Welcome to the QB List Staff Playbook Series. Every week throughout both the summer and season, we will conduct a staff survey, asking multiple fantasy analysts to share their insights on some of fantasy football’s most pressing questions. Essentially, we’re sharing our “playbook” with you, revealing the hard choices and strategic moves we would make to stay ahead of the competition.
This week, the QB List Staff was asked which DST has the best chance to finish number one overall? Let’s open the playbook:
Paul Ghiglieri (@FantasyGhigs): Philadelphia Eagles
Reasoning: After injuries decimated the Eagles’ defense in 2018, the team would automatically be better in 2019 with nothing more than a return to health. Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Jalen Mills, Rodney McLeod, and Ronald Darby were lost for the year. Tim Jernigan missed 13 games while Haloti Ngata seemed to live on the injured list. Jordan Hicks missed time, while many others played hurt. Despite that, Philadelphia only allowed 21.8 points per game last season, making them a top 12 unit in that respect. The team was highly adept at preventing scores last year.
Losing pass rushers Michael Bennett, Chris Long, and Jordan Hicks to free agency will hurt, but the Eagles added Malik Jackson, Zach Brown, L.J. Fort and Vinny Curry to pair with 4th round defensive end, Shareef Miller. All of that should make the Eagles more physical up front and easily push the Eagles up from a top 12 unit to a top-5 unit.
"Definitely I have a chip on my shoulder."
— Josh Friedman (@JFriedman57) September 6, 2019
Lastly, what truly separates them from the rest is their schedule, which ranks as the fourth easiest in football this season. Add it all up, and the Eagles should find themselves leading the pack by season’s end.
Caio Miari (@caiomiari): Jacksonville Jaguars
Reasoning: I know that the Jaguars’ defense was just average last season, finishing 14th by the end of the year. But keep in mind that all the ingredients for a solid defensive unit are still there. The pass rush just landed first-round standout rookie Josh Allen. Not no mention that Jacksonville’s secondary, which already has perhaps the best cornerback duo in the NFL in Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye, will be able to count on a more experienced Ronnie Harrison, the third-round safety selected in 2018 who surpassed the expectations as a rookie.
Furthermore, Miles Jack is playing the best football of his career. We should also expect the Nick Foles-led offense to improve in 2019, which might help the defense as well. The Jaguars forced only 18 turnovers last season, compared to 38 two years ago, when they had the best defense in the league. The team’s 203 points in 2017 were even better than the Bears’ 191 last season, and the first time a defense surpassed 200 points since 2013.
Dan Adams (@dadams0323): Denver Broncos
Reasoning: Last season we saw Vic Fangio coach the Chicago defense to the top finish in fantasy scoring, largely on the strength of a pass-rush led by Khalil Mack. Now, Fangio gets to work with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, perhaps the best edge-rushing combination in the NFL. Fangio’s defense is renown for being the hardest to play against in the NFL.
— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 28, 2019
The best way for a defense to score fantasy points is to pressure the opposing quarterback, and the Broncos should be the best in the league at that. Add in the advantage their home field brings, and Denver should improve from their eighth-place finish last season.
Rich Holman (@nextdoorFFguru): Chicago Bears
Alright, I’ll take the “low-hanging fruit.” The Bears finished far and away the top DST in 2018, finishing 37 points ahead of the next closest DST and it’s easy to see how they did it. With Khalil Mack added to the picture, they seemingly pressured the quarterback on every dropback, which led to 50 sacks and an abundance of hurried throws, resulting in a league-high 27 interceptions. The switch from Vic Fangio to Chuck Pagano may actually lead to a more aggressive approach, resulting in even more pressure.
Chuck Pagano takes over a defense that ranked 3rd in the NFL last season. Reports out of Chicago’s training camp had him being a little more aggressive than Vic Fangio. https://t.co/TXRo911ACb
— Packers News (@PGPackersNews) September 3, 2019
I envision their offense taking a step forward this year, which can only help the defense, whether that’s through keeping the Bears DST fresh on the sidelines or by forcing opponents off their gameplan and putting them into catchup mode. Regardless of all this, I still do not advocate taking the Bears in round eight of 12 team leagues.
Colin Weatherwax (@CWeatherwax13): Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys defense outperformed everyone’s expectations last year by being a competent defense. Coming into this year, they are loaded on the front seven with returning stars like Jaylon Smith, Sean Lee, Demarcus Lawerence, and emerging stud, Leighton Vander Esch.
Their secondary consists of really good tacklers and they can cover enough that if the front seven doesn’t get to the QB, then there won’t be any wide open guys running over the field. Taking all this into consideration, I believe that the Cowboys have a great chance to end the year atop the rankings of defenses in fantasy football. They play against the Redskins and Giants twice which should be cake matchups. They also play against all of the AFC East this year which should make for really good matchups. All in all, I believe that the Cowboys should be a defense you are targeting late in your draft or off the waiver wire based on the talent they have on defense and the schedule that they play this year.
Marshal Hickman (@MHick93): Kansas City Chiefs
Reasoning: While they allowed the second-most yards and ninth-most points per game in 2018, the Chiefs DST finished 7th in total fantasy points scored in 2018. Surprising, right? Even more surprising is the fact that they lead the league with 57 sacks in 2018 because their offense forced teams to throw more often. If their offense continues to be the powerhouse as it was in 2018, opposing offenses will continue to be forced to be more aggressive in attempts to keep the score close. More aggressive play calls from opposing offenses equal more opportunity for turnovers which equals more fantasy points. Factor in the addition of Tyrann Mathieu and new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and there’s a real possibility that the Chiefs dethrone the Bears for the #1 spot.
— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) September 5, 2019
(Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire)