A dependable, elite defense is crucial for fantasy owners with championship aspirations. Defense-by-committee can maybe get you into the playoffs, but most winners employ a top flight defense that they don’t have to worry about on a weekly basis. To set you on that path, here are the top fantasy football defenses in 2019. You can find Team Defense Fantasy Stats on Lineups with full sort able tables. We also created a Defense Cheat Sheet + Stats + Analysis for you as well. Anything you need on the defensive side of the ball, Lineups.com has you covered.
The Bears finished last season as the highest scoring defense in fantasy football, and they look capable of replicating that performance in 2019. Simply put, the Bears have studs at every position. In the trenches, there’s Akhiem Hicks, Dany Trevathan patrols the middle at linebacker, Kyle Fuller locks down at cornerback, Eddie Jackson is coming off a huge year at safety, and of course, the great Khalil Mack will be rushing the passer. That talent, along with the Soldier Field crowd and cold weather, makes Chicago the obvious first pick among team defenses.
Ndamukong Suh and Lamarcus Joyner are gone, but in come veterans Eric Weddle and Clay Matthews as replacements. Weddle will join Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters to form one of the best interception-generating defensive backfields in the league. Upfront, Matthews will join Dante Fowler Jr. in drawing blockers away from the two-time reigning DPOY, Aaron Donald. The Rams should force a lot of turnovers this season, making them fantasy darlings once again.
The Vikings have been one of the top units in fantasy football for the last four years, a pattern that shouldn’t change at all in 2019. Linval Joseph eats blockers up front, clearing the path for Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen to accumulate sacks. Griffen spent most of last season off the field, but he should be back in full force this year, making the Vikings even more dangerous.
Last season was a bit of a letdown for the Jaguars on both sides of the ball, but the offense never had the expectations of the defense. In 2017, the defensive unit topped the league, but in 2018, it dropped to the fringe of the top ten. Many fantasy owners who used an early pick on the Jags last year could be reasonably reluctant to do so again, but the 2019 unit should rebound in a big way. The core of Calais Campbell, Jalen Ramsay, Yannick Ngakoue, and A.J. Bouye remains, and first-round pick Josh Allen should only add to the pass rush. The unexpected loss of Telvin Smith to retirement could hurt, but the Jaguars have the talent to make up for it.
If the Chargers can finally stay healthy on defense, the sheer talent on their roster should take them to a top-5 ranking. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram form one of the most formidable pass rushing duos in the league, while Derwin James, Casey Hayward, and Desmond King are all star defensive backs.
The big three of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus will have to carry the load and get to the passer early and often with Tyrann Mathieu and others departed from the secondary. Fortunately, those three specific players are more than capable of shouldering that responsibility. Expect high sack numbers from this unit.
A top ten unit last season, the Bills should only improve this year with the addition of first-round pick Ed Oliver to their defensive line. Tre’Davious White is one of the very best cornerbacks in the NFL, and Tremaine Edmunds looked the part of a veteran by the end of his rookie season at linebacker. This defense is youthful, energetic, and they fly all over the field to create turnovers.
No matter the personnel turnover, the Denver unit remains a stalwart in the top third of fantasy defense rankings. Much of that stability has to do with the play of Von Miller and Chris Harris Jr., two of the premier talents at their respective positions. Miller is joined by Bradley Chubb to rush the passer, while Kareem Jackson was brought in as a free agent to help Harris Jr. in the secondary.
Bill Belichick is his own defensive coordinator this year, meaning that this New England unit should play above the level that its talent would indicate. Veterans Devin McCourty and Stephon Gilmore are the known commodities, while many of the others pieces are in flux. However, much as is the case with Denver, the personnel seems to matter less than the culture of defensive excellence in New England. The Patriots should have a more than capable defense in 2019.
