Team Defense Fantasy Football Rankings

There was a fair bit of turnover in terms of the top-scoring fantasy defense and special teams last season as the Patriots and 49ers, two of the top scorers in 2019, finished outside the top 10 in 2020. The Rams put a stamp on opposing offenses as Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, two of the best defensive players in the NFL, dominated the opposition. The Steelers maintained their position as one of the best defenses in football, as well, with the likes of T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward terrorizing opposing offensive lines. Washington emerged as one of the best defenses in the NFL with rookie Chase Young joining Montez Sweat and Jonathan Allen on the defensive line. The Buccaneers, Ravens, and 49ers are among the best defenses, as well. There are a number of avenues to fantasy points for defenses including sacks, turnovers, and fewer points allowed. You can find all of ourFantasy Football Rankings for the 2021 season updated in real-time as news breaks.

1 179 Los Angeles Rams LAR Rams Los Angeles Rams 159.6 $3 11 151 158 57 12.8 15.6 0.7 1.5 1.5
2 188 Pittsburgh Steelers PIT Steelers Pittsburgh Steelers 160 $3 7 148 157 59 13.2 15.6 0.9 1.4 1.3
3 201 Washington Commanders WAS Commanders Washington Commanders 155.4 $2 9 127 152 52 12.4 14.5 0.8 1.3 1.3
4 208 Tampa Bay Buccaneers TB Buccaneers Tampa Bay Buccaneers 154.7 $2 9 117 151 51 12.9 14.8 0.7 1.5 1.4
5 216 Baltimore Ravens BAL Ravens Baltimore Ravens 157.6 $2 8 141 149 42 9.4 13.6 0.8 1.5 1.5
6 243 San Francisco 49ers SF 49ers San Francisco 49ers 161.3 $1 6 88 148 49 10.2 15.1 0.8 1.3 1.3
7 251 New England Patriots NE Patriots New England Patriots 162.9 $1 14 106 145 45 9.8 14.5 0.7 1.2 1.4
8 258 Chicago Bears CHI Bears Chicago Bears 284.7 $1 10 90 144 43 10.8 14.7 0.8 1.4 1.4
9 269 Indianapolis Colts IND Colts Indianapolis Colts 202.8 $1 14 146 143 44 10.4 13.8 0.8 1.2 1.2
10 272 New Orleans Saints NO Saints New Orleans Saints 247 $1 6 124 142 47 10.3 14.2 0.7 1.4 1.4
11 278 Arizona Cardinals ARI Cardinals Arizona Cardinals 265.5 $0 12 108 141 54 13.1 14.7 0.9 1.5 1.4
12 286 Buffalo Bills BUF Bills Buffalo Bills 195.8 $1 7 118 138 43 10.7 15.2 0.9 1.2 1.3
13 289 Miami Dolphins MIA Dolphins Miami Dolphins 247.7 $1 14 141 134 44 9.8 12.8 0.9 1.3 1.4
14 294 Green Bay Packers GB Packers Green Bay Packers 286.6 $0 13 94 131 43 10.7 13.4 0.9 1.3 1.4
15 298 Kansas City Chiefs KC Chiefs Kansas City Chiefs 245.6 $0 12 106 128 36 9.2 14.1 0.7 1.3 1.3
16 0 Denver Broncos DEN Broncos Denver Broncos 199.6 $0 11 73 126 48 10.9 12.9 0.7 1.3 1.3
17 0 Seattle Seahawks SEA Seahawks Seattle Seahawks 250.9 $0 9 103 123 48 12.7 14.3 0.8 1.3 1.4
18 0 Minnesota Vikings MIN Vikings Minnesota Vikings 287.3 $0 7 60 118 47 11.6 14.8 0.7 1.4 1.4
19 0 New York Giants NYG Giants New York Giants 290 $0 10 103 114 49 13.4 14.7 0.5 1.3 1.3
20 0 Los Angeles Chargers LAC Chargers Los Angeles Chargers 287.5 $0 7 73 112 43 9.2 13.4 0.6 1.2 1.3
21 0 Cleveland Browns CLE Browns Cleveland Browns 198.6 $0 13 97 104 42 11.2 14.7 0.6 1.3 1.3
22 0 New York Jets NYJ Jets New York Jets 0 $0 6 67 102 38 10.5 12.9 0.7 1.2 1.1
23 0 Tennessee Titans TEN Titans Tennessee Titans 253.5 $0 13 66 98 36 10.2 15.1 0.6 1.3 1.2
24 0 Dallas Cowboys DAL Cowboys Dallas Cowboys 0 $0 7 76 92 34 9.7 14.9 0.8 1.2 1.3
25 0 Philadelphia Eagles PHI Eagles Philadelphia Eagles 0 $0 14 101 88 39 11.3 15.2 0.9 1.2 1.1
26 0 Carolina Panthers CAR Panthers Carolina Panthers 0 $0 13 99 79 32 9.2 14.7 0.9 1.1 1.2
27 0 Atlanta Falcons ATL Falcons Atlanta Falcons 0 $0 6 72 74 31 8.9 13.8 0.5 1.2 1.2
28 0 Cincinnati Bengals CIN Bengals Cincinnati Bengals 0 $0 10 45 67 24 8.8 11.8 0.6 1.2 1.1
29 0 Las Vegas Raiders OAK Raiders Las Vegas Raiders 0 $0 8 43 66 23 8.2 11.2 0.7 1.1 1.2
30 0 Jacksonville Jaguars JAX Jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars 0 $0 7 58 64 22 8.6 11.1 0.7 1.1 1.1
31 0 Detroit Lions DET Lions Detroit Lions 0 $0 9 29 52 29 9.2 13.7 0.6 1.1 1.1
32 0 Houston Texans HOU Texans Houston Texans 0 $0 10 41 48 19 8.1 10.9 0.5 1 1

