2014 Fantasy Football: Team Defense Preview

2014 Fantasy Football: Team Defense Preview

Throughout this off-season we have been publishing a number of fantasy football previews by utilizing various prop bets from offshore sportsbooks. By comparing these odds with the Yahoo! Sports fantasy rankings; we’ve been able to successfully identify a number of overhyped and underrated players according to oddsmakers. We’ve already tackled quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers but for a long time we struggled to analyze team defenses.

Although one sportsbook posted a prop bet concerning how many points each NFL team will score during the 2014-15 regular season, no oddsmakers have offered a prop for points allowed. Without access to this type of defensive data, I thought that ranking the top fantasy defenses would prove harder to pick than a broken nose. I was wrong.

On Friday morning (8/22) BetOnline posted an intriguing season prop where the posted an over/under for sacks and interceptions for all 32 NFL teams. Although we were unable to find a sportsbook offering points allowed, we did find defensive projections at NFL.com.

A standard Yahoo! fantasy football league uses the following default point value for each category:

Statistics

  1. Sack 1
  2. Interception 2
  3. Fumble Recovery 2
  4. Touchdown 6
  5. Safety 2
  6. Block Kick 2
  7. Kickoff/Punt Return TD 6

Points Allowed

  1. 0 points: 10
  2. 1-6 points: 7
  3. 7-13 points: 4
  4. 14-20 points: 1
  5. 21-27 points: 0
  6. 28-34 points: -1
  7. 35+ points: -4

Although there are no betting opportunities for fumble recoveries, safeties, blocked kicks or defensive/return touchdowns, our data concerning interceptions, sacks and points allowed does provide some valuable insight into which defenses oddsmakers like this upcoming season.

TeamInterceptions (2 Points)Sacks (1 point)Projected Points (PPG) AllowedFantasy PPGYahoo! Ranking
Seattle Seahawks21 (42)43.5224 (14)*101.51
Carolina Panthers19.5 (39)44.5240 (15)*99.55
San Francisco 49ers19 (38)41.5288 (18)*95.52
Cincinnati Bengals20 (40)33.5320 (20)*89.57
Arizona Cardinals15.5 (31)39.5272 (17)*85.54
Kansas City Chiefs20 (40)44352 (22)846
St. Louis Rams16.5 (33)48.5384 (24)81.53
New England Patriots18.5 (37)42.5336 (21)79.58
Tampa Bay Buccaneers19.5 (39)38.5400 (25)77.514
Philadelphia Eagles19.5 (39)38.5432 (27)77.522
Green Bay Packers17.5 (35)42.5400 (25)77.521
Denver Broncos18 (36)41352 (22)779
Buffalo Bills18 (36)40.5352 (22)76.511
Miami Dolphins18 (36)38.5416 (26)74.516
Cleveland Browns16.5 (33)40400 (25)7320
New York Giants17 (34)39384 (24)7315
New Orleans Saints16.5 (33)40416 (26)7323
New York Jets16.5 (33)38.5336 (21)71.526
Baltimore Ravens15.5 (31)39.5416 (26)70.513
Pittsburgh Steelers17.5 (35)35.5368 (23)70.519
Houston Texans15.5 (31)39352 (22)7031
Indianapolis Colts16.5 (33)36368 (23)6912
Washington Redskins16.5 (33)35.5432 (27)68.525
Chicago Bears17.5 (35)33400 (25)6810
Atlanta Falcons15 (30)36.5432 (27)66.530
Detroit Lions15 (30)35.5416 (26)65.527
Tennessee Titans14.5 (29)36.5416 (26)65.517
San Diego Chargers15 (30)35432 (27)6524
Dallas Cowboys15 (30)35.5448 (28)^49.518
Minnesota Vikings14 (28)36.5464 (29)^48.528
Jacksonville Jaguars13.5 (27)32448 (28)^4332
Oakland Raiders12 (24)35448 (28)^4329

* Team receives +1 ppg for points allowed
^ Team receives -1 ppg for points allowed

Admittedly this is a somewhat flawed system. In a standard Yahoo! league, managers will receive ten points if their defense pitches a shutout; however, we have no way to identify the probability of each team holding their opponent scoreless. That said, we do see a good deal of agreement regarding top defenses like the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers.

The Seahawks are the consensus number one defense, but which defenses are being undervalued and should be targeted by fantasy owners? According to oddsmakers, reigning DPOY Luke Kuechly and his Carolina Panther teammates should be the #2 ranked defense, however, they rank 5th behind the four NFC West teams (Seattle, San Francisco, St. Louis and Arizona).

Another fascinating sleeper is the Philadelphia Eagles who have the 10th best fantasy defense according to oddsmakers, but slip all the way to 22nd in the Yahoo! rankings. Known predominantly for his offensive prowess, Chip Kelly’s 3-4 defense features a number of impact players including DeMeco Ryans (127 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 INT), Mychal Kendricks (106 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 INT), Trent Cole (56 tackles, 8 sacks, 3 FF) and Brandon Boykin (6 INT).

As for the most overrated teams, the Chicago Bears quickly jump off the page. Yahoo! ranks the Bears as the 10th best fantasy defense, but according to oddsmakers they’re slotted all the way down at 24. The team lost Pro Bowl DE Julius Peppers over the off-season and features a number of overrated, big-name players such as Jared Allen, D.J. Williams and Jay Ratliff.

Many teams like to play the matchups on a week-to-week basis and won’t own a single team defense for the entire season. Those owners can utilize the over/unders on our free NFL odds page to see which games are expected to be low-scoring. The Panthers/Buccanneers (39 at CRIS) have the lowest week 1 total which gives owners yet another reason to target the Carolina Panthers defense come draft day.

Which team defenses will you be targeting? Do you agree or disagree with our selections? Please leave any thoughts, comments or questions in the section below.

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David Solar

David was the Content Manager at Sports Insights. He has since moved on to greener pastures.

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