The question every season for fantasy owners when it comes to Defense and Special Teams, is not so much WHO to select but WHEN. Our rule of thumb is to not pick your DST until the last 2-3 rounds of your draft. Yes, there are exceptions to every rule. For example the size of your league, the amount of DSTs allowed in that league, and the scoring system found in your settings. However, for the most part, the longer you can wait the better. We have listed our top five Defense and Special Teams which includes one sleeper for you to consider.
1. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS- No surprise here as the ‘Hawks allowed the fewest points and yards per game last year and should repeat in those categories this season even with the losses of two key defensive players in Clinton McDonald and Chris Clemons. They led the NFL in interceptions with 28 and have the noisiest stadium in the league. Although they are our first selection, the next team could very well be a number one choice as well.
2. SAN FRANCISCO 49ers- Patrick Willis and Justin Smith are the ‘bookends’ to the 49ers staunch defense which could end the year surpassing the Seahawks in total team defense like they did in 2012. Even though linebacker NaVorro Bowman’s injury will keep him sidelined for the first week or two of this season, there is still enough ammunition left on defense for the Niners to create havoc for their opponents.
3. CAROLINA PANTHERS- Very quietly, the Panthers have become one of the best kept secrets in total team defense in the NFL. They boast the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year in Linebacker Luke Kuechly and ended the season with 60 sacks, most in the league. The ‘Cats finished second in both points allowed and yards per game, right behind the league-leading Seattle Seahawks. This well-coached group just needs a better offense to be included in Super Bowl banter.
#59 Outside Linebacker and Defensive Player of the Year last season, Luke Kuechly, has been a major part of this elite defense and makes the Panthers a top three DST this year according to Fantasy Furnace. Photo: USATSI
4. ARIZONA CARDINALS- This team was just on the south side of eliteness finishing the season in 2013 at a respectable 10-6. Their defense ranked sixth in sacks with 47, 3 more than the Seahawks, while their top rated secondary garnered 20 interceptions. The Cardinals also tallied 5 defensive touchdowns , one more than Seattle.
5. DENVER BRONCOS- *Sleeper Pick* We like what the Broncos did in the off-season adding free-agents DeMarcus Ware from the Cowboys and Agib Talib from the Patriots to help shore up their underachieving defense. Through suspensions and injuries to players like pass rushing Pro Bowler Von Miller, the Broncos defense, if you’ll pardon the pun, really took a hit last season. However, with Denver’s acquisitions and a completely healthy Von Miller, this defense could even finish in the top five this season.
#58 Bronco’s Pro-Bowler pass rusher Von Miller sacks #1 Panther’s QB Cam Newton. Denver could finish the season ranked among the league’s top five in defense. Photo: zimbio.com