That is the question.
An interesting situation arises during drafts that can never quite be narrowed down. The question is debated every year and virtually everyone has a different opinion on it. When do I draft a defense? Do I be the guy that picks one first? Do I wait until the last couple rounds? Do I just grab one when a run starts?
I personally tend to buck the trend and it normally works out quite well in my opinion. Regardless of Dynasty or Redraft formats most fantasy teams are played with a “D’ST” position. I enjoy being the 1st guy to draft a defense. I do it because I want the best. After I have gone through and got my starting lineup and perhaps my top backups I start to target a defense. Others may continue their search for value and I can understand that, I just prefer consistency. Whether you’re a start up dynasty, an older league, or just Re-drafting, common sense says you try and grab as many young guys as possible. The place I get stuck at is that very “value” you’re looking for. How do you define it? Is it by a player that may or may not be a breakout candidate? How about by how many points they average? Or perhaps you base your decisions solely by their average draft position?
All those are good reasons to draft someone. I still lean toward consistency. When it comes to starters I want points, week in and week out I want consistent points on the board. At the core, Fantasy football is a math equation. Whoever on average scores the most points wins the most games. Sure grabbing player x who can “blow up” is a good/ risky pick and play, but can you trust him week in and week out. No, you can’t. You never know which week he will be “on”. One week could be 2 points the next week 20. It is tough to survive a season on feast or famine.
Going after a top defense though, that is a stat that stays rather reliable. In virtually every league I played in this last fall the champion of the league had Seattle as their defense. Doing some digging I found that most who made the championship last season, had Seattle last season as welll. That’s not coincidence. I play in many leagues so I went back and reviewed them; the Seahawks averaged 12.5 to 19.5 points per game depending on scoring and bonuses. We unconditionally praise any WR or RB that comes even close to those numbers, so why no love for a Defense? As a whole we drop, trade, waive all season long in hopes of finding that type of consistency in our skill players. Grabbing a known top defense like Seattle gets you 15 solid weeks of points. They are nearly matchup proof. No worries, no IR, no last minute scratches. Its can even be your best scorer depending on bonus perks if league counts return yards? It’s a win win!
From a redraft standpoint I think round 10 is the place to pounce. Most Leagues have similar setups of QB,RB,RB,WR,WR,WR,Flex. By the 10th rd you have grabbed all your skill position starters and just filling in backups anyway. Take your next pick with the year’s top proven defense and enjoy the stress free life of only adjusting your Defense one time on their bye week. You’ll still have plenty of rounds to grab boom or bust / potential breakout stars as the draft progresses.
I know dynasty players will look at this and say no one ever keeps a Defense. I again question you as to why not? We hope year in and year out for production to equal its last. I again go back to consistency; Seattle has done this 3 years in a row now. I realize the average life of a fantasy starter can vary but if we get a solid 5 years of production from someone it has been a good run. Seattle’s Defense is young and proven to be legit. I will take my 10+ points I get week in and week out from them all day long.
There are obviously only a limited number of true top defenses. I am in no way recommending holding on to just any defense. Just the most consistent. I like Seattle and the 49ers to keep their dominance. Arizona, Carolina and Kansas City have potential to get to that status but for now stick with what is a known commodity. New rookies will come and go every season, and others will light up the world one season only to fall off the board completely. Anyone remember Samkon Gado and how good he was….. for one season…? How about that one guy or that other one that was so good for a year? How about the great Tim Tebow? Players come and go but a good defense is usually set for a chunk of years at a time.
Finally if you aren’t blessed to get a top defense your best bet is to just wait as most others recommend. Enjoy the roulette wheel of matchups. Wait until the final 2 rounds. Since you prefer to swap all other players in and out of your lineup based on matchups you may as well just do the same with your defense.
I however will comfortably sit back and know I’m getting points week in and week out.