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2018 Defense Rankings: Jaguars Reign Supreme

Photo Credit: Snappy Gears

Last season, the Jacksonville Jaguars added Calais Campbell, Barry Church, A.J. Bouye, Marcell Dareus, and Malik Jackson. With those key signings alongside their already young, stud defensive stars they became the best defense in fantasy and look to be atop the 2018 Defense Rankings again.

They had 21 interceptions, 55 sacks, 17 forced fumbles, 12 fumble recoveries, seven touchdowns from interceptions and fumbles, and held opponents to under 17 points per game. With all that being said it is no surprise that the Jags are ranked as the #1 defense going into the season.

There are many defenses that can be streamed throughout the season based on favorable week to week match-ups, but if you are looking to get a defense that could possibly change your team then you’re gonna have to pay a little extra. Top defenses such as Minnesota, Los Angeles Rams, or Jacksonville will require you to draft them ahead of some very good players. According to Fantasy Pros, the Jaguars, who are the first defense taken, have an ADP (Average Draft Position) of 87.6, Los Angeles Rams have an ADP of 100.4, and Minnesota have an ADP of 111.6.

Below are rankings from five of our own So Called Fantasy Experts. They have spent countless hours compiling information in order to make these rankings. The rankings that I will be discussing are from David Gonos, Michael Tomlin, John LaPresto, Joshua Morgan, and Mark Strausberg. They ranked every defense from first, Jacksonville, to last, Indianapolis. They agreed on some, but disagreed on most. Let us take a closer look at these rankings.

SCFE’s Staff 2018 Fantasy Football 2018 Defense Rankings

 

2018 Defense Rankings First Tier: Jacksonville & Minnesota

It is surprising that David, Michael, John, Joshua, and Mark all agreed on the top two defenses. No surprise the Jaguars were selected to be the top defense this year. They had a record year last season with multiple 10 sack games. Jacksonville drafted Florida DT, Taven Bryan, in the first round of the 2018 draft, but lost Paul Posluszny due to retirement. I was shocked that they all agreed on the Minnesota Vikings as the second-best defense.

The Vikings improved so much on the offensive end that it’ll spill over to their defense. They weren’t the fancy defense that forced a lot of turnovers. Minnesota simply broke their opponents down by continuous physical play. In 2017, they held opponents to under 16 points per game, which was first in the league, and only four teams scored more than 20 points against them. With them holding teams to under 16 PPG it’s beneficial for Fantasy Football.

2018 Defense Rankings Second Tier: Philadelphia, L.A.R, Houston, L.A.C

No agreements in the second tier between our five So Called Fantasy Experts. The Eagles, Rams, and Texans each received a vote to be the third ranked defense. Unfortunately, the Chargers highest received ranking was fifth.

Philadelphia has a lot of new faces on their defense now. In addition to getting defensive linemen, Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata. The Philadelphia Eagles brought in Daryl Worley and Cory Nelson to solidify their cornerbacks. Jordan Hicks and Ronald Darby were gone for most of the 2017 season with devastating injuries so, the Eagles will be getting them back, too.

Personally, I’m shocked the Rams were ranked as a consensus forth ranked defense. With Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, and Ndamukong Suh now on the roster, they have to be even better, right? Talib and Peters are two of the best cornerbacks in the league and Suh is probably the best DT behind, now teammate, Aaron Donald. The Rams could easily compete with Jacksonville to be the best fantasy defense in 2018.

Houston will be welcoming back their best defensive players and a new face to their secondary. Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt will be returning to Houston to play alongside their new teammate Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu. Watt has been injured and put on IR the last two seasons. It is starting to become difficult to rely on Watt being healthy for an entire year. There is still a ton of upside and that is why this defense is a consensus fifth.

Rounding out the second tier is the most underrated team in all of the NFL, Los Angeles Chargers. With a quiet 43 sacks and 18 interceptions in 2017 the Chargers are in line for another good season. Derwin James slid to them in the draft and that upgrades their secondary. With Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram accounting for 23 of their 43 sacks they will continue to be a wrecking crew heading into 2018.

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2018 Defense Rankings Third Tier: Denver, Baltimore, New Orleans, New England

Morgan is the highest on Denver’s defense by rankings them at six. They took the best pass rusher in the draft, Bradley Chubb, and partnered him with the best pass rusher in the league, Von Miller. Right away those two become a top five pass rushing duo. Even with the loss of Aqib Talib the Broncos still have Chris Harris Jr. as their primary shutdown corner.

