Top 32 Fantasy Football Defenses for 2022

Erik Smith ranks his top 32 defenses for fantasy football drafts.

There are a few things to remember when picking your fantasy football defense. For one, we aren’t necessarily targeting the best real-life defenses. In most fantasy leagues, the scoring bonuses for points allowed are antiquated, they were based on lower-scoring games from past eras and for some reason, we haven’t adapted. If your fantasy defense registers a shutout and allows 0 points in a game, you get 10 points. Do you know how many shutouts there were last year? 8 total, and the Buffalo Bills were the only team with more than one. The best defense in the league at limiting their opponents on the scoreboard last year were those same Bills, who allowed on average 17 points per game. 17 points allowed in a week gives you four points in most fantasy leagues, a small impact on your final score.

Instead of targeting defenses that hold their opponents to low point totals, you should be targeting defenses that will rack up turnovers and sacks, which in turn can lead to defensive touchdowns if you are lucky. A sack is generally worth one point, a turnover is worth two points, and a touchdown is worth six on top of the turnover. This is what you should be chasing in fantasy football, and defenses that rack up points in this area aren’t necessarily the most formidable units in the league.

So this is the basis for streaming defenses throughout the season, picking teams that are heavy favorites, preferably at home, playing against poor quarterbacks. I’ll give you my season-long defensive rankings at the end, but that’s not what I draft my defenses off of. I know that I will stream defenses, so I am targeting good matchups early in the season for my draft-day defense. Then I’ll cut bait when the matchup is tough and move on to the next available defense with a good matchup. Here are the defenses that I am targeting in the last round of my draft:

*Note, since I am drafting my defense in the final round of every draft, the best defenses will no longer be available. I’m eliminating the top 5 ranked defenses from the table below.


Defenses With Good Early-Season Matchups


I’ll be drafting off of the list above. But for those of you interested in my season-long rankings, they are listed below. To be clear, I don’t draft off this list because I want to avoid tough matchups. Under no circumstances do I want to start a defense against Josh Allen, no matter how good that defense is.


2022 Defensive Rankings



Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)

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