Picking a fantasy football defense is usually something owners wait on until the last few rounds just about the time that kickers start to get drafted as well. There are a few elite fantasy defenses that will go much earlier but because the point differential between the top options and the middle-of-the-pack D’s isn’t as great as at other spots, most owners wait until late.
One reason many owners feel comfortable waiting is that it’s very rarely the right decision to carry two defenses. Most owners would rather have that roster spot for a player with more upside or a handcuff for their top players than fill it up with a defense that could be replaced relatively easily from the waiver wire.
Defenses value fluctuate wildly week to week based on their opponent and many owners decide to try a streaming strategy switching defenses each week to play against weaker offenses who are prone to turnovers. Looking too far ahead at the schedule can be problematic since it’s hard to predict who will be good and what offenses will struggle, but a short term view can help you grab the right defense for the first few weeks of the season.
I’ve decided to include the first four weeks in this cheat sheet since as you can see week 4 looks like a major shakeup week with four of the top five team defenses going on a bye. A good defense will probably be dropped in your league at that point, so expect to reset at that point.
Knowing the strength of schedule early can be a key to getting your defense pick correct even in the late rounds, so here is my D/ST cheat sheet headed into week 4 of the preseason with the first four weeks of matchups included:
|Rank||D/ST||Wk 1||Wk 2||Wk 3||Wk 4|
|3||St. Louis Rams||Min||@TB||Dal||BYE|
|4||San Francisco 49ers||@Dal||Chi||@Ari||Phi|
|6||New England Patriots||@Mia||@Min||Oak||@KC|
|9||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Car||StL||@Atl||@Pit|
|10||Kansas City Chiefs||Ten||@Den||@Mia||NE|
|14||New Orleans Saints||@Atl||@Cle||Min||@Dal|
|18||Green Bay Packers||@Sea||NYJ||@Det||@Chi|