Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:


Already have an account? Log in here.


Forgot Password


Team Defense (D/ST) Draft Sleepers

Football is a fickle game. NFL defenses can be the same. A defense can be good one year and not so good the next. The common sentiment is the need to get rid of defenses in fantasy football. While this much like the kicker, debate is a good thought, it has not happened yet. Until it does, we need to talk about them and the defenses who may help your fantasy team.

Some players feel taking a good defense is worth wasting a pick other than the last two rounds. These people are what we would call wrong. Never take a kicker or defense before your second to last pick. But which defense should you take when you are in a home league and inevitably half the league does just this? I am here to help.

The elite defenses everyone wants are clear. We all know the Bears, Jaguars and Vikings are going to go first. So, let us take a look at some other defenses. Maybe some who, even if you decide to punt the position in the draft in favor of an additional position player, you could still possibly grab off waivers before Week 1.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!


Atlanta Falcons

You will notice a theme with all of these sleeper defenses. All of the teams want to get back to running the ball. A lot. And this starts in Atlanta with the Falcons.

Last season was a mess in Atlanta. After a top 10 defensive season in 2017, things were looking good heading into 2018. Then an injury happened. Then another and another. Not only did the snowball effect take out Devonta Freeman after the second game of the season, it also took out a lot of players on defense. Add to this the lackluster seasons by Takk McKinley and Vic Beasley and it was not hard to see why the Falcons team disappeared.

Julio Jones is still a stud; Calvin Ridley looks to add to a superb rookie season and Austin Hooper looks for a third-year breakout. All of these players added to the returning Freeman will mean the offense should be on the field for a good portion of games. The less a defense is on the field, the less it can give up. With the run game back in force and the pass game as stellar as ever, Atlanta looks to rebound into the playoffs yet again.

This is a make or break year for Dan Quinn. If he has another down season, he could be out. He is a defensive coach after leading the vaunted Seahawks Legion of Boom and although not as talented, he will get the most out of his defense yet again. If Takk McKinley and Vic Beasley can join forces with newly minted Grady Jarrett in wrecking opposing offensive lines, the team should be a top 10 defense yet again after a one-year hiatus.


Detroit Lions

My love for Kerryon Johnson knows no bounds. In this case, it even extends to the defense in Detroit.

Matt Patricia is trying to build New England west. He thinks he is Bill Belichick. He isn’t. Nor is the team talented enough for him to really try. But until he figures this out, the run game and short pass game will live wild and free for the Lions.

Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones are good receivers. But a lot of teams have good receivers in the NFL. This does not mean they will produce to an elite level for Matthew Stafford.

Stafford is coming back from a miserable season which was due to many factors. Not the least of which was playing with multiple stress fractures in his back. The strong-armed quarterback from Georgia is set to have a revival this season. This will start with relying on Kerryon Johnson, C.J. Anderson and the rest of the run game to relieve some of the pressure.

The Lions drafted T.J. Hockenson in the first round of the draft and he is going to get a lot of work this season as a rookie. That is to say he will be using his dominant blocking skills a lot to get the run game moving and milk the clock. Detroit is going to be going for a conservative game plan in 2019 and again, this is good for the defense.

Although they are not star-studded by any means, bringing in Trey Flowers to anchor the line is a huge upgrade. If Snacks Harrison continues to be the run stopper he has been in recent years, this will force other teams to throw more. The secondary is anchored by Darius Slay, still one of the top cover corners in the NFL.

At 22.5 points per game given up in 2018, the Lions were middle of the pack finishing at 16th in the NFL. With the run game set to take a major step forward with Johnson and Anderson and the return of Matthew Stafford to a top 15 fantasy quarterback, Detroit’s defense is set to be a top 12 unit. So, while it might be tempting to take a higher ranked defense in drafts don’t forget. No team has repeated as the top ranked defense in the past five seasons. So, don’t expect it this season either.


Tennessee Titans

Unlike the other teams on this list, the Titans need to run more. Yes, as stated all of these teams are going to take a step forward in the run game. But with Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford, the other teams have some form of fall back. Marcus Mariota does not provide the same in Tennessee. The number two pick in the 2016 draft has been nothing short of incredibly disappointing in his time in the NFL. He has regressed in each season and injuries have not done him any favors. For these reasons, the Titans have to rely on Derek Henry and the run game.

Coach Mike Vrabel has already come out and said they will ride Henry like he should be ridden. This means close to, if not more than 300 carries. With Adam Humphries and his 72 receptions in Tampa Bay last season also in the fold and Delanie Walker back, this will be a dink and dunk offense to the max. This will lead to a lot of sustained drives.

This will bode well for a defense who was already third in the NFL in scoring defense in 2018 giving up just 18.9 points per game. Much of this stellar play was also due to the ground and pound philosophy brought in by coach Vrabel and will continue in year two of his regime. If rookie Jeffrey Simmons can come back and play at all this season, the Titans will have landed a top-five draft talent at pick 19 in the draft. The Ole Miss defensive lineman was projected to go much higher in April’s draft. Due to an ACL injury which could have him miss the entirety of the season he slipped. We have seen in recent seasons that an ACL is not a death sentence and if he comes back for a late playoff push? The Titans could be a defensive streaming option late in the season for you.

