Defenses/Special Teams 2019
Predictions by Conner Schultz
Hello, and welcome to the first ever A Football World’s NFL fantasy rankings!
As drafts begin around the internet this season, you are fully free to use this guide to contemplate who to pick. Usually most defenses are “streamed” meaning that they are not drafted unless you have a top 5 defense. The majority of the D/ST are picked from week to week based on matchups of opposing offenses
1. Chicago Bears
“Da Bears” had a very good 2018 season with the addition of Khalil Mack from the Oakland Raiders. In prior years the Bears were known to have play makers on the special teams and this year is no different when Cordarrelle Patterson is out there receiving punts and kickoffs. There is no doubt in my mind that this team will be the highest scoring defense at the end of the year. They are definitely worth a draft pick but don’t wait too long or they’ll be gone.
2. Los Angeles Rams
Most “experts” have the Rams further down the list but I believe they should be higher up due to one man, Aaron Donald. His vision and quick hands cause can give an offensive line nightmares and startle opposing Quarterbacks. They have also added Clay Matthews and Eric Weddle. In a division where they play the 49ers twice in a year, the matchups here can get very juicy. If the Rams defense start to disappoint in the first few games it’s not you, they have to play the Saints week 2 and the Seahawks in week 5. Week 6-13 should be their prime games where you’ll need them. I wouldn’t necessarily draft this defense but look for them in the last few rounds.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jaguars’ dividends are going to start paying off for them this year in the defensive area. 2018 draftee Tavern Bryan is looking to join the core group of Jalen Ramsey and company this year. First rounder linebacker Josh Allen (no, not the Bill’s Quarterback ,silly) is looking to get his hands dirty and show off how he racked up 17 sacks in his senior year in Kentucky. This team might bloom earlier than expected and has a very high upside in potential.
4. Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota has been surprisingly good in the past seasons in categories of Points Allowed and Yards Allowed and have found out how to get to the Quarterback last year (50 sacks in 2018). Unfortunately this year they will be playing without Sheldon Richardson and Andrew Sendejo which is significant for their ranking. Their schedule is a bit rocky but they have their best matchups from weeks 3-8. I wouldn’t draft any D/ST past this team so look for an owner who will give up on this defense early
5. Buffalo Bills
Past fantasy owners will agree with me that some seasons it seems like the Bills are the smartest pickup in the game and some seasons they ride the bench. In perspective, last season alone they were second in yards allowed and in the top 8th for interceptions. They drafted first rounder Ed Oliver which will only add to their core. Andre Roberts is signed on to return punts should get owners attention, he has 5 return touchdowns in his 8 seasons of playing. The schedule looks really pleasant for this team as they might turn out to be an every week starter.
6. New Orleans Saints
This team has been up and down every season for their defense. This unit seems to be exceptionally great at forced fumbles and sacks but as of recent years they have had their numbers decreasing in TD’s and interceptions. We look forward to seeing what this unit can improve on in the new season as they start their vengeance tour from the controversial “no call pass interference.” Their main core remains intact for this season although they lost Sheldon Rankins to a torn Achilles. Their best weeks are week 5-8. Look for them as a good pick up on the wavier wire.
7. Houston Texans
On paper the front line for this team is stacked. JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Marcilus are bound to bring a reckoning to opposing teams if they can stay healthy. They lost some talent in the secondary so I don’t expect them to have a lot of interceptions but the production in sacks and fumbles should still be noticeable. Their week one matchup in New Orleans will not be fun for owners and should be noticed by owners if they want to draft. This defense should be a good target after week 1. Their strength of schedule is in the middle of the pack, no easy pickings here.
8. Los Angeles Chargers
The past two seasons we have seen the Chargers defense give up touchdowns numerous times without effort. They hope to turn that trend around here in 2019 as they hope Joey Bosa will remain healthy for this new campaign and has his buddy Melvin Ingram opposite of him. Chargers are hoping their early draft picks can suit up immediately and help out since the departures of Corey Liuget, Darius Philon, and Jaheel Addae. With Phillip Rivers still at the helm on offense, the defense will help him stay in games more often creating good turnover potentials. Their schedule is fairly average, they play Oakland twice which should be fun.
