The 2019 fantasy football season is upon us.
If you want to be atop your league at season’s end, you’ll need to be strong at every position, and yes, that even means defense and special teams. It’s not as glamorous as a star quarterback, but it’s vital for your team’s success.
Let’s take a look at the top defensive and special teams units for the 2019 fantasy football season:
1. Chicago Bears (Bye Week: 6)
The Bears are the consensus choice when it comes to this season’s top defense. They were the league’s best defense by a mile last year, and that should be the case once again in 2019. They return the majority of a defense that collected 50 sacks and a league-leading 27 interceptions. If you have the chance to do so, consider being your league’s trailblazer by taking Chicago earlier than expected.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (Bye Week: 10)
The Jags’ defensive numbers last season weren’t as great as expected, but their talent alone leads us to believe they’ll be solid once again in 2019. No. 7 overall pick Josh Allen helps an already-promising defensive line, while their young secondary remains a bit of a mystery.
3. Los Angeles Rams (Bye Week: 9)
With Aaron Donald leading the way, the Rams are set up for another successful season on the defensive side of the ball. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year anchors a strong defensive line that led Sean McVay’s group to the Super Bowl. Time will tell if they’ll participate in the final game of the year in 2019, but we do know Los Angeles’ will give opponents headaches once again.
4. Minnesota Vikings (Bye Week: 12)
The Vikings have had one of the league’s most consistent defenses for the last few years, and there’s no reason to believe that’ll change in 2019. Led by a strong veteran core, Minnesota remains a safe bet.
5. Los Angeles Chargers (Bye Week: 12)
Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram lead the Chargers’ impressive pass rush, which alone should intrigue fantasy owners everywhere. LA quietly has an above average secondary and linebacking core. With one of the deepest defensive units in the league, the Chargers need to be high on any and all lists.
6. Baltimore Ravens (Bye Week: 8)
Yes, the Ravens lost C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith, among others, but Baltimore always has a knack for pulling it together on defense. The Ravens still bring back a decent amount of the core that has finished top-five in fantasy points for two straight seasons. And let’s not forget the addition of Earl Thomas.
7. Houston Texans (Bye Week: 10)
As long as J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus stay healthy, the Texans’ defense should be stout. Tashaun Gipson and Bradley Roby will also help the back end of Bill O’Brien’s defense, although the Jadeveon Clowney contract situation is worth monitoring.
8. Denver Broncos (Bye Week: 10)
Von Miller and Bradley Chubb create nightmares for offensive lines across the league. Both edge rushers will provide your team with plenty of sack totals. It also helps Denver’s Week 1 matchup happens to be the Oakland Raiders.
9. New England Patriots (Bye Week: 10)
Bill Belichick will handle a solid amount of the play-calling this year, but we saw Jerod Mayo take those responsibilities in New England’s preseason opener. The Patriots defense looked strong in its first appearance as a unit. They generally exceed expectations on the defensive side of the ball, and with plenty of depth this year (up front and in the secondary), we expect them to do the same once again.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (Bye Week: 10)
Philadelphia’s defense should benefit from its schedule this year. Combine this with a solid core, and the Eagles become a fringe top-10 fantasy defense.
11. Buffalo Bills (Bye Week: 6)
The Bills love takeaways, and that should be the case again in 2019. Their young, high-energy group bodes well for fantasy numbers, as will facing the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets four times during the regular season.
12. New Orleans Saints (Bye Week: 9)
Drew Brees and the Saints’ offensive unit puts up absurd numbers, which often leads to their defense getting overlooked. They’ve been good over the last two seasons, and they should have plenty of takeaway opportunities in 2019. Opponents will be playing from behind against New Orleans, and that often leads to more turnovers. Sounds like a nice equation to us.
13. Cleveland Browns (Bye Week: 7)
The additions of Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson should give Cleveland a scary defensive line next to Myles Garrett. Second-round pick Greedy Williams brings speed to an already-fast secondary headlined by Denzel Ward. The talent certainly is there for the Browns.
14. Dallas Cowboys (Bye Week: 8)
Dallas quietly has had one of the league’s more productive defensive units over the last few seasons. After finishing top-10 in yards allowed for the second straight season, the Cowboys added the likes of Robert Quinn, who will pair nicely with DeMarcus Lawrence. Work in Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith with a year of experience under their belts and you’ve got a very solid group.
15. Atlanta Falcons (Bye Week: 9)
The Falcons battled the injury bug last season, losing both Keanu Neal and Deion Jones. Neal creates headaches for opponents’ passing games, but Atlanta’s defense will be pretty reliant on Vic Beasley. If he performs to his highest ability, this could easily be a top-10 unit.
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