Defenses Should Not Win Fantasy Football Championships

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With another fantasy football regular season in the books and the playoffs starting tonight, it’s time for me to share my biggest takeaway from the 2017 campaign.  The time has come for the Defense/Special Teams position in fantasy football to be completely reevaluated and be massively overhauled or eliminated completely.

The NFL is constantly evolving. The NFL is not afraid to make changes that make the game more exciting, fairer and (hopefully) safer. In just the last few years extra points have been moved out to the 15-yard line, overtime has been made (slightly) more equitable, and kickoffs and touchbacks have been moved around. It’s time for fantasy football to show that same ingenuity.

The top scoring defensive unit in fantasy football last week was Miami. In a standard Yahoo! league, the Miami defense posted 28 points and was the fourth-highest scorer of the week. The same Miami defense that is 15th in real football against the pass, 21st against the run and 24th in points allowed.

Among the top 20 scorers in fantasy football last week, 7 were quarterbacks, 6 were running backs, 3 were wide receivers, 1 was a tight end and 3 were defenses. I know the Dolphins were playing against the rudderless Denver Broncos offense – making them a smart waiver wire pick up – but are you comfortable with a defense being as important to a fantasy football lineup as every other position? I’m not. Especially considering how fickle fantasy defenses can be.

The top defense in fantasy football this season, Jacksonville, has had four weeks with 20+ points, five weeks with 10-19 points, two weeks with 0-9 points and one week with negative points. On what planet does it make sense that they scored 15 points in a 23-20 loss to the Jets and only 5 points in a 20-17 win over the Chargers? I thought football was a results oriented business? I don’t care how many sacks or interceptions my team has, I’ll take the 20-17 win over the 23-20 loss every damn week.

How do we solve this problem? I’d be fine eliminating the position from fantasy football all together. Picking up Miami last week may have been smart, but I say it was more like winning on a scratch ticket. Don’t tell me there is skill in fantasy football and then tell me the goddam Dolphins defense was the fourth-best play of the week. A defensive unit owned in a whopping 11% of leagues last week.

I’d also be fine going back to the old days and only awarding points for safeties and defensive touchdowns. Denver gave up 35 points to Miami, but did manage a pick six. It’s akin to a quarterback throwing TD passes when his team is down by four touchdowns in the fourth quarter. It still got on the scoreboard.

My last proposal would be for defenses to go head-to-head. If my opponent played the Minnesota Defense (9 points allowed) last week and I played the New England Defense (3 points allowed), only my team would score points at the defense position. It could be a set point total every week, such as 1, 3 or 6, to keep defenses from becoming more important than real position players. Or it could be the difference in points allowed (6 in this example). That would value actual, real-world defense. Not fluky kick returns and flashy INTs.

If you have any better ideas, please let me know.

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