One of the easiest ways to get burned during the fantasy football season by is having a bad defense/special teams hold your team down on a consistent basis. 

You shouldn't draft your defense until you’ve satisfied other positional needs, but this position is important. A reliable defense can provide much-needed scoring when your top players have a bad week. A poor defense can provide little scoring, or even cost you valuable points. 

Let’s examine the top 20 defense/special teams ahead of the 2019 NFL season.

TIER 1

1. Chicago Bears (Bye Week: 6)
The Bears had the league's most dominant defense in 2018. Led by MVP candidate Khalil Mack, the Bears allowed the fewest points per game and led the league in takeaways (including the most interceptions) last season. Chicago also ranked third in sacks and tallied six touchdowns, showing its big-play ability. There's nothing to suggest the Bears' defense will take a noticeable step back in 2019.

2. Los Angeles Rams (Week 9)
The Rams ranked third in takeaways, tallied 41 sacks and finished tied for fourth with 12 fumble recoveries last season. All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald is arguably the best player in the entire league and anchors what should be another stellar unit coached by legendary defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

3. Minnesota Vikings (Week 12)
The Vikings finished ninth in points allowed, fourth in yards allowed, tied for third in sacks and and tallied 20 takeaways in 2018. Minnesota's veteran-laden defense is among the safest for fantasy owners to target in their drafts. 

 

4. Los Angeles Chargers (Week 12)
The Chargers ranked eighth in points allowed per game, in addition to tallying 38 sacks and forcing 13 interceptions last season. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram might be the most-feared pass rushing duo in the league.

5. Baltimore Ravens (Week 8)
The Ravens defense still is among the NFL's elite. Baltimore finished second last season in points allowed, first in yards allowed, 11th in sacks and led the league with three fumbles returned for touchdowns. The Ravens did lose talented linebacker C.J. Mosley and defensive end Terrell Suggs in the offseason, but this team has an impressive history of finding players in free agency and the draft to adequately replace popular veterans who depart.

TIER 2

6. Houston Texans (Week 7)
The Texans tallied 43 sacks, 15 interceptions and tied for the league lead with 14 fumble recoveries in 2018. Houston's defense also ranked tied for fourth in points allowed and 12th in yards allowed. The additions of safety Tashaun Gipson and cornerback Bradley Roby should help strengthen the secondary and give more time for the Texans' vaunted pass rush of J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 10)
The Jaguars struggled in 2018 and failed to make the playoffs, but their defense was not the main problem. Jacksonville's D ranked fifth in yards allowed and tied for fourth in points allowed. The Jaguars, however, finished in the bottom half of the league in sacks, interceptions and fumble recoveries. There's too much talent on this defense for so few big plays to happen for a second consecutive season. 

8. New England Patriots (Week 10)
The Patriots defense saved their best performance of 2018 for Super Bowl LIII, when they held the high-scoring Rams offense to a record-low three points. New England has an elite secondary that tied for the third-most interceptions (21) last season, in addition to ranking in the top 10 in both forced fumbles and points allowed. Michael Bennett and Mike Pennel should help soften the free agent departures of Trey Flowers and Malcom Brown. The pass rush (30 sacks in 2018) has plenty of room to improve as well.

9. Kansas City Chiefs (Week 12)
You might be surprised to see the Chiefs ranked so high when they gave up the second-most yards and ranked 24th in points allowed in 2018. However, they did tie the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most sacks, while also leading the league in forced fumbles and finishing tied for second in fumble recoveries. Dee Ford and Justin Houston departed over the offseason, but the additions of Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu should strengthen Kansas City's defense in 2019. Let's not forget Tyreek Hill is among the most dangerous kick returners in the league and is always a threat to score special teams touchdowns for fantasy owners.

 

10. Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 7)
Even without injured linebacker Ryan Shazier, the Steelers defense gave a solid performance last season. The unit tied for the league lead in sacks, ranked sixth in yards allowed, tallied 15 takeaways and scored three touchdowns. One of Pittsburgh's most glaring weaknesses on defense in 2018 was linebacker, and the team addressed this issue with the selection of Michigan star Devin Bush in the first round of 2019 NFL Draft. 

TIER 3

11. Dallas Cowboys (Week 13)

12. Buffalo Bills (Week 6)

13. Cleveland Browns (Week 7)

14. Philadelphia Eagles (Week 10)

15. Denver Broncos (Week 10)

TIER 4

16. New Orleans Saints (Week 9)

17. Washington Redskins (Week 10)

18. Indianapolis Colts (Week 6)

19. Tennessee Titans (Week 11)

20. Green Bay Packers (Week 20)

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.