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Fantasy football rankings 2019: Top 20 defense/special teams to draft

Fantasy football rankings 2019: Top 20 defense/special teams to draft

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)

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Fantasy Football Week 7 starts, sits: Don't sleep on Phillip Dorsett

Fantasy Football Week 7 starts, sits: Don't sleep on Phillip Dorsett

Bye week season is in full swing, with four teams off in Week 7.

Add in the usual injuries to big-name stars, and lineup-setting is starting to get a bit challenging.

But that's where we come in. We analyzed this week's matchups to identify five players with upside worth rolling out this week and five others who have "bust" written all over them.

Here are our starts and sits for Week 7.

START

Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: Sam Darnold proved last week that the Dallas Cowboys can be beaten through the air. Wentz would know: He has 10 touchdown passes and one interception in five career games against Dallas with a passer rating of 100.0.

Tevin Coleman, RB, San Francisco 49ers: Coleman has gotten a steady workload over the last two weeks with the 49ers out in front. Expect more of the same in what should be a lopsided affair against a Washington team that's allowing 134 rushing yards per game.

Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills: The dynamic rookie looks on track to play coming out of the Bills' bye and has a juicy matchup against the dumpster fire that is the Miami Dolphins, who have allowed more fantasy points to opposing running backs than any NFL team.

Golden Tate, WR, New York Giants: Tate's production may dip slightly with Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram back this week. But Sterling Shepard is still out, meaning Tate is the Giants' top wideout in a plus matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, who have given up the sixth-most receptions in the NFL.

Phillip Dorsett, WR, New England Patriots: Keep an eye on Dorsett's hamstring, but if he plays Monday night and Josh Gordon doesn't, he's a legitimate fantasy option as Tom Brady's No. 2 wideout. Dorsett also posted his best game of the season against the Jets in Week 3.

SIT

Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers: The Chargers' offense is a mess right now, and things won't get any easier for Rivers in a road matchup with a Tennessee Titans defense that's allowed the sixth-fewest passing yards in the NFL.

Carlos Hyde, RB, Houston Texans: Hyde tallied season highs in attempts and rushing yards last week. Expect those numbers to drop, though, as Houston gets a strong Indianapolis Colts run defense that hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown since Week 2.

Sony Michel, RB, Patriots: As our own Phil Perry pointed out, Rex Burkhead's expected return limits Michel's ceiling this week. Considering Michel got 22 carries last Thursday, it's likely the Patriots lean more on Burkhead, making Michel more of a touchdown-dependent RB2/RB3,

Mike Williams, WR, Chargers: See Rivers, Philip. Williams is big-play dependent, and the Titans' defense has been able to limit big plays in the passing games in the last two weeks. You can do better here.

Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans: Walker has a total of five catches over his last three games. His outlook improves slightly with Ryan Tannehill taking over for Marcus Mariota, but Walker simply isn't a starting tight end right now.

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. 

Fantasy football Week 7 rankings: Top players at each skill position

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USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy football Week 7 rankings: Top players at each skill position

Week 6 was your reminder that the NFL is full of surprises.

Only 78 passing yards from Jared Goff? Hunter Henry finishing as a top-five skill player?

As much as we try to predict the future, fantasy football remains tantalizingly unpredictable. Still, there are obvious trends and matchup-related stats that give us a pretty good guage of who will succeed each week.

Our latest best guess is below, as we rank the top players in fantasy at each skill position for their Week 7 matchups.

QUARTERBACK

1. Deshaun Watson, Texans (at IND)
2. Lamar Jackson, Ravens (at SEA)
3. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs (at DEN)
4. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (vs. BAL)
5. Matt Ryan, Falcons (vs. LAR)
6. Kyler Murray, Cardinals (at NYG)
7. Dak Prescott, Cowboys (vs. PHI)
8. Josh Allen, Bills (vs. MIA)
9. Jared Goff, Rams (at ATL)
10. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (vs. OAK)
11. Tom Brady, Patriots (at NYJ)
12. Carson Wentz, Eagles (at DAL)
13. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (at WAS)
14. Kirk Cousins, Vikings (at DET)
15. Daniel Jones, Giants (vs. ARI)

If you gambled on Murray in your draft, you're starting to reap the benefits. The Cardinals rookie has increased his scoring total in three consecutive weeks and tossed a season-high three touchdown passes last Sunday. He's a legitimate, high-floor QB1 against a New York Giants defense that's given up 640 passing yards over the last two weeks.

RUNNING BACK

1. Dalvin Cook, Vikings (at DET)
2. Leonard Fournette, Jaguars (at CIN)
3. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys (vs. PHI)
4. Saquon Barkley, Giants (vs. ARI)
5. David Johnson, Cardinals (at NYG)
6. Alvin Kamara, Saints (at CHI)
7. Chris Carson, Seahawks (vs. BAL)
8. Aaron Jones, Packers (vs. OAK)
9. Derrick Henry, Titans (vs. LAC)
10. Le'Veon Bell, Jets (vs. NE)
11. Phillip Lindsay, Broncos (vs. KC)
12. Josh Jacobs, Raiders (at GB)
13. Mark Ingram, Ravens (at SEA)
14. Kerryon Johnson, Lions (vs. MIN)
15. Tevin Coleman, 49ers (at WAS)

Lindsay is a sneaky great play on Thursday night against the Kansas City Chiefs, who have allowed a 100-yard rusher in four consecutive weeks. Even in a backfield timeshare with Royce Freeman, Lindsay is worth starting in all two-running back leagues

WIDE RECEIVER

1. Julio Jones, Falcons (vs. LAR)
2. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans (at IND)
3. Tyreek Hill, Chiefs (at DEN)
4. Cooper Kupp, Rams (at ATL)
5. Michael Thomas, Saints (at CHI)
6. Keenan Allen, Chargers (at TEN)
7. T.Y. Hilton, Colts (vs. HOU)
8. Adam Thielen, Vikings (at DET)
9. Julian Edelman, Patriots (at NYJ)
10. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks (vs. BAL)
11. Michael Gallup, Cowboys (vs. PHI)
12. Robert Woods, Rams (at ATL)
13. D.J. Chark, Jaguars (at CIN)
14. Davante Adams, Packers (vs. OAK)
15. Brandin Cooks, Rams (at ATL)

Yeah, we whiffed on Kupp last week. But he's one of three Rams wideouts in the top 15 this week, as Los Angeles has a great bounce-back opportunity against the Atlanta Falcons, who have allowed 10 touchdowns to wide receivers through six games.

TIGHT END

1. Travis Kelce, Chiefs (at DEN)
2. George Kittle, SF (at WAS)
3. Austin Hooper, Falcons (vs. LAR)
4. Mark Andrews, Ravens (vs. at SEA)
5. Zach Ertz, Eagles (at DAL)
6. Evan Engram, Giants (vs. ARI)
7. Darren Waller, Raiders (at GB)
8. Hunter Henry, Chargers (at TEN)
9. Gerald Everett, Rams (at ATL)
10. Delanie Walker, Titans (vs. LAC)
11. Jared Cook, Saints (at CHI)
12. T.J. Hockenson, Lions (vs. MIN)

If Engram is healthy this week, fire him up with confidence. The Cardinals have surrendered the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season and just got torched by Austin Hooper.

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