Fantasy Football Defenses: Top Ten You Should Target In 2014

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Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55) Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

5. player. 56. <a href=. 2013 Record. 11-5 (Lost in Wild Card Round). Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals come in at #5, and are the top defense in the AFC North. The Bengals suffered a heartbreaking loss to San Diego in the first round of the playoffs last season, but look to make a bigger and better playoff run this year. They have the defense to do it.

Defensive tackle Geno Atkins controls the offensive line whenever he is on the gridiron. Atkins was on pace for a career year before suffering a season ending injury halfway through the season. Still, Atkins had six sacks in just nine games.

Bookending the line are defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry, who had 7.5 sacks each and combined for five forced fumbles.

Middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict is the ‘X-Factor’ for Cincinnati. In his sophomore season for the Bengals, Burfict had 114 tackles, almost twice as many as any other teammate, in addition to three sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much else at linebacker besides Burfict, but at 23 years old, Burfict can only improve from last season.

Despite those game changers, the Bengals secondary should be their biggest strength. Cornerback Leon Hall will return after a torn Achilles sidelined him after only five games. Across from Hall will be Adam “Pacman” Jones, who has resurged his career as of late, becoming a high quality cornerback.

Cincinnati brought in former Texan Danieal Manning to play safety next to George Iloka. Manning is a hard hitting player that will bring some tenacity to the secondary.

It appears that Cincinnati will be head-to-head with Baltimore and Pittsburgh, if not Cleveland as well, making the AFC North race a difficult one. While this will test their defense, it will motivate them to play their best at all times. Taking no games off means that having the Bengals on your fantasy squad will mean having a reliable defense.

Pro: Balanced secondary
Con: Iffy linebackers