Using SOS to Find Optimal D/ST Pairings

Jul 29, 2020
Using SOS to Find Optimal D/ST Pairings

How many teams are in your fantasy football league? How many roster spots does it have? These are two questions you’ll need to answer to determine whether streaming is a viable option in your specific league. I recently wrote an article that discussed why streaming works and how to do it.

In my own leagues with typical roster sizes, I’m usually not even drafting a defense, unless it’s very close to the start of the season. My preference is to select high-upside players in the last round like Darrynton Evans or Anthony McFarland. If Derrick Henry or James Conner were to suffer an injury during training camp, either one of these late-round players would see a significant increase in volume and be on the RB2 radar. Having a player on your roster in this scenario gives you more of a competitive advantage than having a top defense on your roster. You’ll have to eventually drop one player on your roster in order to add a defense right before the start of the season.

It may be difficult to stream in formats with very deep rosters. A practical solution is to draft two defenses. Given the limited value of the position, you’ll want to wait as long as possible to select defenses in the draft. The goal is to draft a pair of late-round defenses whose schedules work well together. This article will tell you about defenses you can target late in your fantasy draft with the easiest projected schedules and which ones pair well together for this upcoming season.

Late Round Targets

If you prefer to wait until the last round to select a defense, the Cardinals look like a solid option. Arizona’s defense pairs well with a number of other teams I’ll discuss below. The Cardinals have the easiest projected schedule this season according to our signature strength of schedule metric, Adjusted Fantasy Points Allowed (aFPA). It’s very useful in identifying which defenses have the easiest or toughest schedule. From a fantasy perspective, the Cardinals, Seahawks, Dolphins, and Raiders have a real chance of exceeding expectations this season.

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona had one of the worst defensive units in the NFL last season. The Cardinals ranked last in the league in total yards allowed (402) per game and 28th in points allowed per game (27.6). Did you know that Arizona would have finished with an 8-8 record in 2019 if their unit had been able to garner one defensive stop in the fourth quarter of three games last season in which they had a lead?

The Cardinals’ front office was very aggressive in free agency and the NFL Draft earlier this year in addressing the defensive side of the football. Arizona struggled mightily in coverage. The Cardinals allowed the 10th most air yards and the most yards after the catch. Were you aware the Dolphins were the only defense that allowed more passing touchdowns than Arizona? The Cardinals selected Isaiah Simmons out of Clemson in the first round of the draft. His versatility will allow Arizona to use him as a linebacker and as a safety. Simmons’ addition will help improve the team’s pass coverage, but it’s imperative that cornerback Byron Murphy and safety Budda Baker improve their quality of play in 2020. Arizona was devastated on the defensive side of the football last season. The Cardinals signed Jordan Phillips and drafted defensive tackles Leki Fotu out of Utah and Rashard Lawrence from LSU. Arizona also locked down other young players on the defensive line.

The Cardinals enter 2020 significantly better at linebacker with the additions of Devon Kennard and De’Vondre Campbell. The team also drafted Evan Weaver out of California. Their secondary is relatively unchanged this season, and it will make a difference having their two top cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford for the entire season. The Cardinals are well-positioned to outperform their average draft position.

Seattle Seahawks

Continue reading for three more D/ST's to target late in your draft and a pair of D/ST's that matchup perfectly throughout the year!

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