by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Whatever we think we know heading into the opening week of the season can probably be safely forgotten. Things are constantly changing in the NFL, and what we knew at the time of our drafts is already “out of date” and irrelevant. With that in mind, which defenses that were likely ignored on draft day are worth considering for Week 1? Let’s take a look:
We never put much stock into preseason numbers, especially in the NFL when you can’t factor in who was on the field or the level of competition they were going up against. When it comes to Cleveland, however, are we ever really going to have faith in them until we see some type of production on the field? The fact that they produced the fewest yards per game this preseason (214.0) and will be without Josh Gordon are highly concerning developments.
In the third preseason game (aka “the dress rehearsal”) they put up 13 points against Tampa Bay, with Gordon scoring the lone touchdown. In the preseason Isaiah Crowell managed 76 yards on 22 carries (3.5 yards per carry), Duke Johnson was a virtual non-factor and who knows what Robert Griffin III will really bring to the table (though he does have upside, and we have dubbed him a sleeper quarterback play).
When it comes to Philadelphia this is more about their opponent as opposed to their value as a unit. While they do have upside, there also continues to be risk in the secondary, until the revamped unit proves they can come together and produce.
While the Bills disappointed last season, you have to think that Rex Ryan is going to find a way to get the unit operating on all cylinders. He’s a defensive minded coach, and it’s hard to imagine this group not bouncing back and producing significantly better marks.
The Ravens offense is a questionable unit as well. The running backs appear to be a confusing mish mosh, and while they will send out numerous options they are all relatively underwhelming. It’s also not like they have a receiving corps that has tremendous upside and is likely to light it up. Does anyone believe in Mike Wallace? Will Kamar Aiken really break out? Will Breshad Perriman even play (and if he does, how much can really be expected)? After missing significant time in ’15, what can be expected from the 37-year old Steve Smith?
There are simply too many questions and not enough answers. Given the upside of Buffalo as a group, this is one worth targeting.
Sources – NFL.com, ESPN
Make sure to check out all of our Week 1 rankings: