The narrative that defense wins championships is a bit tired. When betting on sports, it can be true. When putting the finishing touches on your fantasy football draft, it’s less of a concern.
I can safely say I was in plenty of leagues last year where I either made the playoffs or even won the title, and I streamed my defense much of the time.
The guy that had the New England Patriots (#1 in fantasy points in 2019) got beat in the first round of the fantasy playoffs.
A great fantasy defense can still work wonders, of course.
Having one of the best fantasy football defenses can get you to the playoffs or further. The problem is finding some middle ground and landing one of these marquee units without sacrificing a pick too early.
Regardless of the fantasy draft strategy involved, it’s still good to know which fantasy team defenses you can trust. With that, here’s a look at the best fantasy football defenses for 2020.
New England Patriots
I don’t really recommend drafting the top defense early, as you can get through the season safely by taking a defense with your second-to-last pick. Streaming can work beautifully, as well.
That said, owning the Patriots would have been a lot of fun last year. They finished with 224 fantasy points, as they scored seven touchdowns, recorded 47 sacks, picked off 25 passes, and allowed a league-low 195 points.
Tom Brady is gone, and the Pats are no longer favored to win the AFC East, but this defense remains elite. The secondary is insanely good, New England’s pass rush may only get better, and a (likely) ball control offense could again aid this defense in being fresh and active.
I don’t know if we’re in for a 44-point gap between New England and the next-best team, but they’re still worth owning.
San Francisco 49ers
The Niners did trade away DeForest Buckner this offseason, but they still have a stacked defensive line. Nick Bosa heads a ferocious pass rush, while Richard Sherman is key for one of the stingiest pass defenses in all of football.
Yes, the Niners broke down a bit in the Super Bowl, but last year, they proved nobody can truly hold the Chiefs in check for a full game.
San Francisco will give up some points, but they have monster upside due to their pass rush.
Watt is a disruptive presence on the edge for the Steelers, who owned the league’s most menacing pass rush in 2019.
That played a hand in Pittsburgh pulling in as the 2nd overall fantasy defense, and if their offense can help them out a bit more this year, they could push for the top spot.
The same could be said for the Bills, who largely remain intact following an 11th-place finish amongst fantasy defenses.
Buffalo didn’t crack the top 10 last year, but they still operate out of the weak AFC East, and their defense should only be getting better.
That’s saying a lot for a unit that ranked 12th in sacks, 8th in interceptions, and 14th in fumble recoveries.
The 4th-best fantasy defense from a year ago, Baltimore didn’t miss a beat last year, despite losing some key bodies.
The addition of stud safety Earl Thomas makes them as tough as ever at the back of their secondary, while Baltimore led the league in defensive scores.
Having the league’s most dominant rushing attacks certainly helps this defense, but the pass rush should only improve, and more turnovers could follow.
If that’s the case, Baltimore could be somewhat underrated going into 2020 fantasy football drafts.
More Fantasy Defenses to Consider
Los Angeles Rams
New Orleans Saints
Kansas City Chiefs
I’m not one to invest a pick as early as the 8th, 10th, or even the 12th round on a defense, so if you draft like me, the best fantasy defenses aren’t really in play.
Obviously, if one free falls, I’ll gladly yank them off the draft board. But these other defenses are plenty capable of being fantastic weekly options, and most of them can be had much later in fantasy drafts.
The Rams have serious star talent on defense and managed to rank 5th a year ago. They lost some bodies but are still an intriguing option with upside.
New Orleans, Minnesota, and Kansas City all have plenty of talent and were top-10 fantasy defenses in 2019. They could be up there again, while someone like the Titans (12th) has the system and talent to make a jump.
The beauty is most of these defenses will slide in fantasy drafts, meaning you could get a top-10 or even a top-5 defense without wasting a pick until round 11 or later.
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Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.
When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.