Top Fantasy Defenses Weekly Fantasy DEF Ranks

The top defenses for fantasy football are often the teams who generate a killer pass rush and can rack up sacks and forced fumbles. Aaron Donald is the best pass-rusher in the NFL, so it’s no wonder that the Rams are the top-ranked defense in fantasy. LA allowed just 18.5 points per game last year, the fewest in the NFL, so it’s no wonder that they were also the top-scoring DEF in fantasy. The Steelers were not far behind as they led the NFL with 56 sacks. T.J. Watt had 15 and Stephon Tuitt had 11. Bud Dupree had 8, and while he’s now on the Titans, Pittsburgh has plenty of talent in line to replace him with Cameron Heyward, Tyson Alalu, and veteran signing Melvin Ingram contributing to the pass rush.

Washington emerged as one of the best defenses in the NFL last year as they allowed the fourth-fewest points and the second-fewest yards in the NFL. Rookie linebacker Jamin Davis and cornerback William Jackson have joined the team, so they could be even better than last year. It was a down year for the 49ers last year as they finished as just the 20th-best scoring DEF in fantasy. However, in 2019 they finished as the third-best DEF in fantasy, and they should be able to return to the top of the ranks this season. Nick Bosa, a Pro Bowler in his rookie season, was only able to play two games in his sophomore season after a torn ACL ended his season prematurely. However, his return to the field will be significant and he’s expected to play in Week 1.

The Patriots were the top-scoring DEF in 2019 but finished just 11th in 2020. They should reemerge as one of the best again this season. Defensive captain D’Onta Hightower returns after opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns and Bill Belichick’s unit has serious talent at all three levels. The free agency additions of Matt Judon, Kyle Van Noy, Jalen Mills, Raekwon McMillan, and Adrian Colbert will be significant as well. The Buccaneers will also remain one of the best defenses for fantasy thanks to their ferocious pass rush and improving secondary. Ultimately, though, there are a number of startable fantasy defenses every week, and streaming based on matchups is typically the best strategy.

Defense Fantasy Draft Strategy

I typically advise fantasy players to wait to take a defense until the last or second-to-last round. Last season, only 50% of 2019’s top-ten scoring DEFs in fantasy repeated as top-ten outfits. There is also usually a different top fantasy DEF every year. Since 2012, the average finish for the #1-ranked defense from the prior year was the 14.5 spot. People will draft the Rams or Steelers a couple of rounds ahead of where I’m usually comfortable taking a defense, so I rarely end up with one of those two teams. However, there are plenty of options to pick from in the last round. 15 different defenses scored over 100 fantasy points last season.

