While high-scoring offenses have taken the NFL by storm, that hasn't removed the impact a top defense can have on the game. In 2018, there were five defenses that held their opponents under 20.0 points per game (PPG), and three of them made the playoffs. In total, seven of the 10 best scoring defenses found themselves in the postseason.
6. Los Angeles Chargers
Getting a full season out of Joey Bosa should go a long way to boosting the Los Angeles Chargers defense in 2019. Between Bosa and Melvin Ingram, they have one of the most dangerous pass rushes in the game, and it was just two seasons ago that both Bosa and Ingram notched double-digit sack totals. That year, the Chargers' defense finished fifth in the NFL in fantasy production. The loss of Derwin James could change things, but the Chargers defense is so deep that they should still be a D/ST1 week in and week out.
5. Buffalo Bills
It can be hard for a defense to avoid giving up points if their offense isn't moving the ball, which might mask just how good the Buffalo Bills defense is. Giving up 23.4 PPG is nothing to write home about, but they were one of only three teams in the NFL to hold their opponents below 5.0 yards per play in 2018. They spent a top-10 pick on defensive tackle Ed Oliver, which could make their front seven even better. The offense will likely have a big effect on how well the Bills D does in fantasy this season, but the defense is more than capable of being a top-10 unit each week.
4. Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys defense didn't rank among the elite in 2018, but they were knocking on the door, allowing the sixth-fewest points and seventh-fewest yards per game. They have top players at every level on the defensive side of the ball. Edge rusher Demarcus Lawrence earned himself a big contract extension with a dominant 2018 season, Leighton Vander Esch had an outstanding rookie campaign and Byron Jones has developed into a terrific cornerback. The Cowboys haven't finished with a top-10 fantasy football defense in any of the last five seasons, but 2019 could be the year that changes. They also get four games total against the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, which could spell top-5 performances in each of those weeks.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
Like we saw in Buffalo, the Jacksonville Jaguars offense didn't do their D any favors last year. Still, the Jags held opponents to the fifth-fewest yards per play (5.1) and were one of only five teams to hold opponents under 20.0 points per game (19.8). ProFootballFocus (PFF) has both Calais Campbell and Jalen Ramsey ranked among the top 30 players in the NFL heading into 2019 and while they can't do much to fix the team's offensive woes, the addition of Nick Foles could take some pressure off of this elite defense. That could give a big boost to a unit that finished as the No. 1 fantasy defense in 2017.
2. Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens allowed the NFL's fewest yards (292.9), second-fewest points (17.9) and second-fewest first downs (17.9) per game in 2018, while also allowing the second-fewest yards per play (4.8). Losing Terrell Suggs, Za'Darius Smith and C.J. Mosley could definitely hurt, but they've also added Earl Thomas, who is PFF's top safety in the NFL heading into 2019. The unit finished fifth in the NFL in fantasy points in 2018, and they are one of the few groups strong enough to be worth locking in as every-week starters this coming season.
1. Chicago Bears
The unquestioned top fantasy football defense in 2018, no team came close to the Chicago Bears. Their 191 fantasy points blew out the next-best mark of 147, thanks in part to a league-leading 27 interceptions and a third-ranked tally of 50 sacks. They have a similarly strong outlook for 2019, led by Khalil Mack and a pair of first-team All-Pros in the secondary in Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller. With the Bears defense being nearly 50 points better than any other D/ST in fantasy, even if they take a step back, Chicago should still end the 2019 NFL season in the top spot.
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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.