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Defensive Team by Committee 2017

Finding the perfect pair of fantasy defenses to select late in your draft.

For fifteen straight years, Footballguys has promoted the defensive team by committee (DTBC) strategy to help fantasy players dominate their leagues. Fantasy defenses are inconsistent from year to year, making it difficult to predict which defenses and special teams (D/STs) will excel. And, at least in theory, the teams available at the ends of your drafts should provide less rewards. So how do you get great production out of the position while saving your most important draft picks? We spend countless hours analyzing team offenses, and relatively few thinking about team defenses. But an average defense against a bad offense will do just as well as a great defense against an average offense. The key to the DTBC system is to find two teams available late in your draft whose combined schedule features predominantly weak offenses. By starting your defense based on matchups, your D/ST will generally face a weak offense, meaning your D/ST position will score lots of fantasy points.

The first step in creating the DTBC system is to grade the offenses. I've used the Footballguys projections to rank the offenses, scoring them the following way: (0.3 x Points scored) + (0.03 x Total Yards) - 2 x (Interceptions thrown + Fumbles Lost). While most leagues award significant points for sacks, we don't project offensive sacks allowed data. But don’t worry: we’ll keep pass rushers in mind when we select the DTBC. Below shows how many fantasy points above or below average you should expect each offense to be.  When facing the Patriots or Falcons, your fantasy defense will probably score about 4 less points than average, while facing the Jets, Rams, or 49ers should be a 3.5-point boon to your fantasy defense:

RkOffenseGrd
1 New England 4
1 Atlanta 4
3 New Orleans 3.5
4 Green Bay 3
5 Pittsburgh 2.5
6 Los Angeles Chargers 2
6 Oakland 2
8 Indianapolis 1.5
8 Tampa Bay 1.5
8 Seattle 1.5
11 Dallas 1
11 Washington 1
11 Cincinnati 1
14 New York Giants 0.5
14 Arizona 0.5
14 Tennessee 0.5
17 Philadelphia 0
17 Carolina 0
19 Baltimore -1
19 Buffalo -1
19 Miami -1
19 Detroit -1
23 Denver -1.5
23 Kansas City -1.5
25 Chicago -2
26 Houston -2.5
26 Minnesota -2.5
26 Jacksonville -2.5
29 Cleveland -3
30 San Francisco -3.5
30 New York Jets -3.5
30 Los Angeles Rams -3.5

After grading the offenses, I went through the NFL schedule and assigned each team the offensive rating of their opponent in each week. I also added 1.5 points points to the offense's rating when they are at home and took away 1.5 points when the offense is on the road. Bye weeks are valued at 10 points to avoid combining D/STs that share the same bye week. After doing this for every game in every week, we can now rank each team’s schedule and pair up the defenses to form the best possible committee. One note: I'm ranking the committees through sixteen weeks, as most fantasy leagues don't play in Week 17.

2017 Defensive Team By Committee: Jacksonville and Philadelphia

Neither the Jaguars and Eagles require an early draft pick: on average, Jacksonville is the 14th defensive selected, while Philadelphia is the 13th. As a result, this is a cheap and easy combination to snag. You may think these defenses are cheap because they're not very good, but to that I offer you the following counterpoints:

  • You will get 11 home games against just 5 road games.
  • Your defenses will receive two games each against the Texans, Rams, and 49ers: all three teams have serious questions marks at quarterback.
  • Your defenses also face the Jets, Browns, Bears, and Broncos: that totals 10 games against bottom-tier offenses.
  • Most important? During the playoffs, you face the Rams, Texans, and 49ers.

The full schedule below:

Week 1: @ Houston Texans
Week 2:  Tennessee Titans
Week 3:  Baltimore Ravens
Week 4: @ New York Jets
Week 5:  Arizona Cardinals
Week 6:  Los Angeles Rams
Week 7:  Washington Redskins
Week 8:  San Francisco 49ers
Week 9:  Denver Broncos
Week 10:  Los Angeles Chargers
Week 11: @ Cleveland Browns
Week 12:  Chicago Bears
Week 13:  Indianapolis Colts
Week 14: @ Los Angeles Rams
Week 15:  Houston Texans
Week 16: @ San Francisco 49ers

Breakout Defenses?

