Fantasy football defenses are like the youngest child of a large family: They’re often forgotten, but you’d be surprised at what they can accomplish.
The 2017 fantasy season kicks off this weekend, which means it’s time to set your first lineup. And whether you spent a probably-too-high draft pick on a defense or didn’t select one at all, it’s important to consider which defenses can put up the most points in Week 1.
The highest-projected defenses mostly are elite units, sure, but there are a few great streaming options that are there for the taking on the waiver wire.
Here are five defenses that you definitely should start in Week 1.
Houston Texans (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars)
The Texans were the No. 3-ranked defense on our preseason draft board, and they have a golden opportunity to prove their worth on opening weekend. The Jaguars enter this road matchup with a rookie running back (Leonard Fournette) and a beleaguered quarterback (Blake Bortles) who didn’t exactly inspire much confidence this preseason. Houston will be playing inspired as the city recovers from Hurricane Harvey and should rack up the fantasy points against Jacksonville’s dysfunctional offense.
Buffalo Bills (at New York Jets)
Speaking of dysfunctional offenses… The Jets will trot out 38-year-old journeyman quarterback Josh McCown for their season opener in Buffalo and have virtually no offensive weapons of note. That’s a recipe for success for the Bills’ defense, which lost some key players this offseason but still should be able to pressure the quarterback and create turnovers. Buffalo is owned in just 40 percent of Yahoo! leagues, too, so grab this unit while you can.
Pittsburgh Steelers (at Cleveland Browns)
Browns fans might tell you DeShone Kizer has potential, but a 21-year-old quarterback making his NFL debut against a potential playoff contender sounds like a recipe for turnovers. Even if Kizer doesn’t implode, the Browns’ offense is mediocre at best, so the Steelers are a very safe bet here.
Denver Broncos (vs. Los Angeles Chargers)
Yes, the Chargers have given the Broncos trouble in the past. But consider these two stats: Denver ranked seventh in the NFL last season with 27 takeaways, while the Chargers led the league in turnovers with 35. The Broncos are an elite defense worth starting in nearly all situations, especially at home. This is no different.
Los Angeles Rams (vs. Indianapolis Colts)
The Rams aren’t a great football team, but they have several playmakers on defense, especially if Aaron Donald ends his holdout before Sunday. The Colts will be led by the indomitable Scott Tolzien and an offensive line that can’t seem to keep its quarterbacks out of trouble. At 59 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues, Los Angeles’ defense is another solid waiver wire pickup.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images
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