Week 1 NFL Defense (DEF) Fantasy Football Rankings: Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain Tops the Charts

Week 1 Team Defense Rankings, Stats, Projection

Week One is upon us and it is time to figure out what defense to shoot for with your last couple picks of the draft to set you up for success. Without a pre-season, there will be a lot of guesswork involved with the depth charts and how teams are gelling together. It might be better to go for the safer week one option with proven defenses with plus matchups. However, there are a couple of sleeper defenses to take a chance on week one if you want to punt grabbing a D until the last second.

RankTeamOppenentProjected Points
1Pittsburgh Steelers@NYG12.1
2Buffalo BillsNYJ10.7
3Baltimore RavensCLE10
4New England PatriotsMIA9.8
5Chicago Bears@DET9.3
6San Francisco 49ersARI9.2
7Los Angeles Chargers@CIN8.7
8Philadelphia Eagles@WAS8.6
9Tennessee Titans@DEN8.6
10Denver BroncosTEN8.6
11Detroit LionsCHI8.1
12Minnesota VikingsGB8.1
13Indianapolis Colts@JAX7.9
14New York Jets@BUF7.9
15Green Bay Packers@MIN7.7
16New Orleans SaintsTB7.7
17Dallas Cowboys@LAR7.5
18Las Angeles RamsDAL7.3
19Kansas City ChiefsHOU7.2
20Seattle Seahawks@ATL7.1
21Las Vegas Raiders@CAR7.1
22Arizona Cardinals@SF6.5
23Tampa Bay Buccaneers@NO6.5
24Atlanta FalconsSEA6.5
25Cleveland Browns@BAL6.2
26Washington FootballPHI6.1
27Carolina (CAR)vs. LV6
28Jacksonville (JAC)vs. IND6
29Cincinnati (CIN)vs. LAC5.9
30Miami (MIA)@NE5.7
31New York (NYG)vs. PIT5.5
32Houston Texans@KC5.4

Week 1 Top Options

Pittsburgh SteelersThe Pittsburgh Steelers are at the absolute top of the charts going into Week One with one of the few favorable matchups presented to the top defenses in the league. The Steelers will be taking on sophomore QB Daniel Jones and the NYG on Monday Night Football. After the Steelers led the NFL last year with 38 takeaways, I suspect a couple of interceptions and a lower-scoring game. The Steelers are probably the safest play and will have the best opportunity to get that coveted defensive touchdown with the number of takeaways and pressure they put on opposing QBs.

The other play that I am extremely confident in is Buffalo taking on Adam Gases’ New York Jets and their beat-up wide receiving core. Buffalo’s defense behind Sean Mcdermott has been fantastic Buffalo Billsand against the Jets, I see it as an extremely safe play with tons of upside if they can rattle Sam Darnold. The Bills gave up the second least amount of points last year only behind New England’s historically great fantasy defense. They will not lose you this week.

Streaming Options

Tennessee TitansThe first streaming option I like this week is Tennessee at Denver, the other Monday Night Football game. The Titans’ D was middle of the pack in takeaways and in points allowed last year. Drew Lock has a load of weapons this year; however, he is prone to turning the ball over and missing some reads. Melvin Gordan also had a bit of a fumbling problem with his return last year to LAC. The Titans are only 35% rostered on Yahoo and should be available. Take them as a high ceiling and high variance play.

Philadelphia EaglesThe second streaming option is the Philadelphia Eagles. Higher ownership at 60% they may not be available on the market at the moment, but they could be a great Week One defense to target late in drafts. They take on Dwayne Haskins and the Washington Football Team away from home. While not an elite defense they are facing what I consider to be the worst starting QB situation in the league, and the reports out of camp do not look pretty for Haskins. Philly should have no problem stopping the run and forcing Haskins to air it out, where they should be locked and loaded for at least a couple picks. Darius Slay’s matchup with Terry McLaurin will be key for the Eagles’ success in this matchup.

Defenses To Avoid

Kansas City ChiefsThe first defense I would avoid is Kansas City, they are currently 93% rostered in Yahoo and this does not seem like a smart play. Kansas City has a good defense, and they showed that last year, but they are taking on an explosive Houston offense in a game that very well could turn into a shootout. Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller, Kenny Stills, and Randall Cobb can all burn a defense, and Watson has been an elite QB for a few years now. Sometimes a shootout, despite the score, can lead to big defensive points with TOs and TDs. However, I just do not see that as being the case in this game. I see KC as an extremely low floor with a limited ceiling for their Thursday night matchup.

New Orleans SaintsThe second defense to avoid is the New Orlean Saints taking on Tom Brady at home. Again, another proven defense who just does not have a good matchup Week 1. While I am not high on Brady this year he has a crazy amount of weapons and the one thing he will do is protect the ball. The Saints may have a decent game against this offense, but I hardly see any turnovers from Tampa’s side of the ball. Therefore, I would not be using one of my late-round picks to pick up the Saints’ defense and would instead target a handcuff to hold until before Sunday kickoff. I predict the 93% rostered number to drop drastically after the Week 1 matchup and that would be a good time to target them for their game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Week 1 Tip

Unless you are targeting one of the top four defenses for Week 1, a great strategy is to either grab a defense with a good Week 1 matchup i.e. Philadelphia in the very last round of your draft or skip defense altogether. We have already seen David Montgomery go down, and other injuries will happen during camp. Do not be afraid to grab a couple of handcuffs in place of a kicker or defense until right before the start of Week 1. There will be plenty of decent value on the waiver wire. This is how a lot of people ended up with James Conner rostered with Bell’s holdout a couple of years ago. A small decision like that can be league winning instead of week winning like a good Week 1 defense.

Teams with good week 1&2 matchups to hold

Buffalo Bills against NYJ and MIA
Pittsburgh Steelers against NYG and DEN
Chicago Bears against DET and NYG

These are some teams that I would spend a slightly earlier pick on as they will definitely be starts for two straight weeks. Of course, these also happen to be some of the best and highly drafted defenses in the league so you will have to weigh if they are worth the value or not!

Matthew has been playing fantasy football for over ten years now. He is experienced in playing and writing about both daily and season-long fantasy. He is both commissioner and former champion of several different types of high stakes money leagues.

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