After finishing as the second best defense last year the Ravens come in at eight. They lead the league last season with 22 interceptions and Baltimore didn’t lose a single defensive starter heading into 2018. One downside to this defense is Jimmy Smith. He will have to serve a four-game suspension on top of recovering from an Achilles injury.

The Saints were either ranked ninth or tenth by all the guys. New Orleans is right in the middle of reliable defense and a week to week streaming defense. Just like Denver and Los Angeles Chargers, the Saints have two good defensive ends now with Cameron Jordan and newly drafted Marcus Davenport. Their secondary still has the Marshon Lattimore who was the DROY (Defensive Rookie of the Year) and a ton of other young talent.

Oh boy, Michael Tomlin pulls one of the biggest mysteries by ranking the New England Patriots defense as four, but they are a consensus tenth. This is a bigger mystery than Area 51. New England lost Matt Patricia and he was the mastermind of that defense. On top of that they lost Malcolm Butler who was arguably the Patriots’ best CB. There is still talent on that side of the ball, but they’re definitely not a top four defense. Sorry, Michael.

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2018 Defense Rankings Fourth Tier: Pittsburgh, Carolina, Seattle, Kansas City, Atlanta

Pittsburgh is an interesting choice to stream with because you could usually pick them up when they played the Browns. Going into the 2018 season, that isn’t going to be an easy choice. Browns revamped their offense and the Steelers might have a tougher time than usual. Carolina Panthers are the best defense in this group if you’re looking to draft a week to week starter, but these are the teams that you’ll have better luck streaming. The main reason Carolina is atop of the forth tier is because they have the best middle linebacker in all of the NFL, Luke Kuechly.

No team lost more this offseason on the defensive side of the ball then the Seahawks. Seattle lost Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor, and Cliff Avril. Everyone, but LaPresto still think they are a top 13 defense. Kansas City lost Tamba Hali and Marcus Peters. Not addressing the loss of Peters is very concerning, but Kansas City did sign former Cowboys LB, Anthony Hitchens. The secondary is a big question mark for the Chiefs going into the 2018 season.

Falcons received three out of five votes to be our 15th best defense. Having lost Dontari Poe and Adrian Clayborn hurts their defensive line, but those were the only big losses the Falcons suffered heading into the 2018 season. Last season, Atlanta finished as the 19th best defense, but the year before they were 13th. The Falcons can certainly be a top 15 defense going into the season.

2018 Defense Rankings Fifth Tier: Chicago, Green Bay, Arizona, New York, Tennessee

All five of these defenses most likely won’t be drafted, but rather picked up due to favorable match-ups.

Chicago surprisingly finished as a top 10 defense last season. Aaron Rodgers was gone for a majority of the season with a broken collarbone and now Kirk Cousins is under center for the Vikings. Chicago will have their hands full with their division rivals in 2018. Green Bay added some young corners in the 2018 draft, but the main flaw for the Packers is the lack of a pass rush. I know they added Muhammad Wilkerson, but he is more of a run stopper than a pass rusher.

Arizona, even without Tyrann Mathieu, could have a string of good games. Chandler Jones and Patrick Peterson will be holding down this defense. Chandler led the league in sacks with 17 last season. The Cardinals could be a sleeper defense in 2018. New York Giants have a very good LB corp now with the addition of Alec Ogletree. On top of getting Ogletree the Giants brought in Connor Barwin to play opposite Olivier Vernon. Janoris Jenkins and Landon Collins will be commanding that secondary. Just a couple seasons ago the Giants were a top 15 defense with a lot of the same players that are currently on the roster.

Last, but not least we have the Tennessee Titans. The biggest improvements from 2017 to 2018 for that defense is adding Malcolm Butler, Bennie Logan, and drafting edge rusher, Harold Landry. Last season, the Titans finished as the 15th best defense. There should be an asterisk for the AFC South for the 2017 season. Andrew Luck was gone for the year and Deshaun Watson tore his ACL halfway through the season. With those star quarterbacks returning, for hopefully a full season, the Titans will have a more difficult challenge for 2018.

 

Check out our partner FantasyPros Draft Wizard to help see how early or late you should grab some of these teams from our 2018 Defense Rankings!

 

Conlin Postma

Fantasy Football Writer at So Called Fantasy Experts
An aspiring Fantasy Football Analyst, a member of the #RavensFlock, and the biggest Tyrod Taylor fan you'll meet.
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