Despite the admonitions of fantasy experts against taking a team defense early in drafts, there seems to be a trend this season of doing just that. The question is, are you going to be the twit that overpays for a team defense when a perfectly acceptable, if not better, alternative can be found 10 rounds later?
Last season the Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers, and New Orleans Saints defenses surprised most everyone, finishing in the Top 5 in scoring, after finishing 2008 in the bottom 3rd of the league. All three team defenses went largely undrafted in a majority of fantasy leagues last season.
Fantasy Warning: Do not be the dillweed drafting a team defense in the first 10 rounds. You can easily wait until the last 2-3 rounds of your draft in most 10-12 teams leagues to grab a defense. True story.
This season according to ADP, the New York Jets defense is the first off the board in most leagues, at pick 86. Seriously people? A team defense in the top 100 picks?
There are various reasons not to draft a Team Defense too early. 1) Simply put, you're going to over pay. Would you take a kicker before the last few rounds of a draft? No. So why take a Defense who will score the same points or less than a kicker? Last season the Saints were the top fantasy defense, and at least 4 kickers outscored them. 2) the NY Jets defense...
Jets ~ That's right, the first overvalued team on this list is the first defense being drafted this year. Yes, they have a stellar defense, but that doesn't equate to fantasy value. They may allow few points, but they make very few big plays. They finished 2009 ranked 17th among fantasy defenses, and scored less than Josh Scobee, the kicker for the Jags. Then there is always that Revis issue...
Patriots ~ Ah yes, the beloved Pats. They are the 15th team defense off the boards, but they finished 2009 as the 25th ranked defense. They are getting long in the tooth, and they are starting a lot of green players in 2010. They could surprise this year like the 49ers, Saints or Broncos did last year, but the risk isn't worth the price tag.
Bears ~ Da Bears have always been defense dynamos, and admittedly they had a rash of injuries in 2009...including Brian Urlacher. Still, most of their key players are past their prime...including Brian Urlacher. They are no longer a Top 10 fantasy defense, but their current ADP is 10. Love yer Bears, but find your defense elsewhere.
Cardinals ~ Last season the Cardinals were tied with the Titans as the 13th best fantasy defense. They ranked 6th in sacks and 7th in interceptions. This season they've upgraded their D. They also lost Kurt Warner, which means the defense will be on the field more often. They also play the league's easiest schedule, which should improve big play production. They could put up top 10 numbers for a bargain basement price.
Titans ~ Like the Cards above, the Titans were fairly fantasy friendly in the big play department in 2009. What hurt them was the points they surrendered (over 400). I expect that number to come back to earth in 2010. Tennessee is another team who could surprise with their fantasy D this season.
Texans ~ Houston finished 2009 tied for 11th in fantasy scoring, just ahead of the two teams above, but they're getting even less fantasy love this year with an ADP of 21. Admittedly, I like the big play ability of the Cards and Titans more, but for sheer value, the Texans are a defense to watch early on.