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Fantasy Football Defense Rankings for 2016

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Every fantasy champion knows that in order to win a league, your team has to be good in all facets of the game, including defense. Whether you like to take defenses early or if you are the streamer type, these rankings will have you covered throughout the season. Next to each ranking is a short description of on the strengths and weaknesses of each team, and what they did or didn't do in the offseason.

Rank Team Notes
1 Denver Broncos Got off to an incredibly fast start last year but ended up as the second highest scoring defense behind the Chiefs. They haven't lost too much in the offseason and their secondary and front seven are both arguably better than Seattle's.
2 Seattle Seahawks Losing Bruce Irvin and Brandon Mebane will hurt a bit, but this is still an elite defense. Without a Kam Chancellor holdout, they should be one of the best defenses out of the gate, especially with their strength of schedule within the first few weeks.
3 Arizona Cardinals Tied with Kansas City last season for most touchdowns by a defense with six, and you can expect them to be up there again with their talented secondary and heavy blitz play calling.
4 Houston Texans Their defensive line is among the best with J.J. Watt and Jadaveon Clowney, and they also have one of the better schedules for a defense.
5 Kansas City Chiefs An above-average front seven and secondary with playmakers in each area that should make them a defense you can count on from week-to-week.
6 Minnesota Vikings Up-and-coming defense who could be poised to take a big step forward in 2016.
7 New England Patriots Seeing if they can turn Chris Long's career around will be interesting to watch, but they won't have to rely on him to be a good defense either. They have one of the best linebacker duos Their secondary is also one of the best in league, probably right behind the likes of Denver, Seattle, and Arizona.
8 Los Angeles Rams A couple players in the secondary left for free agency, but they still have one of the top front sevens. They are probably safest to start against run-heavy offenses.
9 Oakland Raiders Having Bruce Irvan and Khalil Mack on the same team should give quarterbacks a migrane. Oakland should rack up enough sacks and interceptions to put them on the map as a top 10 fantasy defense.
10 Carolina Panthers Carolina has an incredible linebacking corps with their star Luke Kuechly leading the way, but the loss of Josh Norman really depletes their secondary. They have a chance to be the most disappointing defense for where they are being drafted.
11 Cincinnati Bengals Outside of Geno Atkins they don't have any stars, but they are an average defense that kept the majority of their secondary in tact despite the fact that most of their starters hit free agency.
12 New York Jets They had a healthy amount of interceptions, sacks, and a low opponents point total last season. A couple players have been lost in the offseason but they are still expected to be a top 12 defense.
13 Philadelphia Eagles They brought in some guys who better fit the coaches scheme, and they were a top 15 defense last year.
14 Baltimore Ravens A high risk/high reward defense with many guys returning from injury and Ladarius Webb moving to safety.
15 Green Bay Packers If everything works out, their secondary could be among the leagues best. Another positive is that Clay Matthews should be back to the edge where he gives the team more value.
16 Jacksonville Jaguars A young and intriguing defense that made some surprising moves in free agency. This is a unit that could finish inside the top 10 just as easily as they could finish outside the top 20.
17 Buffalo Bills Ronald Darby was a great rookie cornerback last season, giving the Bills one of the better secondaries tandems. Last year they were awful in terms of pass rushing, but they did spend a high draft pick to help them in that area.
18 New York Giants They were able to plug up plenty of holes on the defensive side of the ball in free agency, most importantly on the defensive line. We will have to first see if all the changes can gel together.
19 Detroit Lions This group faced key injuries in 2015, and if they can stay healthy in 2016, they may surprise some people.
20 Pittsburgh Steelers If James Harrison finally starts showing his age, this unit can be in big trouble. Former first round pick Bud Dupree has to step up his play before this defense can be moved up.
21 Miami Dolphins Injuries and an aging defensive line led them to be one of the most disappointing defenses in 2015. The changes they made in the offseason still won't make them startable.
22 Washington Redskins Josh Norman was a huge get for this team, but they will have to do more than that to make themselves fantasy relevant.
23 Chicago Bears The pass rush could be improved from last year, which could result in more sack totals, but the secondary didn't receive the attention it needed in the offseason.
24 San Diego Chargers A few under performers were let go in the offseason and they brought in some new faces to shake things up. Like many teams this low, there are a lot of question marks. If all goes right and they get contributions from rookie Joey Bosa and veteran free agent acquisitions, then San Diego should finally be able to take a step forward on this side of the ball.
25 Indianapolis Colts While both safety positions are a concern, good CB play should be able to somewhat mask their problems. However, losing linebacker Jerrell Freeman to free agency will be hard to replace with aging veterans and unproven players.
26 Tennessee Titans You used to be able to make a case for the Titans no matter how bad they were just because of the division they played in. That's not the case anymore, and outside of defensive end Jurrell Casey, there isn't much.
27 Dallas Cowboys Maybe at best they can be a streamer later on in the season when all their suspensions are up, but until then, they are untouchable.
28 Tampa Bay Buccaneers It will be impossible to trust them considering the division they play in and lack of playmakers.
29 Atlanta Falcons They are a young unit with so many unproven players outside of cornerback Desmund Trufant.
30 San Francisco 49ers A team in rebuilding mode after having lost several key players last offseason. The players as well as the defensive coordinator all have question marks on their resumes.
31 New Orleans Saints It will be hard for them to be as bad as they were last year, so they've got that going for them.
32 Cleveland Browns There is a lot of good happening in Cleveland sports outside of football, but we are still waiting for something good to happen for the Browns.