Fantasy Fodder season preview: Ranking kickers and defenses

I enjoyed writing the first four days of my Fantasy Fodder 2011 season preview. Today is not as exciting, though, because all that's left are the kickers and the defense-special teams combinations. You guys know by now that you shouldn't address these areas until the end of your draft, so let's get right to the rankings.

(If you have a scorching question about Josh Scobee or if you absolutely need to know if the Browns' D/ST is worth a late-round flyer, shoot me a question on Twitter or leave it in the comments section. I can't wait.)


On to the kicker rankings…

1. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots: He's again my top kicker, but don't take him until the last two rounds.


2. Nate Kaeding, Chargers: The Chargers offense should get a boost with a full year of Vincent Jackson.

3. Mason Crosby, Packers: At the very least, he'll be kicking a lot of extra points this season.

4. Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders: This large man has a large leg, but he can be erratic.

5. Neil Rackers, Texans: He has settled in with the Texans after the Cardinals jettisoned him after the 2009 season.

6. Billy Cundiff, Ravens: If you only got fantasy points for touchbacks…

7. Rob Bironas, Titans: This is one guy who is hoping Chris Johnson ends his holdout soon.

8. Matt Bryant, Falcons: The Falcons have a ton of red-zone weapons, which hurts his value.

9. Robbie Gould, Bears: He's got a strong leg, he's accurate and it's a Mike Martz offense.


10. Alex Henery, Eagles: I'd probably put David Akers here, and Henery is expected to be just as reliable.

11. Dan Carpenter, Dolphins: He faltered down the stretch last season. Let's hope he gets back on track.

12. Josh Brown, Rams: One of the NFL's best kickers, he'll get more opportunities thanks to Sam Bradford.

13. Garrett Hartley, Saints: The Saints are confident enough in Hartley that they didn't bring in competition.

14. Lawrence Tynes, Giants: Tynes has scored at least 100 points in six of his seven seasons.

15. Adam Vinatieri, Colts: The old guy is still going. He missed just two of his 28 attempts in 2010.


And your D/ST rankings…

1. Steelers: They get sacks, force turnovers and keep opponents out of the end zone…

2. Packers: …And the same can be said for the Packers, so it's no surprise they met in the Super Bowl.

3. Patriots: The Patriots, who forced 38 turnovers last season, added Albert Haynesworth to the mix.

4. Ravens: If Chuck Pagano lives up to the billing, sacks and interceptions should go up in 2011.

5. Jets: If only the Jets would have been able to sign Nnamdi Asomugha…


6. Chargers: The Chargers had the NFL's top-ranked defense last year, but they only forced 23 turnovers.

7. Saints: The Saints have quietly upgraded their defense, especially on the defensive line.

8. Giants: The Giants recovered 23 fumbles in 2010, a crazy stat they aren't going to duplicate.

9. Bears: I expect the Bears and their defense to take a step back in 2011

10. Eagles: They're going to have one of the best defenses in the league, but will it translate to fantasy?

11. Vikings: Don't forget about the Vikings defense. Last year was a down year, but they will bounce back.


12. Lions: Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley should create havoc on the defensive line for years

13. Cowboys: What will Rob Ryan be able to do with the caliber of talent the Cowboys have?

14. Falcons: This defense will be dangerous if they can muster a pass rush outside of John Abraham.

15. Chiefs: The Chiefs appear to be on the rise, and they should have one of the NFL's best return games.

(For my quarterback rankings, released on Monday, click this link. You can find the running back rankings right here and Wednesday's wide receiver rankings are here. Tight ends can be found here.)

Matt Vensel is a blogger and community coordinator for The Baltimore Sun. Send your fantasy questions and comments to, @mattvensel on Twitter or leave them in the comments section below.