clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Defensive Rankings for Week 1

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Wait no more, the most exciting weekly fantasy football ranking list is finally here!  Okay, maybe not, but let's be real with each other for a second. You are reading this because you know that picking the right defense can be the difference maker in your matchup. But before you put all your trust in these rankings, let me issue a warning statement so I don't look completely untrustworthy when all these picks are wrong. Week one is probably the hardest week to rank defenses. So much has changed in the offseason in terms of player personnel and coaching, and we don't know how everything will play out.

Since these rankings come out Fridays, the teams participating in Thursday nights contest (Steelers and Patriots) will not be ranked. Also, you will notice with the defensive rankings for week one and beyond, I am a firm believer on starting an average defensive with a good matchup over a great defense with a poor matchup. That is just my philosophy, but you may feel differently. Alright, let's get into it.

Rank Team Opponent
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10 St. Louis Rams Seattle Seahawks
11
12
13 Jacksonville Jaguars Carolina Panthers
14 Kansas City Chiefs Houston Texans
15
16 Cleveland Browns New York Jets
17 Indianapolis Colts Buffalo Bills
18
19
20 Baltimore Ravens Denver Broncos
21 San Fransisco 49ers Minnesota Vikings
22 San Diego Chargers Detroit Lions
23 Tennessee Titans Tampa Bay Buccaneers
24 New Orleans Saints Arizona Cardinals
25 Washington Redskins Miami Dolphins
26 Oakland Raiders Cincinnati Bengals
27
28 New York Giants Dallas Cowboys
29 Chicago Bears Green Bay Packers
30 Atlanta Falcons Philidelphia Eagles

1) Seattle Seahawks: Kam Chancellor may not even play in this game, but I still like the matchup against the Rams. They will be facing Nick Foles in a new offense with subpar offensive weapons who will be outmatched by the Seahawks secondary, regardless if Chancellor plays or not. They are, in my opinion, the safest defensive option for week 1.

2) Carolina Panthers: Last season the Jaguars offense gave up the most points to fantasy defenses. With their big free agent acquisition Julius Thomas out for a month, other players like Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns will need to step up. But until the Jaguars prove they have an offense that can put up points, I'll continue to trust the defense they face.

3) Miami Dolphins: James Walker of ESPN believes this might be the best Dolphins defense we have seen in years. They have had a tremendous preseason, and their first week opponent is Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins. The Dolphins should dominate this game on both sides of the ball, likely forcing the Redskins to abandon the run, which could lead to interceptions.

4) New York Jets: Add a couple big name corner backs to one of the better run stuffing defenses in the league and you have me believing the hype. Especially in this week one matchup against the Browns, whose offensive weapons are amongst the worst in the league. Does the phrase "Josh McCown to Brian Hartline" really spark fear in anyone?

5) Cincinnati Bengals: Vontaze Burfict will start the season on the PUP list, but don't let that steer you away from this week one matchup against the Oakland Raiders. With Amari Cooper being the only offensive weapon in the passing game, the Bengals should look to take him out of the game completely and force Derek Carr to beat them another way.

6) Houston Texans: The Chiefs offense runs through Jamaal Charles, and the Texans have the personnel to disrupt the run game. Alex Smith is likely to not force the ball to any receivers, but that's one of the reasons why he was one of the most sacked quarterbacks in 2014. J.J. Watt and jadeveon Clowney should be able to get to Smith a couple times throughout the game.

7) Green Bay Packers: To me, the Packers are the sleeper defense of week 1. They go up against the Bears, who likely won't have a healthy Alshon Jeffrey ready for the season opener. I would expect the Packers to force the Bears to abandon the run game for the second half, which could lead to a couple interceptions for Jay Cutler.

8) Denver Broncos: Last season, Joe Flacco threw nine interceptions on the road compared to three at home. The Broncos also like to rush the quarterback, primarily with Von Miller who should get you a sack or two.

9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs in the number eight spot just goes to show how dicey and uncertain week 1 is for defenses. The Bucs are certainly not a defense you can trust, but going up against a rookie quarterback with a poor run game, they may be able to force some turnovers.  The pressure will be on Mariota to throw the ball, and I'm not sure if the nerves will be controlled in his NFL debut on the road.

10) St. Louis Rams: They struggled against the Seahawks last season, but with most of the guys on defense coming back, along with the additions of Nick Fairly and Akeem Ayers, they may be able to keep Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch in check.

11) Buffalo Bills: They were probably one of the first defenses drafted in your league, but it certainly wasn't because of their week 1 matchup. Going up against Andrew Luck and the new look Colts, they could be a dangerous week 1 start, but there also aren't many other sexy options out there to pick up.

12) Minnesota Vikings: Rounding out the top 12 for you 12-team leaguers is the unit who I believe will surprise some people. Despite being on the road, the Vikes have a good week one matchup against the 49ers. Until Carlos Hyde proves he can be the bell cow running back, and until Colin Kaepernick proves he can lead a team offensively, they are a matchup you should exploit. There are also some major problems on the offensive line for San Francisco.

13) Jacksonville Jaguars: I see your eyebrow raising, but lets be serious here; are the Carolina Panthers really going to run up the score? Both the Panthers and Jags are going to have a tough time moving the ball, making for a boring defensive game. The wide receiver listed as number one on the Panthers depth chart? Ted Ginn Jr. Ouch. If you are just looking for a defense to stay out of the negatives, all they have to do is keep the Panthers under 28 points, which shouldn't be too hard.

