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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 16 waiver wire: Breshad Perriman can be a league-winner

Fantasy football Week 16 waiver wire: Breshad Perriman can be a league-winner

It's not about how you start the fantasy football season. It's how you finish.

If you're reading this, chances are your squad is loaded enough to roll through your league's playoffs to the championship round.

But there's always room for improvement, and the Week 16 waiver wire includes a couple players who should be legitimate starters in any fantasy lineup, regardless of depth.

Want to win the whole thing? Start by doing your due diligence on the waiver wire. Here are our top free-agent pickups at each position entering Week 16.

QUARTERBACK

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins (owned in 25 percent of Yahoo! leagues): We hope you have a better QB1 option than Fitzpatrick if you've reached your league's championship. But if you're in a two-QB league, the ageless, bearded wonder is a fine pickup: He's attempted 37 or more passes in five consecutive games and gets a beatable Cincinnati Bengals defense.

Other quarterbacks to target: Jacoby Brissett (IND), Mitchell Trubisky (CHI), Gardner Minshew (JAX)

RUNNING BACK

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings (39 percent owned): It's still unclear if Dalvin Cook will play in Week 16 after suffering a shoulder injury Sunday. If he doesn't, that's a massive opportunity for either Mattison or Mike Boone, who found the end zone twice in Week 15 with Cook and Mattison both sidelined. If Mattison is healthy, he should be your top waiver wire priority against the Green Bay Packers' Swiss cheese run defense.

Other running backs to target: Mike Boone (MIN), Chris Thompson (WAS), Wes Hills (DET)

WIDE RECEIVER

Breshad Perriman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13 percent owned): This one's a no-brainer. Perriman had produced double-digit fantasy points in two consecutive weeks before going off for three touchdowns last Sunday in Mike Evans' absence. With Chris Godwin also on the shelf, Perriman suddenly is the No. 1 wideout for Jameis Winston and the pass-happy Bucs.

Other wide receivers to target: Anthony Miller (CHI), Chris Conley (JAX), James Washington (PIT)

TIGHT END

O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (41 percent owned): Perriman isn't the only Bucs pass-catcher who should benefit from Evans and Godwin being out. Howard has at least four catches in three consecutive games, and the Houston Texans have allowed six touchdowns to tight ends over their last seven contests.

Other tight ends to target: Jonnu Smith (TEN), Darren Fells (HOU)

DEFENSE

Denver Broncos (25 percent owned): David Blough's stats through three games as the Detroit Lions' starting quarterback -- five interceptions, one fumble, nine sacks -- are all the evidence you need to pick up the Broncos ahead of this matchup in Denver.

Other defenses to target: Indianapolis (vs. CAR), Atlanta (vs. JAX)

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Fantasy football Week 15 waiver wire: Can A.J. Brown deliver in playoffs?

Fantasy football Week 15 waiver wire: Can A.J. Brown deliver in playoffs?

You didn't come this far just to come this far.

Week 15 of the NFL season means it's the semifinal round of the fantasy football playoffs in most leagues.

If you're reading this, congrats on still being alive. But you're not interested in a runner-up trophy, and we're not interested in providing runner-up advice.

Below are the top players at each position who are widely available on fantasy football waiver wires and are worth adding for Week 15 as you seek fantasy glory.

QUARTERBACK

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans (owned in 48 percent of Yahoo! leagues): We'll continue to put Tannehill on this list until he's owned in more than half of leagues. The Titans gunslinger was the sixth-best quarterback in fantasy last week and faces a Houston Texans defense that just allowed 309 passing yards and three touchdowns to Drew Lock. He's your guy again this week.

Other quarterbacks to target: Ryan Fitzpatrick (MIA), Jacoby Brissett (IND), Kyle Allen (CAR)

RUNNING BACK

Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins (40 percent owned): News that Derrius Guice has a sprained MCL means Peterson is the clear-cut workhorse on a team that loves to run the ball. The ageless veteran has touchdowns in back-to-back weeks and should see north of 20 touches against the Philadelphia Eagles, making him the safest waiver wire pickup among running backs.

Other running backs to target: DeAndre Washington (OAK), Patrick Laird (MIA), Boston Scott (PHI)

WIDE RECEIVER

A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans (27 percent owned): The rookie wide receiver has become Tannehill's go-to deep threat, with 333 receiving yards over his last three games. Brown's low catch total makes him a bit of a boom-or-bust play, but it's the playoffs. Gotta take shots to make shots.

Other wide receivers to target: Zach Pascal (IND), Darius Slayton (NYG), Justin Watson (TB)

TIGHT END

David Njoku, Cleveland Browns (37 percent owned): Njoku caught just one pass for four yards in his first game since Week 2, but has a dream matchup against an Arizona Cardinals defense that's given up the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season. He's a high-risk breakout candidate.

Other tight ends to target: Gerald Everett (LAR), Darren Fells (HOU)

DEFENSE

Kansas City Chiefs (32 percent owned): Is the Chiefs defense ... good? Kansas City has held each of its last opponents (including the New England Patriots) to 16 points or fewer. The Denver Broncos are riding high after upsetting the Texans, but we're sensing a turnover-filled letdown game in KC.

Other defenses to target: Oakland (vs. JAX), Seattle (at CAR)

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