Cameron Jordan is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, and Marshon Lattimore is one of the league’s better cornerbacks, but you can’t rush the passer or cover receivers with just one player. Finding additional help at those positions will be key. But in most other areas, the Saints look solid; at linebacker, there’s Demario Davis, and at safety, both Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams are more than capable. To jump back in the top ten this year, New Orleans must play to its strengths.
11. Baltimore Ravens
A lot of talent departed from the Baltimore defense this past offseason. Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley, and Eric Weddle are all gone, but Earl Thomas, arguably the best safety in the NFL, joins Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey to create a talented secondary. If Shane Ray and Pernell McPhee can generate even average pressure, this defense could create a lot of turnovers.
12. Cleveland Browns
Much of the offseason hype for Cleveland has been directed at its offense, but the defense should be exciting in its own right. As a rookie last year, Denzel Ward established himself as one of the premier cornerbacks in the league, and Myles Garrett is a force upfront. Add in Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson, and Greedy Williams to the mix, and Cleveland has the talent to be an elite fantasy defense.
Justin Houston joins Darius Leonard, Malik Hooker, and the rest of 2018’s 13th ranked fantasy defense to potentially raise this unit into the top ten. If Houston can replicate his Kansas City success, this defense is as complete as they come.
14. Tennessee Titans
This Titans defense is deep and talented, as evidenced by their top ten fantasy finish last season. But Brian Orakpo retired, and a few other starters left in free agency. The Titans could very well jump back into the top ten, but that would require leaps from pass rusher Harold Landry and defensive back Adoree’ Jackson that match the leap already taken by linebacker Jayon Brown.
15. Detroit Lions
As of this writing Damon Harrison and Darius Slay are holding out for new deals, but that should sort itself out in time, and the Lions should, once again, have one of the better defenses in the league. Trey Flowers comes over from New England to help with the pass rush, and Harrison is basically a one-man wrecking crew in the run game. If Slay and company can generate enough turnovers, this unit could become a worthy starter in all fantasy formats.
Devin Bush comes in via the draft to take over the middle linebacker position, adding a much-needed boost to a defense that, in recent years, has relied too heavily on its pass rush. Stephon Tuitt, T.J. Watt, and Cameron Hayward will continue to get after the passer, but to be a top-10 fantasy defense, the Steelers need to prove more in the secondary and at linebacker.
Last year, the Philadelphia defense fell off a cliff, dropping from an elite fantasy unit to one of the worst in the league. Malik Jackson, Andrew Sendejo, and others were brought in during the offseason to right the ship, and they join a solid core led by Fletcher Cox and Malcolm Jenkins. It would not be too surprising to see the Philadelphia defense shoot back into the top ten, giving this unit a very high ceiling. Unfortunately, as last year proves, they also have a scarily low floor.
Very few defenses have had as much of a roster shakeup as have had the Redskins. Landon Collins comes in from the rival Giants as an elite run-stopping safety, but Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, D.J. Swearinger, and Preston Smith move out. Offseason pickup Reuben Foster has already torn his ACL and LCL, and first rounder Montez Sweat has health concerns of his own. With so many moving pieces, this unit is difficult to place. Like, the Eagles, they should be monitored for their potential, but if you’re going with a boom-or-bust defense pick late in the draft, go with the Eagles first.
Speaking of roster turnover, the Packers are right up there with Washington. Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Rashan Gary come in as pass rushers, while Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage take over at safety. Projecting production from rookies Gary and Savage is difficult, contributing to this relatively unambitious ranking.
20. New York Jets
The Jets certainly have the talent to raise their play on the defensive side of the ball. Jamal Adams is a game changer at safety, and Leonard Williams is a complete defensive lineman. Former Raven C.J. Mosley provides legitimacy to the linebacking corps, and rookie Quinnen Williams, alongside the unrelated Leonard, could wreak havoc in both the run game and the passing game. The youth of the lineup keeps the unit’s ranking down, but the talent is there. Like the Eagles, this New York defense has a higher ceiling than this ranking might indicate.
