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Defense Tiered Rankings for Fantasy Football Drafts


Much like what we see with the tight end position in fantasy for the 2019 season, defenses are fairly top-heavy up at the top. Leading the way will be two of the top defenses in scoring over the last two seasons with the Bears and Jaguars. The decision that you will have to make during your drafts is if you are willing to bite on these teams, when is the right time? In standard 16-round drafts, the top defenses are coming off the board between rounds 11 and 12. Having a top scoring unit, much like drafting one of the elite TEs, can give you a leg up on the competition in your head to head matchups each week. So based on your strategy, it could certainly pay off by going after one of the top defenses early.

The other strategy that is in play for most owners during draft season is to wait until the bitter end to fill this position. In doing so, you put yourself in a spot where you might be more open to playing the waiver wire and matchups each week. In some cases, this can pay off as you may happen to stumble upon an under the radar squad that breaks out and becomes a starting fantasy defense each week. But if you stick to your rankings during the draft, you will know just when is the right time to pull the trigger on your Week 1 defense.

RotoBaller's expert rankers have gotten together to update our 2019 fantasy football rankings in order to prepare you for early drafts. This is part of our commitment to helping you all season long. You can find the latest rankings here. Now, let's talk defense.

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Updated Defense (D/ST) Rankings - Redraft Leagues

Below are RotoBaller's consensus staff rankings for the 2019 fantasy football season. These rankings are compiled by Nick Mariano, Pierre Camus, Scott Engel, Bill Dubiel, Dominick Petrillo, Spencer Aguiar and Kev Mahserejian.

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was the #11 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season, and #9 overall in 2017. Additionally, industry legend Scott Engel recently joined the RotoBaller team and provides his insights as well. Scott is an FSWA Hall Of Famer and award winner.

Position Rank Overall Rank Team Name Position Tier Overall Tier
1 139 Chicago Bears 1 9
2 150 Jacksonville Jaguars 1 9
3 152 Minnesota Vikings 1 9
4 157 Baltimore Ravens 1 10
5 165 Los Angeles Rams 2 10
6 167 Los Angeles Chargers 2 10
7 182 Buffalo Bills 3 11
8 186 Denver Broncos 3 11
9 191 Houston Texans 3 11
10 198 Cleveland Browns 3 11
11 209 Philadelphia Eagles 4 11
12 210 New Orleans Saints 4 11
13 234 Dallas Cowboys 5 12
14 238 Tennessee Titans 5 12
15 240 Pittsburgh Steelers 5 12
16 244 Seattle Seahawks 5 12
17 246 New England Patriots 5 13
18 279 Carolina Panthers 6 14
19 281 Indianapolis Colts 6 14
20 293 Kansas City Chiefs 6 14
21 296 Atlanta Falcons 6 14
22 304 Arizona Cardinals 6 14
23 310 Green Bay Packers 6 14
24 311 Oakland Raiders 6 14
25 340 Washington Redskins 7 15
26 349 New York Jets 7 16
27 354 New York Giants 7 16
28 363 Detroit Lions 7 16
29 367 San Francisco 49ers 7 16
30 393 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8 17
31 404 Miami Dolphins 8 17
32 405 Cincinnati Bengals 8 17

 

Tier 1  

Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens

Leading off Tier 1 is fantasy's top scoring defense from 2018, the Chicago Bears. The argument could be made that this team is in a class all to themselves as they paced the field in points scored last season (188 FP and 55 points ahead of the 2nd best team). The Bears led the league in virtually every key defensive statistic and is a lock to be the top unit off the board in all drafts. The Jaguars, 2017's best defense, will be looking to rebound this year after an uncharacteristic year finishing as one of the worst teams in the league. The talent is there, but this team must get back to creating turnovers to reestablish themselves in 2019. Both the Vikings and Ravens are defenses that won't wow you in a given week with a high point total, but they consistently get after the QB and allow points at a premium. All the teams in this tier will be off the board by the end of Round 13, so be prepared to spend draft capital early.

 

Tier 2

Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Chargers

In Tier 2 we find the defenses from the same city with the Rams and Chargers. The Rams finished the 2018 season as the third best defense in fantasy finishing Top 6 in turnovers, blocks, and defensive scores. The team should be improved in the pass rushing department this season and should once again be a very valuable defense to own. The Chargers had what amounts to a down season by their standards in 2018 (96 FP). The team regressed in turnovers and sacks in 2018 and will be a point of emphasis to improve upon if they are to return their current draft value.

 

Tier 3

Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns

This tier is filled with defenses that we are accustomed to seeing among the top units in the league. Both the Broncos and Texans had solid campaigns in 2018 (Broncos scored 108 FP and Texans with 133). Both teams are consistently two of the top defenses in the league in getting after the QB and should remain that way in 2019. Vic Fangio will look to add a few wrinkles for a Broncos defense that was Top 10 in both sacks and interceptions. The new aggressive defensive mindset should help this team outperform it's current ADP. The Texans are sliding down the board a bit due to the losses in the secondary, but will remain a top scoring unit with it's impressive front seven. Both the Bills and Browns are young and hungry defensive units that will look to take a step forward this season. Both teams were excellent in creating turnovers a year ago but neither team could find the end-zone. That must change this season if they will warrant becoming weekly starting units in fantasy.

 

Tier 4

Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints

These two teams were mirror opposites of each other a year ago. The Eagles struggled on defensive and were a bottom tier unit in nearly every statistical category. The sacks were there (44) but they struggled in creating turnovers (17) and could not find the end-zone. While the Saints seemed to stay consistent throughout the year. They were among the league leaders in sacks (49) but saw a regression in interceptions (12) and defensive scores (1). Both of these teams should see a step in the right direction in 2019 and reclaim their spots among the league leaders in fantasy. The two teams end the tiers of units that you should consider as weekly starting defenses in fantasy.

 

Tier 5

Dallas Cowboys, Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks

Once you get to this tier, you are strictly looking for strong upside plays. Each of these defenses has their moments in certain weeks where they can win you a matchup, but they can also be the reason for a loss. The Steelers are consistently one of the top teams in the league sacks and should have another great year in that category. The Titans and Saints are consistent in what they do on the field and rarely will kill you in the stat column. But they aren't typically providing high scoring weeks either. The Cowboys are a better NFL defense than that of a starting-caliber fantasy defense. But their early-season schedule (Giants, Redskins, and Dolphins) is one to take advantage of as you can set up your matchup plays throughout the season.

 

Tier 6 and lower

The remaining the defenses in the rankings are teams that you will not typically see drafted in most 12 team leagues. Some may come off the board due to solid matchups early on, but for the most part, these are teams that will routinely be available on the waiver wire. Be used to seeing these names as they will be the grouping in which you will be choosing from is you are playing the matchups on a weekly basis.

More Fantasy Football Analysis


Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.