This article is for the old school fantasy guys. The owners who still believe that defense is a factor in fantasy football. The new generation of fantasy players doesn’t care much for defense. But what do they know? Defense is still very much a part of the way we play fantasy football.
A great defense can make or break your week. Although the population has resorted to streaming defenses from week to week, owners who put their stake in a top defense usually don’t have to worry about that. In this article, I take a look at some of the best defenses in the league and their fantasy impacts for your teams. I will also try not to trigger too many “defense should be abolished in fantasy football” people. Yes, @MattWi77iams. I’m talking to you.
Top Fantasy Defenses So Far
Chicago currently boasts the top fantasy defense of 2018. The Bears had a sneaky good defense last season. That was before they went and traded for defensive stud Khalil Mack. Once the trade was announced, the world knew this defense was going to be a force in 2018. Chicago currently ranks eighth in Points Per Game (PPG) allowing just 18.3 points to opposing offenses.
On the backs of a stout front seven, Chicago also ranks second against the run. They’ve allowed an average of just 65.3 Rushing Yards Per Game (RYPG) and have yet to give up a rushing touchdown this year. The same front seven also has a league-leading 14 sacks on the season.
The Bears also present problems through the air. They currently rank ninth in Passing Yards Per Game (PYPG). With the stud trio of Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, and Adrian Amos in the secondary, the Bears are giving up an average of just 223 PYPG per game.
Where this defense makes its real money is in turnovers. The Bears average two turnovers a game, making them extremely fantasy relevant. They have five interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and two defensive touchdowns so far this year. Leading in the top-10 of all defensive categories makes this defense a top fantasy option going forward.
Upcoming Matchups: Tampa Bay, Miami, New England, New York Jets, Buffalo, Detroit (x2), Minnesota, New York Giants, Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay, San Francisco.
New York Jets
The Jets have come out hot and heavy on defense in 2018. The Jets did a great job at adding some quality depth to their defense in the draft and free agency. So far its paying off. With guys like Jamal Adams and Darron Lee at the forefront, the Jets have put up some great numbers on defense. They rank in the top-10 in both total PPG (10th) and total YPG (7th).
The front seven has let up three touchdowns on the ground but ranks 12th in RYPG allowing an average of 102.3 per game. In doing so, they have also found success in getting pressure on the quarterback. They have totaled eight sacks on the year so far.
The Jets are yet another defense that has had great success at holding opposing air attacks to a minimum. They rank sixth in PYPG allowing only 204 yards through the air per game so far this season.
The Jets have put up great fantasy numbers against formidable opponents in the first three weeks. So far they have shown they can hold up for your fantasy team. The Jets have also done a nice job at creating turnovers this season. They have racked up five interceptions, two forced fumbles, and one defensive touchdown on the season. Over the next few weeks, they have some great matchups against some questionable quarterbacks. If this defense can continue its ways, fantasy owners should reap some big rewards going forward.
Upcoming Matchups: Jacksonville, Denver, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Chicago, Miami, Buffalo (x2), New England, Tennessee, Houston, Green Bay.
The Browns have a top fantasy defense? Yes, yes they do. Cleveland currently sits in the top five of fantasy defenses. With multiple top draft picks on the defensive side of the ball and some good free agency signings, Cleveland has finally found themselves atop the defensive discussion in 2018. Cleveland is 11th in PPG giving up an average of just 19.7 per game.
The Browns rank in the top half of the league (16th) against the run so far in 2018. They have given up an average of 109.3 RYPG. Not the top of the heap in terms of interior defensive lineman stopping the run. However, their pass rush does put pressure on the quarterback and has nine total sacks on the season.
The passing defense for the Browns has faired a bit better than their rushing defense. The Browns currently rank 10th in PYPG allowing an average of 229 yards through the air per game. Gregg Williams seems to have his defensive backs playing at a high level right now.
Just like the Bears, the Browns have made their defensive impact through turnovers. They have five interceptions and six fumble recoveries in three games so far. Every week will present a new challenge for this defense but so far they have held up strong. If they can improve against the run, this defense has the potential to be a powerhouse down the stretch.
Upcoming Matchups: Oakland, Baltimore, Los Angeles Chargers, Tampa Bay, Pittsburg, Kansas City, Atlanta, Cincinnati (x2), Houston, Carolina, Denver.
Miami has been sneaky good defense so far in 2018. With Ndamukong Suh leaving in free agency and some holes on that side of the ball, people wondered how they would hold up in 2018. They seem to be doing just fine. Some key draft picks like Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jerome Baker, as well as Robert Quinn in free agency, has helped a lot. Miami currently ranks sixth among defenses in PPG giving up an average of just 17.3.
The defensive line for the Dolphins has been stout this season. They rank eighth in RYPG with an average of just 89 yards given up on the ground. They have only given up two rushing touchdowns on the season. The pass rush, anchored by Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn, have done well against opposing quarterbacks as the Dolphins have nine sacks in 2018
The one huge downside to this defense has been its passing defense. They rank 29th in PYPG with opponents averaging 288.3 yards through the air per game. Although that is a horrible statistic, the Dolphins have only given up a total of two touchdowns through the air so far in 2018.
Miami has seven interceptions and one fumble recovery in three games. This defense has yet to face a true challenge for their defense but has proven that they may be capable of big things down the stretch. Improving on the passing defense is a must, but for owners who look to start their running backs against Miami, beware.
Upcoming Matchups: New England (x2), Cincinnati, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, New York Jets, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Buffalo, Minnesota, Jacksonville.
The Jaguars have been a powerhouse on defense over the past two seasons. Bolstering one of the leagues top defensive lines and secondaries, the Jaguars have been at the top of the list in terms of fantasy defenses to own. With no key losses in the offseason, Jacksonville looked like the top defense to own yet again this season.
The Jaguars defense ranks second in PPG allowing only 14.7 a game. However, through three weeks owners haven’t seen the fantasy production they expected. The reason I’m listing them here is that that is highly likely to change going forward.
The Jaguars rank fourth in total YPG allowing an average of 286 on the season. Unfortunately, most of those come on the ground. They sit at 21st against the run allowing 115.3 RYPG but have only given up one rushing touchdown to opposing offenses.
Jacksonville has been as good as ever in passing defense. Through three games they currently rank third allowing an average of only 171 PYPG. With guys like Jalen Ramsey and AJ Boyue on the perimeter, these numbers are almost expected.
This high powered defense is doing a great job at holding total yardage at a minimum but is struggling to create turnovers. Right now the Jaguars have racked up just one interception, two fumble recoveries, and one defensive touchdown.
Their saving grace right now is the pass rush who have totaled seven sacks so far in 2018. We all know what this defense is capable of. If they can find ways to create turnovers (they will) they will have yet another top-five fantasy year.
Upcoming Matchups: New York Jets, Kansas City, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Indianapolis (x2), Pittsburg, Buffalo, Tennessee, Washington, Miami.