tampa Bay defense was a bit of an enigma last season. The Bucs ranked top-nine in interceptions (17), forced fumbles (16), sacks (38) and D/ST touchdowns (four). They also allowed the 23rd-most yards (5,887) and 15th-most points (369). The end result was an 11th-place finish in fantasy points, only the unit's second top-15 campaign in the past eight years. This defense is positioned for a slight step forward in 2017. Bradley McDougald was replaced with J.J. Wilcox and Chris Baker adds bulk to the interior. Gerald McCoy, Robert Ayers, Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander and Brent Grimes provide a solid nucleus, but Noah Spence and Vernon Hargreaves will need to be better in their second seasons.
2017 Outlook: Injuries and suspensions along the front seven and a weak secondary helped Chicago's D/ST to its fourth straight year as a bottom-seven unit last season. Chicago managed only eight interceptions (fourth fewest) for the second year in a row. The Bears allowed 399 points (24th), and recovered just three fumbles (30th). They still have the talent to field one of the best linebacker units in football (Danny Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman, Willie Young, Leonard Floyd, Pernell McPhee), but Trevathan may start 2017 on the PUP list. Cornerback remains a problem area, but the team added Prince Amukamara and a lot of competition at the position during the offseason. This unit is a very deep sleeper, but is safe to avoid on draft day considering their Week 1 meeting with Atlanta.
2017 Outlook: The Packers' defense struggled last season, which led their D/ST to only its second finish of 20th or worse over the past decade. Green Bay allowed the 12th-most points (388), 11th-most yards (5,823) and ranked 27th in forced fumbles (27). On the plus side, the Packers ranked top-nine in interceptions (17) for the ninth time in 10 years and top-10 in sacks (40) for the fifth consecutive year. Micah Hyde, Datone Jones and Julius Peppers are gone, while Kevin King, Ricky Jean Francois and Davon House were added to the mix. Mike Daniels, Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix provide some star power, but this is a defense with several holes.
2017 Outlook: The Cowboys enjoyed a strong 2016 season, but their D/ST managed only the 17th-most fantasy points. In fact, that equaled Dallas' best finish over the past six years. The Cowboys ranked third in forced fumbles (18), fifth in tackles for loss (98) and allowed the fifth-fewest points (306) last season. However, they ranked 27th with nine interceptions and failed to score a non-offensive touchdown. Life won't be any easier in 2017 after the departure of Barry Church, Terrell The Jaguars' D/ST has finished eight of the past nine seasons 21st or worse in fantasy points, which includes a 20th-place finish in 2016. McClain, J.J. Wilcox and starting corners Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. Sean Lee, Byron Jones and Demarcus Lawrence bring a lot of talent to the table, but this defense has serious holes across the board.
2017 Outlook: San Francisco's unit has finished in the bottom two of the league in fantasy points each of the past two years. That's after four consecutive seasons a top-10 unit. The 49ers allowed a league-high 6,502 yards and 480 points last season. They ranked 19th or worse in interceptions (10), sacks (33) and tackles for loss (80), while failing to score a non-offensive touchdown. Trumaine Brock and Antoine Bethea are gone from the secondary, and the team's top free-agent addition was pedestrian LB Malcolm Smith. DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Jimmie Ward and first-round rookies Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster provide some upside, but especially with NaVorro Bowman recovering from a torn Achilles, this is a defense unlikely to take a big step forward in 2017.
2017 Outlook: Oakland was an intriguing D/ST sleeper last season, but struggles up the middle and inconsistent corner play led the unit to a finish in the bottom half of the league for the sixth consecutive season. The Raiders ranked second in forced fumbles (20) and ninth in interceptions (16), but managed a league-low 25 sacks and allowed 6,001 yards (seventh most). Stacy McGee and Malcolm Smith are gone, which only adds to the team's holes up the middle. Khalil Mack is one of the best in the business, but youngsters Karl Joseph, Mario Edwards, Jihad Ward and Cory James will need to take a step forward this year. On the plus side, the addition of Cordarrelle Patterson raises the opportunity for a few return touchdowns.
2017 Outlook: The Lions' D/ST was pretty brutal last season, but salvaged some respect by allowing only 358 points (13th fewest) and scoring three touchdowns. The unit ranked 23rd in interceptions (10), 28th in forced fumbles (eight), 30th in sacks (26), 28th in passes defensed (62) and 29th in tackles for loss (65). Rookie Jarrad Davis is an upgrade at middle linebacker and Paul Worrilow will help replace DeAndre Levy, but this is not a very intimidating team on paper. The Darius Slay-led secondary is solid, but the front seven needs work behind Ezekiel Ansah.
2017 Outlook: The Browns' D/ST ranked dead last in fantasy points and was limited to one top-10 week last season. Cleveland ranked 30th or worse in forced fumbles (six), fumble recoveries (three), sacks (26), tackles for loss (64), yards allowed (6,279) and points allowed (452). Jamie Collins was a huge 2016 in-season acquisition and he joins Danny Shelton and Christian Kirksey to form a solid trio in the front seven. Early-round pass rushers Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib are entering a pivotal second year after rough rookie campaigns. A lot will also be asked of 2017 first-round picks Myles Garrett and Jabrill Peppers. This unit is very young with many holes still to fill.
2017 Outlook: The Colts' defense was not very good on paper last season and injuries only exacerbated the problem. The Indianapolis D/ST finished bottom-four in interceptions (eight), tackles for loss (61), yards allowed (6,126) and passes defensed (60) en route to finishing 28th in fantasy points. New general manager Chris Ballard did his best to overhaul the unit during the offseason, scooping up Jabaal Sheard, John Simon, Sean Spence, Margus Hunt, Johnathan Hankins and rookies Malik Hooker, Quincy Wilson and Tarell Basham. Weak spots remain at every level, but the Colts are better off than they were in 2016.
2017 Outlook: The Saints' D/ST ranked 30th in fantasy points last season, which is actually an improvement from 31st in 2014 and 2015. That's obviously not saying much. The Saints managed nine interceptions, recorded 30 sacks and allowed 6,006 yards. All were sixth worst in the league. They also allowed 454 points, which was second most. The Saints have a solid trio in Cameron Jordan, Kenny Vaccaro and Nick Fairley, but the health of Delvin Breaux and the contributions of youngsters Marshon Lattimore, Vonn Bell, Sheldon Rankins and Hau'oli Kikaha will decide this unit's fate in 2017.