Compared to other Fantasy Football positions, the 2016 Fantasy Defense Rankings have much less continuity than the other Fantasy positions.
Looking at the Fantasy quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends, you might spot a sleeper that creeped up 20 spots from last year’s rankings, like Blake Bortles or Gary Barnidge.
When you look at the Fantasy Football defense rankings from one year to the next, you notice some major differences, even though you might see a squad like the Seattle Seahawks or Arizona Cardinals stick in the top 10 year after year after year.
For the most part, though, a great Fantasy defense/special teams can make a top-five appearance one year and quickly find themselves in the bottom half of Fantasy DSTs the next year.
Unfortunately, that happens after that unit was drafted by 95-percent of Fantasy leagues.
Highs and Lows of the Past 4 Seasons
Looking back, we can find several examples in recent years that prove this out. Let’s look at the 2012-2015 Fantasy seasons for big, spiking Fantasy DSTs in value one year that crashed in another year.
The top defense in Fantasy points in 2012 (Bears), 2013 (Chiefs) and 2014 (Eagles) each scored 30 to 40 more Fantasy points than the second-best Fantasy DST. That’s about two Fantasy points per game more than the second-best DST!
But within a couple years (forward or backward) for each of those units, they also ranked near the bottom (Chiefs/Eagles in 2012), Bears/Chiefs in 2014 and the Bears again in 2015.
There really wasn’t one single dominant Fantasy defense last season, as the Broncos, Cardinals, Chiefs, Panthers and Seahawks all ranked among the best (probably in different orders depending on the scoring system). But each unit could easily find itself back on the bottom again in 2016 if a couple major injuries hit.
2016 Fantasy Defense Rankings
These rankings are based on standard non-PPR leagues, which doesn’t really matter here, but I thought I’d share!
Understanding just how volatile the DST position can be, drafting a defense late is probably as smart as taking a kicker late. Use our 2016 Fantasy Defense rankings to help you lock down a decent one among the remnant.
Photo Credit: Philip Robertson
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.