Heading into Week 1 of the fantasy football season, here are the top five must-start defenses.
Deciding who to start in the defensive slot can be a tough decision for fantasy football owners. Many factors play a role in choosing a defense. Not only is it important to find talent on your defense, but match ups could ultimately be the deciding factor in who to start.
Going into Week 1, some of the premier defenses in the NFL will face tough matchups. Seattle will face Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers while the New York Giants will go up against the young and explosive Dallas Cowboys offense.
When selecting your final defense to start this week, make sure to check out the latest injury and weather reports plus look at the kind of offenses they’ll be facing. Once you know the strengths and weaknesses of both, go with the best choice that should earn you the most fantasy football points.
This could leave you in a tough position going into Week 1, possibly needing to add another defense to your team. If your defense is facing an unfavorable match up, here are the top five ones you should consider starting this week.
Next: 5. Los Angeles Rams
5. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams defense won’t likely break out as one of the NFL’s premier defensive units. Last year, they finished 23rd overall in fantasy scoring. Although, choosing a starting defense ultimately comes down to the matchup.
The Rams will be facing a Colts team which has been “short on luck” thus far, as Scott Tolzien will be starting at quarterback for Indy. Tolzien at quarterback, an aging Frank Gore at running back and Phillip Dorsett now in New England, all adds up to a formula for fantasy points for the Rams defense in Week 1.
The Rams defense is available in 72 percent of ESPN leagues, making them a great addition if your defense has a tough matchup. This Colts offense is a mess without Andrew Luck, making any opposing defense a good start until Luck returns.
Be sure to keep an eye on your defensive matchups over the next few weeks, as any defense facing the Colts could be a good start. For now, consider starting the Rams defense.
Next: 4. Denver Broncos
4. Denver Broncos
The Broncos defensive unit will rank among the best in the NFL this year, featuring a dominant pass-rusher in Von Miller. Ranked as the No. 2 fantasy defense in 2016, expect the Broncos defense to continue their reign of terror on opposing offenses.
The Broncos will face a tough Chargers offense loaded with talent, though they’ve never seemed to fully click. Talented players like Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, and Keenan Allen present some risk to starting the Broncos defense.
Keep in mind, however, the Broncos defense, who finished second in fantasy points last year, is generally a safe start. If you have the Broncos defense on your roster, consider them a “must-start” every week.
They have an aggressive pass rush and Pro Bowl-caliber defenders ready to carry this team all season long. To make up for their inconsistencies on offense, expect their defense to be even better this time around.
Next: 3. Carolina Panthers
3. Carolina Panthers
Also, the Panthers, despite a poor record, managed to end the year as the third ranked fantasy scoring defense. The Panthers will be going against a San Francisco offense that looked anemic during the entirety of last year.
This year, Brian Hoyer will take the helm for San Francisco and the only weapon they’ve added is Pierre Garcon, who isn’t really a true WR1. We can expect more of the same from the 49ers in 2017, making the Panthers defense a great start for Week 1.
Remember, the Panthers have much to prove than 2015 wasn’t a fluke of a season. Expect to see this defense light up the scene, much to the rejoice of fantasy owners everywhere.
Next: 2. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
Once upon a time, the Steelers claim to fame was a dominant defense featuring guys like Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor and James Harrison, with Big Ben and the offense taking the back seat. Now, the Steelers are considered to have what could be the most explosive offense in the league.
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Although, we should not under-estimate the Steelers defense in 2017. The Steelers have done a great job in drafting defensive players over the past few years, selecting players such as Sean Davis, Ryan Shazier, TJ Watt and Artie Burns. Now, this Steelers defense is ready to re-establish themselves as a dominant unit in this league.
This Sunday’s matchup will play in the favor of the Pittsburgh defense, available in 44 percent of ESPN leagues. Last year, the Browns were the worst team in the league. While they’ve made vast improvements in the offseason, they’ll have a far ways to go before they’re any good.
DeShone Kizer looks promising, but he is still a rookie quarterback, thus making the Steelers defense a must-start for Week 1. Kizer won’t know what hit him at end of his game against a tough Steelers defense.
Next: 1. Houston Texans
1. Houston Texans
Last year, the Texans defense ranked No. 5 in fantasy scoring. Now, with the return of defensive end J.J. Watt, the Texans defense is primed to potentially be the top fantasy defense in the league this year.
Between Jadeveon Clowney and Watt, opposing quarterbacks will have little-to-no time in the pocket. The Jaguars present the Texans defense with a great matchup. Blake Bortles and the Jaguars offense took a step back last year, and he was even benched for Chad Henne in the preseason.
The Jaguars offense has some talent, with guys like Leonard Fournette and Allen Robinson, although until Bortles shows some improvement (or is shown the door) the Jaguars offense will continue to struggle. The dynamic talent on the Texans defense along with the matchup against Jacksonville makes the Houston defense the defensive start of the week for Week 1.
Expect to see them shut down the Jaguars offense beyond belief and have a field day against an offense that’s still searching for an identity. The Texans defense will be too much to handle in their season opener.