>

Fantasy Football 2015: How Scoring Can Impact the Value of the Defense/Special Teams Position

Like other positions, the value of DSTs can differ depending on your league's scoring system

Typically Defenses/Special Teams (DST) are the second-to-last position that is drafted in fantasy football. DSTs are undervalued and usually for good reason. In many leagues, you get points for your defense based on how many points they allow, plus additional points for interceptions, sacks and defensive/special teams touchdowns.

 

The key to knowing when to draft a DST is knowing the scoring in your league. While that should be standard fantasy football advice, quite often people assume that a defense is worthless or they can just pick one up off waivers each week. However, in some leagues, defenses can be a hidden source of points (or even negative points). Let's take a look at how DSTs compare depending on a scoring system.

 

In league No. 1, DSTs are given 20 points for zero points scored against (PA), 15 points for 1-6 PA, 10 points for 7-13, five points for 14-20, three points for 21-27, negative five (-5) points for 28 to 34 PA and negative ten (-10) points for over 35. Negative points are also given for defensive yards allowed (negative five points for 400-499 yards allowed, negative ten points for 500 or more).

 

In league No. 2, DSTs are given 10 points for zero PA, seven points for 1-6, five points for 7-13, three points for 14-20 points against, one point for 21-27 against, zero points for 28 to 34 points against and negative two (-2) points for over 35 PA. No points are awarded or subtracted for yards against.

 

In both leagues, the same scoring applies for sacks. In league No. 1, interceptions and fumble recoveries are one point; in league No. 2 they are two points. Here is how the points ended up in 2014:

 

DST

League No. 1

League No. 2

Buffalo

205

197

Seattle

176

164

Kansas City

165

141

Houston

164

196

Baltimore

162

165

New England

155

170

Detroit

146

156

Philadelphia

144

208

St. Louis

140

171

Green Bay

140

170

Arizona

121

168

Surprised? Based on the scoring, it seems that league No. 1 would have more points from the DST, but actually more points were taken from the DST because of the negative scoring. In most leagues, the scoring is similar to league No. 2, and you don't count on a lot of points from your DST from points allowed. Rather you want a DST that gives you points from either special teams or sacks/interceptions. Here's how the DSTs stacked up in 2014 (all DSTs with at least 50 percent ownership are included):

 

DST

2014 % Owned

Defensive TDs

Special Teams TDs

Sacks

Interceptions

Philadelphia

91%

7

4

49

12

Houston

99%

6

0

38

20

Minnesota

12%

5

0

41

13

Arizona

94%

4

1

35

18

Green Bay

82%

4

2

41

18

New England

89%

4

1

40

16

St. Louis

97%

3

2

40

13

Kansas City

72%

1

2

46

6

Buffalo

99%

2

2

54

19

Green Bay

82%

4

2

41

18

Seattle

100%

3

0

37

13

Baltimore

83%

2

1

49

11

Carolina

71%

2

1

40

14

Miami

66%

3

0

39

14

San Francisco

56%

3

0

36

23

What about the outlier here? Minnesota, owned in just 12 percent of leagues, actually put up the 13th-most fantasy points in league No. 2 and the 11th-most in league No. 1.

What does this prove? You don't need to reach for a defense on draft day, unless your league does have some crazy scoring system that is far from the norm. Everyone wanted to own Seattle last year (and still does this year), yet in league No. 2, Seattle is the ninth-best team in terms of fantasy points.

 

Look at the team. Look at the division; these are the teams they play twice. Look at the players on the team. While most fantasy owners don't follow defensive positions as closely as offensive positions, just skim through the defensive news.

 

Also know that more games are likely to be over 35 points than under six. Take that knowledge and apply it to your league. At the end of the day, the best option is sometimes to "stream" defenses. Use free agency or the waiver wire each week to grab a defense that has the best matchup. For example, teams playing Jacksonville in 2014 were usually great DSTs to use. (Note: Carolina plays Jacksonville in Week 1 of the 2015 season).

 

Don't reach on a defense, but if you do end up with one that is going well for you, stick with it. Since you will need a DST to start the year, if you are looking for ideas on which to draft, here are my 2015 DST rankings:

 

1. Seattle Seahawks

2. Buffalo Bills

3. New York Jets

4. St. Louis Rams

5. Houston Texans

6. Miami Dolphins

7. Detroit Lions

8. New England Patriots

9. Denver Broncos

10. Baltimore Ravens

11. Philadelphia Eagles

12. Arizona Cardinals

13. Kansas City Chiefs

14. Carolina Panthers

15. Indianapolis Colts

16. Minnesota Vikings

17. Green Bay Packers

18. Cincinnati Bengals

19. Dallas Cowboys

20. San Francisco 49ers

 

— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

More Stories: