25 DEF/ST Statistics from 2020 (Fantasy Football)
Another season in the books and another year of writing about the other side of the ball. While a lot of fantasy writers scoff at DEF/ST and even call for their removal, I love writing and researching them. For the average fantasy player, DEF/ST makes up 10% of their starting lineup and is integral to their weekly success. Starting the right team can be the difference between a win and a loss and, if you put in the work, can make up for some deficiencies at other positions. After a season that seemed to feature a lot more offense than defense, here are 25 Stats about fantasy DEF/ST from 2020.
1. Of the 14 teams that made the NFL playoffs in 2020, nine of them finished the season with a top-12 fantasy DEF. Only Miami, Arizona, and New England finished as a top-12 DEF and missed the playoffs. Only CLE, SEA, and CHI made the playoffs while their DEF missed the fantasy top-12.
2. The Colts finished as the #1 DEF/ST in 2020 after missing the top-12 in 2019. Not to brag (yes, I’m bragging), but the Colts were one of the teams I earmarked in my Defenses with Favorable Opening Schedules article to start the season.
3. The Colts had a slow Week 1 against Jacksonville, scoring just four fantasy points and finishing as the DEF13 but they jumped into the overall top-3 after Week 2 and never fell back out of the overall top-3 during the season.
4. Indy’s 151 fantasy points were just one point better than the Pittsburgh Steelers but the fewest scored by the DEF1 in the last 19 seasons (Maybe longer, FantasyData stops at 2002)
5. The Patriots, last year’s #1 DEF, finished as the DEF12 in 2020 and scored 120 fewer fantasy points than they did a year ago.
6. Those 151 fantasy points scored by the Colts this year would have made them the DEF4 in 2019, and 73 points behind the 2019 Patriots.
7. Despite their top finish, the Colts did not lead the league in fewest points allowed, sacks, or takeaways. They did, however, record the most safeties and D/ST touchdowns. Unsurprisingly, scoring actual points also results in fantasy success for defenses!
8. Baltimore’s DEF basically did the opposite of what they did in 2019. After a weak start in 2019, the Ravens were the DEF1 over the final eight games. In 2020, they were the DEF1 by a decent margin after eight games, and on pace for 188 fantasy points. Instead, they scored just 47 total fantasy points in the last eight games. They were the DEF15 during that span and finished as the DEF4 on the season.
9. If you look at the Ravens’ last eight games from 2019 and the first eight from 2020, they scored 191 fantasy points. That is 40 more than the Colts scored this season but still 33 fewer than New England scored in 2019.
10. The Pittsburgh Steelers led the league (or were tied for the league lead) in QB sacks, QB hits, interceptions, and overall takeaways. They finished just one fantasy point behind the Colts despite scoring four fewer D/ST TDs.
11. Even with their team starting to fall apart at the end of the season, the Steelers still had a top-5 fantasy DEF over the last eight weeks. Pittsburgh was the only D/ST to finish in the top-5 for both halves of the season.
12. While they did not match their 2020 output, New England did have the best single games by a D/ST this season. They scored 29 fantasy points against the Chargers in Week 13, finishing with a shutout, three sacks, two takeaways, and two DEF/ST TDs.
13. The Patriots D/ST scored two more fantasy points in that Week 13 game than the Detroit Lions D/ST scored in all of 2020.
14. The Lions DEF finished the season with just 24 sacks, 12 takeaways, one safety, and one D/ST TD…plus a league-worst 501 actual points allowed.
15. The Lions “scored” zero or negative fantasy points in seven of their 16 games this season. They never scored more than seven fantasy points in any game and yet somehow finished as a weekly top-12 DEF three times this season. In fact, every DEF/ST in the league finished as a weekly top-12 at least three times this season.
16. The Colts finished eleven weeks in the top-12, most in the league, while PIT, GB, SEA, and LAR all tied for 2nd place with ten top-12 finishes. To no one’s surprise, all of these teams made the NFL playoffs.
17. The Raiders and the Vikings were the only DEF to not score a single TD this season. The Raiders didn’t even manage a safety, making them the only D/ST to score no actual points in 2020.
18. Xavien Howard of the Miami Dolphins led the NFL with ten INTs this season. Those INTs matched or were better than the total put up by ten entire teams this season. The Houston Texans’ defense had just three INTs this season.
19. Pittsburgh’s TJ Watt finished the season with 15 sacks. That number led the league in individual sacks and was just two fewer than the Cincinnati Bengals had as a team this season.
20. Troy Hill, a corner for the Rams, scored three TDs on defense this season. That’s more than any other individual player and more than 18 entire D/STs scored in 2020.
21. IDP scoring is wildly different in most leagues but, based on FantasyData’s basic scoring, the best single-game IDP performance in 2020 was held by Hassan Reddick in a game where he made just five tackles, All five of those tackles were QB sacks and three of them caused fumbles when the Reddick’s Cardinals played the Giants in Week 14.
22. The Giants’ offense allowed the 4th most fantasy points to D/ST this year. The Jets allowed the most. Just about any DEF was good to go against the New York teams in 2020.
23. No single player in 2020 gave up more fantasy points in 2020 than Carson Wentz. Wentz threw 15 INTs and fumbled the ball ten times in just 12 games played. To make matters worse, one of those INTs was taken back for a TD. Matt Stafford led the league in Pick-6’s, with three on the year.
24. All four of the teams that played in the conference championships (KC, TB, GB, BUF) finished in the bottom-10 in fantasy points allowed to DEF and all allowed fewer than four fantasy points to opposing D/ST on average.
25. Knowing what teams, and players, give up the most (or fewest) fantasy points to D/ST is a cornerstone of Streaming Defense. If you follow my weekly DEF article, you know that I give my Stream of the Week for those that use this philosophy. My Stream of the Week DEF is available in more than 50% of leagues after waivers have run and, in 2020, scored 157 fantasy points. That means if you started my DEF every week, you would have finished with the DEF1, six points better than the Colts.
After reading all of these, I’m sure you couldn’t care less about the offensive side of the ball anymore, but there are still plenty of fun stats for you to read up on for Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, and Tight Ends. (Those are all links, click them!)