One of fantasy football’s most challenging positions to draft is a consistent playmaking defense that is not a weekly liability. With such random volatility at the position, defenses can make or break a week for fantasy managers. Finding the right defense to stream can boost your roster tremendously.
During the 2022 season, the New England Patriots D/ST finished as the No. 1 D/ST in fantasy with 11.4 fantasy points per game. The Patriots D/ST finished as the 50th highest-scoring fantasy asset ahead of the likes of Christian Kirk, Brandon Aiyuk, and Terry McLaurin.
While we suggest you stream defenses, especially as the season goes on and matchups get juicier, here is a list of defenses that can give you an early-season or full-season edge.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (ADP: 234 on YAHOO!)
Early schedule: vs Titans, at Panthers, at Packers, vs Buccaneers
The Saints’ defense ranked 31st in takeaways despite having a top-10 scoring defense last season. This team is due for positive regression in the takeaway department, and they might have the easiest four-game stretch to start the season.
The Saints open up its season with games against Ryan Tannehill and the Titans, rookie quarterback Bryce Young and the Panthers, Jordan Love and the Packers, and likely Baker Mayfield and the Buccaneers.
Led by Cam Jordan, four-time All-Pro linebacker Demario Davis, Tyrann Mathieu, and Marshon Lattimore, the Saints have one of the best defenses in the league when healthy. Make sure to draft and hold this team if its four-game stretch shows true defensive dominance, as their ongoing schedule looks like a cakewalk.
DENVER BRONCOS (ADP: 133 on YAHOO!)
Early schedule: vs Raiders, vs Commanders, at Dolphins, at Bears
The Denver Broncos seemed to be cursed last season. Their defense was one of the best in the league; however, their offense bogged them down so much that it was nearly impossible for its D/ST to produce consistently on a week-to-week basis. With Sean Payton behind the helm and a fresh and healthy defense, the Broncos looked poised to start the season on the right foot.
The Broncos open up its season with games against Jimmy Garoppolo and the Raiders, Sam Howell (likely) and the Commanders, Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins, and Justin Fields and the Bears.
The season’s first two games could be a defensive showcase for this Broncos team. Poor quarterback play with inconsistent protection is a recipe for success for a fantasy D/ST. The following two games figure to be more difficult. However, the Dolphins have been struggling in pass protection this offseason, and the Bears allowed the highest percentage of passes thrown under pressure last season. With a strong front seven and a suffocating secondary led by Patrick Surtain Jr. and Justin Simmons, the Broncos seem like a no-brainer to stream the first four weeks of the season before tough matchups against the Jets and Chiefs.
JACKSONVILE JAGUARS (ADP: 232 on YAHOO!)
Early schedule: at Colts, vs Chiefs, vs Texans, vs Falcons
The Jacksonville Jaguars returned to the playoffs last season after a four-year hiatus. Yet, the Jaguars’ defense wasn’t anything special last season and they didn’t make any major additions or lose players of note on that side of the ball. Still, they were a top-15 defense in nearly every category, have an improved offense, and play in the worst division in football.
The Jaguars open the season against rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson and the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts have had question marks all offseason about Jonathon Taylor and an offensive line that looked abysmal with Matt Ryan behind center last season. After a difficult matchup in Week 2 against the Chiefs, the Jaguars get rookie CJ Stroud and the Texans, followed by Desmond Ridder and the Falcons.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (ADP: 63 on YAHOO!)
Early schedule: at Steelers, at Rams, vs Giants, vs Cardinals
No, the 49ers aren’t a team that fantasy managers could stream. In fact, you’d have to pay a premium to draft them. But they may be worth it because they are one of the most complete teams in football and are playing in a division with the worst team in football, the Arizona Cardinals.
The 49ers had the number one scoring defense last year and were second in the league in takeaways while dealing with three different starting quarterbacks throughout its season. Coming into this year, it seems clear that the Niners have their guy in Brock Purdy, and the team is healthy and ready to make another run at the Super Bowl.
The Niners play the Steelers, Rams, Giants, and Cardinals in its first four weeks and have future matchups against the Buccaneers, Cardinals again, and the Commanders on fantasy championship Sunday. The Niners’ defense is no joke and will cause havoc on its inferior opponents. Go ahead if you feel comfortable taking them at their higher-than-usual ADP on Yahoo! If not, the Niners are also sitting in the mid-150s on almost all other platforms.
OTHER DEFENSES TO STREAM EARLY
- Buffalo Bills (ADP: 89 on YAHOO!) – Early matchups against the Raiders and Commanders
- Philadelphia Eagles (ADP: 80 on YAHOO!) – Early matchups against the Patriots and Buccaneers
- Dallas Cowboys (ADP: 75 on YAHOO!) – Early matchups against the Giants and Cardinals