2017 Defense/Special Teams Rankings

This week we continue our fantasy football rankings rundown with a look at the Defense/Special Teams units. Join Andy Germani, Tommy Landseadel, Joe Mica, Dan Marcus and Neil Schnurbach as they help you prepare for your rapidly approaching football drafts.

All of our rankings assume standard scoring:

  • 1 point for each sack
  • 2 points for fumble recovery and interceptions
  • 6 points for TD
  • 10 points for a shutout
  • 7 points for 1-6 points allowed
  • 4 points for 7-13 points allowed
  • 1 point for 14-20 points allowed
  • -1 point for 28-34 points allowed
  • -4 points for 35+ points allowed

Without further ado, let’s check out the ranks! N/R denotes a non ranking for that particular Team.

  Team Neil Dan Tommy Joe Andy
1 Broncos 1 5 1 6 1
2 Seahawks 3 6 4 2 2
3 Cardinals 5 2 5 1 7
4 Texans 4 13 2 3 3
T5 Vikings 11 1 6 5 4
T5 Chiefs 2 7 3 9 6
7 Panthers 6 4 11 10 8
8 Patriots 14 14 7 4 5
9 Giants 9 8 8 12 11
10 Jaguars 8 9 12 14 10
11 Eagles 12 11 10 8 17
T12 Ravens 15 16 9 7 16
T12 Rams 7 17 13 17 9
14 Chargers 18 3 14 19 20
15 Bengals 10 18 N/R 13 14
16 Steelers N/R 15 17 11 15
17 Buccaneers 19 12 15 15 N/R
18 Bills N/R 10 20 18 18
19 Falcons 13 N/R 16 N/R 13
20 Packers 20 N/R 18 N/R 12
Honorable Mentions: Dolphins, Raiders
One Hit Wonders: Cowboys, Titans

What is the earliest round you would
reach for a DST, and who would it be?

Andy: Typical response is second to last round. I stream defenses so that is usually the case for me. There are occasions where I might go a round or two earlier if not many have been taken and I have a lot of RB/WR targets still on the board knowing in the last two rounds very few can steal them because they will need to draft a defense and kicker.

Joe: I’m not a fan of picking a D/ST early. Even top defenses can cool off. The Vikings finished #1 in standard formats, but 8 other defenses were better during the last 8 games when it was most important. Plus, owners rarely carry two D/ST so you should have options during the season. If its late in the draft and D/ST are starting to come off the board, the Patriots are a safe option because their offense makes it easy for their defense to protect a lead.

Tommy: I am not opposed to selecting an elite DST, but reaching for it is a bad idea, especially this season. I don’t see much difference between any of the top-5. Taking one of those units in round 10 or 11 would be great value, but I am not going to be the first to draft a DST this year. The value comes in at the end of the elite tier.

Dan: The second to last-round is the earliest I’m willing to go assuming there isn’t a kicker being drafted. No preference on team, I’ll take the best available.

Neil: Honestly, I can’t see myself taking a defense before the last or next to last round. I would be happy to end up with the Rams on all of my teams this year, but I suppose if the Chiefs were available to me in the 11th round, maybe I would reach for them on account of the possibility of Tyreke Hill racking up a ton of return TDs.

Which Top-5 Defense from 2016
is most likely to regress this season?

Andy: The Chiefs because I don’t trust the touchdowns to continue. I still have them rated kind of high, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they dropped off.

Joe: The Chiefs get my regression vote with the second hardest schedule. Many of their defensive stats (which are not scored) are in the bottom half of the NFL. They scored a league-leading 8 D/ST touchdowns last season which will be tough to repeat with Tyreek Hill spending less time on special teams (where he scored 3 TD).

Tommy: The Vikings are the easy answer here, because they already did regress the second half of last season. They scored 56% of their total fantasy points in their first 6 games and had many mediocre outings in the last 10. They are a good defensive unit, but they are also game flow dependant and I am not sure how many second half leads the offense will be able to hand them.

Dan: Kansas City Chiefs. The team had very little pass rush last season, and even if Justin Houston stays healthy (a big if) they still won’t compare to the elite defenses. Counting on Tyreek Hill to add return points like last season isn’t something worth betting on to carry the defense.

Neil: On the basis of scoring 7 return touchdowns last year, the Vikings were the top DST in fantasy. However, a lot of the Vikings’ touchdowns were on account of Cordarelle Patterson’s prowess in returning punts and kickoffs. Patterson has taken his talents to the Raiders, and while Minnesota still has a solid defense, I think their fantasy scoring drops off dramatically.

Which late round DST is most likely
to be the breakout unit of the season?

Andy: The Jaguars seem to be the easy call, but I am going to go with them anyway. Over the past couple years they have been bolstering the defense. They also get six games within the division with decent matchups, even the best in the division (Andrew Luck) is turnover and injury prone.

Joe: Not to brag, but I did pick the Eagles here last season who finished 6 in standard formats. They’re still available late this season too. The Ravens are gaining some traction among experts, but their ADP is currently 15. The Steelers current ADP is 13, yet the experts rankings are 14. Each of these squads put up solid defensive numbers, which should translate well to fantasy.

Tommy: The Giants are most likely to be the next breakout DST unit. They have a front 7 that can generate pressure on the QB and a fantastic secondary. They are most likely to make the leap into the elite class this season.

Dan: The LA Chargers. They finished as a top-10 defense in six weeks from Week 5 on, which intersects with Joey Bosa’s debut with the team.

Neil: The Rams defense had a terrible year last year, but they still have plenty of talent on that side of the ball, led by the spectacular Aaron Donald. Moreover, while the Rams only had 1 return TD last year, Tavon Austin was still 2nd in the NFL in punt return yardage and was unlucky to not have any return TDs. I think Donald ups his sack total this year, Austin return one or two punts for TDs, and the Rams return to their rightful place as a top-10 defense/special teams.

2017 Fantasy Football Rankings
QuarterbackRunning BackWide ReceiverTight EndKicker Top 120


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