Defensive Team by Committee

Finding a defensive team by committee for 2020

This article is about a 13-minute read.

Over the past several seasons, there have been quite a few very popular articles that look at an interesting approach to building a fantasy team with late value picks. Based on the theory of using both Strength of Schedule ("SOS") and taking two players as a combination to build one very good starting duo, a Defensive Team by Committee ("DTBC") can be built as a standard fantasy league strategy. In general, this is usually a wise move because defensive scoring can vary widely on a week-to-week basis depending on matchups, and quite often the teams projected to have the best defenses underperform. Many years it makes a lot of sense to wait as long as possible to secure your fantasy defenses, so there is rarely (if ever) a need to pursue an elite defense in fantasy drafts.

So with this in mind, this article will apply the normal method applied to the other positions (quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end) for the team defense position. Let's take a look at how to go about building this committee and then we can digest and discuss the results.

HUDDLE UP

So how to begin? Defenses and quarterbacks are relatively easy to committee together. There's usually only one quarterback and certainly only one team defense per NFL club, so the approach is pretty simple as far as picking out which players/teams to try and pair up. However, you cannot expect to have every defensive team available. After all, the goal here is to wait at the position and pick up two value picks later in the draft to form our combo and serve as a solid committee. The best plan is to use the following criteria to decide which players to start with for evaluating:

CRITERIA #1 - D/ST10 AND BEYOND

This seems pretty simple. If we want to have a duo that puts up D/ST1 numbers, that means we want D/ST12 or better production - else we would just draft D/ST12 or higher and forget the whole idea. This year there is a slight cheat from the norm (D/ST13 or higher) because of a harder look at both schedules and, more importantly, ADP information. Focusing just outside the Top 9 defenses, both Tampa Bay (D/ST10, ADP of 182) and Kansas City (D/ST11, ADP of 183) are next to each other on the ADP list, so it would be negligent to pick one and not the other. Philadelphia (D/ST12, ADP of 199) is the end of the Top 12 team defenses, so if you are the last team to take a defense and no one else has two, the Eagles will be there for the taking. Picking an arbitrary line of D/ST13 does not make sense if including D/ST10, D/ST11 or D/ST12 makes the result so much better. As we will see shortly, including all three does not significantly impact the result for DTBC for 2020, so we will analyze every defense that will be available after Round 15. Later in drafts, ADP values tend to go out the window in most drafts anyway, so it makes a ton of sense to include as many teams as possible to try and find the best committee option. So here is the list of teams in consideration for DTBC, listed by their Average Draft Position (ADP):

ADP Rank
Defense/Special Team
ADP Rank
Defense/Special Team
D/ST10
Tampa Bay
D/ST22
NY Jets
D/ST11
Kansas City
D/ST23
Tennessee
D/ST12
Philadelphia
D/ST24
Las Vegas
D/ST13
Seattle
D/ST25
Arizona
D/ST14
Denver
D/ST26
Green Bay
D/ST15
LA Rams
D/ST27
NY Giants
D/ST16
Atlanta
D/ST28+
Jacksonville
D/ST17
Miami
D/ST28+
Houston
D/ST18
Indianapolis
D/ST28+
Washington
D/ST19
Carolina
D/ST28+
Detroit
D/ST20
Cleveland
D/ST28+
Cincinnati
D/ST21
Dallas

Table 1: Defensive Teams 10-32 Based on ADP

Going all the way to D/ST32 is an exercise in thoroughness, but odds are that the middle tier of teams is the most likely to comprise the defensive committee for this year. Regardless, Working through the math and considering each and every option ensures that no stone is unturned. With 23 teams under consideration for DTBC, we have a very large pool of options (253 in all), so there had better be a decent pair (or several, we hope) out of all of those couplets. Now, before we go over the method of how to match them up and the results, we need one more rule:

CRITERIA #2 - NO MORE THAN ONE DEFENSE FROM ROUND 15+ AND ONE FROM ROUND 16+

This could get tricky here, but understand the overall goal. The point of DTBC is to free up the first 13-14 rounds of your fantasy draft to pursue all of the other positions for your team. Grabbing 3-4 running backs and 4-5 receivers after grabbing a stud running back or wide receiver in Round 1 sounds like a good idea to me, followed by adding strong depth. This also gives you the flexibility of grabbing a stud tight end, depending on your personal preference, or even to get QB1 if there's a huge value play available before even considering looking towards a defense.

Here is the good news - all of the defensive teams on the list above have ADPs that are Round 16 or higher (later). The interesting part of the defensive team ADP is that only one defense (San Francisco) goes before Round 10 (on average), and just the Top 9 are selected by the end of Round 15. Rounds 16-18 see a few teams finally taking a defense with the rest of the Top 12 teams off of the ADP list, which leaves several options for fantasy owners looking for a second defense. Determining when to pull the trigger on your committee options will be key, so monitor everyone's draft (ideally with the Draft Dominator) to see when 8-10 team defenses have gone off the board - then get moving on your committee.

So what is the answer for this year? There is one more thing to consider:

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