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2019 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense

Because defense still matters to some in fantasy football

NFL: International Series-Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Chargers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If you are yet to experience the joy that is IDP (Individual Defensive Player) fantasy football, then drafting a defense is still be a big deal for you. The trouble is, recency bias dictates that the top defenses from the previous season will be the ones that get drafted highly, and sometime regardless of whether they were actually great in fantasy or not. Even the ones that were top fantasy performers last year, they rarely hit the heights again with only one number 1 ranked fantasy defense, finishing in the top 10 the following season (2015 Broncos were 3rd in 2016) in the last five years.

With that in mind, I’ve pulled together my top 20 fantasy defenses for 2019 as let’s face it, if you have to play in a league that has defenses in the roster makeup, you should only be drafting a maximum of one because you’re smart and you stream defenses week to week right?

UPDATE - In light of the news of Derwin James’ foot injury, the defense rankings have been updated to reflect the impact this will have on the Chargers’ defense in 2019.

Top 20 Fantasy Defenses 2019

Team Last Year 2019 Rank Notes
Team Last Year 2019 Rank Notes
Minnesota Vikings 7 1 Elite talent at all 3 levels, the Vikings' will surge to the top in 2019
Jacksonville Jaguars 14 2 2017's top defense will rebound in 2019, even without the services of Telvin Smith
Chicago Bears 1 3 2018's heights wont be repeated but the Bears will remain a defensive force this season
Houston Texans 3 4 Texans remain an elite fantasy defense. Jadeveon Clowney's holdout is one to watch however.
Baltimore Ravens 5 5 Changing of personnel up front but still one of the top secondaries in the NFL
New England Patriots 4 6 Personnel doesn't matter with the Genius in charge
Los Angeles Chargers 15 7 The Derwin James injury hurts the Chargers' flexibility but still a talented defense
Los Angeles Rams 2 8 Some drop off but Wade Phillips is one of the best to ever coach defense. Oh and Aaron Donald.
Denver Broncos 7 9 Vic Fangio taking over means the Broncos remain a legit fantasy defense option
New Orleans Saints 17 10 One of the NFL's top defenses becomes a top fantasy option in 2019
Miami Dolphins 12 11 Brian Flores comes fresh from a Super Bowl win to give the Dolphins a slight bump
Tennessee Titans 11 12 An underrated but consistent fantasy defense
Dallas Cowboys 22 13 One of the most talented defenses in the NFL starts to be a fantasy target
Detroit Lions 21 14 An upward trending defense that will continue to produce in deep leagues
Indianapolis Colts 12 15 2019 will see a regression from a Colts defense that overachieved last season
Kansas City Chiefs 6 16 A talent exodus sees the Chifes become little more than a streaming option in 2019
Atlanta Falcons 29 17 Key players returning from injury brings the Falcons back to league average
Philadelphia Eagles 24 18 Talent up front but still a questionable secondary holds back the Eagles as a fantasy must own
San Francisco 49ers 31 19 The 49ers continue to upgrade but are still a long way from being draftable
Pittsburgh Steelers 16 20 They may have found their Ryan Shazier replacement, but you always worry about the Steelers secondary

As an afterword, I thought I would just share my Bottom 5 defenses as well, as this may also be helpful when setting your line ups.

Bottom 5 Fantasy Football Defenses 2019

Team Last Year 2019 Rank
Team Last Year 2019 Rank
Carolina Panthers 26 28
Cincinnati Bengals 27 29
New York Giants 27 30
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30 31
Oakland Raiders 32 32