By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
A team’s defense and special teams can surely alter an NFL game in the blink of an eye. If you don’t believe me, ask any of the Kansas City Chiefs’ opponents in 2016. With rookie 5th-round pick Tyreek Hill returning kicks and punts, he singlehandedly put fear in special teams units around the league.
He also helped the Chiefs unit lead Fantasy Football in D/STs scoring. Quite the special player that Hill is.
In a see-saw like season for D/STs units, the Chiefs were one of the few bright spots. But the Vikings D/STs were the talk of fantasy as they rushed out to a commanding lead and were once on pace to rival some of the great fantasy D/STs in history. They suddenly came back to earth and only had a few more of those spectacular games throughout the season, en route to a second place finish behind the aforementioned Chiefs.
Much like kickers, think about taking defenses later in drafts going forward. Every year, someone thinks they have all their skill position starters lined up and ready to go and instead of drafting valuable depth, they pull the trigger on a defense in the 7th, 8th or 9th round. We had two defenses go before round 10 in the Skrip Club – the Seahawks in round 8 and the Broncos in round 9. Interested to know how they faired? 11th and 3rd, respectively. Sure, the Broncos proved “worth it” by their standard, but need I remind you of some of the “diamonds in the rough” that were likely bypassed in favor of a Seahawks defense that scored only 164 points over 2016? Matt Ryan, Jay Ajayi, Spencer Ware and Kyle Rudolph come to mind.
You can often find your “great” defense on waivers when the waters start to clear after week 4. You should be like me and take fliers on backups who become your stud running backs and wide receivers, and wait on a defense like the Vikings (finished 2nd, selected in 15th round) and Eagles (finished 5th, selected in 16th round) instead of selecting the Texans (finished 21st, selected in the 13th round). But what you need to remember about drafting a fantasy defense is that just because a defense is great in the NFL, it doesn’t mean they’re a spectacular fantasy defense. The Jaguars ranked 5th in the NFL in yards allowed, but finished 28th as a fantasy defense. Crazy right? Remember these notes going into your 2017 Fantasy Football drafts.
Below are how the D/STs of 2016 finished. Scoring is from weeks 1-16 and scoring is in Club Fantasy format: