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Fantasy football 2016 rankings: Defense/special teams

Defenses can be unpredictable from year to year, but SB Nation’s experts take their best guesses at ranking 2016’s top D/ST units.

Fantasy football is an unpredictable game, and defense/special teams might be the most unpredictable position of them all. The unit you draft will probably not be the unit you keep at the end of the season. Heck, you might even be on your third or fourth defense by the time the fantasy season wraps up.

Due to the seemingly random nature of fantasy D/ST performances, you’re likely better off simply streaming through the season, picking and choosing defenses based on matchups. Even then it’s an inexact science at best. Unless you absolutely, positively need Seattle or Arizona’s defense, don’t waste an early draft pick on one. Shore up the depth at your other positions before you fill out your roster with defense and kickers.

That said, we can take a look at each team’s defensive roster and make an educated guess as to how it’ll perform. Denver rode its amazing defense to a Super Bowl title last year, but Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan will be tough to replace. The Cardinals’ defense should be great again, but Tyrann Mathieu is coming off his second torn ACL. How much will losing Josh Norman hurt the Panthers, and should the Jets start getting worried about Darrelle Revis’ decline?

Those are all questions worth considering when picking your defense, but in the heat of the draft moment, it probably won’t matter too much. Just go with your gut and stick with it for a few weeks, or at least until you find a better defensive matchup on the waiver wire. You probably won’t win a fantasy title with D/ST, but fielding a good one every week certainly won’t hurt your chances.

Rank Consensus DC AW SK MG DG
1 Denver Broncos 1 2 2 2 1
2 Seattle Seahawks 3 1 1 1 2
3 Arizona Cardinals 2 3 3 3 3
4 Carolina Panthers 4 4 4 4 5
5 Los Angeles Rams 5 5 7 7 6
6 Minnesota Vikings 6 8 10 5 8
7 Houston Texans 11 6 5 12 4
8 Kansas City Chiefs 8 7 6 10 9
9 Cincinnati Bengals 9 9 8 8 10
10 New England Patriots 10 10 9 9 7
11 New York Jets 7 11 11 6 11
12 Buffalo Bills 13 12 13 11 17
13 Pittsburgh Steelers 14 13 14 13 18
14 Oakland Raiders 12 14 15 15 16
15 Miami Dolphins 17 15 18 14 15
16 Jacksonville Jaguars 18 16 17 16 12
17 Green Bay Packers 15 17 12 18 19
18 New York Giants 20 19 22 17 13
19 Detroit Lions 19 18 21 19 20
20 Baltimore Ravens 23 20 19 22 14
21 Washington 16 21 20 20 21
22 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21 22 23 21 22
23 Philadelphia Eagles 22 23 16 25 25
24 Chicago Bears 25 24 24 23 24
25 Atlanta Falcons 24 26 26 26 23
26 Indianapolis Colts 26 25 25 24 26

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