The Jaguars defense could wind up being one of the best in the NFL. On the defensive line, Jacksonville now has Malik Jackson (added in 2016 from Denver) and Calais Campbell (Arizona this offseason) to team with youngsters Yannick Ngakoue (8 sacks as a rookie) and Dante Fowler Jr (third overall pick from the 2015 Draft). At linebacker, Myles Jack was a steal in the second round of last year's draft, while Telvin Smith and Paul Posluszny are both above-average.  And in the secondary, Jalen Ramsey (runner-up for AP Defensive Rookie of the Year last season) teams with A.J. Bouye (the top cornerback in free agency) to give the Jaguars a pair of strong cover man.  

The Eagles defense could be even better. At defensive tackle, Fletcher Cox and new addition Timmy Jernigan (Ravens) will make running up the middle very challenging for opposing offenses, while Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham will get help at defensive end with Chris Long (Patriots) and Derek Barnett (2017 first round pick) now on the team.  Last year, Nigel Bradham and Jordan Hicks had big years at linebacker, and together with Mychal Kendricks, Philadelphia is in good shape in the middle of the defense.  The secondary is the weak spot, but adding cornerback Ronald Darby (Buffalo) should help, and with this front seven, the Eagles can get by with a weaker set of defensive backs.

WANT JUST ONE?

In some leagues, it's just too costly to spend two rosters spots on defenses. If that's your plan, it still pays to know the ability level of the offenses that each team will face. The Cardinals, Colts, Bengals, and Jaguars have the easiest schedule in the league, with the Falcons, Bucs, Bills, Dolphins, and Broncos defenses getting the short end of the stick (i.e., they face the best offense). The full list is presented below: Note that week 17 has been excluded in calculating these ratings.

RkDefTotalRkDefTotal
1 Ari -17.0 17 Phi -0.5
2 Ind -13.0 18 NE 1.0
3 Cin -11.5 19 NYG 1.0
4 Jax -10.0 20 LAR 2.5
5 Ten -7.5 21 NYJ 3.0
6 Hou -7.0 22 Dal 4.5
7 LAC -7.0 23 Chi 5.0
8 Cle -6.0 24 Car 5.0
9 Bal -6.0 25 Det 5.0
10 Sea -5.5 26 KC 6.0
11 Oak -5.0 27 Min 6.5
12 Pit -4.5 28 Atl 10.0
13 SF -3.5 29 TB 10.0
14 Was -2.0 30 Buf 11.0
15 NO -1.5 31 Mia 11.0
16 GB -0.5 32 Den 11.5

Every Combination

Finally, here's a look at how every combination fares on a per-week  basis.  Remember, lower is better.

