Another season in the books…and hopefully another #FootClanTitle for you! As has been the case for the four years I’ve been writing about DEF/ST for The Fantasy Footballers, one D/ST dominated and was just about all we talked about all season long. This year, it was the New England Patriots. New England was the #1 overall DEF for almost the entirety of 2019 and will be mentioned often in this article. Outside of the Patriots’ dominance, a lot of interesting things happened when it came to fantasy defense. Here are 25 of my favorites.
1. New England at #1, not much of a surprise considering the season we just went through. The Patriots DEF scored 224 fantasy points, which is tied for the 3rd most by a fantasy DEF since 2002.
2. In 2019, that would make them the: QB23, RB9, WR4, and TE1.
3. New England took over the overall top spot after Week 2 and did not surrender it for the rest of the season.
4. The Patriots also finished as the weekly #1 four times this season, two more than any other team. They finished in the top-5 eight times in 2019.
5. The Patriots finished the year with the most DEF/ST TDs (7), most INTs (25), and fewest points allowed (195).
6. Seven of the top-12 drafted D/ST failed to finish in the top-12 at the end of the season.
7. Six of the top-12 DEF at the end of 2019 had ADPs higher than 180 overall, meaning that they weren’t even drafted in most standard fantasy drafts.
8. The Patriots D/ST ADP was in the 13th Round as the 6th highest-drafted DEF this year. They were taken 6 rounds after the Chicago Bears D/ST.
9. After finishing as the #1 DEF in 2018, the Bears were the #1 drafted DEF in 2019. They scored just 105 fantasy points, 82 fewer than they did in 2018, and were the overall DEF17.
10. No #1 fantasy DEF has repeated the task in back-to-back years* and only four times has the previous years #1 finished the next year in the top-5. That essentially means there is a better than 75% chance that the Patriots DEF is a bust next year. Do not chase 2019’s points in your draft. (*Fantasy Data only available back to 2002)
11. New England started to falter towards the end of the year. They scored 169 (75%) of their fantasy points in the first eight games of the season. After Week 8, they were the DEF15 and only scored 55 (FIFTY-FIVE!) fantasy points in those eight games.
12. When New England stumbled, Baltimore picked up the slack. Baltimore was the #1 DEF over their last eight games, scoring 97 of their 150 fantasy points (64%) over the 2nd half of the season.
13. Baltimore’s Marcus Peters led the league with three defensive TDs. Peters scored more defensive TDs than 20 NFL teams.
14. In Weeks 6, 7, and 8, when the Patriots finished as the weekly #1 three consecutive times, they scored 71 total fantasy points.
15. In that same division, the Miami Dolphins were the worst DEF/ST this year, scoring just 53 total fantasy points for the entire season.
16. New England’s D/ST had their best game of the year (37 fantasy points) and worst game of the year (2 fantasy points) against Miami.
17. The Dolphins D/ST finished more weeks scoring zero or negative fantasy points than they did in double digits.
18. The Patriots were one of only nine teams to not score zero or negative in any fantasy game this year.
19. Atlanta’s DEF “led” the league in zero or negative games with six.
20. Tampa Bay pulled off an interesting feat this season. Their offense allowed the most fantasy points to fantasy defenses and still finished the year as the #6 offense in total scoring. Jameis gonna Jameis.
21. Jamies Winston threw more INTs (30) than any fantasy DEF/ST recorded this season. New England led the league with 25.
22. The Buccaneers D/ST overcame the bad spots that Jameis often put them in and finished as the #9 fantasy DEF, despite allowing the 7th most points scored in 2019.
23. Tampa Bay was the #2 fantasy DEF in the 2nd half of the season, they were the DEF23 after the first eight games. They scored 65% of their fantasy points in the last eight games.
24. Sometimes it all comes down to one big game. Twelve D/ST this season scored 25% of their total fantasy points in just one game: ARI, ATL, CAR, CHI, DEN, HOU, IND, MIA, NYG, OAK, PHI, and WAS.
25. This is why I always recommend streaming DEFs and playing matchups. If you started my Stream of the Week, from my weekly DEF/ST Strategy article, every week, you would have ended up with 128 fantasy points, equivalent to the DEF12…and 23 more points than the Bears.