Team Defense

Definition of "Team Defense" in Fantasy Football

To simplify the fantasy football game, and to concentrate on the more exciting offensive aspect of football, most fantasy leagues utilize a feature called "team defense" in which fantasy managers select an entire team's defensive players to score points for him. Whereas your offense is most likely stocked with individual studly players, your defense will be in the hands of one team's entire defensive squad.

The opposite of team defense is a feature called IDP, or Individual Defensive Player. Very few leagues use IDP, so familiarizing yourself with NFL team's defensive rankings is a crucial step in preparing for your fantasy football season.

The big argument against the prevalence of the team defense in fantasy football is that team's defensive skills are notoriously difficult do predict and almost always as fickle as an NFL's kicker's skills. Look at what teams were supposed to be the heavy hitters this year defensively -- at the end of the year I guarantee those teams will be well out of the "order" that fantasy football analysts put them in. A small example:

In 2007, according to ESPN the magazine, the top four fantasy defenses were supposed to be Baltimore, Chicago, New England, and San Diego in that order. In actuality, at least one team jumped way above the forecaster's predictions (Seattle) to take over the number three spot, while the Raven's D was virtually invisible that year. With so little ability to predict how a defense will perform, how can fantasy managers possible make a good selection?

Rather than dig deep and turn this into a true conundrum, I'll just give my pat fantasy football answer: because it's fun. We enjoy digging through piles of notes on our offensive selections, and we fantasy football junkies will spend our lunch break running through a couple of mock drafts.. Are either of these things logical? Of course not. In much the same way, selecting a team defense wrestles us away from logic and reason and reminds us why we love the game. One week we may be dominant, crushing the skull of our weak brained fantasy opponent -- then the next week, our team defense falls apart and we get rushed off the field in an ambulance.

All part of the game.

Before you go getting too serious about team defense, remember the fiasco with the Baltimore Ravens. Everyone and their dog thought the Ravens defense was going to be completely dominant -- in fact, ESPN had Baltimore Ravens defense listed 67th in their player draft list overall. Anybody out there who chose the Ravens defense early in their draft is still kicking themselves. Don't go for a team defense too early, but don't squander your defensive pick at random.

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