21. Dallas Cowboys
Robert Quinn joins DeMarcus Lawrence to provide a strong pass rush, and the linebacking corps of Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and Sean Lee is among the best in the NFL. However, the losses of David Irving and Randy Gregory will hurt, especially if Quinn fails to replicate his early-career success. Aiding the Cowboys’ worth as a fantasy option are four matchups against the Giants and Redskins, two offenses that figure to struggle.
Rookie Nick Bosa joins DeForest Buckner and free agent Dee Ford to create an enviable pass rush, while Kwon Alexander takes over at linebacker. The question marks beyond Richard Sherman in the secondary prevent this defense from being ranked higher, but they are worth monitoring as a streaming option.
Tyrann Mathieu replaces Eric Berry, and Frank Clark accounts for the departure of Justin Houston and Dee Ford, but, in many ways, the Kansas City defense will be the same, again heavily reliant on forced fumbles and interceptions without a clear path to preventing yardage. The looming suspension of Tyreek Hill will hurt as well, taking away touchdown potential in the return game.
24. Atlanta Falcons
Deion Jones, Vic Beasley, and Takk McKinley headline the defense, a unit that was not very good last year. Many expected the Falcons to use the draft to fix this unit, but the team’s two first-round picks were used to fill needs on the opposite side of the ball, indicating that this year’s defense will be too much like the 2018 version to generate even streaming interest for fantasy owners.
Terrell Suggs, Jordan Hicks, D.J. Swearinger, and a host of others join the likes of Patrick Peterson and Chandler Jones to create a defense with a surprising amount of talent. If Kyler Murray can get the offense going so that Arizona isn’t always losing the field position battle, this unit could be a surprisingly useful streaming option.
New addition Gerald McCoy gives the Panthers a star in the interior along with Kawaan Short. If those two can command blockers up front, Luke Kuechly’s job becomes that much easier. The concern for this defense is the secondary. As of now, they look poised to give up big gains in the passing game.
27. Seattle Seahawks
With Earl Thomas’s departure, the Legion of Boom era is officially over. Also gone is pass rusher Frank Clark, leaving linebacker Bobby Wagner as the only star player on a once star-studded defensive unit. Seattle had an average fantasy defense last season. Expect this year’s version to be well below.
28. New York Giants
Olivier Vernon and Landon Collins are gone from a defense that wasn’t very good even with them. Janoris Jenkins, Deandre Baker, Jabrill Peppers and Sam Beal should form a competent secondary, and B.J. Hill, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Dexter Lawrence should be stout against the run. However, at this point, the Giants employ no proven pass rushers. Lorenzo Carter, in his second year, will be expected to lead that unit, but, unless he takes an enormous leap, he won’t be ready to do so. If the Giants can’t get to the quarterback, it won’t matter how strong the other aspects of the defense appear to be.
The Bengals figure to be among the worst defensive teams in the league. Geno Atkins is still a force inside, but he’s passed his prime, and Preston Brown will be asked to carry a heavy load at the linebacker position. Facing the explosive offenses of the Steelers and Browns each twice a year doesn’t help Cincinnati’s prospects either.
30. Miami Dolphins
Minkah Fitzpatrick and Xavien Howard give the Dolphins strong secondary play, but a stunning lack of pass rush should be too much for even them to overcome. Rookie Christian Wilkins will need to make an outsized impact for this unit to be fantasy relevant.
31. Oakland Raiders
This unit was the worst in the league last fantasy season, and it doesn’t look to have improved that much. Linebacker Brandon Marshall, safety Lamarcus Joyner, and rookie pass rusher Clelin Ferrell should help a bit, but it’ll take a few more offseasons to fill all of the holes evident in the 2018 defense.
Gerald McCoy and Kwonn Alexander are both gone, meaning that an already abysmal defense has lost two of its best players. The NFC South is too strong offensively for a sub par unit like this one. They should definitely be avoided in all drafts.
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