It’s finally time to evaluate which NFL defenses have the best chance at ending this year as a top 10 fantasy defense. There’s a lot of things that factors into fantasy defenses, as the points are distributed amongst an entire squad, rather than individual play (unless you play in a league with Individual Defensive Players). Turnovers and touchdowns are the best way to earn fantasy points for a defense or specials team. There are also different strategies when it comes to which defense to draft.
Some people like to draft a defense rather early (I’m not a fan, they don’t offer enough points to be taken that early), but most people wait until the last 2 rounds or so to start picking defenses. Another strategy is to use the free agent pool and pick and choose defenses based off matchups. Either way, having an elite defense on your team makes your fantasy football life that much easier. With that said, let’s jump into the list, shall we?
Top 10 DST
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
The steelers were a shutdown defense last year and was the main reason why the team stayed competitive. Even though the offense filtered through QB after QB, the defense was remarkably consistent. This unit is stacked with players like TJ Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Joe Haden, Bud Dupree, Cameron Heyward, and Devin Bush Jr…. I’d keep naming guys, but I’d basically just be naming the starting lineup. According to Fantasy Pros, the Steelers D averaged 10.8 points per week, making them the 2nd best fantasy option in the NFL. There is a high chance they continue playing as one of the better defenses in the league. So, draft the Steel Curtain, sit back, and relax. They’ll do all the heavy lifting for your fantasy team all year long.
2. Buffalo Bills
Buffalo may just be (no, they are) the best team in the AFC East. The offense looks legit, but the defense is STACKED. They have arguably the best CB in the game with Tre’Davious White, who has proven to be a star in this league. Not to mention, the Bills snagged Josh Norman this offseason, and they have an incredible Safety duo in Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. The front seven is strong too as they’re led by DT Ed Oliver. They also have guys on this team like Mario Addison, Tremaine Edmunds, and new rookie AJ Epenesa. They averaged 8.1 fantasy points a game in 2019, but this team as the potential to be scoring double digits every single week.
3. San Fransisco 49ers
This was easily one of the best defenses a year ago, and they have a shot at continuing that success again. The 49ers are one of those teams that didn’t make a whole lot of changes this offseason and was able to maintain their core group. Last year, they averaged 10.2 points per week, which made them the 3rd highest scoring defense. San Fran has a bunch of talented guys like Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, Sherman Richardson, Jaquiski Tartt, and Fred Warner. They did lose DeForest Buckner after trading him away to the Colts, but they immediatly replaced him with rookie DT Javon Kinlaw. Expect the 49ers gang to make another run this year with the defense leading the way.
4. Baltimore Ravens
This team was lights out in the regular season last year and have set themselves up for another possible playoff appearance. Not only was the offense scoring at will, but the Ravens defense was just as impressive, averaging 9.6 fantasy points per game. I like their chances at reaching the top 5 again, as the front office made some nice moves to make sure this defense maintains elite status. The new faces on the defense include rookie LBs Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison, and the D-line was beefed up after signing Derek Wolfe and trading for Calais Campbell. Additionally, the secondary is possibly the best in the league as they have Earl Thomas, Marlon Humphrey, and Marcus Peters. These guys alone make the defense scary to play against and I fully expect them to play as one of the better defenses this year.
5. Chicago Bears
Daaaaaaa Bears (I’m sorry, I have to. I don’t make the rules). All I really have to say is KHALIL MACK. The guy is basically an entire defense all by himself and provides the Bears with everything you could ask for. Luckily for them though, they have a bunch of other elite guys on the roster to help Mack out. The front seven is loaded with Akiem Hicks, Danny Trevethan, Robert Quinn, and Roquan Smith (unfortanatly, Eddie Goldman opted out this year due to COVID). The secondary is nearly as impressive too as they have Kyler Fuller, and Eddie Jackson. In 2019, Chicago’s defense only averaged 6 points per week, putting them in the bottom half. However, this unit has plenty of time playing together and has the potential to be a top defense in the NFL again.
6. New England Patriots
The Patriots defense dominated nearly every single game last year, averaging an insane 14.8 points per game (DAMN). During this offseason, Belichick and the front office put most of their focus and attention on the defensive side of the ball, and considering the Evil Hooded Lord Emperor himself is a defensive minded coach, there is reason to believe the Pats defense will be able to finish as a top defense again. Stephon Gilmore is a top 3 CB, and the Patriots secondary also has the McCoutry twins who are lockdown every year. On top of that, they also drafted 3 rookies that have a legitimate chance to shine in New England. Anfernee Jennings, Kyle Dugger, and Josh Uche, provide incredible depth to an already stacked defense. For 2020, the Pats offense may struggle a bit, but the defense is going to keep them in most of their games. Recently, a lot of Patriots have chosen to opt out this year due to COVID (one of them being MLB Dont’a Hightower), which is the reason they’re not listed within my top 5.
7. Tamba Bay Buccaneers
Even though the Bucs gave up a ton of passing yards last year, they still finished with the number 1 rush defense and surprisingly averaged 8.4 fantasy points a week (the same as the Saints). With the offense looking so lethal, the defense is going to have to step it up in order for the Bucs to make that playoff run they’re hoping for. I am a little concerned with the secondary group, but the front seven is loaded. Ndamukong Suh is still one of the best run stoppers in the NFL, and William Gholsten is one of those under valued guys that makes great plays for his team. The Bucs also have the best LB in the league, Lavonte David, and he’s matched up with Shaquil Barrett, and Devin White. This defense will be difficult to run against for the 2nd straight year, and have the potential to finish within the top 10 in fantasy football.
8. Denver Broncos
It seems like the Broncos have had a pretty solid defense the last decade, and they’re likely going to finish as one of the best in the league again. John Elway, AKA Mr. Bronco, has done a phenomenal job as the GM for this team since taking over. This year, the Denver defense is relying on Von Miller to continue playing as a top Edge Rusher, and they were able to acquire Jurrell Casey in a trade (only giving up a 7th round pick). They also have guys like Bradley Chubb, AJ Bouye, and Justin Simmons, giving the Broncos a great all-around squad. In 2019, they averaged just 6.2 points per game, which means they have a ton of room for improvement. This team will likely lean heavily on their defense (at least in the first 4 games) which should put them up on your draft board for your fantasy team.
9. Tennessee Titans
Everybody is talking about Derrick Henry and AJ Brown being the only viable fantasy options this year, but nobody is mentioning this defense. In 2019, the Titans defense was the main reason why a majority of their games were at least close, and having a defense that gives you a winning chance is all you can ask for. In fantasy football, the defense flew under the radar after averaging 8.2 points per game, which made them the 11th best in the NFL. Sure, they traded away Casey and let Logan Ryan walk, but the front office stole Kristian Fulton in the 2nd round of the draft, and the team is still heavily rumored to be signing Jadeveon Clowney. Not only that, but they also have guys like Jeffery Simmons, Jayon Brown, and possibly the best Safety in the league, Kevin Byard. Most people don’t draft the Titans D, so enter your draft and steal them from under everyone’s noses.
10. New Orleans Saints
The Saints were one of those defenses that turned into a nice surprise last season and actually showed tremendous value throughout the year. I’m expecting them to do about the same as they have the same core group they played with a year ago. Cameron Jordan has been a beast for as long as I can remember, and they also have guys like Marcus Davenport, Demario Davis, and Marshon Lattimore. Last year, NOLA averaged 8.4 points per game, which put them within the top 10 last year. I imagine they’ll be doing just about the same thing in 2020, which means you’re looking at a top 10 defense for a second straight year in a row.