We tend to make defenses one of our last priorities when drafting. They don’t have a very high ceiling unless we have a rare multi-touchdown game from the defense and their floor is pretty low. We can’t always rely on defenses to be a starter every week because sometimes they will face a high octane offense and you can usually find a solid temporary replacement for the week on the free agent list. However; they are still important to our team so let’s just see who our studs, sleepers, and busts are.
When it comes to defense scoring points, our most consistent production will come from points allowed, turnovers forced, sacks so that is what we will put a lot of focus on.
Studs – These defenses should be consistent week in and week out. They should serve as a starting defense for your league in most weeks.
2018 Points Per Game Allowed: 17.7 (1st)
2018 Yards Per Game Allowed: 299.7 (3rd)
Khalil Mack led the Bears in one of the toughest defenses in the league last season. The Bears finished last season with 50.0 sacks (3rd), 27 interceptions (1st) and 19 forced fumbles (7th). On top of that they did manage to score one defensive touchdown on the season. While losing some of their coaching staff including defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, the Bears look to be one of the top defenses once again. During the off-season they have signed DB Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and DB Buster Skrine.
Los Angeles Chargers
2018 Points Per Game Allowed: 20.6 (8th)
2018 Yards Per Game Allowed: 333.7 (9th)
The Chargers finished last season with 38.0 sacks (19th), 13 interceptions (15th), and nine forced fumbles (28th). I expect the Chargers to take a huge step up to go along with the signing of LB Thomas Davis. Derwin James also has another off-season to improve after having an impressive rookie season and Joey Bosa has another season to get mature.
Sleepers – These defenses won’t be the first off the board allowing you to take an extra positional player or two before selecting a defense. However; they can still give some consistent production.
2018 Points Per Game Allowed: 21.8 (13th)
2018 Yards Per Game Allowed: 365.1 (22nd)
I mentioned earlier how the Bears lost some of their coaching staff. Well, that staff found their way to Denver where Fangio took the head coaching position. The Broncos bring back the duo of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb and re-signed Chris Harris Jr. for another year. They’ve also signed CB’s Kareem Jackson and Bryce Callahan. The Broncos finished 2018 with 44.0 sacks (8th), 17 interceptions (5th), and 13 forced fumbles (16th).
The Colts were supposed to struggle with a young defense last season but they exceeded expectations behind Defensive Rookie of the Year Darius Leonard. They also managed to sign a top defensive free agent in Justin Houston giving Leonard a little help at giving opposing QB’s fits. The Colts finished the 2018 season with 38.0 sacks (19th), 15 interceptions (9th), and 15 forced fumbles (10th). The Colts could have a sneaky good defensive season this year. They also have four games against the Jaguars and Titans making them one of my sleeper teams this year.
2018 Points Per Game Allowed: 21.5 (10th)
2018 Yards Per Game Allowed: 339.4 (11th)
Busts – In no way should you even think about rostering these defenses. They can either be straight up terrible and/or have a quick offense allowing for more total points in the game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2018 Points Per Game Allowed: 29.0 (31st)
2018 Yards Per Game Allowed: 383.4 (27th)
The Tampa Bay defense was atrocious last season after finishing with 38.0 sacks (19th), nine interceptions (26th), and 13 forced fumbles (16th). To go along with this they were ranked seventh in pace of play giving extra chances to the extra team. They also gave the ball away 35 times last season (26 interceptions and nine fumbles) leading for better field position by the other team. None of these factor into having a successful defense and it shouldn’t be much better next season unless Jameis Winston can do better keeping the ball away from the opposing team. The team also lost DT Gerald McCoy during the off-season. Don’t even think about drafting the Tampa Bay defense this season.
2018 Points Per Game Allowed: 29.2 (32nd)
2018 Yards Per Game Allowed: 381.4 (26th)
The Raiders struggled mightily last season after giving up their top defender in Khalil Mack. They finished the season with only 13.0 sacks (32nd). To compare, the team that finished 31st in the league had 30.0 sacks. They also struggled forcing turnovers after only coming away with 14 interceptions (14th) and five forced fumbles (32nd). They come into the 2019 season with the toughest strength of schedule. They will play against seven teams that made the playoffs last season. The Raiders attempted to start a rebuild on defense by using six of their nine draft picks on defensive players including the number four pick in Clelin Ferrell but I wouldn’t expect to see any progress just yet.