HomeNFLFantasy Defense Rankings 2021: Sleepers and busts
Fantasy Defense Rankings 2021: Sleepers and busts
June 24, 2021
Regardless of a vocal minority, most fantasy soccer leagues in 2021 will function defenses of their beginning lineups, with some going additional to incorporate particular person defensive gamers (IDP). As draft season ticks nearer by the day, listed below are the 2021 protection rankings for fantasy soccer, together with some sleepers and busts.
1) Los Angeles Rams 2) Pittsburgh Steelers 3) Washington Soccer Workforce 4) Baltimore Ravens 5) Indianapolis Colts
The Rams have been the NFL’s high protection when it comes to fantasy factors allowed (57.5) and opponent’s yards per recreation (293). In different phrases, you shouldn’t see an enormous drop-off in Los Angeles with new defensive coordinator Raheem Morris.
Pittsburgh’s protection allowed the second-fewest fantasy factors per recreation (63.2) final season. Most significantly, the Steelers gained’t have to hold the offense in 2021 now that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is again below heart. Above all, Pittsburgh’s protection is underrated.
Washington allowed the third-fewest fantasy factors per recreation (63.6) in 2020. The staff’s defensive position has at all times been stout, with 4 former first-round draft picks on it. Washington’s secondary will probably be improved in 2021, which elevates the general ceiling of this unit.
Baltimore allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy factors per recreation (65.2) to opponents final season. The Ravens’ secondary is phenomenal, with opponents averaging solely 6.4 yards per try. In consequence, the most important defensive space of alternative for Baltimore is its cross rush.
The Colts have been a strong defensive staff final season. Indianapolis allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy factors per recreation (70) in 2020. The Colts added Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo within the NFL Draft, strengthening its cross rush.
6) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7) San Francisco 49ers 8) New Orleans Saints 9) Kansas Metropolis Chiefs 10) New England Patriots 11) Buffalo Payments
The Buccaneers didn’t end within the high 5 in opponent yards or factors per recreation, however Tampa Bay’s protection went Tremendous Saiyan late within the season en path to successful the Tremendous Bowl. The staff made it a precedence to maintain practically each key defensive contributor.
San Francisco’s protection was eviscerated by accidents final season. San Francisco nonetheless ranked within the high 5 of the fewest fantasy factors allowed. The 49ers’ protection getting wholesome heading into the 2021 season will increase the ceiling of this unit.
The Saints allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy factors per recreation to opponents. This unit misplaced a number of key contributors this offseason, together with cornerback Janoris Jenkins however managed to retain a few of their playmakers. New Orleans added edge rusher Payton Turner within the first spherical of the draft. Many anticipate New Orleans’ protection will see a big drop-off in 2021, however I disagree. That is nonetheless a top-10 unit.
Kansas Metropolis’s protection has been adequate to get them to consecutive Tremendous Bowl appearances. Kansas Metropolis retained a lot of its core defensive gamers and signed defensive deal with Jarran Reed in free company.
The Patriots led the NFL with eight gamers opting out final yr resulting from COVID-19, which included playmaker Dont’a Hightower. The Patriots additionally acquired cross rushers Matt Judon and Kyle Van Noy in free company to enhance their cross rush and signed defensive again Jalen Mills.
The Payments had one of many worst pass-rushing items within the NFL final season. Buffalo addressed this through the use of a first-rounder on edge rusher Gregory Rousseau and a second-rounder on Carlos Basham Jr.
12) Miami Dolphins 13) Cleveland Browns 14) Los Angeles Chargers 15) Inexperienced Bay Packers 16) Denver Broncos 17) Minnesota Vikings 18) Chicago Bears 19) Seattle Seahawks
Jan 3, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Payments quarterback Josh Allen (17) is pressured as he throws a cross by Miami Dolphins defensive finish Emmanuel Ogbah (91) within the first quarter at Payments Stadium. Obligatory Credit score: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports activities
The Dolphins have positioned themselves to have a extra dynamic cross rush below head coach Brian Flores. The result of cornerback Xavien Howard’s holdout might dramatically impression the outlook for Miami’s protection.
Cleveland’s protection is positioned to take a giant step ahead in 2021. In the meantime, the Chargers have sufficient playmakers on protection to complete as a top-10 unit in fantasy. Brandon Staley was the architect of a formidable Rams protection throughout his time there.
The Packers addressed one in every of its most urgent defensive wants by deciding on cornerback Eric Stokes No. 29 general. Inexperienced Bay profiles as extra of a middle-of-the-road protection.
The Broncos may have probably the greatest secondaries within the NFL. Denver chosen cornerback Patrick Surtain II No. 9 general and signed cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby throughout free company.
Minnesota’s protection allowed the eighth-most fantasy factors per recreation (84) this season. The secondary was atrocious in 2020, permitting 30 landing passes. Nonetheless, they added Patrick Peterson and Bashaud Breeland this offseason to deal with it.
Chicago’s protection is prone to battle in 2021. The Bears have a brand new defensive coordinator in Sean Desai and misplaced cornerback Kyle Fuller. The Bears will battle to decelerate opposing offenses.
The Seahawks struggled defensively early final season. Because the season progressed, this unit improved. Seattle did lose high cornerback Shaquill Griffin and signed Akhello Witherspoon to exchange him.
20) New York Giants 21) Philadelphia Eagles 22) Tennessee Titans 23) Arizona Cardinals 24) New York Jets 25) Carolina Panthers 26) Jacksonville Jaguars
The Giants made some savvy strikes in free company and within the draft to enhance its cross rush. This unit has the potential to exceed expectations in 2021.
