Ladies and gentlemen, we have officially arrived at the very last offseason article of 2018. Be sure to savor it because there won’t be any until January! Next week, be sure to come right back here for the very first edition of the 2018 start/sits!
Enough with the shameless plugging, there’s work to be done. As the end of the draft season draws closer, let’s address the end of the draft: picking a team defense and a kicker. I’ve already touched on the most important thing: you pick a defense and a kicker at the end of your draft, no sooner. Your last two picks should go toward drafting a defense and kicker.
The Jacksonville Jaguars defense currently has an ADP of 8.08. Players going around the 8.08 include Peyton Barber, Randall Cobb, Jordan Reed, Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, and Tarik Cohen. The Jacksonville defense scored 12.7 points per game last season. Don’t get me wrong, that’s impressive and the type of scoring I want on my team, but the Jaguars defense only finished 17 points higher than the team in second place. That team, the Baltimore Ravens, has an ADP of 11.10.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens, and Philadelphia Eagles defenses were the three defenses most commonly on fantasy teams competing in championships in ESPN leagues. The Philadelphia Eagles defense had a nonexistent ADP – meaning, they went undrafted in most fantasy drafts. DON’T REACH FOR A DEFENSE! Instead, take Matthew Stafford, a quarterback you can start most weeks, or Jordan Reed, a player with high upside.
So, that being said, how do you draft the best defense available in the last or second-to-last round? Nine times out of ten, you’re going to have a new defense every week or every other week. The one time you don’t comes when you stumble across the new Jaguars/Ravens/Eagles on the waiver wire and decide to hold them because they’re lighting up opposing offenses and have good matchups. So, when it comes to drafting a defense, look at the first four weeks and pick the one who has the best matchups. Below I’ve listed some defenses you can take with one of your two last picks:
- New Orleans Saints: vs Buccaneers, vs Browns, @ Falcons, @ Giants
- Los Angeles Chargers: vs Chiefs, @ Bills, @ Rams, vs 49ers
- Carolina Panthers: vs Cowboys, @ Falcons, vs Bengals, BYE
- Detroit Lions: vs Jets, @ 49ers, vs Patriots, @ Cowboys
- Washington Redskins: @ Cardinals, vs Colts, vs Packers, BYE
- Pittsburgh Steelers: @ Browns, vs Chiefs, @ Buccaneers, vs Ravens
Notice how not all four games are perfect. The Saints get to play against the Buccaneers and Browns at home, but then take on the Falcons and Giants on the road. The Lions play the Jets and the Cowboys but have to play the Patriots between those matchups. That’s why you take a defense with one of your two last picks. It’s easier to drop a defense you took at the last minute than one you took instead of a starting quarterback or a pass-catching running back. If you actually invest in your defense, you’re forced to roll with the bad matchups instead of just grabbing a defense with a good matchup off the waiver wire.
As for kickers, the only kicker who was commonly on ESPN fantasy teams competing for a championship last season was Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein. He also went undrafted in most leagues. The difference in points per week amongst the top kicker and the 12th-best kicker last season was 4.4 points. Believe me, I’ve lost many a matchup by less than 4.4 points, but it’s too small a difference to worry about who you’re drafting at kicker. The important thing is that you use one of your two last picks so you get the best possible running backs and wide recievers.
That’s going to do it for the 2018 offseason articles. Thanks to everyone that trudged along with me through the offseason! If you want specific help with your draft or any other small tidbits, toss me a follow on Twitter (@QLynchUW). Enjoy your draft(s) and good luck!
Stats courtesy of FantasyPros, ESPN, and Fantasy Football Calculator