Top 12 Defense (D/ST) Rankings, Tiers & Notes (2022 Fantasy Football)
Now is the time to see where the experts have players ranked versus the early average draft position (ADP).
Check out our top D/ST rankings along with player notes as you prepare for your fantasy football draft.
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Defense (D/ST) Fantasy Football Rankings, Tiers & Notes
1) Buffalo Bills
Buffalo’s D is slightly overrated from last year. To open the season, they get the Rams and Titans – two offenses that aren’t exactly the prime matchups you’d expect from the No.1-ranked DST. Still, they rank inside the top-5 after boasting the league’s No. 1 pressure rate per dropback with Von Miller added into the fold.
2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It’s a tough first four games for the Buccaneers DST to start the season. On the road versus a high-powered Dallas offense followed by a Divisional road matchup versus the Saints, who have owned Tampa during the regular season. After that, it’s home versus a non-turnover-prone Aaron Rodgers and then Kansas City.
3) San Francisco 49ers
You want the 49ers’ defense in fantasy football drafts. Their two first matchups – Chicago, Seattle – should allow them to dial up pressure on fringy QBs. They were PFF’s 4th-highest graded pass-rush unit a season ago and added USC pass-rusher Drake Jackson in the second round of the draft.
4) Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are likely due for some defensive regression with all the turnover they had on that side of the ball this offseason, but it’s hard to ignore their two juicy matchups to start the year: @HOU and @JAC. They are definitely worth drafting if you can’t get a better option, but don’t view them as an elite unit. Two road Divisional games may not be as easy as they look on paper. Indy also tied Dallas with the highest turnover differential in 2021, despite ranking 31st in pressure rate (18%).
5) Los Angeles Rams
The Rams take on the Buffalo Bills Week 1. While they should have a strong season as a fantasy defense, it’s not one to target in drafts given the difficult Week 1 matchup.
6) New England Patriots
The Patriots tend to be one of the more reliable units from season to season – top-12 DST since 2018 – and 2022 is no different. They open up against Miami and Pittsburgh, who will feature QBs that should scare no fantasy GM.
7) New Orleans Saints
The Saints still possess a top-tier defense, and therefore should not be overlooked with a cakewalk of easy matchups. Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Carolina round out New Orleans’ first 3 games. Two are against pushovers at QB, while Tampa is a matchup the Saints have dominated since TB12’s arrival. In four regular-season games versus Brady’s Buccaneers, the Saints have never scored fewer than 16 fantasy points.
8) Denver Broncos
The Broncos fit all the criteria you are looking for in a draft-able fantasy DST. They boast an elite real-life defense that features the likes of Randy Gregory, Bradley Chubb, and Pat Surtain II. Denver will pose problems for their two first opponents: Seattle and Houston.
9) Dallas Cowboys
Dallas owned the No. 1 turnover differential in the NFL in 2021, which is likely going to regress. 26 interceptions is just not repeatable. It’s hard to draft them confidently with that in mind, considering they also open the season versus Tampa Bay and the Bengals.
10) Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers obviously boast a ton of talent on the defensive side of the ball, but their two matchups to start the season against AFC West foes might make them tough to trust right out of the gates.
11) Green Bay Packers
12) Miami Dolphins
Miami’s defensive is legitimately one of the best-built units in the NFL. They are stacked nicely at all three levels and ranked third in pressures a season ago. They are in play as a fringe DST1 at home versus New England in Week 1, who routinely drop the ball every time they play in South Beach.
Others to Consider:
The Browns are strong across the board on defense and get dream matchups during the first month of the year. At Carolina, home versus the New York Jets, home versus the Steelers and at Atlanta should result in double-digit fantasy points from Myles Garrett and company. It’s by far the easiest schedule for any DST to open the season.
Week 1: Jets. Week 2: Dolphins. Health withstanding, expect the Ravens to regain top-5 form sooner rather than later. They are overdue for positive TO differential after finishing five-worst in that category from a season ago.
At home versus the turnover-prone Daniel Jones and New York Giants in Week 1.
FantasyPros Staff Consensus 2022 Redraft Fantasy Football Rankings
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