The San Francisco 49ers run a 4-3 base defense coordinated by Steve Wilks
The 49ers found an experienced replacement for new Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans, tabbing Steve Wilks as their new defensive coordinator. While Wilks' track record is mixed, it'll be hard to mess things up too badly with a DT Javon Hargrave (11 sacks for Philly last year) joining a front seven that already had DE Nick Bosa, LB Fred Warner and LB Dre Greenlaw. The secondary is less impressive, though CB Charvarius Ward and S Talanoa Hufanga were fantastic last year en route to a No. 3 fantasy ranking for the San Francisco defense. They did lose some bodies, with 32-year-old safety Jimmie Ward following Ryans to Houston and defensive ends Samson Ebukam and Charles Omenihu (9.5 combined sacks) also signing elsewhere. It's an impressive unit nonetheless, with as much star power as any defense in the league.
The Dallas Cowboys run a 4-3 base defense coordinated by Dan Quinn
Dan Quinn's defense finished first in fantasy scoring in 2021 and then second in 2022, with Micah Parsons finishing second for DPOY voting in both of his first two seasons. The Cowboys also have ball-hawking corner Trevon Diggs and three other legit edge rushers in DeMarcus Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler. On top of that, their big offseason losses came on the offensive side, while the defense added 32-year-old Stephon Gilmore to start at corner across from Diggs and first-round pick Mazi Smith to compete for a starting job at DT.
The Miami Dolphins run a 3-4 base defense coordinated by Vic Fangio
Tua Tagovailoa, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle led Miami to the playoffs last year, but the team is far more balanced (and loaded) after trading for OLB Bradley Chubb in November and adding CB Jalen Ramsey in March. That gives new DC Vic Fangio an elite group of corners and an impressive edge duo, with Chubb and Ramsey joining Xavien Howard (28 career INTs) and 2021 first-rounder Jaelen Phillips (seven sacks, 25 QB hits in 2022). On top of that, the Dolphins signed a pair of reliable veterans -- LB David Long and S DeShon Elliott -- to slide in alongside high-level returning starters Jerome Baker (LB) and Jevon Holland (S). Few teams have more talent or a coordinator with a better track record, so don't be surprised if Miami leaps from 27th in fantasy scoring last year all the way into the Top 5 this year.
The Buffalo Bills run a 4-3 base defense coordinated by Sean McDermott
DC Leslie Frazier is stepping away from coaching for a year after back-to-back seasons fielding a top-five fantasy defense and four in a row in the Top 10. With no replacement hired, HC Sean McDermott plans to call plays for a unit that returns 10 of 11 starters, boasting both depth and high-end talent on the defensive line and in the secondary. There's no obvious replacement for MLB Tremaine Edmunds, who left for Chicago, but the Bills are strong enough everywhere else to make do with a job competition between A.J. Klein and a few young linebackers. The bigger issues are a schedule that looks awfully difficult and the potential for Von Miller to be absent or limited after tearing his ACL in November.
The Philadelphia Eagles run a 4-3 base defense coordinated by Sean Desai
Former DC Jonathan Gannon is now Arizona's head coach, replaced by Sean Desai, who coordinated the Chicago defense in 2021 before a coaching change forced him out and into an associate role in Seattle. Desai won't lack for talent after the Eagles retained both starting CBs (Darius Slay, James Bradberry) and used three draft picks on former Georgia defenders -- DT Jalen Carter at No. 9, LB/DE Nolan Smith at No. 30, CB Kelee Ringo at No. 105. Those three join two former college teammates drafted in 2022 -- DT Jordan Davis (No. 13) and LB Nakobe Dean (No. 83) -- to give Philly a plethora of young talent behind a still-solid veteran core led by DE/LB Haason Reddick, DE Brandon Graham, DT Fletcher Cox and the aforementioned corners. The Eagles did lose DT Javon Hargrave (11 sacks), LB T.J. Edwards, DB C.J. Gardner-Johnson and S Marcus Eppes this offseason, but they had great depth beforehand and seem to have restocked effectively via the draft.