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Defense & Special Teams Rankings for 2021 Fantasy Football

Ranking the D/ST units for 2021 fantasy football.

Drafting fantasy defenses is a tricky affair. Fewer and fewer leagues are running with a roster spot for team defense, as leagues are starting to favor either IDP (Individual Defensive Players) or are doing away with the position all together and adding extra flex spots. Also you have the huge swings from year to year in terms of consistency, with each of the last four top scoring fantasy defenses (2016 Chiefs, 2017 Jaguars, 2018 Bears, 2019 Patriots) all dropping by at least 10 places the following year. This lends itself to being able to identify an edge in drafts and exploit it, allowing other teams to go after the recency bias and allowing you to continue to stack offensive options.

My preferred drafting strategy for defenses is not to draft one at all, or if the season is very close to starting, take one in the last round and make it my best available Week 1 streamer. From then on its all about streaming a new defense weekly, as in redraft leagues, you tend to find plenty of options (and good ones at that) available every week as few players draft multiple defenses when there are relatively few bench spots available.

I will be posting a weekly defense ranking article during the season to highlight the best weekly defense options, so whether you want to draft and forget your defense, or stream weekly, we have you covered here at NerdBall.

2021 Fantasy Football Defense & Special Teams Rankings
2021 RankTeamBye2020 Rank
1Baltimore Ravens85
2New England Patriots1412
3Buffalo Bills78
4Tampa Bay Buccaneers99
5Washington Football Team96
6Pittsburgh Steelers72
7Miami Dolphins144
8San Francisco 49ers620
9Denver Broncos1122
10Los Angeles Rams111
11Cleveland Browns1318
12Indianapolis Colts143
13Los Angeles Chargers723
14Arizona Cardinals1210
15New Orleans Saints67
16New York Giants1013
17Green Bay Packers1317
18Philadelphia Eagles1415
19Kansas City Chiefs1211
20Carolina Panthers1316
21New York Jets626
22Seattle Seahawks914
23Chicago Bears1019
24Dallas Cowboys721
25Tennessee Titans1325
26Minnesota Vikings727
27Atlanta Falcons624
28Detroit Lions932
29Jacksonville Jaguars728
30Las Vegas Raiders831
31Cincinnati Bengals1029
32Houston Texans1030