Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer believes secondary depth is still a concern for the Eagles as Week 1 approaches.
McLane noted, "Although the unit appears improved, a small sample size of preseason plays is far from enough evidence to say there has been an upgrade." Only the Atlanta Falcons allowed more passing yardage per game than the Philadelphia Eagles last season, so the new additions to the Eagles secondary will be counted on to make major improvements to Chip Kelly's defense. Philadelphia will not be a top Week 1 fantasy option when they travel to the Georgia Dome to take on Matt Ryan and the Falcons.
Rainer Sabin of the Dallas Morning News believes the difficult cut decisions among Dallas defensive linemen bodes well for the unit's 2015 outlook.
The Cowboys defensive line does possess some play-making ability, but the anticipated struggle of the Dallas secondary is the main concern for this defense after the loss of DB Orlando Scandrick to a season-ending knee injury. The Cowboys D/ST faces a tough test against OC Ben McAdoo's New York Giants offense in Week 1 and should be avoided for fantasy purposes.
Houston coach Bill O'Brien told the Houston Chronicle that LB Jadeveon Clowney will play Week 1.
The 2014 top draft pick did not play at all in the preseason, but appears to be ready to contribute in Week 1 after recovering from a knee injury. The return of Clowney adds firepower alongside J.J. Watt and increases the potential ceiling of the Houston D/ST in fantasy leagues. The Texans will host Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1.
The San Diego Union-Tribune noted that Chargers OLB Melvin Ingram showed improved explosion throughout the preseason.
The Union-Tribune also stated that Ingram "seems capable of beating his career total of six sacks and also setting the edge versus the run." Improvement from Ingram would be huge for the San Diego defense, as DC John Pagano's unit recorded just 26 sacks in 2014. The Chargers D/ST will be a middling Week 1 option when they host the Detroit Lions.
CSN Washington believes the ability of the Redskins defense to get pressure will be key when they face Miami in Week 1.
This report also noted that the Washington secondary is "shaky," which is why the Redskins defensive line will need to apply plenty of pressure to Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The Redskins D/ST is not a recommended fantasy option in drafts or Week 1.
Minnesota MLB Gerald Hodges is "pretty confident" that he will be a starter in 2015.
Hodges dished the bit of news to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune after Minnesota's Week 4 preseason game against Tennessee. The third-year linebacker started the final two preseason contests for the Vikings and will look to help the Minnesota D/ST unit that was near the bottom of the NFL in stopping the run last season. Hodges played 14 games and recorded 65 tackles and one interception in 2014.
The Cincinnati Enquirer tabbed the Bengals defensive line as a bright spot after a 9-6 win over Indianapolis in Week 4 of the preseason.
The effort came primarily from Cincinnati backups, as the majority of Bengals starters sat out on Thursday, but the performance is encouraging for a defense looking to improve on their 2014 finish of 20th among NFL teams in stopping the run. The Cincinnati D/ST will be in the streaming conversation as they face the Oakland Raiders in Week 1.
The Baltimore Ravens may look to the pool of players available after weekend roster cuts to find their kick returner for the 2015 season.
CSN Baltimore believes it's possible the Ravens' kick returner isn't currently on their roster. With DB Asa Jackson fumbling twice this preseason on punt returns, Baltimore would be wise to take a hard look at the position after other NFL teams make roster cuts. The Ravens D/ST may be a decent season-long option in fantasy leagues, but likely won't get much from their special teams unit in leagues that offer bonus points for kick/punt returns.