Top 9 Fantasy Football Defense Rankings for Week 1: Bills to Dominate Sam Darnold’s Jets

The 2020 fantasy football season is fast-approaching and Lineups has you covered. Check out our latest rankings, our top-notch projections, and our historical fantasy football stats. One of my favorite methods for selecting a DST each week is to take a look at Vegas‘s points total for the matchup. If it is a high over/under number, I’m going to be less likely to use a DST from that matchup in my fantasy lineups. It’s also crucial to understand the importance of matchups for DST scoring. It matters far more if a defense is playing a raw, inexperienced quarterback than if they’re the #3 rushing defense. Even bad real-life defenses can have phenomenal fantasy weeks if they get the right matchup and a little luck. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best DSTs to play in Week 1.

Week 1 RankingTeamWeek 1 OpponentWeek 1 Projection
1BUFNYJ14.5
2PIT@NYG10.5
3PHI@WAS9.0
4BALCLE8.6
5SFARI8.5
6NEMIA8.2
7KCHOU7.9
8IND@JAX7.8
9SEA@ATL7.3

#1. Buffalo Bills

Buffalo BillsThe Bills take on the Jets in Week 1 in one of the biggest mismatches of the weekend between a stout defense and a miserable offense. The Jets scored the second-fewest points per game last season while the Bills allowed the second-fewest points per game.  The Jets’ offense had the tenth-most giveaways per game while the Bills’ defense had the eleventh-most takeaways per game. This game has the lowest points total over/under for the week, so it’s a green light in that regard as well. The Bills averaged 3.0 sacks per game last season and it would not be a shock to see them surpass that total this week against an overmatched Jets’ offensive line. The Bills also have strong potential to generate turnovers as the addition of Josh Norman to a secondary that already featured Tre’Davious White, Jordan Poyer, and Micah Hyde gives them one of the best defensive back groups in the NFL.

#2. Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh SteelersAfter the trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick last season, the Steelers’ defense became one of the most feared groups in the NFL. Fitzpatrick provided the opportunistic, cerebral back-end coverage the team desperately needed. His arrival allowed the impressive collection of front seven talent in T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, Bud Dupree, Stephon Tuitt, and Devin Bush to shine through. In Week 1, the Steelers will take on the Giants in a juicy matchup for their DST. Giants’ quarterback Daniel Jones had moments of brilliance in his rookie season, but his team still coughed up the ball the fourth-most times per game. New York is also slated to start a rookie at either offensive tackle spot, which should have Pittsburgh licking its chops. The Steelers had the most sacks per game last season. The Pittsburgh DST finished #2 in the final rankings last season and should start their season off with excellent production.

#3. Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia EaglesBesides the ambiguity surrounding their current team name, there is a ton of uncertainty about the Redskins’ offense that the Eagles will take on in Week 1. After Derrius Guice was cut from the team, who will get the most snaps at running back? Will any pass-catchers besides Terry McLaurin be productive? Can Dwayne Haskins improve on a rocky rookie season? These are the questions the Eagles’ defense will surely be asking of first-year head coach Ron Rivera’s new team. Washington scored the fewest points per game in the NFL last season and while the arrival of Scott Turner as the offensive coordinator should boost the scoring production, I doubt it will all come together in Week 1. The Eagles have a stout defensive line that should overwhelm Washington’s patchwork offensive line all afternoon.

#4. Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore RavensIn addition to producing a historic offense last season, the Ravens also had a dominant defense as they allowed the 3rd-fewest points per game. After this past offseason, there’s reason to believe the defense could be even better. Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe will make an already-solid defensive line an elite one. Draft acquisitions in Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison have the upside to improve the team’s linebacking play right away. In the secondary, a full season of Marcus Peters should do wonders for the back-end coverage. The Browns’ offense was ghastly at times last season and I’m honestly shocked they even finished with the 22nd-ranked scoring offense. New head coach Kevin Stefanski will make the team more competitive offensively, but the Ravens’ defense is always a good bet to produce for fantasy regardless of any matchup.