RkCombinationValueRkCombinationValueRkCombinationValueRkCombinationValueRkCombinationValue
1 BAL-HOU -40.5 101 NE-TEN -27.5 201 TEN-WAS -23.5 301 NE-NO -19 401 NO-WAS -15
2 ARI-SEA -40 102 CLE-SEA -27.5 202 PIT-WAS -23 302 CAR-NE -19 402 BUF-DET -15
3 ARI-CIN -39 103 IND-NYG -27.5 203 CAR-GB -23 303 CLE-KC -19 403 ATL-LAR -15
4 ARI-CLE -39 104 ARI-JAX -27.5 204 ATL-NYG -23 304 MIN-NYJ -19 404 CHI-LAR -15
5 ARI-WAS -39 105 CAR-JAX -27.5 205 ATL-CLE -23 305 DEN-SEA -19 405 DEN-JAX -15
6 ARI-BAL -38 106 BAL-LAR -27 206 ARI-MIA -23 306 NYJ-TEN -19 406 NYJ-PHI -15
7 ARI-HOU -37.5 107 IND-KC -27 207 CIN-OAK -23 307 SF-WAS -19 407 DEN-PHI -14.5
8 ARI-IND -37 108 DET-TEN -27 208 DET-SF -23 308 PHI-PIT -19 408 ATL-DAL -14.5
9 BAL-GB -35.5 109 CIN-PHI -27 209 ATL-LAC -23 309 DAL-PIT -19 409 IND-NYJ -14.5
10 BAL-CIN -35.5 110 CLE-GB -27 210 CAR-TEN -23 310 GB-LAC -19 410 GB-NE -14.5
11 HOU-LAC -35 111 DEN-IND -27 211 DAL-JAX -22.5 311 MIA-PIT -19 411 MIA-MIN -14.5
12 HOU-IND -35 112 CAR-NO -27 212 BAL-BUF -22.5 312 OAK-PIT -19 412 CAR-NYJ -14.5
13 GB-IND -34.5 113 BAL-MIN -27 213 KC-SF -22.5 313 DAL-SEA -19 413 BUF-LAR -14.5
14 CIN-TEN -34 114 NO-NYG -27 214 CAR-MIN -22.5 314 NYJ-OAK -18.5 414 MIA-TEN -14.5
15 CIN-IND -34 115 ARI-NE -27 215 LAC-SF -22.5 315 ATL-SF -18.5 415 MIN-NE -14.5
16 CIN-LAC -33.5 116 PIT-SEA -27 216 ATL-PIT -22.5 316 MIA-NE -18.5 416 LAR-TEN -14.5
17 HOU-SEA -33.5 117 CIN-TB -27 217 BAL-TB -22.5 317 GB-TB -18.5 417 DEN-MIN -14
18 JAX-PHI -33.5 118 HOU-WAS -26.5 218 MIA-NO -22.5 318 SF-LAR -18.5 418 ATL-MIN -14
19 GB-SEA -33.5 119 NE-OAK -26.5 219 NYG-SF -22.5 319 KC-WAS -18.5 419 BUF-TB -14
20 NO-LAC -33.5 120 CHI-JAX -26.5 220 NYJ-SEA -22.5 320 KC-PIT -18.5 420 NE-PIT -14
21 IND-NO -33.5 121 CHI-WAS -26.5 221 SEA-TB -22.5 321 CHI-DAL -18.5 421 JAX-LAR -14
22 LAC-SEA -33.5 122 IND-TEN -26.5 222 IND-TB -22.5 322 ATL-BAL -18.5 422 DEN-DET -14
23 HOU-TEN -33 123 HOU-TB -26.5 223 DET-PIT -22.5 323 KC-NO -18.5 423 MIN-TB -14
24 PHI-LAC -33 124 NO-OAK -26.5 224 JAX-WAS -22 324 CIN-DET -18.5 424 DET-HOU -13.5
25 ARI-PIT -32.5 125 NYJ-WAS -26.5 225 NYJ-PIT -22 325 MIN-NYG -18.5 425 MIA-LAR -13.5
26 CHI-CIN -32.5 126 CIN-NE -26.5 226 BUF-JAX -22 326 CIN-DAL -18.5 426 CAR-WAS -13.5
27 ARI-NO -32.5 127 DAL-HOU -26.5 227 CLE-MIA -22 327 ATL-TEN -18.5 427 BUF-SEA -13.5
28 CIN-CLE -32.5 128 CLE-WAS -26 228 KC-NYG -22 328 DET-WAS -18.5 428 BAL-OAK -13.5
29 JAX-SEA -32.5 129 DAL-WAS -26 229 GB-MIN -22 329 DET-SEA -18.5 429 IND-SF -13.5
30 ARI-DET -32 130 OAK-WAS -26 230 PHI-SF -22 330 DEN-SF -18 430 DET-NO -13
31 CIN-JAX -32 131 NO-SF -26 231 OAK-LAR -22 331 NYJ-LAR -18 431 BUF-PHI -13
