As we finish up another fantasy season, one I hope you walked away from with a #FootClanTitle, it’s a good time to reflect on 2018 and begin our prep for 2019. One overarching lesson that I hope you took away from this season is that YOU SHOULD NOT DRAFT A FANTASY DEFENSE in the first 13 rounds of your draft. 2018 proved time and time again that the highest drafted teams were continually outperformed by their undrafted counterparts and that your true focus on fantasy defense should be playing the weekly matchups. The Bears were the kings of fantasy DEF/ST this season but the real question is: how will that translate to their 2019 performance and should you target them in your draft next year? (Spoiler Alert: The answer is no!) Let’s dig into some of the stats I found most interesting for fantasy defenses in 2018.
1. Of the overall top 12 fantasy DEF/ST, 7 of those teams made the NFL playoffs.
2. 12 different teams finished as the weekly #1 DEF/ST this season.
3. Only Chicago and Baltimore held the top spot multiple times. Each finished at #1 three times.
4. Chicago was the #1 overall DEF with 187 fantasy points. That is tied for the 4th highest amount in the last 10 years but was 16 fewer points than Jacksonville had in 2017.
5. Chicago’s fantasy points would’ve made them the RB12, WR9, or TE2 this season in standard scoring.
6. The Bears led the league in DEF/ST touchdowns, interceptions, and fewest points allowed.
7. Eddie Jackson of the Bears led the league with 3 defensive TDs. That was more than 16 other teams had for the entire season.
8. In 2018, the Bears finished 10 weeks in the top 12, most in the league.
9. At the start of the season, Chicago’s ADP was as the #11 defense and they were being taken in the 14th round of fantasy drafts.
10. All of that said, Chicago only beat the #2 DEF by 2 fantasy points per game and the #7-12 defenses were only 4 ppg behind.
11. The Jaguars and the Rams were the highest drafted defenses this year. They were taken in the 8th and 9th rounds respectively. They finished as the #12 and #2 defenses overall.
12. If you started my Stream of the Week every week this year from my weekly DEF/ST article, you’d have played the equivalent of the #7 fantasy defense.
13. That means the Bears only beat my Stream of the Week by 4 ppg and the Rams only finished 2 ppg ahead of teams you didn’t have to waste a draft pick on. Stream. Your. Defense.
14. Let someone else in your league blow a high draft pick on Chicago hoping for a repeat next year…the Jacksonville Jaguars finished with 86 fewer fantasy points than they had in their stellar 2017 and were the overall #12 DEF/ST in 2018.
15. In fact, over the last 10 seasons, only one overall #1 fantasy defense went on to finish in the top 5 the following season, the 2015-16 Arizona Cardinals.
16. And no team has repeated as the #1 overall DEF/ST for at least the last 18 years.
17. The Buffalo Bills gave up the most points to fantasy defenses this season. They gave up an average of 11.4 points per game to opposing defenses.
18. If you could’ve started the team that played the Bills every week, you would have had the #2 fantasy defense.
19. The Bills gave up the highest score of the week three different times this season and also gave up top 10 points to opposing defenses ten times in 2018, second most in the league.
20. The Arizona Cardinals let 11 defenses finish in the weekly top 10 this season, most in the league.
21. 55 times this season, a fantasy defense scored 0 or negative points. Cincinnati managed this unimpressive feat 7 times.
22. Six teams scored at least one fantasy point in every game this season: Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Denver, and Arizona.
23. The highest one week output was 32 points by Denver in Week 7. They had 6 sacks, 5 takeaways, and 2 defensive TDs.
24. The last place DEF/ST, the Oakland Raiders, had 45 fantasy points in all of 2018.
25. The Raiders only had 13 sacks this season. Seven players, including NFL sack leader Aaron Donald (20.5), had more sacks than the entire Oakland team.