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Team Defenses (D/ST) to Target in Fantasy Drafts

One of the last selections that are typically made each year during drafts is the selection of team defenses in fantasy. Different strategies are put in to place when it comes to this process. Do you start the run early by going after one of the elite units of the league or let them go to someone else and play the matchups throughout the year? Either way, both strategies can lead to fantasy success through proper team management throughout the season. One thing that does seem to be a constant is that the team that dominates the league the previous season tends to regress.

The Jaguars defense that put together a stellar 2017 season (169 FP) completely fell off last year (23rd overall with 89 FP) due to injuries and poor play. The team finished 22nd in forced turnovers and sacks and looked like they had quit on the season during the final few weeks. The expectation is that this team will bounce back in 2019, but are they the right team to go after in drafts? Current ADP has the Jaguars as the third defense off the board at pick 138. Meaning you are still spending the 11th round pick to acquire your starting defense. That may be just too rich for my blood.

The trick for most owners is to play the matchups each week and do the waiver wire shuffle with their defense. It can be a winning strategy to employ as the season progresses by attacking poor offenses giving even the poorer defenses in the league an opportunity to pile up points. But every once in a while you happen upon a diamond in the rough as you play the waiver wire and find a unit that can become the mainstay in your starting lineup. That is where we look to in this article, the defenses that are not the first off the board in drafts but could help bring you wins nonetheless.

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Indianapolis Colts

ADP: 282nd overall, DST: 20th

The Colts are returning a very young nucleus on a team that could be on the verge of a very successful season. The addition of Justin Houston should help bolster a defense that ranked just 19th in sacks a year ago. That is a number that should push towards the top-10 in 2019.

Finishing the 2018 season inside the top-10 among most other categories (interceptions, fumbles, and points allowed) should lead to higher expectations for the Colts. Also, playing in a division with suspect offenses like the Titans and Jaguars could lead to some high scoring weeks for the team.


Denver Broncos

ADP: 187th overall, DST: 11th

Sure, the Broncos are generally one of the first defenses selected in drafts in years past. But heading into the 2019 season, this team seems to be overlooked in drafts. The defense was fifth in interceptions last year (17) and eighth in sacks (44), but after losing several key contributors in the offseason, regression is on the minds of many owners.

New Head Coach Vic Fangio, however, should bring in a very aggressive defensive system that will utilize the strengths of the players on the team. There will be tough matchups throughout the season playing against the likes of the Chiefs and Chargers, but the Broncos should once again be a top-level fantasy defense.


Pittsburgh Steelers

ADP: 198th overall, DST: 16th

The Steelers defense has surprisingly led the NFL in sacks each of the last two seasons, keeping them in the discussion as a startable unit in fantasy. The downside to this team is their inability to create turnovers. Ranking 29th in the league in 2018 with only 15, the Steelers seem to be held back from ascending to the top of the league in fantasy scoring because of this.

If the cornerbacks on this team can take a step forward and create a few more turnovers, a defense that is considered in a mid-tier group should become a strong option for most of the 2019 season.


Arizona Cardinals

ADP: 279th overall, DST: 28th

This defense was one of the worst in fantasy in 2018 (99 FP) and was largely propped up by a unit that finished fifth in sacks with 49. They were bottom tier in most major categories and a team that allowed plenty of points (425) on the season.

They play in a very top-heavy division with the high powered Rams offense, but outside of that, there are matchups to take advantage of. Including a solid Week 1 tilt at home against the Lions, look for the Cardinals defense to become one to keep your eye on for much of the 2019 season.


Dallas Cowboys

ADP: 188th, DST: 14th

It was another mediocre finish for the Cowboys defense in 2018 (85 FP). Finishing 16th in sacks (39) and 10th in forced fumbles (14), it is abundantly clear that this unit is a better defense in real football than it is as a fantasy scoring team. The key contributors on this defense are all back for the 2019 season, leading some to believe that the team is ready for another step forward.

Matchups over the first three weeks against the likes of the Giants, Redskins, and Dolphins make the Cowboys defense one to target in the final round of a draft. A prime candidate as a team that you can use as a matchup play in fantasy.

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