Can the New England Patriots repeat... as the No. 1 fantasy defense/special teams (D/ST)? It's certainly not going to be easy. Consider that New England took that title away from the Chicago Bears, who went from being by far the most dominant D/ST in 2018 to a measly 16th in fantasy points (Athlon scoring) last season.
Some chinks started to show in the Patriots' defense late last season before they got run over by Tennessee's Derrick Henry in the Wild Card Round. This offseason saw several key players from that unit (not to mention Tom Brady) depart, and New England also cut ties with longtime kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who appeared in just four games last season before a hip injury landed him on injured reserve.
And then on the eve of the scheduled start of training camp, veteran linebacker Dont'a HIghtower decided to opt out of playing this season due to concerns related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Hightower's decision shuffles the entire linebacking rotation as the Patriots will now have to rely on several unproven guys and rookies to step up.
The Patriots are still coached by Bill Belichick and are famous for reloading but this won't be the same defense and rookie Justin Rohrwasser is expected to take Gostkowski's job. Those factors alone are why New England isn't even considered the No. 1 fantasy D/ST entering the 2020 season, but it doesn't mean the Patriots aren't draftable either.
The Ravens, the Chargers and the Rams lead the D/ST rankings and they are followed by, you guessed it, the Bears. Chicago has much to prove after last season's fantasy dud, which is what we may be saying about New England this time next year. But for now, these rankings will help you sort out the D/ST options, especially if you are a little gun-shy about the Patriots now.