The best approach to picking a defense in the last round is to grab a team that has a plus matchup in Week 1. Of course, you want to pick up a defense that has talent, but the matchup is often the more important factor. Last season, the Jets, Broncos, Giants, Eagles, and 49ers were the top five in terms of most fantasy points allowed the opposing DSTs. The Broncos and Giants play each other in Week 1 - both are solid options. The Jets play the Panthers, but I’m not thrilled about the Carolina defensive personnel. The 49ers play the Lions, and while the San Francisco defense is one of the top targets, you can’t say the same about Detroit. Another great option due to Week 1 matchup is the Vikings who play the Bengals. Once you get through Week 1, you can swap out your defense every week on the waiver wire.

Team Defense (DEF) fantasy football Rankings Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Top Defenses In Fantasy Football?

Some of the top defenses belong to the teams that have the highest turnover rates and ability to get to the quarterback. We are always going to be looking to get defenses that score fantasy points. The Rams were the top defense last year even though they only scored 1 touchdown as they had 53 sacks (second-most) and 22 takeaways. Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Miami, and Baltimore all scored over 140 fantasy points last season.

When Should I Draft A Defense In Fantasy?

It was the Los Angeles Rams who ended up with the most fantasy points last year as they finished with 151 points (9.4 per game). Los Angeles didn’t lead the league in sacks or takeaways, but they were simply the most difficult team to generate offense against - they led the NFL in points allowed and yards allowed. /p>

What Defense Has The Most Fantasy Points?

Last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers led the NFL in sacks for the second straight year with a whopping 56 of them. T.J. Watt had 15 sacks in an All-Pro season, Stephon Tuitt had 11 sacks, and Bud Dupree had 8 sacks. Cameron Heyward, Vince Williams, Mike Hilton, Robert Spillane, Alex Highsmith, and Tyson Alalu all had 2 or more sacks as well.

What Defense Leads The League In Sacks?

Last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers led the NFL in sacks for the second straight year with a whopping 56 of them. T.J. Watt had 15 sacks in an All-Pro season, Stephon Tuitt had 11 sacks, and Bud Dupree had 8 sacks. Cameron Heyward, Vince Williams, Mike Hilton, Robert Spillane, Alex Highsmith, and Tyson Alalu all had 2 or more sacks as well.

What Are The Worst Defenses in the NFL?

You can certainly pinpoint some of the worst defenses off the top of your head. They are also going to be on teams that are picking within the top ten at this year’s draft. Detroit was one of the worst defenses this year, as they struggled to generate any pressure on the quarterback, and allowed 519 points. Teams were able to run the ball with ease, and they struggled to generate any sort of turnover opportunity. Jacksonville allowed 492 points, the second-most, but did some work to bolster its secondary and has a lot of young players who should improve. Las Vegas, Minnesota, and Dallas are the other honorable mentions.

What Should I Look For In Drafting A Fantasy Defense?

Turnovers and sacks are the two biggest stats to look for in drafting fantasy defenses. They are going to be what carries your fantasy defense every week. Teams that get to the quarterback are generally at the top of the scoring lists each year. The Steelers and Rams were two examples this past year, where they had over 50 sacks, and finished inside the top ten in scoring despite not having as many turnovers as the teams around them. Turnovers are a fluky stat to project. Miami led the league in takeaways last season. That fluctuation is going to occur at times because it is a high variance stat. The same goes for defensive and special teams touchdowns, which is to the extreme for being high variance.

Looking into the schedule can certainly help for drafting a fantasy defense. If a defense plays in a division with a couple of struggling offenses that they will face six times a year, then that gives them a bump. New England has had that advantage for quite some time now. You will also find some weaker out of division games that pop up on the schedule as well.

Do I Need More Than One Defense On My Roster?

In most cases you will not need more than one defense on your roster. Now if you have deeper benches and can afford an extra defense to keep, then that is a different story. For most leagues, the five-six bench spots should be going to other positions.

How Do I Stream Defenses?

One of the more popular strategies for handling the defensive position in fantasy is to stream on a week-to-week basis. Starting out from your draft night, you should still be drafting for upside on the defensive side. Take a look at some sleepers and/or defenses that are outside of the top 12 that project to have big potential. If they don’t end up panning out, that is perfectly fine as you can adjust through free agents or the waiver wire. As mentioned above you can also draft a defense that has a good strength of schedule to start the year, and then once they start playing tougher opponents, you can adjust.

Targeting offenses that turn the ball over or allow a ton of sacks is the perfect place to start to find your weekly defenses. Looking at 2020, the Broncos turned the ball over 32 times and allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses. Philadelphia struggled to protect their quarterback and allowed 65 sacks, and the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses. These glaring matchups will be there each week, and you can take advantage of them.