DST is always a tough one in drafts, do you consider early targets or late ones? It’s no different for the 2021 season. There are some top-tier defenses that are taken early in drafts. By that I mean before the last 4 rounds of your draft.
However, that’s not really a good strategy. Instead, you should look to get a unit right at the end of your draft and hope to strike gold for the season. Obviously, if that doesn’t work then you’ve not invested alot of draft capital into the unit, and you can stream (continuing to try to find a breakout unit).
During the 2021 offseason, I looked at a way to identify teams that are worth targetting. I think I have a method that I will be testing during the season. It takes into account a few different defensive metrics to give a score for the defense (for fantasy).
New Orleans Saints (DST15 Sleeper ADP 230.8)
One thing that could really hurt the value of the defense is how much time they are going to spend on the field. If Jameis Winston struggles as he did in Tampa Bay, then it could be that the unit are asked to do too much and struggle to stay fresh.
The Saints unit got after the QB last season, able to keep the pressure up on offensive lines all season. During the draft, the team added more talent to their roster- using their first 3 picks on defensive talent. Those additions, along with keeping the core of their defense from last season, should give the team plenty of ability to score points.
Arizona Cardinals (DST19 Sleeper ADP 267.2)
The Cardinals ultimately won the battle to bring in J.J. Watt, who should help the defensive line improve this season. Another improvement will be the team being able to welcome Chandler Jones back into the rotation. The team did lose Patrick Peterson, who has at times been the heartbeat of this unit, but they were able to bring in Malcolm Butler to try and replace his on-field efforts.
There are talented players throughout this defense, with Watt and Jones on the ends of the defensive line, with high draft capital additions Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons and there is quite a unit bearing down on offenses.
Los Angeles Chargers (DST21 Sleeper ADP 270.0)
The Chargers were a unit that was targetted by many last season, but they disappointed. That disappointment has really driven down their draft cost, and they are now sitting behind the vast majority of the league in ADP.
However, there are reasons to think they could be effective this season. Part of that is the change in coaching, with the appointment of Brandon Staley (who was the Rams’ DC last season). Staley has been a coach for some effective defensive units, so should be able to find a way to improve the performances of the defense.
Combining that with the injuries that the team was hit with last season. The team was without Derwin James for the full season after he suffered a knee injury. They also lost Joey Bosa on the line for over a quarter of the season, and Chris Harris playing in just over half of the season. That’s a lot of talent that is on the sideline, and not on the field. With the addition of Asante Samuel in the draft, this unit has talent throughout the roster to make them an effective fantasy option this season.
Image Credit: Brett Davis – USA TODAY Sports