Most of us lump team defense into the same category as kicker.
In the kickers primer I told you not to think too much about them, but you need to think about defenses so it’s unfair to lump them into the same category.
Season-long draft strategies
In one league I’ve played in since 1996, we had restrictions that forced people to roster two kickers and two defenses. There were many times I saved my last four spots to fill these requirements. I didn’t put much thought into either position, just pick the top option available at the end of your draft and hope.
But after playing daily fantasy football, I realized the true power of the team defense. It’s usually not a good bet to pick the Seattle Seahawks, or whichever team defense is the top dog that season, because they will be picked far too early. However, a few rounds later, after the top dog and maybe the next two or three are off the board, you can usually get an upper-second-tier defense that could make a huge difference for your team.
However, if the top three or four fly off the board — “there’s a run on defenses!” — waiting a few rounds to pick the first of a stream of defenses is another viable strategy. Instead of taking a middling defense and hoping they do enough to help you win, pick one — even a low-end one — with a top-end matchup in Week 1, or maybe one with a bad Week 1 matchup but strong Weeks 2 and 3 matchups.
Then, even before the season kicks off, you want to check the available defenses, who they play once the clock strikes midnight on your drafted defense, and determine your course free agent action.
Free Agent Action Man should totally be a fantasy football superhero thing. I’m calling it, copyrighting it, here and now, Aug. 26, 2015.
Daily fantasy football strategy
As I said above, DFS is what made me reconsider my D/ST strategy. There are weeks when if you don’t have the right D/ST you aren’t winning cash in DFS.
Both of the above strategies also work in DFS. Paying up for a high end defense is usually completely worth it, especially against the Jacksonville’s of the NFL. There’s also always a defense or two in the lower-middle to lower tier that has an opportunity to far surpass their salary.
Carolina, our No. 3 defense below, is being drafted as the No. 13 defense. They face the Jaguars the opening week of the season followed by the Brian Hoyer- and Alfred Blue-led Texans in Week 2.
Top 32 team defenses (D/ST) for 2015
These rankings may seem a bit off to you. Here’s the methodology: We took three-year fantasy point season averages (fpts) and assigned them to players based on the free fantasy football rankings at Fantasy Pros. The ADP is average draft position by position from Fantasy Pros, to give you an idea where these players are being drafted compared to their peers. Then we modified the points (xfpts) using a formula that factors in age-based performances and projected schedule based on defense-adjusted value over average.
Unlike our other rankings, these were only modified based on strength of schedule statistics. So, when you see the Eagles, Packers and Ravens with high ADP but low rankings here it’s because their schedule indicates they might not have an opportunity to be as good as many drafters believe they will be.
|1||Seattle Seahawks (9)||D/ST||177.3||1||159.3|
|2||Houston Texans (9)||D/ST||169.7||3||127.7|
|3||Carolina Panthers (5)||D/ST||163.7||13||118.7|
|4||Buffalo Bills (8)||D/ST||162.0||2||132.0|
|5||St. Louis Rams (6)||D/ST||154.8||4||141.3|
|6||New England Patriots (4)||D/ST||150.8||10||116.3|
|7||Arizona Cardinals (9)||D/ST||144.7||5||120.7|
|8||Atlanta Falcons (10)||D/ST||138.0||27||90.0|
|9||Miami Dolphins (5)||D/ST||138.0||9||111.0|
|10||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6)||D/ST||136.5||90.0|
|11||New York Jets (5)||D/ST||135.5||14||107.0|
|12||New Orleans Saints (11)||D/ST||133.5||28||90.0|
|13||Denver Broncos (7)||D/ST||131.2||11||123.7|
|14||New York Giants (11)||D/ST||130.5||22||90.0|
|15||Philadelphia Eagles (8)||D/ST||130.2||6||98.7|
|16||Dallas Cowboys (6)||D/ST||129.3||18||90.3|
|17||Green Bay Packers (7)||D/ST||128.2||7||108.7|
|18||Washington Redskins (8)||D/ST||127.5||26||90.0|
|19||Tennessee Titans (4)||D/ST||126.0||90.0|
|20||Indianapolis Colts (10)||D/ST||123.0||21||90.0|
|21||Baltimore Ravens (9)||D/ST||121.7||8||106.7|
|22||Detroit Lions (9)||D/ST||119.8||16||97.3|
|23||Jacksonville Jaguars (8)||D/ST||115.5||90.0|
|24||Chicago Bears (7)||D/ST||111.0||23||90.0|
|25||Minnesota Vikings (5)||D/ST||108.2||15||91.7|
|26||San Francisco 49ers (10)||D/ST||107.3||20||95.3|
|27||Kansas City Chiefs (9)||D/ST||105.3||12||99.3|
|28||Cleveland Browns (11)||D/ST||102.7||24||93.7|
|29||Cincinnati Bengals (7)||D/ST||102.2||17||100.7|
|30||San Diego Chargers (10)||D/ST||100.5||25||90.0|
|31||Oakland Raiders (6)||D/ST||94.5||90.0|
|32||Pittsburgh Steelers (11)||D/ST||94.3||19||91.3|
Draft well, and may variance be in your favor today and every day.