Even though Deion Sanders does not know the names of some of the players, the secondary is also very good. Kevin Byard might be the best safety no one is talking about. With the likes of Earl Thomas still in the league, Byard gets lost in the mix. Add Kenny Vaccaro to the strong side and the safety group is very good. If Malcolm Butler can do anything in his second season in from New England and this could be a shutdown group to match the front seven.

None of the defenses listed above are even being drafted in leagues as of now. All of them have a chance to finish as a top 10 defense if things go right for them. All of them play in environments in which weather will not be an issue for most of if not all of the season. This makes all of them great streaming defenses to look to on a weekly basis should you choose to do defenses in this manner.

More Fantasy Football Analysis

Check out RotoBaller's famous fantasy football draft sleepers and waiver wire pickups list, updated regularly!

More Recent Articles


Fantasy Football News and Injuries - Running Updates

Below is a quick-hit list of running notes on relevant injuries and player news, including pre-game reports and live in-game updates. Stay tuned for updates all throughout the week and on Sunday morning game day:   Week 14 Le'Veon Bell (illness) is questionable to play this week. Marlon Mack is expected to be back on the... Read More

Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 14

Welcome to our Week 14 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every single contest from the Sunday slate in one convenient location, helping you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. Be sure to check back regularly because this article will be updated as news comes in regarding injuries and other... Read More

Week 14 Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More

Fantasy Football IDP Rankings for Week 14 (Top 100)

The fantasy playoffs are here for most of us, so every position matters that much more. IDP spots often become an afterthought or a set-it-and-forget-it situation but it could be that linebacker who has a monster game or that key interception that makes the difference between winning or going home. Look to our streamer suggestions... Read More

Week 14-16 Playoff Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

The playoffs are here, and that means we're going to do things a little differently. I want to take a look at the playoffs as a whole (and in this case we are considering Weeks 14-16) and determine which DSTs you can ride all the way through and which ones you should stream this week.... Read More

Star Players Who Might Miss the Fantasy Playoffs

As we head into the playoff weeks of fantasy football, you'll hear many experts preach (correctly) the need to stash high-upside handcuffs or backups at quarterback or tight end. You'll inevitably hear about looking ahead three weeks for favorable playoff schedules and thinking less about what the player has done up until now or whether... Read More

Week 14 Busts? Players To Consider Avoiding

It's finally here... The fantasy playoffs for most leagues. Hopefully you have a chance to win a fantasy championship in the next few weeks. If you're lucky, you have a first-round bye and won't have to worry about anything this week except for picking out a Christmas tree and setting up all your holiday decorations.... Read More

Fantasy Football Booms, Busts - Zach Pascal, Jamaal Williams, Gardner Minshew

Whether this is the first week of your playoffs, the last week of your regular season, or the time to win a DFS league to pay for your holiday presents, this is the most crucial week of your fantasy football season. While my booms from last week (Robert Woods, Jack Doyle, Dede Westbrook, Kyle Allen)... Read More

Running Back Start/Sit Advice - Week 14

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the running back position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 14 of the 2019 NFL season. They decide who to start or sit among those in RB3 or flex consideration. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest... Read More

Wide Receiver Snap Counts and Target Trends - Week 13 Analysis

Wide receivers are essential components toward your ultimate goal of securing league championships. As many of you prepare for your Week 14 matchups, an expanding collection of tools are available that can provide you with an extensive level of knowledge. Those results provide the foundation for this weekly statistical breakdown of the wide receiver position, which... Read More

Week 14 Stream Team - Free Agent and Bye-Week Streamers

Now that the playoffs are beginning in most leagues and the final march for a championship has begun, streaming becomes a  necessary strategy. Knowing who to add and when to start them could be the ultimate difference-maker in a weekly matchup. Making the right streaming decisions could easily be the difference in winning a championship.... Read More

Wide Receiver Start/Sit Advice - Week 14

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the wide receiver position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 14 of the 2019 NFL season. They decide who to start or sit among those in WR3 or flex consideration. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest... Read More

The King's Week 14 Lineup Rankings and Analysis (Premium Content)

Welcome back, RotoBallers! Below you will find my Week 14 fantasy football lineup rankings for the first round of your playoffs. The ranks are available in PPR, Half PPR, and Standard formats. They will be updated as needed, so make sure to check back for the latest versions, especially on the weekends. Skill Position analysis versus... Read More

Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery: Playoff Panic

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody else on your bench. Disaster Recovery is here to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting and to help you decide if you should... Read More

Thursday Night Football Matchups Analysis - Week 14

It's that time of year again! While many will be caught up in the thrills of the holiday season, those lucky few who have risen to the top of their fantasy leagues will be sweating over lineup decisions in pursuit of a championship (in most league formats). To our fantasy owners who have managed to... Read More