2016 Fantasy Football: Locking Down a Solid Defense

by Gage Padula
solid defense
solid defense

Credit: Fido

You've already locked down that guy you had to have. You got your quarterback and those other skill players. You've even got the sleepers that you identified as for sure break out guys. It's getting down to those last couple rounds but you still have spots in your starting line up to fill.

You're keeping your eye out on a steal for a kicker, someone who's going to be accurate and certainly not cost you a game by missing an extra point. Easier said than done in today's NFL. Now only if drafting a defense was that easy.

When drafting a defense, you can certainly just blow it off and pick based on what the analysts are saying or how your host site has them ranked from top to bottom. However, just like any other position you'd be drafting there is a strategy you can implement to ensure you're getting a solid value with your defensive pick.

Locking Down a Solid Defense

The National Football League typically isn't known for one person taking over the game or leading them to a championship. However, on the defensive side of the ball one player can make a huge impact. Troy Polamalu, pictured above, was a game changer on the defensive ball for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He could get you a turnover and take it back and change your fantasy game in an instance. While he was a factor in the Steel Curtain, the Steelers were a top 10 fantasy defense even during their down years.

There wasn't much to be excited for last year for the Houston Texans. They snuck into the playoffs and a lot of it was thank to their defense. JJ Watt was the biggest piece to this success. The most feared defensive player arguably of all time. He ranks first in sacks per game ahead of the great Reggie White. He's averaging nearly a sack a game over his career. His play inspires teammates and their play is raised due to JJ's effort on the field.

Strength Of Schedule

One of the things that I value you most when I am looking to select a defense in my redraft leagues is which team has the easiest path this NFL season. Our fantasy seasons only last until week 14 in most occasions so those are the only weeks I focus on. One team that consistently facing the weakest opponents in the league is the New England Patriots.

New England is going for the 7th straight division title. This is in large part to their excellence on the field and the lack of competition they are facing. The Patriots share a division with the Bills, Dolphins, and Jets. Those three teams are among the lower third of the league in winning percentage as the Patriots sit atop the league.

It's smart to get a good defense, but a weak schedule will always help as well!


The man calling the plays and making the schemes for the team is just important as the guys on the field. If you wanted to run a 3-4 defense and you have only rostered defensive tackles and middle linebackers, you're going to have a bad time and that's certainly a defense that you don't want to own.

The best example over the last three seasons from a defense you would even think about streaming in 2013 to a top 10 fantasy defense is the Minnesota Vikings. In 2014, Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was made head coach of the Minnesota Vikings.

Mike Zimmer inherited the 32nd rank defense in points allowed and immediately turned that defense into the 11th ranked defense in points allowed. A lot of his play calling on the defensive side of the ball and returning to a run based offense keeps your defense off the field, in today's NFL that's music to your ears.

Too often teams are getting into shoot outs, see New Orleans Saints vs. New York Giants Week 8 2015. When the teams are scoring quickly and often, it only means disaster for your defense. For one, they're scoring a lot of points. For second, your defense isn't getting off the field. You want a defense who spends as little time on the field as possible and with solid coaching, you can ensure it's a strong possibility.

Get To Drafting

When you're entering your redraft leagues this year, take these three things into consideration. If you can lock down a defense with a star player, a weak division, and the right guy making the calls, you're going to ensure success at the DST position in 2016!

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