DYNASTY OWNER:  2014 DEFENSIVE RANKINGS

Dynasty owner is all about the combination of performance and contract value.  Just like real owners in (most) sports, Dynasty Owner fantasy football requires owners to create their team under the guidelines of a salary cap, or else they are forced to pay luxury tax penalties.  This adds an element of strategy and planning that makes Dynasty Owner the most engaging and addictive fantasy football format around.  

Check out our other posts where we ranked RBs, WRs and QBs.  Now we take a look at the Defenses in Dynasty Owner.  First, because each player has a salary cap number, the way we calculate the defensive salary cap number is by taking the median salary of all players on the defense multiplied by 11 (the number of starters on Defense).

Pro tip:  A great way to prepare for the season is to try our free mock drafts

The Defensive Salaries [Avg Age of Starters]

  1. Redskins DEF $10.3MM [Age 28.3]
  2. Giants DEF $10.1MM [Age 27.7]
  3. Chargers DEF $9.08MM [Age 25.9]
  4. Vikings DEF $8.97MM [Age 27.7]
  5. Saints DEF $8.75MM [Age 26.2]
  6. Buccaneers DEF $8.53MM [Age 25.2]
  7. 49ers DEF $8.21MM [Age 27.9]
  8. Bears DEF $8.2MM [Age 27.7]
  9. Cardinals DEF $8.04MM [Age 28.2]
  10. Lions DEF $8.03MM [Age 27.1]
  11. Colts DEF $7.95MM [Age 28.6]
  12. Raiders DEF $7.87MM [Age 27.6]
  13. Panthers DEF $7.86MM [Age 26.5]
  14. Bills DEF $7.86MM [Age 26.5]
  15. Dolphins DEF $7.63MM [Age 27.7]
  16. Falcons DEF $7.61MM [Age 27.1]
  17. Titans DEF $7.5MM [Age 25.9]
  18. Bengals DEF $7.5MM [Age 27.1]
  19. Jets DEF $7.49MM [Age 26.6]
  20. Jaguars DEF $7.35MM [Age 26.5]
  21. Chiefs DEF $7.35MM [Age 26.6]
  22. Cowboys DEF $7.32MM [Age 26.6]
  23. Broncos DEF $7.31MM [Age 26.8]
  24. Patriots DEF $7.2MM [Age 26]
  25. Texans DEF $7.06MM [Age 26.1]
  26. Eagles DEF $7MM [Age 25.9]
  27. Steelers DEF $6.81MM [Age 28.2]
  28. Packers DEF $6.6MM [Age 27.1]
  29. Seahawks DEF $6.52MM [Age 26.4]
  30. Browns DEF $6.27MM [Age 25.7]
  31. Ravens DEF $6.27MM [Age 27.7]
  32. Rams DEF $6.2MM [Age 25.2]

There isn't a great deal of variance between the highest priced Defense and the lowest. However, the same theory applies with defenses as with all other positions in Dynasty Owner - you want elite production at cap friendly prices.  And you want to target defenses with young up and coming stars, like the Browns or Rams who both have an average age of 25 years old versus an aging unit like the Steelers, Cardinals, or Redskins who both boast defensive units who's players average is over 28 years old.

Top 10 Defensive Rankings: 2014

Seattle's Defense has it all...Youth, Cost Effective, and Elite Performance

There are no Tiers when ranking defenses, as it doesn't make a lot of sense to spend draft preparation on defenses outside of the top 10.  After the top 10, they are all similar in how they rank and project.  At the end of the draft or free agency you simply want to focus on which defense has a strong matchup on the bye week you need them to play when your starting defense is off for the week.

1).  Seattle Seahawks (Avg Age 26):  $6.52MM / Year

If there were Tiers the Seahawks would be in a category of their own and the only Tier 1 team because they are that far ahead of the next defense. They once again project to be the highest scoring defense this year and they have a relatively young starting unit with the 4th cheapest overall cap number.  And the way they reload in the draft each year, it stands to reason that the Seahawks should be elite in Dynasty Owner for many years to come.  In 2013, this dominating D allowed the fewest total yards (4,378), fewest passing yards (2,752), fewest yards per play (4.4), lowest red zone efficiency (36 percent) and lowest QBR in the NFL (29).  Just don't always expect them to have such a cap friendly team salary as these budding stars will get paid sooner than later.  

2). San Francisco 49ers (Avg Age 27.9): $8.21MM / Year

From a scoring projection perspective, the 49ers defense is on par with the Seahawks but are older and more expensive.  The Niners' defense revolves around perhaps the game's two best inside linebackers: Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.  While there are questions, like Bowman coming off a major knee injury, a downgrade at safety as Antoine Bethea replaces Donte Whitner and a possible Aldon Smith suspension looming, however the defense should finish top 5 again in scoring.  

