In fantasy football, drafting a defense is a lot like drafting closers in fantasy baseball. You may think you're locking the position down by taking last year's top finisher early in your draft, but in reality, year-to-year volatility makes that a risky proposition.
Look at last year, for example. The consensus No. 1 defense heading into the 2018 fantasy season was the Jacksonville Jaguars. While Jacksonville wasn't terrible last season, they regressed to the point where reaching for them early likely didn't pay off.
Meanwhile, those who waited to draft the Chicago Bears ended up with fantasy's top defense in 2018, spending less draft capital in the process.
Given how much can change in a single season, overdrafting a defense is often a mistake.
Looking at this year's early average draft position (ADP) charts, the Bears are the consensus No. 1 defense coming off the board, going around pick 90. That equates to an eighth- or ninth-round pick, depending if you play in a 10- or 12-team league, respectively.
On the flip side, the Jaguars have a current ADP of 124. That's a pretty significant gap, considering how much volatility there is year to year for fantasy defenses. It certainly wouldn't be a shock if Jacksonville regained its status as the best defense in fantasy, yet the Jaguars are available far later than the Bears in most drafts.
Fantasy owners would seemingly be far better off using their mid-round picks to take a gamble on a talented skill-position player instead of picking a defense.
While defenses are a valuable part of any fantasy roster, the volatility from year to year makes it tough to properly evaluate the position. As a result, fantasy owners should arguably wait until some point toward the end of the draft in order to select a defense.
Streaming defenses is even a viable option as you can typically find a quality option on the waiver wire each and every week.
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