Our 2020 fantasy defense rankings don’t feature any earth-shattering surprises. The 49ers, Steelers, Patriots, Bears, Ravens — yeah, you were expecting those teams to be in the upper tier. Even the Bills, Vikings, and Broncos are no strangers to the top 12. But we know there will be D/ST sleepers and busts, so the real question isn’t who’s ranked where, it’s what your draft strategy should be for tackling this notoriously fickle position.
We usually suggest drafting a defense based on its matchups in the first couple weeks. That worked to the highest possible level last season with the Patriots, who had a predictable seven-week run of dominance after what looked like a tough opening matchup (it wasn’t). It’s unlikely you will find such an obvious and long-term candidate most seasons, but even if you can plan for just the first couple weeks and stream after that, you’ll be in good shape. This year, the Bills (vs. Jets, @ Dolphins), Titans (@ Broncos, vs. Jaguars), and Steelers (@ Giants, vs. Broncos) are the only teams with overly appealing Weeks 1 and 2, but the Jaguars (vs. Colts, @ Titans), Colts (@ Jaguars, vs. Vikings), and 49ers (vs. Cardinals, @ Jets) could also be facing some turnover-prone quarterbacks.
2020 STANDARD FANTASY RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | Kicker
As good as our top-five or even top-10 D/STs look on paper, matchups still rule everything at this position. A defense can get some big turnovers and maybe even a TD against a good offense, but you certainly won’t feel confident heading into that week and you’ll get burned more often than not.
You can’t count on D/ST TDs, and even turnovers are tough to predict from week-to-week and year-to-year, as luck plays a big role in takeaways, especially fumble recoveries. A strong pass rush is reliable, which is why seven of our top-12 defenses were in the top 10 in sacks last season (and nine were in the top 14). Carolina, Jacksonville, and Washington were the other three teams from last year in the top 10 in sacks, so consider them sleepers.
2020 FANTASY SLEEPERS
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end
But, again, no matter how good a pass rush is or how many takeaways a D/ST is piling up, you should always be ready to stream another defense with a statistically better matchup. Because of that, we don’t recommend taking a defense before the 10th round of your draft at the absolute earliest (and ideally later than that). The top D/STs in our rankings will likely go before that, but don’t get nervous and join the run.
We’ll continue to update our D/ST rankings throughout the preseason, so check back for the latest movement and individual analysis.
2020 Fantasy Defense Rankings
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