2016 Fantasy Rankings – Top 10 Defenses
Whether you play in an IDP (next top 10 Friday!) or a standard league, defense is a vital component to success in the fantasy world. Strategies around when to draft one vary, are you the first to take one off the board, do you wait until the last round to take one, or do you use the strategy of streaming different defenses all season long. No matter what your feelings are on defenses, they will help you win at least one week during the fantasy season.
Just like any other position, turnover of the roster effects the quality and thus fantasy value of defenses year in and year out. Now our top 2 are as rock solid as they come and have been the best defenses in the NFL for the past few seasons. After them, however, it’s feeling more and more like a crap shoot. Will the Arizona Cardinals challenge for the top defense in fantasy football with the addition of Chandler Jones? Can Denver duplicate it’s unbelievable dominance or is a season of regression in the cards for the defending Super Bowl champions?
Remember picking a defense in fantasy football is all about the matchup. On paper, some weeks your defense will look like a slam dunk to hit their projections and on other’s not so much. So whether you decide to ride one defense all season long like the Broncos last year if you got lucky to get them, or you want to stream a different defense, just make sure you are always keeping an eye on the matchups. With that being said, let’s grab our helmet, lace up our cleats and make sure our chin strap is buckled tight because it’s time for a sack lunch. Let’s get to our Top 10 defenses of 2016!
- Seattle Seahawks – Is this really a shock to anyone? The Seahawks have been one of the best defense in the NFL the past 4 seasons and have given up the fewest points in the NFL over that same time frame. With the nucleus of Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Bobby Wagner and Michael Bennett all back there is no reason to think Seattle will not once again finish in the top 5 in total defense and lead the NFL in fewest points allowed.
- Carolina Panthers – Just like Seattle, the Panthers returning core is some of the best at its individual positions in the NFL. With the best linebacker duo in Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, the Panthers are one of the top defenses in standard scoring leagues. Look for a slight decline after the panthers lost Josh Norman, Charles Tillman and Roman Harper who helped the Panthers lead the league in interceptions, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries.
- Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs might have started off slow but once they got going it was lights out for their opponents. They finished the 2015 season as the 3rd ranked defense in total points (17.9) and 7th in total yards. With their nucleus of Eric Berry, Marcus Peters, Justin Houston (if he can come back from an ACL tear) and Tamba Hali intact, look for the Chiefs to once again be one of the best defenses in the NFL.
- Denver Broncos – Last year the Broncos boasted the best postseason run by a defense in the history of the NFL and it single handily helped get Von Miller paid! After a hot start the Broncos did cool off last year and they did lose some key pieces in the offseason. With most of their core back for 2016 including the entire secondary, look for the Broncos to once again cause a lot of turnovers and get to the quarterback early and often.
- Arizona Cardinals – With the addition of Chandler Jones, the Cardinals singled to the entire league that they are all in for a Super Bowl run in 2016. With the core of Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Calais Campbell and the previously mentioned Jones, The Cards have all the pieces to be a top 3 defense this year. A Brady-less Patriots team to open up the season at home should help them get off to a great start, unfortunately. FIRE GOODELL!!! Sorry about that FREE BRADY!!!.
- Houston Texans – The Texans boast the 2nd best defensive player in the NFL in J.J. Watt (IMO) but surgery this past month has Watt questionable to be back for the start of the 2016 season. This would be a major blow to the Texans defense that has talent but none near the level of Watt. The Texans ranking improves with a healthy J.J. Watt and a core of Jadeveon Clowney, (OAF) Vince Wilfork, Whitney Mercilus and Johnathan Joseph.
- Cincinnati Bengals – Cincinnati finished the season as the #2 defense in pts per game allowed (17.4). A large part in this dominance was a secondary that helped pick off 21 passes last year which ranked them 3rd in the NFL in that category. The offseason was unkind to the Bengals secondary which saw the departure of CB Leon Hall (2 INTs) and S Reggie Nelson (8 INTs). The Bengals will have to rely on unproven players to pick up the slack and for that reason, the Bengals slip a little bit further in our rankings.
- New York Jets – The Jets are loaded up front and might boast the best defensive line in all of the NFL w/ Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Leonard Williams. Last year the Jets finished 9th in total points, had 18 INTs 5th best, and 39 sacks which ranked them 12th in the NFL. In the back end, they still have Revis Island but some unproven pieces in the secondary & at linebacker are what keep the Jets from moving up in our rankings.
- Minnesota Vikings – The Purple People Eaters were back in a big way last year helping lead the Vikings defense to the 7th most sacks (43) in the league and the 5th fewest points per game (18.9). With little roster turnover, the Vikings boast one of the best young core of players that includes Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and Harrison Smith. Look for the Vikings to once again dominate the NFC North and compete for a division title.
- New England Patriots – Last year the Patriots finished 10th in the league in pts per game (19.7) and finished 2nd in sacks (49). In the offseason, they did lose their sack leader to the Arizona Cardinals but acquisitions of Terrance Knighton, Chris Long, and Shea McClellin should help offset Jones’s production. The Patriots boast a young core that has some of the best linebacker talents in the league in Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower. Last year the secondary which boasts Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty finished with only 12 INTs which ranked them 20th in the league. If they can bring the INT number up and get to the QB at the rate they did last year, they could be a steal at their current ADP.
And that does it for the defenses. Next week we wrap up our Top 10 lists of the 2016 fantasy football season with the least talked about position in all of fantasy football, kickers. Christopher will be breaking down the sexy position of kickers like only he can and will help you down the path to victory, that is if your league hasn’t removed the position already. Remember to check out our podcast “Trophy Time,” on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, and get an earful about our draft strategies.