The Eagles have lots of work to do on the defensive facet of the ball below new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. Certainly, Philadelphia has a number of gaps to fill, due to salary-cap points this offseason.
Tennessee’s protection allowed the sixth-most fantasy factors per recreation (85.3) in 2020. The Titans have been proactive in free company and the draft with their acquisitions. The Titans will probably be improved in 2021, however there are nonetheless defensive positions that may very well be enhanced.
The Cardinals made some acquisitions this offseason that positions them as severe contenders within the NFC West. Arizona’s cross rush will probably be formidable in 2021 with Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt. Arizona’s secondary is an space the place it will possibly enhance.
The Jets allowed the fifth-most fantasy factors per recreation (85.5) final season. New York prioritized the offensive facet of the ball this offseason. In consequence, the Jets’ protection is prone to battle in 2021.
The Panthers allowed the Fifteenth-most fantasy factors per recreation (77.3) final season. You may count on extra of the identical in 2021. The Panthers didn’t make any notable defensive additions in free company or the NFL Draft.
The Jaguars’ protection allowed the second-most fantasy factors per recreation. Solely Detroit allowed extra fantasy factors to opponents. Jacksonville did have an abundance of cap house to enhance the protection in free company and in addition had a number of defensive picks within the draft. I’d nonetheless mood your expectations of Jacksonville in 2021.
27) Dallas Cowboys 28) Atlanta Falcons 29) Houston Texans 30) Cincinnati Bengals 31) Detroit Lions 32) Las Vegas Raiders
Dallas’ protection was an abomination final season. The excellent news is that the Cowboys used free company and the draft to deal with it. The unhealthy information is that the Cowboys’ protection nonetheless has a methods to go.
Atlanta’s protection lacked a cross rush, and the secondary was insufficient. The Falcons didn’t do a superb job addressing the protection in free company or the draft. In consequence, Atlanta’s protection is prone to proceed to battle.
Former head coach Invoice O’Brien’s poor decision-making continues to hang-out the Texans franchise. Houston allowed the third-most fantasy factors per recreation (89.2) to opponents in 2020 and didn’t have any early draft picks this yr. The battle is prone to proceed in 2021.
The Bengals didn’t do a lot this offseason to enhance their protection. Cincinnati did choose two edge rushers within the draft, however there isn’t expertise on the defensive facet of the ball to make this group an above-average unit.
The Lions ranked close to the underside of the NFL in most defensive statistics and metrics. This can be a rebuilding protection led by a first-time coordinator in Aaron Glenn. The Lions additionally didn’t do a superb job addressing the protection this offseason.
Las Vegas’ protection allowed the seventh-most fantasy factors per recreation to opponents. The Raiders did aggressively deal with the protection in free company and the draft. I don’t see every part coming collectively on that facet on the ball in 2021.
Fantasy protection sleepers
Which fantasy defenses may very well be sleepers within the 2021 season?
Cleveland Browns defensive deal with Sheldon Richardson (98) sacks Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throughout the first half of an NFL soccer recreation at FirstEnergy Stadium, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Cleveland, Ohio. Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal
Cleveland’s protection is one in every of my favourite sleepers heading into the 2021 season. The Browns wanted assist at each defensive place this offseason; they signed one of many high safeties within the NFL in John Johnson III. Cleveland additionally acquired a strong nickel nook in Troy Hill. And it will get higher as a result of former second-round decide Grasping Williams is returning to the fold after lacking all of final season with an harm.
Moreover, the Browns landed cross rusher Jadeveon Clowney throughout the second wave of free company. Cleveland additionally had an important draft — cornerback Greg Newsome and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah ought to contribute instantly. Cleveland’s protection might end as a top-five fantasy protection in 2021.
The impression that Flores has had on the Dolphins is unassuming. Certainly, Miami, like Cleveland, might end as a top-five fantasy protection.
The Dolphins solely used two draft picks on the defensive facet of the ball. Jaelan Phillips slipped to Miami due to harm considerations, and the Dolphins chosen him at No. 18 general. You may by no means have too many cross rushers in at present’s NFL.
Miami chosen defensive again Jevon Holland at No. 36 general. He can play a number of positions, which is able to permit Holland to be creatively used in opposition to opposing offenses. When you like to attend effectively into the double-digit rounds earlier than deciding on a protection, look no additional than Dolphins.
With top-eight upside, which fantasy defenses might wind up being busts in 2021?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers’ protection is being touted as one of many high items coming into the 2021 season. Tampa Bay’s defensive exploits within the playoffs and Tremendous Bowl are actually immortalized. That wasn’t the case this time final yr. The Buccaneers’ protection allowed the Tenth-most fantasy factors per recreation throughout the 2019 season. The huge receiver place feasted on this secondary final season to the tune of 29 fantasy factors per recreation.
Tampa Bay’s protection had a chip on their shoulder throughout the 2020 season. In 2021 the Buccaneers’ protection should take care of each offense’s A+ recreation. It’s within the realm of chance that Tampa Bay’s protection underperforms throughout the common season.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints’ protection might see a big decline this season. Nonetheless, New Orleans’ entrance workplace had a foul behavior of pushing cash to future years, and the wage cap lastly bit again this yr.
The Saints minimize ties with Jenkins and defensive deal with Malcolm Brown. In addition they misplaced cross rusher Trey Hendrickson to the Bengals in free company. The shortage of veteran skills forces the Saints to lean closely on the 2021 rookie class. In consequence, New Orleans’ protection might fall like a home of playing cards.
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Eric is a Senior Fantasy Analyst for Professional Soccer Community and a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports activities Writers Affiliation). You may learn extra of his work right here and observe Eric on Twitter @EricNMoody.