This week I'll be rolling out a few blogs to help you get ready for your fantasy football draft. The schedule will be as follows:
So here are my top 10 DST units for the 2020 season:
Sleeper: Dallas Cowboys – This team is in win-now mode and their signings on the defensive side of the football reflect that. Mike Nolan has a good track record as a Defensive Coordinator and the recent addition of DE Everson Griffin gives the Cowboys a legitimate dual threat off the EDGE with him and DeMarcus Lawrence. They also drafted Bradlee Anae who had an awesome Senior Bowl and took a flier on Aldon Smith who had his demons but was an elite rusher when his mind was right. The signed Dontari Poe to anchor the middle and have young DTs to pair with him in Trysten Hill and rookie Neville Gallimore. They’ve got some big time playmakers at Linebacker with Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. They’ll certainly miss CB Byron Jones in the secondary, but Chidobe Awuzie can play and they drafted Trayvon Diggs early in April and HaHa Clinton-Dix was added on the backend. No pen to paper yet, but they're also the favored landing spot for Safety Earl Thomas...
10) Denver Broncos - This unit had 40 sacks and was missing their second leading sacker, Bradley Chubb for 12 games. Chubb paired with Von Miller is a scary duo. The loss of CB Chris Harris Jr. hurts, but they brought Nickel CB Bryce Callahan who had success with Vic Fangio in Chicago. They also made some really nice trades acquiring CB A.J. Bouye via trade and DT Jurrell Casey in separate deals. They're two vets who can play and help the unit right away. Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson are two guys that fly around and make plays on the backend. The whole unit will be year 2 of Fangio's scheme and I'm looking for a big jump in productivity.
9) Minnesota Vikings – Yesterday’s trade for EDGE Yannick Ngakoue gives the Vikings a multiple proven playmakers at each level outside of Cornerback. Ngakoue will pair with Danielle Hunter to form a fierce rush, Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr are a top notch LB duo, and Harrison Smith and Ant Harris are a dynamite Safety tandem. They did however lose all three starting CBs, but refilled their pipeline and the three CBs they had starting (Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, & Mackensie Alexander) were all less than spectacular. Here’s betting on Mike Zimmer and the pass rush getting home before their green CBs get burned.
8) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Todd Bowles is an excellent Defensive Coordinator, but also a very aggressive one. They blitz the second-most in the league (39%) and under Bowles they jumped from 32nd to 5th in defensive efficiency in 2019. But there are two reasons I like this unit in 2020 from a fantasy perspective: 1) They were 32nd in the league in yards per points scored, meaning they gave up the fewest yards per points scored. This speaks to the turnovers, many of which were at the right hand of Jameis Winston as they were an NFL record seven picks-6s in addition to his other 23 interceptions, many of which led to short fields. 2) Tampa Bay was the top ranked run defense in 2019 and are bringing back all starters in the front seven. There is no reason to believe they can’t continue that success and with fewer expected turnovers from the QB position, they’ve got a chance to be great in 2020.
7) LA Chargers – Home to one of the league’s fiercest pass rush with EDGE rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, they can get home versus anybody. It’s hard not to believe this is the best group of Cornerbacks in the league with Casey Hayward Jr., Desmond King, and and the newly acquired Chris Harris Jr. Their Linebacking corps is also extremely underrated with Drue Tranquill, Denzel Perryman, Kyzir White, and 1st rounder Kenneth Murray. But a warning, if you take these guys, have a second defense ready as they have some heavy hitters in the early part of their schedule with games vs. KC, @TB, & @NO. But after week 5, they have the league's easiest schedule. Hopefully those guys can hold it down until All-Pro Safety Derwin James returns from a torn meniscus.
6) Buffalo Bills – This unit gave up a stingy 16.2 points/game in 2019 and added a few playmakers to replace the guys they lost in Free Agency. DT Jordan Phillips, EDGE Shaq Lawson, and CB Kevin Johnson are gone, but DT Vernon Butler, EDGE Mario Addison and Quinton Jefferson, and CB Josh Norman arrived. Norman is an interesting one as he was an elite CB previously under HC Sean McDermott in Carolina. This group might challenge the Vikings as having the best Safety duo in the league with Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde along with the best CB not named Stephon Gilmore in the league, Tre’Davious White.
5) Chicago Bears – In a ‘down year’ after losing Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio, the Bears jumped to giving up 18.6 points per game. They had 19 fewer turnovers in 2019 than 2018, but they’ll likely be more healthy in 2020 after both DT Akiem Hicks and LBs Roquan Smith and Danny Trevethan all missed time last season. EDGE rusher Robert Quinn was a nice signing and should be an upgrade over Leonard Floyd opposite Khalil Mack that can hopefully bring this DST back to elite levels.
4) New Orleans Saints – This is a team that figures to be ahead in several contests next season and has got playmakers on every level. It starts up front and this group got 50 sacks last year paced by EDGE Cam Jordan, who is one of the best in the league and coming off a career-best season. Opposite him, Marcus Davenport has turned into a nice rusher if he can stay healthy. LB Demario Davis is an All-Pro and they drafted LB Zack Baun out of Wisconsin who can bring some versatility to that room. In the secondary they’re loaded with CB Marshawn Lattimore and CB Janoris Jenkins and they’ve got three good Safeties with the return of S Malcolm Jenkins to go with S Marcus Williams and S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.
3) Baltimore Ravens – Yes, they lost Earl Thomas after a run-in with fellow Safety Chuck Clark amongst other things. But this is another team like the Saints that figures to be playing from ahead a lot which is where they want to be. They project to have the 8th easiest schedule in the league and beefed up the Defensive Line with DE Calais Campbell and DE Derek Wolfe. EDGE Matt Judon was franchised and 2nd year EDGE Jaylon Ferguson will be needed to step up. They got a lot younger and faster at LB with rookies Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison. At CB Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, and Jimmy Smith certainly give the Chargers a run for their money as the best Corner trio in the league. This unit scored six touchdowns in 2019, something that is breakable considering they’ve got TD machine Peters for a whole season now.
2) San Francisco 49ers – It’s hard to score when you don’t have the ball and the 49ers just dominate time of possession. When they are on Defense, they’re loaded with EDGE Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, DTs Arik Armstead and rookie Javon Kinlaw, LBs Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, and Kwon Alexander, and a secondary anchored by Richard Sherman K’Wuan Williams, and Emmanuel Moseley. This unit scored five touchdowns last year and there’s no reason to think they won’t continue to get better as a unit.
1) Pittsburgh Steelers – They led the league in pressure rate in 2019 and the defense carried a team led by Duck Hodges and Mason Rudolph on 8-8. Cam Heyward inside with Defensive Player of the Year candidate T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree rushing from the outside is a lethal group. Rookie LB Devin Bush came in and showed he was the real deal and Joe Haden and Steven Nelson are a solid Cornerback duo. But Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was the story averaging a turnover every other game. This unit has had three straight years of 50+ sacks and seem like a safe bet to make it a 4th in addition to rising turnovers and TDs.
I’ll have more fantasy rankings each morning this week to help get you ready for your draft! Stay tuned…