32 JAX-OAK -32 132 CAR-SEA -26 232 ATL-SEA -22 332 DAL-NYG -18 432 DEN-NYG -13
33 HOU-PHI -32 133 BAL-DAL -26 233 JAX-LAC -22 333 BUF-CIN -18 433 BUF-CAR -13
34 NE-SEA -32 134 HOU-KC -26 234 CLE-LAC -22 334 NYG-PHI -18 434 CAR-NYG -13
35 ARI-TB -32 135 GB-PHI -26 235 KC-TEN -21.5 335 CLE-DEN -18 435 ATL-NYJ -13
36 CIN-MIN -31.5 136 JAX-NYJ -26 236 CHI-OAK -21.5 336 MIN-LAR -18 436 NYG-TEN -13
37 ARI-OAK -31.5 137 NO-LAR -26 237 BUF-CHI -21.5 337 GB-MIA -18 437 PIT-LAR -13
38 CLE-SF -31.5 138 NO-TB -26 238 DET-NYG -21.5 338 CIN-KC -18 438 CLE-PIT -13
39 NO-PIT -31.5 139 JAX-TB -26 239 TB-TEN -21.5 339 JAX-TEN -18 439 MIN-PIT -13
40 CLE-IND -31.5 140 CHI-IND -26 240 BUF-TEN -21.5 340 NE-LAR -17.5 440 BUF-NYJ -12.5
41 BAL-CLE -31 141 HOU-JAX -26 241 BUF-GB -21.5 341 CAR-KC -17.5 441 SF-TB -12.5
42 ARI-BUF -31 142 CIN-MIA -26 242 ARI-TEN -21.5 342 CHI-DEN -17.5 442 TB-WAS -12.5
43 ARI-CAR -31 143 ARI-LAC -26 243 DAL-NO -21.5 343 NE-WAS -17.5 443 ATL-MIA -12.5
44 IND-MIN -31 144 OAK-SF -25.5 244 MIA-WAS -21 344 GB-SF -17.5 444 ATL-DET -12.5
45 CIN-LAR -31 145 DET-JAX -25.5 245 ATL-PHI -21 345 LAC-TB -17.5 445 CAR-SF -12.5
46 BAL-LAC -31 146 GB-WAS -25.5 246 CHI-SF -21 346 MIN-LAC -17.5 446 ATL-BUF -12
47 IND-JAX -31 147 MIN-SF -25.5 247 KC-LAR -21 347 ATL-CAR -17.5 447 ATL-KC -12
48 CIN-GB -30.5 148 ARI-DEN -25.5 248 ATL-OAK -21 348 CAR-IND -17.5 448 CHI-CLE -12
49 ARI-KC -30.5 149 MIN-WAS -25.5 249 NYG-OAK -21 349 CIN-SEA -17.5 449 CAR-MIA -12
50 GB-OAK -30.5 150 BAL-SEA -25.5 250 NO-SEA -21 350 PIT-LAC -17.5 450 ATL-TB -12
51 ARI-MIN -30.5 151 JAX-KC -25.5 251 ARI-DAL -20.5 351 DAL-OAK -17 451 GB-TEN -12
52 SEA-TEN -30.5 152 JAX-MIA -25.5 252 BUF-KC -20.5 352 NE-LAC -17 452 DAL-DEN -11.5
53 ARI-PHI -30.5 153 IND-PHI -25.5 253 BAL-DEN -20.5 353 KC-TB -17 453 DEN-MIA -11.5
54 BAL-JAX -30.5 154 HOU-PIT -25.5 254 OAK-TB -20.5 354 PHI-LAR -17 454 BUF-DEN -11.5
55 IND-LAC -30.5 155 DET-LAC -25 255 DET-NYJ -20.5 355 JAX-NYG -17 455 GB-NYG -11.5
56 IND-WAS -30.5 156 DET-GB -25 256 CLE-LAR -20.5 356 DET-LAR -17 456 PIT-TB -11.5
57 BAL-NYG -30 157 OAK-TEN -25 257 HOU-LAR -20.5 357 CHI-GB -17 457 NYJ-TB -11.5
58 CIN-WAS -30 158 HOU-NE -25 258 ATL-HOU -20.5 358 DAL-MIN -16.5 458 GB-JAX -11.5
59 JAX-MIN -30 159 PIT-SF -25 259 CAR-CHI -20.5 359 MIN-PHI -16.5 459 KC-SEA -11.5
60 CIN-NYG -30 160 CAR-CIN -25 260 BUF-NO -20.5 360 NE-TB -16.5 460 CAR-DEN -11.5
61 SEA-WAS -30 161 DAL-IND -25 261 JAX-NO -20.5 361 KC-NE -16.5 461 CHI-PIT -11.5
62 CIN-NO -30 162 BUF-CLE -25 262 DET-OAK -20.5 362 ATL-GB -16.5 462 ATL-NE -11
63 CLE-NYJ -30 163 NE-PHI -25 263 MIA-NYG -20.5 363 DET-MIN -16.5 463 OAK-PHI -11
