The top defenses in the NFL are heavily debated, and they are often very difficult to predict. For whatever reason, we will see some defenses jump up to the top spot or fall from 1 to 15 with very similar personnel moving forward.
When we talk about picking defenses for fantasy football, you want two things the most. You need a beneficial schedule, and ideally a team that will force passing attempts because those are much more likely to generate turnovers and defensive touchdowns.
This means that you want to think about is which teams have a good offense that will not allow other teams to waste the clock away. You also obviously want to avoid defenses that may struggle to get turnovers or lack the necessary talent to perform well.
5. Indianapolis Colts
I plan on being pretty full of hot takes here, and I think that it’s mainly due to the way this team will play. I expect the Colts offense to be very, very efficient and successful. What this will cause teams to do is throw the ball downfield to keep pace or catch up.
The other thing that they have continued to add is speed to really limit game-breaking plays. The Colts have good, young talent in the secondary and I expect them to start to make a case for an elite defense moving forward.
4. Cleveland Browns
The Browns are very similar to the Colts, but I give the Browns the edge here because they do play outside late in the season, which will generally make defenses better, and because they have more top-end players. Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward are key cornerstones of this growing defense, and I think their roles and elite talent will help anchor the Browns in tougher spots.
The Browns offense also projects to be a high-octane offense that should force their opponents into taking a lot of risks, which means a lot of upside on a weekly basis
3. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are yet another explosive offense that makes this list because of their ability to force turnovers. The Rams were dominant in a lot of games last season, and I don’t think they lost enough in the offseason to assume this changes this year. This team has elite players at all three levels, and they are very much capable of having elite performances in shootout-style games.
Everyone wants to pick the Ravens or the Vikings defense because they will play a slow and boring game that will rarely result in the opponent scoring over 24 points in a game. These plays are fine, but when I am picking a defense, I want one with elite upside often. Every week there are bad teams that don’t allow a ton of points, but there are only a few teams that consistently force turnovers and capitalize on them.
2. Los Angeles Chargers
I think that the Chargers have a pretty clear path to the No. 1 spot this season, but I am not ready to anoint them quite yet. The Chargers have elite young talent all over the defense in Joey Bosa, Desmond King, Derwin James, and more.
The Chargers defense provides a little more safety because they do really play time management and rush the ball a lot, similar to the Rams. However, they often lead while they are doing this, still causing the defense to rack up the desperation points.
1. Chicago Bears
The Bears now seem like the most talented defense in the NFL coming off of a great 2018 season. The Bears were already very strong, and the additions have only helped them secure multiple top 20 type players at every level.
My only concern with the Bears is that Vic Fangio is gone, and he was a very good and highly respected coach on the defensive side of the ball. The raw talent on this team should easily prevail, but I can see a strange world where we just overvalued the Bears’ defensive players because of Fangio’s system and not their actual ability in a standard defense.