9. New England Patriots
There’s nothing particularly special about the players on the defense except that they are led by one of the greatest coaches in the NFL. Their performance has been increasingly good but still lacks sacks. They are a team that loves to focus on creating turnovers that put the ball in Tom Brady’s hands. They lost their star returner so don’t expect much from the special team unit. You still just can’t underestimate great coaching and him maximizing a player’s output in certain situations. Their schedule looks really attractive as they should create opportunities to give you points all season in the AFC East.
10. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts were only one of three other teams to not have a defensive TD. Still with that goose egg in that column, they have been able to maintain steady production in creating interceptions, fumbles, tackles for loss, and points allowed. What isn’t included in the list is sacks. They look to remedy that by adding Justin Houston as an edge rusher. Colts have a decent schedule and nothing seems to jump out from a trending standpoint. I highly recommending streaming this defense based on matchups.
11. Denver Broncos
From a standpoint Denver has been a very consistent team from year to year. They always average middle of the pack for most of their stats. Lately their production in interceptions have been their key attribute. Vic Fangio now has the reigns and improved much of the secondary but has also let a lot of good talent walk. Their numbers shouldn’t be better than last years, look for dynamic plays and touchdowns keeping their numbers propped up this year. They do play the Raiders the first and last game of the season. Stream this Bronco team wisely.
12. Philadelphia Eagles
This team was downright awful from a fantasy perspective last year. After the first two years of handing the reigns to Doug Pederson we were expected to have a great 2018 season but that soon turned south faster than the ducks during winter. They had no defensive touchdowns and fell to the bottom half of the NFL average in majority of the stats. They lost two huge staples in Jordan Hicks and Michael Bennett but also added Malik Jackson and Vinny Curry. Addition by subtraction is the name of the game here in Philly. If it works for them look for them to get it going in week 1 against the Redskins.
13. Cleveland Browns
Now that the Cleveland Browns are one of the most watchable teams, can their defense bring the same level of attention? Although the stats don’t jump out and are not in their favor when looking at last year, they are one of the weird teams that are ball hawks in the secondary and create forced fumbles. They allow a lot of opponent yards and points since last season. They look to improve their sack numbers with new additions this year. This would be considered a sleeper D/ST with high upside and turnover ability.
14. Baltimore Ravens
To most fantasy players from years ago they might be use to the Ravens consistent production. This is not going to be the same defensive unit as last year. They lost too many veteran players to count and will have a very hard time to post numbers that were close to last years. One surprising addition was Earl Thomas as they signed him to a heft contract. Stream this defense per matchup.
15. Tennessee Titans
Titans have been one of the top teams in categories of points against and yards against but cant seem to create turnovers. They were put in the middle of the pack for the 2018 season in interceptions and fumbles. More addition by subtraction here as the past edge rushers Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo depart for different teams as fresh players step in. We shall see if chemistry will lack as they start the season in Cleveland and continue their tough schedule. Stream this defense based on matchups and trends.
16. Dallas Cowboys
This Cowboys team has been consistent at being mediocre. There were little moves in the offseason to improve their defense and look forward to another season where they are able to hold teams to few yards and little points but no real takeaways or TD’s to save this team some grace. This team presents a very good matchup from weeks 1-3. This team is only playable based on matchups.
17. Pittsburg Steelers
18. Kansas City Chiefs
19. Seattle Seahawks
20. Green Bay Packers
21.New York Jets
22. Carolina Panthers
24. Atlanta Falcons
25. Detroit Lions
26. Arizona Cardinals
27. New York Giants
28. Miami Dolphins
29. San Francisco 49ers
30. Oakland Raiders
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
32. Cincinnati Bengals