There are a few things you should always keep in mind when you start to look at 2013 Fantasy Defense rankings on any site. Scoring systems, more than any other position, affect the rankings of defense/special teams greatly.
As a matter of fact, some scoring systems don’t even use special teams in their scoring, or they use it separately from defensive squads. So a team that scores on a kick or a punt return regularly would definitely be ranked higher than a team with a poor return game. So keep that in mind when going through these 2013 Fantasy Defense rankings.
This set of rankings is for a combination of defense/special teams, so often, you’ll see the acronym “DST” referring to it. (I hate all that writing out stuff.)
Getting All Defensive
Most Fantasy Football leagues don’t score defenses the exact same anyway. Some leagues value sacks more. Some systems lean toward fumble recoveries and interceptions, and some concentrate more on points allowed or yardage allowed. It’s up to you to capitalize on which type of scoring your league uses.
One common trait they all have, however, is that they all show a lot of love to defensive touchdowns (and special teams for the most part).
The following teams were the only ones with over seven DST touchdowns in 2012:
- San Diego
That fact is interesting because the Titans didn’t finish close to the top of the rankings, like the other teams did. That’s because defensive touchdowns usually have a lot of luck involved. Even a mediocre defense/special teams unit can end up with a string of touchdowns.
What to Look For, Besides Good Luck
Fantasy owners should be looking toward teams with strong pass rushers, ball hawks in the secondary, solid return men, and the ability to shut offenses down frequently. By shutting teams down offensively, they keep their yardage/points allowed down, and they stay fresh to make big plays.
Let’s look at some of the big defensive changes this offseason:
Already one of the best Fantasy defenses, Seattle added CB Antoine Winfield and DE Cliff Avril. They’ll join the 49ers among the first DST picks in your league.
The Texans added SS Ed Reed, and now, with a healthy LB Brian Cushing, they hope to have a big bounce-back season. They have a star at each line of defense, which Reed should find familiar from his days in Baltimore.
The Ravens, meanwhile, lost Reed and LB Ray Lewis, yet they were able to swipe DE Elvis Dumervil from the Broncos, and they reloaded in the draft. This is a nice sleeper unit to remember.
Other Things to Remember About Fantasy Defenses
Last year was last year. I don’t want to put too much emphasis on what a DST did last season. The schedules are different. Their opponents have either gotten better or worse. Their own personnel have gotten better or worse. Rarely does a team stay the same. Plus, a team could have loaded up on Fantasy points in a handful of games, while giving up tons of points and yardage in the other 10 or so games.
Turnovers are a more of a display of defensive strength over defensive touchdowns.
Also, what does a defense’s division look like? Do they face a couple of rookie QBs under center twice a year, which makes for four games with high turnover possibilities?
The Best Defense is a Good Offense
According to Wikipedia, that adage applies to military strategy, as well as football. “Generally the idea is that offensive action preoccupies the opposition and ultimately its ability to directly harm.”
According to Gonosipedia, great offenses give the defense several advantages:
- A high-scoring offense can put another team in a hole quickly, forcing them to throw early and often to get back into the game. Defenses are then able to relax against the run, and wait for passes with an extra defender or two downfield.
- An offense that has to throw is also on its heels, with a quarterback dancing under pressure. This means pass rushers looking for a sack-and-strip are licking their chops.
- A high-scoring offense allows the defense to get long rests between each possession, and the opposing team’s offense feels like it needs to capitalize every time they get on the field. That leads to more turnover chances.
Now, let’s dig into those 2013 Fantasy Defense rankings!
2013 Fantasy Defense Rankings
These 2013 Fantasy Football rankings are for standard non-PPR leagues, scoring four points for a touchdown pass, starting 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 DST..
2013 Fantasy Football Draft Prep
|Rankings: Top 200 Overall | QB | RB | WR | TE | K | DST | Sleepers|
|PPR Rankings: Top 200 Overall | RB | WR | TE | Offensive Line Rankings|
|IDP Rankings: Top 195 Overall | DL | LB | DB | Auction Dos/Don'ts|
|Rookie Rankings: Top 30 Overall | QB | RB | WR | TE|
|3rd-Year Wide Receivers: History | 3 to Target | The Big 3 | Avoid|
|All-Reliable Team: QB | RB | WR | TE | All-Risk Team: QB | RB | WR | TE|
|Injured Players on the Mend: QB | RB | WR | TE|
|NFL Coaching Changes: Pt 1 and Pt 2 | Strength of Schedule: 9 Players|
We’ll be updating the 2013 Fantasy Defense rankings throughout the offseason, including the OTAs, training camps and preseason games.
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.