When Should I Draft a Defense in Fantasy Football? Strategy and Guide

Isaiah De Los Santos
Fantasy football defense strategy, including what round to draft a defense in 2022.
Fantasy football defense strategy, including what round to draft a defense in 2022. / (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
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Defense/special teams won't be one of managers' biggest focuses heading into 2022 fantasy football drafts, but that doesn't mean they're not worth considering beforehand. This year's D/ST crop has a clear top tier, so it could prove to be a major benefit if you get to roll out one of these squads throughout the season.

It's important to think rationally about addressing your defense/special teams. No one wants to reach too early and miss out on handcuffs or sleepers that have league-winning upside. With that in mind, The Duel is here to help with the best D/ST drafting strategy for fantasy football.

What Round Should I Draft a Defense in Fantasy Football

First and foremost: Don't worry about defense until the back half of the draft. Filling out your QB/RBs/WRs/TE spots, and depth for those positions is much more important than having the best fantasy defense. In a 12-team league, you likely won't see a D/ST go off the board until at the earliest the eighth or ninth round, and a majority won't be drafted until the last three rounds, just to give a general flow.

That being said, defense availability can be unpredictable. The clear top targets this year are the Buffalo Bills (average draft position of 195), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ADP 200) and Dallas Cowboys (ADP 202). These squads have week-winning potential if they boom, making them valuable pieces of a playoff-hopeful roster. If you're confident with your early picks, reaching for one of these units could be worth the cost to make sure one of your leaguemates doesn't steal your top choice.

Once one of the top defenses is taken, expect the other two to go quickly as well. Don't panic if you miss out on a run at the position, though. The Indianapolis Colts (ADP 214), New England Patriots (ADP 216) and New Orleans Saints (ADP 217) round out the upper echelon of D/ST plays that can turn a week in your favor. Targeting one of them in the last few rounds of the draft provides you the chance to stock up on better lottery-ticket-type pieces for your bench.

If you adopt the popular defense-kicker strategy to close your draft, there's still starter-quality units expected to be available. The Miami Dolphins (ADP 226), San Francisco 49ers (ADP 231) and Los Angeles Rams (ADP 236) all are capable of big outings, and they have the talent to be a starting unit at-minimum on a weekly basis.

For managers that forget to pick up a defense, there's some sleeper options that could be a pleasant surprise and outperform their current ADP.

Fantasy Football D/ST Strategy

So to summarize, here are some key things to remember about drafting a defense/ST in fantasy football:

  • In order to nab one of the top-tier D/ST, you'll likely need to reach to start the back half of your draft
  • There's plenty of starting-quality defenses to target in the last few rounds in order to focus on handcuff or sleeper RB/WRs
  • Make sure to have D/ST on your radar at least in the penultimate round in order to not settle for lesser or unproven options
  • Don't waste a bench spot on a backup

And if you're doing more prep for your draft, be sure to check out some of The Duel's other fantasy football resources too:


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Isaiah De Los Santos is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Isaiah De Los Santos also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username zayyy05328. 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.

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