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Defenses to Target and Fade in Drafts in Fantasy Football 2022

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One of the biggest mistakes you can make on fantasy football draft day is blindly drafting a team defense based on whatever rankings or draft board you’re using. Sure, that defense may be the top-ranked when you’re up, but you’re overlooking a massive factor that will impact their fantasy football production: their Week 1 opponent. Even a great defense can struggle to put up fantasy points against a strong offense.

 

Before you head into your fantasy football draft, it’s a good idea to do some schedule reconnaissance to scout the Week 1 matchups for the top units on the board. When you do so, you’re invariably going to see that a good chunk of the top options have bad matchups to start the season. 

We’ll want to fade these defenses and instead opt for units with favorable Week 1 matchups. How do we identify good and bad matchups? It’s actually fairly simple. Team defense scoring is heavily slanted towards touchdowns, and these come from takeaways on the defensive side of the ball. While defense can certainly score on fumble recoveries, these are a tough stat to predict. Interceptions are much more predictable, so we want to target turnover-prone quarterbacks.

Have a list of defenses who face the worst quarterbacks in Week 1 and target these defenses. From there, we’ll either continue with the team we draft or begin to stream defenses based on matchups. To help you out, I did the leg work for this year’s options. Let’s start with the top units to fade in your fantasy football drafts. I’ll then give you the top defenses to target, and, in case you miss out on them, the best of the rest.

Top Defenses to Fade

Buffalo Bills

Sean McDermott’s squad is likely one of the top defenses on your board, but let someone else grab them. The Bills face the Rams in Week 1.

Los Angeles Rams 

Likewise, the Rams are a very good unit in a poor matchup against the Bills to start the season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

While Dallas may not have the offensive firepower of the Bills or Rams, they’re still no slouch. Hard pass on the Bucs.

Dallas Cowboys

Micah Parsons 2022 Fantasy Football DST Draft Strategy

Going against Tom Brady in Week 1 isn’t ideal.

New England Patriots

Sure, Miami is unproven, but there’s even upside on the Dolphins offense to opt for a defense in a more favorable Week 1 matchup.

Green Bay Packers

Facing an offense that features Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook isn’t the best way to start the season. 

Los Angeles Chargers

Derek Carr may not be an all-world quarterback, but there’s more than enough talent on the Raiders’ offense to fade the Chargers Week 1 matchup.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs will be a viable defense at times this season, but they aren’t in play against Kyler Murray and the Cardinals in the opener.

Pittsburgh Steelers

There’s a good chance that I don’t need to tell you why facing Joe Burrow and the Bengals in Week 1 isn’t a good thing.

 

Top Defenses to Target

San Francisco 49ers

Kyle Shanahan’s squad will likely be one of the first defenses drafted, and for good reason. They start the season off with favorable matchups against the Bears and Seahawks. However, be prepared to move off them in Week 3 with Denver on the schedule.

Indianapolis Colts

Houston might be trending in the right direction as a franchise, but Davis Mills is exactly the type of quarterback we want to take advantage of for fantasy purposes. The Colts follow that up with another plus matchup against the Jags. However, like the 49ers, their Week 3 matchup against Kansas City is unfavorable.

Denver Broncos

You’ll have a two-week streamer with Denver as well. Nathaniel Hackett’s squad starts things off with a plus matchup against Seattle and then rolls right into Houston in Week 2. Depending on how Trey Lance looks, you may even be able to get away with using Denver in Week 3 as well.

Cleveland Browns

Baker Mayfield will get his opportunity at the sweet taste of revenge in Week 1, and we want every part of that matchup with the Browns. Cleveland then faces the Jets in Week 2, the Steelers in Week 3 and Atlanta in Week 4. That’s a full month of streaming before you have to toss them back into waivers in Week 5 with the Chargers on the schedule.

The Best of the Rest

New Orleans Saints

You’ll only get Week 1 with the Saints, but it’s a good one against Marcus Mariota and the Falcons. But they should then be tossed back into waivers with the Bucs looming in Week 2.

Baltimore Ravens

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We don’t know if Zach Wilson will be back for the opener, but a matchup against Joe Flacco is just as tasty. You’ll likely have to cut them in Week 2 with a string of middling or poor matchups over their next month of games (MIA, @NE, BUF, CIN).

Washington Commanders

Ron Rivera and company are in play for Week 1 with the Jags on the schedule. There’s a chance you might get two weeks out of them depending on how the Lions look to start the season, but their Week 3 matchup against Philly isn’t favorable.

Tennessee Titans 

Yes, please to a Week 1 matchup against Daniel Jones and the Giants, but the Titans will be an immediate cut after that matchup with Buffalo looming in Week 2.

Cincinnati Bengals

We’re kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel with this one, but Cincinnati gets to face Mitch Trubisky in the opener. They’re not viable in Week 2 against Dallas but will be back in the streamer conversation in Week 3 against the Jets.

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