"Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships."

Paul "Bear" Bryant’s quote is as infamous today as it is cliché. While the adage isn’t necessarily a conclusive one in the NFL, it’s a phrase that you’ll hear spouted by announcers, analysts, and coaches time and time again. However, there’s some truth to Bryant’s words; for most fantasy football leagues, particularly of the standard re-draft flavor, offense remains the primary draw. Defense and special teams are largely an afterthought - often times rightfully so. For instance, the difference between the top fantasy defense in 2016 (Kansas City Chiefs) and the seventh (New York Giants) is marginal in the grand scheme of things (23 points total in most scoring formats).

With that said, it’s understandable that many league managers wait until the double-digit rounds of their draft to select their defense. It may not be in your interest to reach on your defense early, but it’s important to note the value of reliability. The Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, and the aforementioned Chiefs have held onto a top-five position over the past two years for instance. If you are able to grab a dependable defense once your roster is fleshed out to your satisfaction, our rankings are here to help you with your (ideally) late-round pick.

Scott Kaliska Jeff Goldberg Derek Gordon Alex Welch Zachary Senvisky Jason Marcum
1 Denver Broncos Arizona Cardinals Arizona Cardinals Denver Broncos Seattle Seahawks Arizona Cardinals
2 Houston Texans Denver Broncos Denver Broncos Seattle Seahawks Houston Texans Denver Broncos
3 Seattle Seahawks Seattle Seahawks Houston Texans Houston Texans Denver Broncos Houston Texans
4 Kansas City Chiefs Houston Texans New York Giants Arizona Cardinals New England Patriots New York Giants
5 Minnesota Vikings Kansas City Chiefs Minnesota Vikings Kansas City Chiefs New York Giants Minnesota Vikings
6 Arizona Cardinals Minnesota Vikings New England Patriots Minnesota Vikings Minnesota Vikings New England Patriots
7 New England Patriots New England Patriots Seattle Seahawks New England Patriots Kansas City Chiefs Seattle Seahawks
8 Carolina Panthers New York Giants Jacksonville Jaguars New York Giants Baltimore Ravens Jacksonville Jaguars
9 New York Giants Carolina Panthers Carolina Panthers Los Angeles Rams Arizona Cardinals Carolina Panthers
10 Jacksonville Jaguars Baltimore Ravens Baltimore Ravens Jacksonville Jaguars Dallas Cowboys Baltimore Ravens
11 Los Angeles Rams Los Angeles Rams Los Angeles Rams Carolina Panthers Philadelphia Eagles Los Angeles Rams
12 Philadelphia Eagles Jacksonville Jaguars Los Angeles Chargers Baltimore Ravens Jacksonville Jaguars Los Angeles Chargers
13 Pittsburgh Steelers Pittsburgh Steelers Pittsburgh Steelers Philadelphia Eagles Carolina Panthers Kansas City Chiefs
14 Baltimore Ravens Philadelphia Eagles Kansas City Chiefs Pittsburgh Steelers Oakland Raiders Pittsburgh Steelers
15 Los Angeles Chargers Cincinnati Bengals Philadelphia Eagles Green Bay Packers Pittsburgh Steelers Philadelphia Eagles
D/ST Rankings