The 2020 season is almost upon us, although with no preseason, it might be sneaking up on some. After a very wild offseason, there were quite a few moves made on the defensive side. A few teams also added to their defense through the NFL Draft. All of these offseason moves affect the upcoming fantasy football season. Be sure to check out the fantasy football rankings page and catch up on all our 2020 fantasy football outlooks.
Defensive Power Rankings Table
|Passing Yards||Passing TDs||Pro Bowls||Championships|
Top 2020 Fantasy Football Defenses
A few teams are looking to repeat their success from the 2019 season. The Pittsburgh Steelers were the top scoring defense last season, as they led the league in sacks and turnovers. They ranked third in DVOA against the pass and the run last season. The secondary picked it up once Minkah Fitzpatrick found his way over via trade from Miami. They held opposing pass offenses to just 215 passing yards per game and allowed 303 points overall.
Baltimore only had 36 sacks last season, but they were one of the better defenses in the NFL. Retaining one of the best secondaries was a big positive for them, although they did release Earl Thomas. The addition of Calais Campbell and Patrick Queen is going to help out this defense in a big way. I expect some more pressure and for them to be more robust against the run as well. They are also going to be getting a lot of teams to play with urgency, and that is positive for upside.
The 49ers are a team going early in drafts, and that is no surprise. They finished as a top-five scoring defense and have one of the best defensive lines in the league. San Francisco should be able to duplicate that pressure, which is going to help them force some turnovers as well. They had 15 fumbles and 12 interceptions last season, ranking inside the top ten in caused turnovers.
While the Buffalo Bills ranked only 16th in scoring this season, I have them making one of the more significant moves in the rankings. They had zero defensive touchdowns while everyone above them had at least two. They quietly had 44 sacks and have added some younger pass-rushers to help out. This is also one of the best secondaries in football, and Tre’Davious White leads them.
Bounceback Fantasy Defenses
Believe it or not, the Chicago Bears finished 23rd in fantasy scoring last season after scoring the most fantasy points in 2018. We saw a wild swing in turnovers, and I would expect some positive regression after extreme negative regression last season. Chicago has one of the best front sevens in football, and while the secondary took a hit as Artie Burns is done for the year, the Bears are in a great spot to rebound.
The Broncos haven’t been the powerhouse defense of old, but 2020 is a great rebound year for them. They have a great schedule and will not have to face many top offenses. They also brought in Jurrell Casey on a great trade with the Titans and filled in for the loss of Chris Harris with AJ Bouye. Denver has two great pass-rushers, and Justin Simmons is one of the top safeties in the game. An improved offense will also help out this defense.
Staying in the AFC West, the Los Angeles Chargers had one of the more disappointing seasons in 2019. There is too much talent in this group for them to finish inside the bottom half in scoring. They brought in Chris Harris, who will join Casey Hayward and Derwin James in the secondary. They have Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on edge and added a top linebacker in the draft, with Kenneth Murray. Health always plays a part with this team, but a healthy Chargers defense can be inside the top ten in scoring.
Week 1 Fantasy Defense Plays
Week 1 is an excellent spot for the top defenses. The Bills will take on the Jets, who still have an unproven Sam Darnold under center and a coach who struggles to run this offense. While the Jets added some wide receivers to their unit, this is a tough secondary to beat, especially with an average at best quarterback until proven otherwise. The over/under is at 39, which is one of the lowest totals on the week, and the Bills are favored by six. This is an excellent spot for them. The Indianapolis Colts are in a great spot as well for Week 1. They take on the Jaguars, and while the Jags are not that bad of an offense, the Colts defense is going to be vastly improved, and the addition of DeForest Buckner is going to open up that front seven.
Baltimore will take on Baker Mayfield and the Browns, and until Mayfield can stop turning the ball over, defenses against the Browns are going to be considered. The Ravens are already one of the top five fantasy defenses around and have a chance to force the Browns to throw a ton, which is a plus for their upside. Joe Burrow has a challenging task in Week 1 with the Chargers coming into town. While I like Burrow and this offense, the Chargers are just a brutal matchup for an offensive line that is still not put together. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram should have a field day with this group.
The Monday night game has two usable defenses. Denver is at home against Tennessee in a low-total game while the Steelers are on the road against the Giants. Pittsburgh is the better play here, of course, but Denver opens up with a positive Week 1 as well. The Giants have weapons, but Daniel Jones has had his issues turning the ball over, and against what was the best fantasy defense last season I expect multiple for the week. New York allowed the 7th most fantasy points per game to oppose defenses last season. Denver has a great matchup to get to the quarterback as the Titans allowed 56 sacks last season and ranked 32nd in pass protection.