3).  Carolina Panthers (Avg Age 26.5):  $7.86MM / Year

The Panthers have arguably the most dominant front 7 in football, which helps mask some of the concerns they have in the secondary.  If not for Hardy's looming potential suspension, they might be propelled in the number 2 slot for the 2014 campaign.    

4).  Cleveland Browns (Avg Age 25.7):  $6.27MM / Year

Here is where Dynasty Owner differs from most other fantasy football formats as the Cleveland Defense is probably slotted in the 10-15 range on most other sites.  By all pre-season accounts, the Browns are on the cusp of being an elite defensive unit.  And with Dynasty Owner, there is great appeal in the Browns being one of the youngest units in the league as well as one of the cheapest with a dearth of young talent.  They added a possible number 1 CB this year in the draft in DB Justin Gilbert to compliment already elite DB Joe Haden, and last years top draft pick Barkevious Mingo is drawing rave reviews in camp from local and national pundits.  

5). St. Louis Rams (Avg Age 25.2):  $6.2MM / Year

The youngest and the cheapest defense in the league, which is music to Dynasty Owners ears.  And it's not all about promise, the Rams D showed a lot to get excited about last year ranking 3rd in the league in Sacks (53).  And now that blitz-happy DC Gregg Williams is taking over, you can bet DE Robert Quinn, DE Chris Long and new signee DT Alex Carrington will see even more sack opportunities this season.  The question marks in the secondary are the only reason the Rams don't rank above the Browns and possibly the Panthers in 2014 drafts.  

6).  New England Patriots (Avg Age 26): $7.2MM / Year

The Patriots are surprisingly young on Defense, having made that a focus in the early rounds of their drafts for the last several years.  And swapping out Talib with Revis and adding Browner should do wonders for a secondary that struggled at times last year.  

7). Denver Broncos (Avg Age 26.8): $7.31MM / Year

The Broncos made major moves on Defense after getting cooked by Seattle in the Super Bowl: They paid $60 million guaranteed to DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib over the winter and drafted Bradley Roby. Meanwhile, Champ Bailey, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Shaun Phillips and Robert Ayers are gone. That is a lot of turnover on a defense that was effective save for one game last year.  

8). Arizona Cardinals (Avg Age 28.2): $8MM / Year

What the Cardinals lack in elite pass rushers, they make up for with a bevy of born-ready run stuffers, starting with DE Darnell Dockett, DT Dan Williams and LB Matt Shaughnessy. And it showed last season: Zona was tops in rushing yards allowed per game (84.4). Calais Campbell, who's coming off a career-high nine sacks, and John Abraham will again shoulder most of the pass-rushing duties. Arizona certainly has questions on the back end, where Tyrann Mathieu is recovering from a torn ACL, and free agent signee Antonio Cromartie hopes to rebound from a lackluster 2013. But with shutdown corner Patrick Peterson still around, defense should once again rank in the top 10 in scoring and yardage allowed in both the run and pass.  

9). Houston Texans (Avg Age 26): $7.06MM / Year

When you add No. 1 overall pass rushing phenom Jadeveon Clowney with J.J. Watt (31 sacks the past two seasons) the best defensive player in the NFL right now, you are likely going to have the league leading defense in Sacks for the next several years. But that doesn't always mean overall dominance, as the Texans have been prone to giving up big rushing and passing days to opponents.  And even more concerning is that they were last in the league in Turnovers forced in 2013. Still, the young talent and overall age and cost of the roster coupled with the upside has Houston cracking our top 10 in Dynasty Owner.

10).  Kansas City Chiefs (Avg Age 26.6):  $7.3MM/ Year

For a stretch of the season last year, KC was the unquestioned number 1 defense in the league.  They were very much a feast or famine type unit, but overall turned in a very solid season total.  Linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston are the cornerstones and when they got banged up late in the season, that's when the defense started to slip. Like many of the top defenses in the league, the strength of this unit is the front 7 and question marks remain in the secondary aside from S Eric Berry.

Player Contract News Around the NFL

Bengals QB Andy Dalton just got a big raise in Cincinnati, signing a 6-year contract extension that effectively amounts to a $16MM per year salary.  This was a head scratcher around league circles, as Dalton has done nothing to show he's anything more than being a decent regular season QB who has struggled mightily in playoff games.  In Dynasty Owner, this firmly plants Dalton in the overpaying category as there is no way his play will justify an average yearly salary amongst the likes of Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford or Eli Manning.  Stay away on draft day.

On the flip side, the No. 1 Dynasty Owner Ranked RB Jamal Charles also got a new contract that will pay him $9MM for the next 3 years.  He was slated to make half that this year before his new contract ($4.5MM) which would have been a steal.  This could bump him down to the luxary RB class with the likes of Adrien Peterson and LeSean McCoy but we wouldn't begrudge anyone who wanted to draft any of the 3 elite RBs high, especially if your strategy calls for spending big at the RB position and saving at QB or WR.