14) Kansas City Chiefs: DeAndre Hopkins won't be facing the Chiefs top cornerback, Sean Smith, since he is suspended through the first three games for after pleading guilty to DUI. They do have depth on the defensive side of the ball, which should help them against the Foster-less Texans.

15) Detroit Lions: Lets not forgot that a year ago, the Lions were one of the best defenses in the league. While they did lose Ndamukong Suh in the offseason, they did a good job finding a replacement DT in Haloti Ngata. Running the ball will be a problem for rookie Melvin Gordon, and Philip Rivers doesn't have the greatest options to throw to with ol' reliable Antonio Gates suspended through the first four games. I like the height advantage Malcolm Floyd represents at 6'5 with the tallest corner on the Lions at 6'1, but the 34-year-old Floyd has never really been the type to dominate based on height advantage.

16) Cleveland Browns: The Browns have what looks like a nice week 1 matchup against the Jets, yet they still scare me. I don't believe the Browns defensive line is good enough to stop the Jets run game, which could open things up in the passing game later on. Their secondary is nice, but they are a risky defense to start this week, and next week, and the week after that, and after that, and....you get my drift. The reason why I do rank them in the middle of the pack is because I don't think the Jets are capable of running up the score, and Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't the greatest ball protector.

17) Indianapolis Colts: With major question marks at the quarterback position, the Bills are a team the Colts defense can handle. Vontae Davis on Sammy Watkins will be an intriguing matchup, that likely favors Davis due to the quarterback issues. LeSean McCoy also has hamstring concerns and hasn't played since August 14th. Rex Ryan believes he will be ready for week one, but he likely won't be relied on heavily.

18) Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals defense has been a staple of the teams success the past couple seasons, but they lost Antonio Cromartie and defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles to the Jets. They added little talent in the offseason, so they have to prove that they are still a defensive juggernaut despite their losses.

19) Philadelphia Eagles: It is expected to be a high scoring game, but the Eagles defensive could end up surprising people. The Falcons don't have many offensive weapons outside Julio Jones, and their offensive line will do a poor job protecting Matt Ryan. The special teams of the Eagles was the main reason for them scoring the most fantasy points last season, so if they can't stop the Falcons offense, they may be able to help in that department. They are the best risk/reward play of the week.

20) Baltimore Ravens: They are a trustworthy defense on most weeks, but against Peyton Manning on the road the probably shouldn't be started.

21) San Fransisco 49ers: The 49ers had one of the worst offseason the sport has ever seen, losing multiple key players on the defensive side of the ball. They verse the Vikings in week one, who many expect to have a surprising offense this year, but we don't know just yet if that will be true. There are still question marks in the Vikings offense surrounding Adrian Peterson and Teddy Bridgewater.

22) San Diego Chargers: The Chargers do much up decently against the Lions. Detroit's main gameplay is to pass the ball and the bolts have Brandon Flowers at cornerback and Eric Weddle at safety to combat the aerial attack. However, they will need more than that to stop Megatron.

23) Tennessee Titans: I like the fact that they are going up against a rookie quarterback, but man, the height advantages all over the field is a little ridiculous. They are going to have to rush Jameis Winston into making some bad throws with new offseason acquisition, linebacker, Brian Orakpo.

24) New Orleans Saints: There are lots of problems with the Saints right now. Top cornerback Keenan Lewis is going to miss 4-6 weeks due to hip surgery. Safety Jarius Byrd will not participate in the opener. Defensive lineman Cameron Jordan is in trouble for slapping a woman's buttocks in a nightclub (not a joke). There is too much negativity going on with this Saints defense, and the Cardinals have an offense that you can't sleep on.

25) Washington Redskins: They made lots of changes in the offseason (as they should have), but there are still too many holes and question marks that make this defense too risky to start. The Dolphins offense isn't among the best in the league, but they are expected to take another step forward from last years success.

26) Oakland Raiders: Stopping Jeremy Hill will be a problem for the Raiders, despite Khalil Mack being a great run stopper. There aren't players to help contain Hill and even when they do, A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert,Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones, and Gio Bernard are all available in the passing game. The Bengals have a number of options to dissect the Raiders, and they will use them all.

27) Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys defense has the potential to surprise some people this season, but not in this week one matchup against Eli and the Giants. For his career, Manning has a QB rating of 91.8 against Dallas with 44 touchdowns in 21 games. Also, the defensive line will be without pass rusher Greg Hardy for the first four games and they will miss cornerback Orlando Scandrick for the entire season.

28) New York Giants: These games tend to be shootouts, and it is likely that Jason Pierre-Paul misses the season opener. On top of that, they have issues at the safety position as rookie SS Landon Collins is listed number one on the depth chart.

29) Chicago Bears: What I have come to realize in my short time doing these lists is that it's way easier to rank the bottom teams than it is to rank the middle of the pack teams, or heck, even the top teams. Aaron Rodgers is going to pick apart this Bears defense, I don't care if Jordy Nelson isn't there; I don't even care if Rodgers is throwing the ball to himself, don't start this defense! A bad game for Rodgers is an average game for most other quarterbacks, and even if he struggles, they can hand the ball off the Eddie Lacey all game who will also punish this defense. Look me in the eye and tell me that you are starting them. You can't! Well there are a couple reasons for that, the main of which being that we are not face-to-face, but still, you can't!

30) Atlanta Falcons: There are just too many holes in the Falcons defense for the Eagles to exploit. Chip Kelly has shown the ability to put up points, no matter who is at quarterback.