Using Defensive Team By Waiver Wire (DTBWW) on Draft Day

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By John Paulsen (Senior Editor) on July 30, 2012

John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 season, finished as runner-up in 2011 and 4th in 2012 for an unprecedented three straight top 5 finishes. Cumulatively, John was the most accurate expert from 2010-13 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate preseason rankings.  Follow John on Twitter: @4for4_John.

It's not a good idea to spend too much time or energy crafting a draft strategy for your fantasy defense, nor do you want to burn an early (or even a mid-round) pick on a position that is notoriously unreliable year to year.

Instead, we recommend using Defensive Team By Waiver Wire (DTBWW) which simply asks you to target a mediocre defense on the waiver wire each week, looking for a good matchup that's preferably at home. You will typically get good defensive production without having to burn a semi-valuable pick on draft day.
 
Every week, I write a DTBWW article for subscribers which highlights some of the best matchups of the week. A good matchup typically boils down to QB play -- the worse the QB, the better the matchup. Solid QBs who take a lot of sacks (e.g. Jay Cutler or Ben Roethlisberger) can also be attractive matchups if their offensive lines begin to struggle in pass blocking.
 
My top DTBWW picks averaged DT5 numbers in 2009, DT6 numbers in 2010 and DT8 numbers in 2011, so the system does work.
 
Fantasy owners still have to pick a defense on draft day, so here are a few DTs to target with one of your last two picks. We're looking for either value defenses that have a chance to become every-week starters or defenses with a few good matchups to start the season. I'll also list their positional ADP in parenthesis so you'll have an idea where to pick them.
 
Note: If you're in a deep league with a lot of teams or large roster sizes (18-20 or more) then you may want to wait until 10 or 11 defenses have been drafted before picking one of the DTs listed below. Otherwise, you can generally wait until one of your final two picks to pull the trigger. 
 
 
Buffalo Bills (going DT11 in drafts)
The arrival of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson could take this unit from below average to solid. The Bills also used the 10th overall pick on CB Stephon Gilmore to shore up the secondary. According to our Team Defense Hot Spots, the Bills have three nice matchups to start the season (@NYJ, KC and @CLE) and six straight favorable matchups to close the year.
 
Detroit Lions (DT10)
The Lions finished DT4 last season and open with the Rams at home in Week 1. That's reason enough to take them at the end of the draft.
 
Cincinnati Bengals (N/A)
Last year's DT14 opens with the Ravens in Week 1, but follows that up with a nice five-game stretch that features the Browns, Redskins, Jaguars, Dolphins and then the Browns again.
 
Minnesota Vikings (N/A)
Even the Vikings should be able to post some fantasy points in their Week 1 matchup at home against Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars.
 
 

Defensive Team By Committee (DTBC)

When roster sizes hit the 18-20 (or more) mark or in leagues with 16 or more teams, playing DTBWW can get a little dicey as the options on the waiver wire start to dry up since the other owners are more likely to carry a second defense. For those of you that can afford to use two roster spots on DTs, target the Bills and Lions and use them in a committee.
 
DEF W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8 W9 W10 W11 W12 W13 W14 W15 W16 W17
Lions
DEF-6
26
STL
12
@SF
15
@TEN
30
MIN
BYE 17
@PHI
19
@CHI
23
SEA
32
@JAX
30
@MIN
1
GB
5
HOU
25
IND
1
@GB
27
@ARI
7
ATL
19
CHI
Bills
DEF-16
21
@NYJ
24
KC
31
@CLE
3
NE
12
@SF
27
@ARI
15
TEN
BYE 5
@HOU
3
@NE
29
MIA
25
@IND
32
JAX
26
STL
23
SEA
29
@MIA
21
NYJ

Schedule difficulty based on opponent's offensive matchup ranking. Top offense = 1, bottom offense = 32.

 
The Lions have what look like great matchups (MIN, JAX and then MIN again) when the Bills play the Patriots and Texans, and the worst matchup this duo has is the 49ers in Week 5. Unless one of these units falls well short of expectations, they should make a fine DTBC in 2012.
 

For more information about DT strength of schedule, check out our Team Defense Hot Spots.

Filed Under: 2012, Preseason