64 CHI-SEA -29.5 164 DET-PHI -25 264 CLE-NE -20.5 364 DAL-DET -16.5 464 DEN-NE -11
65 BAL-IND -29.5 165 CLE-OAK -25 265 NYG-PIT -20.5 365 CHI-NYG -16.5 465 DAL-MIA -11
66 CLE-JAX -29.5 166 CAR-LAC -25 266 BUF-OAK -20 366 BUF-NE -16.5 466 BAL-KC -11
67 HOU-OAK -29.5 167 CLE-NO -25 267 DAL-TB -20 367 MIA-LAC -16.5 467 DEN-KC -10.5
68 IND-NE -29.5 168 HOU-NO -24.5 268 JAX-NE -20 368 DET-NE -16.5 468 DEN-GB -10.5
69 ARI-SF -29.5 169 ARI-NYG -24.5 269 MIN-OAK -20 369 DAL-PHI -16.5 469 CHI-MIA -10.5
70 CIN-SF -29 170 ARI-CHI -24.5 270 ARI-NYJ -20 370 GB-NYJ -16.5 470 CHI-LAC -10.5
71 BAL-DET -29 171 BAL-SF -24.5 271 CHI-DET -20 371 MIA-PHI -16.5 471 DEN-PIT -9.5
72 ATL-IND -29 172 GB-HOU -24.5 272 DAL-LAC -20 372 CHI-KC -16 472 DAL-NYJ -9.5
73 IND-SEA -29 173 ARI-ATL -24.5 273 CAR-DAL -20 373 CAR-PHI -16 473 CHI-MIN -9.5
74 NO-TEN -29 174 CIN-HOU -24.5 274 CAR-HOU -20 374 KC-MIN -16 474 NYJ-SF -9.5
75 LAC-WAS -28.5 175 BAL-NE -24.5 275 BUF-PIT -20 375 DAL-LAR -16 475 DEN-WAS -9.5
76 NE-NYG -28.5 176 CLE-PHI -24.5 276 MIN-NO -20 376 NE-SF -16 476 IND-MIA -9.5
77 SEA-SF -28.5 177 NYG-SEA -24.5 277 DAL-SF -20 377 DEN-OAK -16 477 GB-LAR -9
78 HOU-SF -28.5 178 IND-LAR -24.5 278 CLE-NYG -20 378 PHI-TB -16 478 CAR-LAR -9
79 SEA-LAR -28.5 179 NYG-WAS -24 279 DAL-NE -20 379 LAC-LAR -16 479 BUF-SF -9
80 ATL-CIN -28.5 180 CAR-CLE -24 280 NYG-LAC -20 380 BUF-IND -16 480 BUF-DAL -8.5
81 BAL-CHI -28 181 BAL-NO -24 281 CLE-DET -20 381 CHI-TEN -16 481 LAR-TB -8.5
82 NO-PHI -28 182 KC-LAC -24 282 DEN-TEN -20 382 NE-NYJ -16 482 ATL-WAS -7.5
83 HOU-NYJ -28 183 BUF-HOU -24 283 BAL-WAS -20 383 DEN-HOU -16 483 BUF-MIA -7
84 HOU-MIN -28 184 CLE-DAL -24 284 MIA-SEA -20 384 BAL-PHI -16 484 DEN-NO -7
85 CHI-HOU -28 185 BUF-LAC -24 285 DEN-LAC -20 385 DET-TB -16 485 KC-PHI -6.5
86 BAL-TEN -28 186 BAL-CAR -24 286 CAR-OAK -19.5 386 CHI-NE -16 486 MIA-TB -6
87 PIT-TEN -28 187 NO-NYJ -24 287 BUF-WAS -19.5 387 DAL-KC -15.5 487 CLE-MIN -6
88 BAL-PIT -28 188 CHI-TB -24 288 CAR-DET -19.5 388 BUF-MIN -15.5 488 DEN-TB -5.5
89 HOU-MIA -28 189 BAL-NYJ -24 289 PHI-SEA -19.5 389 MIA-OAK -15.5 489 MIA-SF -5.5
90 IND-PIT -28 190 NYG-NYJ -23.5 290 ATL-JAX -19.5 390 KC-NYJ -15.5 490 DEN-LAR -5
91 DET-IND -28 191 GB-KC -23.5 291 CHI-NYJ -19.5 391 NYG-TB -15.5 491 KC-OAK -4.5
92 CIN-NYJ -27.5 192 MIN-SEA -23.5 292 ATL-CHI -19.5 392 DAL-GB -15.5 492 NYG-LAR -3
93 CHI-NO -27.5 193 CHI-PHI -23.5 293 DAL-TEN -19.5 393 DET-MIA -15.5 493 CAR-TB -3
94 JAX-PIT -27.5 194 GB-PIT -23.5 294 LAC-TEN -19.5 394 CAR-PIT -15.5 494 MIA-NYJ -1.5
95 OAK-LAC -27.5 195 HOU-NYG -23.5 295 LAR-WAS -19.5 395 ARI-GB -15.5 495 ATL-NO -0.5
96 CLE-TEN -27.5 196 GB-NO -23.5 296 CIN-DEN -19.5 396 KC-MIA -15 496 ATL-DEN 3