Top Defenses to Target (2019 Fantasy Football)
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Defenses are people, too! I mean literally defenses are a collection of actual people. And they matter regardless of how much you don’t want them to. That’s not to say you should go drafting a defense in the 10th round. Don’t do that. Instead, target a defense with a nice string of early-season matchups. My primary goal in selecting a defense is to draft one that has a good Week 1 matchup. If a defense has subsequent favorable matchups, even better, but the primary concern is Week 1. The first team on this list is a rare exception to that rule. You will see why in a moment. But otherwise, even if a defense has a single quality matchup in Week 1, I will target that defense and figure out Week 2 in Week 2. Let’s take a look at some defenses to target late in your drafts.
New England Patriots: ADP DST8
If you target the Patriots, you are admittedly punting defense in Week 1. This is less than ideal, but it is probably worth it because of the next handful of weeks. The Patriots face the Steelers opening week, a top offense, but at least the game is in Foxboro. The real appeal of the Patriots is that they follow up with the Dolphins, Jets, Bills, Redskins, Giants, and Jets again. They don’t have a bye until Week 10 so you can pretty much roll exclusively with the Patriots from Weeks 2-7. After Week 7, go ahead and drop them because the schedule takes a hard left for pretty much the rest of the season. It would not surprise me, though, if the Patriots were the top-scoring defense through the first seven weeks.
Buffalo Bills: ADP DST12
The Bills are a legitimately talented defense. They may actually be the best defense in the NFL. For fantasy purposes, we just want points. The Bills open the season with games against the Jets, Giants, and Bengals. The Jets and Giants are both starting turnover-prone quarterbacks while the Bengals have a weak offensive line leaving them susceptible to sacks. The Bills should be a top-five play for each of the first three weeks.
Dallas Cowboys: ADP DST13
The Cowboys are another team with actual talent on defense. This is more than just a play against their opponents, but the schedule certainly helps. The Cowboys open the season against the Giants, Redskins, and Dolphins and will be a top defensive play in each of those games. The Giants are going to start Eli Manning Week 1 because of reasons. As for the Redskins and Dolphins, we won’t know who the starting quarterbacks will be until the week of those games.
You Can Get By
Philadelphia Eagles: ADP DST14
Divisional games are always tricky, but the Eagles open the season at home against the Redskins, who will be starting…I have no idea at quarterback. Whether it’s Case Keenum, Colt McCoy, or Dwayne Haskins, it is going to be a long day. The Eagles will be heavy favorites against all three and the positive game script should lead to some sacks and turnovers. This is purely a one-week play as you are not starting the Eagles in Atlanta Week 2.
Cleveland Browns: ADP DST9
The Browns should have an improved defense this season and it will be buoyed by playing with more positive game script due to an improved offense. The Browns open the season against the Titans and the Jets. Beyond that, you don’t want this defense, but for those two weeks, the Browns are certainly a passable option. The Titans and Jets are both projected to be bottom-10 offenses, and both Marcus Mariota and Sam Darnold have had turnover issues.
Los Angeles Chargers: ADP DST6
The final defense to consider is one we may just throw out in a week. The Chargers open the season against the Colts and the Lions. Matt Stafford loves to take sacks and the Lions are going to be one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league with their archaic philosophy. The question for the Chargers is whether that Week 1 matchup against the Colts is a viable one. I want no part of the Chargers against Andrew Luck, but if it’s Jacoby Brissett out there, the Chargers may very well be the top-ranked defense. If you miss out on the other defenses on this list, it may be worth it to gamble that Luck doesn’t play.