#5. San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ersThe first year of Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray in Arizona didn’t quite go according to plan as the Cardinals were a below-average scoring offense and gave the ball away the 11th-most times per game. Things should go much more smoothly in Year Two, especially with the addition of All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, but they couldn’t have been slated with much more of a difficult opponent in Week 1. San Francisco had a dominant defense last season, generating the third-most sacks, fourth-most takeaways, and the seventh-fewest points allowed to make them the #3 DST on the year. Their defensive line is one of the best in football with Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, and Dee Ford leading the way, while Richard Sherman leads one of the best secondaries in football. I’m expecting the Arizona offense to be very good this season, but that won’t stop the 49ers from being a strong Week 1 DST play.

#6. New England Patriots

New England PatriotsIt’s been a wild offseason in New England as it started with the departure of Tom Brady, then saw the team have the most opt-outs for the season due to COVID-19. Those opt-out players include linebacker D’Onta Hightower and safety Patrick Chung, two high-level starters. As long as Bill Belichick is in New England you can bank on this team having a strong defense and last year was no different as their DST scored more fantasy points than any other team’s. After a handful of offseason losses, I’m not expecting the Patriots DST to be quite as strong as last year. However, Miami was one of the best matchups to target for DST streaming last season due to their propensity for turnovers and low-scoring output. I expect the Dolphins to be a bit better this year, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is one of the best QBs to target when choosing a DST in any given week.

#7. Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City ChiefsThe Chiefs-Texans matchup may not scream DST usage for fantasy. Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson are two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and this game has the highest over/under on the week. However, I’m not nearly as confident in the Texans’ offense as everyone else seems to be. Houston’s offense was already outside of the top twelve in scoring last season and the team lost DeAndre Hopkins over the offseason. His absence is obviously significant in regards to Watson, but it will also hurt the other receiving options on the team to not have that constant double-team magnet. Watson can be turnover prone at times as he’s asked to put the team on his back and throw his way to victories. I’m not expecting that to change as the Texans’ defense looks below-average. The Chiefs may not hold the Texans to a low point total, but a couple of turnovers and sacks against a weak offensive line will make the KC DST very usable.

#8. Indianapolis Colts

Indianpolis ColtsAs much as I love Gardner Minshew, I still have to consider the Jaguars one of the highest-priority matchups to target in streaming DSTs. The Jags scored the seventh-fewest points per game last season and gave the ball away at a league-average rate. One of the biggest advantages in this game for the Colts in this game should be on the defensive line as DeForest Buckner and Justin Houston should be able to take advantage of a poor Jacksonville offensive line. Indianapolis finished just outside of the top-ten for DST scoring last season and improved their personnel over the offseason. I expect them to be one of my favorite matchup-based streaming defenses all season long and they should get off to a strong start against a mediocre Jaguars’ offensive unit.

#9. Seattle Seahawks

Seattle SeahawksThe Seahawks may not fit what I spoke about in my intro, as this game has among the higher projected points totals of the week. The Seahawks also don’t necessarily face an easy matchup as Matt Ryan, Todd Gurley, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley are no joke. However, the Seahawks have two absolute game-changers on defense now in Jamal Adams and Bobby Wagner who are going to make this one of the best DSTs in the NFL. Adams is a force of nature on defense, able to wreak havoc as a pass-rusher, run-stopper, or in coverage. Wagner is one of the best inside linebackers the game has seen over the past several decades and I’m excited to see the cerebral nature of this defense with Wagner and Adams communicating on the field. I’ll be confident in starting the Seahawks’ DST most weeks and this week is no different.

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. I've been playing fantasy football for as long as I can remember and am now in far more leagues than any person should take part in. There are few things that give me as much joy and excitement as fantasy football, and I'm excited to share my input with you in your journey towards a championship.

Hot Fantasy Football Stories