Five Defenses To Target Late In Your Fantasy Draft

by Michael Drahota | Posted on Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 | 0

Drafting a defense in fantasy football can be a tricky proposition. Most D/ST are much too unpredictable to command even a mid-round pick, yet in every draft, someone inevitably reaches for the top D from last year.

Sometimes it works out; more often than not, however, it does not given the mercurial nature of defensive scoring in fantasy. Sure, some teams are much more inclined to sack the quarterback or hold their opposition to fewer points than others, but the element of luck regarding turnovers (which are essentially the basis for a defense’s scoring in fantasy) makes using anything but a late round pick on a defense a foolhardy strategy.

In fact, a very strong argument is often made for not selecting a defense until the second-to-last round, right before you choose your kicker.

There are too many important positions that you should be looking for depth at. With that said, there are a bevy of potentially high-scoring defensive units that should be available after the top-rated (but not necessarily better) teams are off the board.

Here are five top defensive units that can be had for a bargain, allowing you to fortify your team where it truly matters:


Denver Broncos:

After allowing nearly 25 points per game in 2013, the Broncos aren’t exactly at the top of most fantasy players’ list heading into 2014. But a look below the surface suggests that the team’s lackluster results from last year were largely attributed to injuries, as pass rusher extraordinaire Von Miller was rarely on the field.

With Miller back in the fold and free agent signees DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib set to take the team to a new level, this is the defense that I’m predicting will make the biggest turnaround in 2014. If Denver is still around in the later rounds, snatch them up with a vengeance and don’t look back.


Cincinnati Bengals:

The Bengals had a solid defense last year, allowing only 19 points a game in the gritty NFC North. They’re also expecting star defensive tackle Geno Atkins to return from his season-ending knee injury, bolstering their unit significantly.

With Cincinnati looking to run the ball more after airing it out in 2013, that should translate into less time on the field for their defense, leaving them rested and ready to disrupt their opponents’ backfield.

The Bengals are also being overlooked by many in fantasy leagues, making them a hot commodity for those in the know. With five defensive touchdowns last year, expect a similar output from the Ohio squad this year. If Denver slips by you, don’t feel any shame in swooping the Bengals and playing them on a weekly basis.


Arizona Cardinals:

Although the Cards recently lost starting defensive Darnell Dockett to a torn ACL, they still boast one of the league’s best young secondaries in cornerback Patrick Peterson and returning safety Tyron Mathieu.

They notched 47 sacks and 20 interceptions last year in the tough NFC West, and should be poised for a similar output this year. They’ve been consistently rising up draft boards in the offseason, making them border on value and overpriced.

But if the opponents in your league allow Arizona to slip to the last three (or maybe even four) rounds of your draft, pick the Cardinals and lean on them for consistent defensive success in 2014.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Playing in the notoriously offensive-minded NFC South, the Buccaneers don’t enjoy the divisional match-ups that other units on this list do, but they are still poised for a breakout season in 2014.

True, they lost All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis to the New England Patriots, but they helped make up for the loss by signing Pro-Bowler Alterraun Verner. Their interior line, which feature Michael Johnson, Gerald McCoy, and Clemson rusher Da’Quan Bowers, is one of the best in football.

And the most important thing about the Buccaneers’ defense is that they’re completely under the radar. You’ll almost assuredly be able to get them in the second-to-last round of your draft, making the Florida-based squad an insane value.


New England Patriots:

The Patriots experienced a down year defensively last season with star tackle Vince Wilfork and veteran linebacker Jerod Mayo both on the sidelines with injuries. They’re back this year, and the Patriots also made a huge signing by wresting cornerback Darrelle Revis.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has long been regarded as a defensive mastermind, and his team should help him back up that reputation in 2014. Breakout pass rusher Chandler Jones should get to the opposing quarterback with relative efficiency this year, and Revis will effectively take away one side of their opponents’ passing game.

But the biggest advantage the Patriots have is playing in the soft AFC East, where they’ll consistently square off with inexperienced quarterbacks like Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins, E.J. Manuel of the Buffalo Bills, and Geno Smith of the New York Jets. Don’t hesitate to draft New England late and reap the rewards.

About the Author

Both an avid NFL fan and analyst, I’ve been following professional football since the late 1980s. I’m also an avid fantasy football player with several league victories under my belt. Check out my NFL articles on TSM for the latest NFL news, highlights, predictions, and more.

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