How to Draft a Defense
Kickers and defenses are the Rodney Dangerfields of fantasy football: they get no respect. Unlike the great comedian, however, kickers and defenses really don't deserve that much respect when it comes time to draft.
Even so, we have all been in a draft with someone who just doesn't quite grasp the concept, and they will take Neil Rackers or the Chicago defense with a fourth-round pick. That's not necessarily a bad thing, however. Not only are they putting way too much value on those positions, but they are pretty much donning a neon sign that says "Hey, take advantage of me with a lame trade offer late in the season!"
Before you become that sucker, er, person, read on.
Taking that top defense - or not
I have a story from a past season, one about the fallacy of thinking that a defense will carry you to fantasy football glory.
First of all, I am a longtime Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan. I was in Tampa Stadium - the old Big Sombrero - for the team's third game ever, in 1976 against Buffalo. When Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl a few years ago, I was ecstatic with each and every touchdown the Bucs scored, especially the defensive scores, which in my opinion put the stamp on Tampa Bay's claim to being one of the best defenses in NFL history. I made a vow to myself then that I would have the Bucs defense on my fantasy team last season.
When our draft rolled around, I wasted little time in making my selection. With a late second-round pick - keep in mind that with seven players on my team, this was similar to a ninth-round pick - I snapped up the Tampa Bay defense, thinking I had just scored a coup, getting the top defense in the league.
If you made the same mistake as I did that season, you know that the Bucs had a serviceable defense certainly, but not one that was worthy of such a high pick in the draft. Similar to the Baltimore defense following the Ravens' Super Bowl win, the team couldn't maintain its supremacy two seasons in a row.
What causes the decline in performance? Sometimes it's free agency and the defense losing a star or two. Sometimes it's injuries bringing down the next dynastic defense. And sometimes those big defensive lineman, ripped linebackers, and lean, quick defensive backs spend so much time on the party circuit and grazing at the all-you-can-eat buffet lines during the offseason following a Super Bowl win that they return the next year looking like John Candy and Chris Farley.
What does all of this rambling nonsense have to do with drafting defenses? Simply put, don't get sucked into taking one too early in your draft.
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