- DL Chris Long, STL – he’s proven he isn’t much of a pass rush threat. Don’t hold out hope he’ll ever post double-digit sacks.
- DL Dwight Freeney, IND – back-to-back years with double-digit sacks, but more one-dimensional than ever and an injury-prone 30-year old who hasn’t played all 16 games since 2006. His replacement (Jerry Hughes) was drafted this year and should steal snaps.
- DL Randy Starks, MIA – after a career high 7 sacks last year, he moves to NT for at least the first 8 games to replace the suspended Jason Ferguson. He’ll be lucky to get half as many sacks this year.
- LB London Fletcher, WAS – a Fantasy Hall of Famer for his consistent stellar production, but he’s 35 and moving to a 3-4 defense this year.
- LB Brian Cushing, HOU – hurts fantasy owners with his four-game suspension and let’s see him repeat his numbers off the juice.
- LB Thomas Howard, OAK – appears to be the odd man out after the addition of Kamerion Wimbley. Wimbley and Trevor Scott have been working as the starters on the outside.
- LB A.J. Hawk, GB – his numbers have gone the wrong way fast after an outstanding rookie year in 2006, which some rank as if they think he can achieve again. Not a good fit in the 3-4.
- DB Charles Woodson, GB – he put up ridiculous numbers last year, no way he can repeat them, especially since he’s remained uncharacteristically healthy for the two years now and turns 34 this year.
- DL Will Smith, NO – always a good tackle producer, he quietly posted a career-high 13.5 sacks last year. An exceptional athlete and just 28, looks like a late bloomer as a pass rusher and is under the radar.
- DL Aaron Kampman, JAX – returns to 4-3 DE after a failed experiment in converting to 3-4 OLB with Green Bay. A double-digit sack season is likely if his knee is OK.
- DL Kroy Biermann, ATL – former first-round pick Jamaal Anderson is officially a bust and now moves inside to make room for Biermann to start opposite John Abraham.
- DL Chris Clemons, SEA – the only pass rush threat on a team anorexic at the position.
- LB Jonathan Goff, NYG – looks to have the inside track to being their new full-time MLB and has impressed in spring.
- LB Derrick Johnson, KC – after a year in the doghouse of a new regime, he remains their most talented linebacker and was back with the first team in spring workouts.
- LB Geno Hayes, TB – a year ago the team was ready to move a safety to WLB instead of giving him a chance. Now he’s a top-20 LB who should post better numbers this year. Look for SLB Quincy Black to breakout this year, as well.
- DB Charles Tillman, CHI – numbers were a bit down last year. The addition of Julius Peppers to help the pass rush will create more opportunities for the secondary and Tillman is already one of the best players in the league at creating turnovers.