Tips for Drafting a Fantasy Football Defense

by Christopher T. Luft
Tips for Drafting a Fantasy Football Defense

The theory and logic behind a Defense/Special-team or “DST” drafting strategy are one of my favorites. That is why I'm going to share my tips for drafting a Fantasy Football Defense with you.

Similar to kickers, DST’s can have a large impact on your fantasy success from week to week. There are several things to keep in mind when looking to add them.

I have come up with a simple formula for the ABCD's of drafting DST's. Enjoy.

Tips for Drafting a Fantasy Football Defense

Prepare for your draft by using the Free Mock Draft Simulator

A - Attacking the Quarterback

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It is very difficult to predict interceptions, drops, fumbles or overall “mind-farts” in the world of football. One thing we can count on though is pressure on the quarterback. Pressure on the quarterback causes shorter plays, and therefore, smaller windows of opportunity.

Many quarterbacks do not work well under this kind of constant pressure, which cause errant throws, miscommunication or blunders. These can lead to loss of yardage, turnovers, or some other kind of defensive fantasy scoring bliss.

The sack or tackle for loss (TFL) is a good benchmark for this. Look at defenses with a good track record of sacking the quarterback often. Teams with frequent and effective blitz play calling are also a recipe for fantasy DST success. Diving a bit deeper into those statistics from year to year is very important and will help you set the foundation for a reliable fantasy defense.

B- Blocking the Run

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Nowadays, with the evolving role of the running back, there is a three-headed monster of sorts for defenses to deal with. As play calling gets more and more creative, running backs AND quarterbacks today run, catch, block and throw their way to fantasy stardom.

More than half the NFL (19 teams) had better than a 65% completion percentage in 2018.  That's really good.

As the game changes and quarterbacks are throwing the ball more and more, there is more opportunity for fantasy defensive scoring. It is crucial for team defenses to take away these options and force offensive coordinators to throw the ball downfield. This same logic goes for quarterbacks that have the ability to get out of the pocket and run down the field.  Taking this option away from teams will ensure defensive success.

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C- Competition Ahead

One facet of fantasy football that becomes increasingly important is the strength of schedule. Which teams allow the most sacks or tackles for loss? Is a team riddled with injuries on the offensive line? Or which teams just stink?

This brings me to the fantasy strategy of streaming DST week by week versus drafting a top-ranked defense a little bit earlier and riding them out for the majority of the season. As we all know, injuries, trades, coaching and player changes plus the sheer variability of football is what makes the game fun but also difficult to predict all season long.

Drafting a defense before the last couple rounds of the draft is a risky move. Because the DST slot is an all-encompassing fantasy position, it is slightly less affected by changes of players that make up the team. The competition, however, is something that changes from week to week.

While you might be playing against offensive juggernauts in three out of the four games to start the season, the last half of the season might be full of Swiss cheese offensive lines and terrible quarterbacks. There are those outlier wonders which resemble the “Steel Curtain” of old, but they are few and far between.

In my experience, I would say that waiting to draft a defense and focusing on the strength of schedule produces favorable outcomes. Trying to avoid playing teams that rack up the points on a weekly basis, no matter the opponent (the Saints, Packers, and Patriots of today) is the underlying thesis you will see on almost every fantasy article written about DST throughout fantasy football. Wait and stream… and thank me later.

D- Don’t Forget About Special Teams and League Scoring Settings

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I would not be doing my job if I did not first remind you to look at your league scoring settings. Some teams will not give points for kick returns for touchdowns or reduced points for fumbles. Knowing your scoring settings can help you formulate what you are looking for in a DST in both the long and short term.

This brings me to my second point, which is to not forget about special teams.

Fake field goals, fake punts, and kick returns for touchdowns all happen. On some teams, they happen more than others. Having a Devin Hester-type player that poses a significant return touchdown threat could tip you to choosing one DST over another with a similar match-up.

Keep in mind that some special team coordinators are more exciting than others and have no shame in calling a fake to change the tone of the game.

I hope this helped to keep your minds clear and focused when thinking about which defense to draft or to add. It is one of my favorites to think about and can mean the difference between the fantasy playoffs and an early exit off the highway to fantasy glory.

Visit the F6P Fantasy Football Draft Kit Page for more advice to prepare for the 2019 seasons.

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1 comment

Thursday, August 9, 2018 - Fantasy Football Links - August 9, 2018 - 12:06 pm

[…] provides some tips on how to choose a defense for your fantasy […]


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