The Steelers are a top-ranked defense again this season, as they have a dominant pass rush and a very opportunistic secondary. We saw that last year, but they have a lot of young names like T.J. Watt and Devin Bush. San Francisco won’t be far behind and have the upside to finish as the number one fantasy defense. Baltimore is a team that projects to take a pretty big leap, as they should address some needs through the free agency and the draft. They had a very good pass defense last season but struggled against the run. Of course, the Patriots project to be a strong defense again, although duplicating last year’s numbers will be a tough task.
A few teams that will be moving up in the rankings this year are the Bills and the Chiefs. Buffalo was middle of the road in fantasy points last season, but a very good real-life defense. This is a strong secondary that also had an improved pass rush as well. I like them to continue that trend, and be able to record a few more sacks and generate some more turnovers. Kansas City’s pass defense was strong, but they struggled against the run. Luckily for them, that defense didn’t have to face a ton of rushing attempts because opponents were playing keep up or trailing Patrick Mahomes. Look for them to have some big weeks in 2020. New Orleans, Minnesota, and the Los Angeles Rams will still be in the thick of things with their strong defenses.
Chicago performed poorly in terms of fantasy production in 2019, but still have a lot of talent and will be back at least in the top ten. They should see some positive regression, as they went from some extreme regression last season. A few teams like the Chargers and Broncos should pick up their defensive play as well, which should churn out some better fantasy numbers. Just because a team allows minimal points against doesn’t mean they are a good fantasy defense. Denver was an example of that last year, where they ranked as the 25th scoring in fantasy, but ranked top 10 in real points allowed. Chicago had that same issue, allowing the fourth-fewest real points, but averaged just five fantasy points a game.
Defense Fantasy Draft Strategy
Drafting defenses is usually a task towards the end of your draft. It is not a high scoring position in comparison to the other position players, and you are going to be wanting to fill depth and upside first. There are a few ways you can go in drafting fantasy defenses, and one is reaching a round or two ahead to just lock in an elite defense. If you feel comfortable enough with your roster to do so, then feel free to grab a Pittsburgh or San Francisco earlier. Be sure to look at the remaining player pool, as there could still be some names you like instead. Often we can get near-sighted and just focus on one position instead of seeing who else is out there.
Drafting a defense with your last two picks is a more economical way to go. There are still great defenses going to be there for the taking. 14 defenses finished over 100 points last season, and if you are in a 12 team league, that means there were defenses you could have waited on. In 10 team leagues, you can certainly address this position on the fly because of a shallower player pool. Defenses like the Saints, Chiefs, and Rams were all there past the first few defenses taken.
We will talk about streaming a bit below, but drafting a defense that has a few strong matchups in the first few weeks of the season can get your streaming strategy started on the right foot. If the Colts have three-to-five games to begin the year against average to less than average offenses, drafting them for the first quarter of the season can be an option before you have to adjust later on. There will be weekly defenses in good spots to pick up, and defenses will be dropped as bye weeks come as well.
Team Defense (DEF) Fantasy Football Rankings Frequently Asked Questions
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 49ers were one of the top teams last year, and even without their five touchdowns, they had 48 sacks and 27 total turnovers. New England and Pittsburgh were in a league of their own, producing over 150 fantasy points. Minnesota is often underrated, as they have been one of the top defenses over the last few years, yet don’t get quite the hype as some others. They had 46 sacks, and also had 31 total turnovers. Minnesota just didn’t have as many touchdowns as the names above them.
When Should I Draft A Defense In Fantasy?
In most circumstances, you should be drafting a defense within the last two-three rounds of your fantasy drafts. There are a few highlighted strategies above, but a good rule of thumb is that you want to be addressing the more important positions first. Getting depth at running back and wide receiver, taking chances on upside players is more important than drafting a fantasy defense. It is a replaceable position throughout the season, and one of the easier ones to adjust on the fly.
What Defense Has The Most Fantasy Points?
It was the Pittsburgh Steelers who ended up with the most fantasy points last year, even though the New England Patriots were the team talked about the most. Pittsburgh forced 38 turnovers last season, and had four total touchdowns between their defense and special teams. They also had 54 sacks. This is a talented defense from the defensive line to the secondary, and the Minkah Fitzpatrick addition pushed them to another level.
What Defense Leads The League In Sacks?
The Pittsburgh Steelers led the league in sacks last season, sitting at 54 overall. Pittsburgh was led by T.J. Watt, who had 14.5 sacks. Bud Dupree was second with 11.5, and Cameron Heyward chipped in with nine of his own. Overall they had nine player record at least more than one sack, and they ranked first in pressure rate throughout the season.
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. Miami was one of the worst defenses this year, as they struggled to generate any pressure on the quarterback, and allowed over 490 points. Teams were able to run the ball with ease, and they struggled to generate any sort of turnover opportunity. Carolina was a weird defense, as they allowed the second most points last year, but recorded the second most sacks. Losing Luke Keuchly to retirement is going to hurt, as they need a lot of work to address what was one of the worst run defenses in the league.
A few other honorable mentions were the Arizona Cardinals, who allowed the 5th most points, and averaged under five fantasy points per game. The New York Giants run defense wasn’t too bad, but they struggled through the air and also getting pressure on the quarterback. Cincinnati and Oakland were also two of the worst defenses in the league.
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 Saints 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. Chicago led the league in turnovers last season and then had just 19 this year. 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 2019, the Buccaneers turned the ball over 41 times and allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses. Carolina struggled to protect their quarterback and allowed 58 sacks, and the second-most fantasy points to opposing defenses. These glaring matchups will be there each week, and you can take advantage of them.
Keep an eye out still for defenses with a string of good matchups. Last year the Eagles had a late-season run where they had games against Miami, Washington, and New York. This is a major plus as you have your defense set for the next few weeks and do not have to worry about battling it out on the waiver wire.