2023 Fantasy Football Deep League DST Targets

Syndication: PackersNews
Syndication: PackersNews

We're entering one of the biggest weeks for fantasy football drafts, so I know you're clamoring for your defense/special teams (DST) content. So far this offseason I’ve put out my rankings and walked you through my general strategy for drafting defenses. Today, we're going to look at my favorite defenses to draft in deeper formats.

For our purposes, deep formats will be any leagues with more than 12 teams, so these will be my favorite DSTs currently going outside the top-12 in ADP. As of now, the top 12 DSTs by ADP are the 49ers, Cowboys, Bills, Jets, Eagles, Dolphins, Patriots, Steelers, Ravens, Browns, Saints, and Broncos.

If you've read my earlier articles then you know that I love targeting the Ravens and Saints in my drafts, but if all 12 of the above defenses are gone (some of which I'm not even remotely looking to select in drafts), then who would I be going after?

Green Bay Packers (ADP: 16)

As I mentioned in my draft strategy article, I like looking beyond just Week 1 when drafting a defense because I don't want to have to spend any waiver money or worry about waiver priority streaming a defense in Week 2 when I can be using those precious resources to scoop up a WR or RB who showed out in Week 1 and seems locked into a meaningful role. That means I like drafting defense that have a few good matchups in a row.

Well, Green Bay gets the Bears, Falcons, and Saints to start the season, which is a pretty solid schedule. You have opposing quarterbacks in Justin Fields , Desmond Ridder, and Derek Carr who are prone to mistakes, and you have supporting casts that have more question marks than many offenses around the league.

The Packers have always had an above-average fantasy defense. They are frequently among the most blitz-heavy teams in the NFL, which helped them last year finish sixth in pressure rate and third in turnover rate. This offseason, they added solid pieces to the defensive line with Lukas Van Ness , Colby Wooden , and Karl Brooks  so I think the sack numbers will tick up to match the pressure rate, especially in Week 1 against a Bears offensive line that I don't fully trust. The Falcons don't give up a lot of sacks, but Desmond Ridder could absolutely turn the ball over a few times against that Green Bay pressure.

Washington Commanders (ADP: 21)

The Commanders are another team with a solid start to the season, facing Arizona and Denver before you’d have to drop them ahead of their games against Buffalo and Philadelphia. It seems highly likely that Josh Dobbs or Clayton Tune will be starting at quarterback in Week 1 for an Arizona team that figures to be among the worst in the NFL, so we want to attack that situation, but I also don't think Denver has fixed all of their issues just because Sean Payton is there. Especially if Jerry Jeudy and Javonte Williams are not 100% by Week 1.

The Commanders have an elite defensive front and get a healthy Chase Young  back this season. Even with Young missing a chunk of the season last year, they finished seventh in pressure rate, 10th in sacks, and seventh in the rate of opponents’ drives that ended in a score. They drafted solid cornerback Emmanuel Forbes to help shore up the secondary, but this pass rush is what will make this unit go.

Plus, with Eric Bieniemy running the offense and Sam Howell in at quarterback, I think Washington will score points, which would put pressure on opponents to drop back to pass more and that's exactly when this defensive front will eat.

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Kansas City Chiefs (ADP: 13)

The Chiefs don't have a great Week 1 matchup against a Detroit Lions team that allowed the second-fewest sacks and turned the ball over the least in 2022. However, playing against the Chiefs puts a lot of pressure on opposing offenses. With opposing teams trying hard to keep up with Patrick Mahomes , the KC defense is able to feast on lots of drop backs and passing opportunities, which leads to sacks and turnovers.

Last year, the Chiefs finished eighth in pressure rate and fourth in sacks, but the turnovers weren’t there like they have been in years past. While they're not likely to pick up tons of turnovers against Detroit, it's also important to keep in mind that the Lions won't have Jameson Williams and Amon-Ra St. Brown is dealing with an ankle injury that may have him at less than 100%. Factor in that two of the main weapons in Detroit's offense are rookies who will be playing in their first NFL game, and you can see a situation where some sloppiness comes into play.

Again, it's not a matchup I love to target, but the Chiefs are a defense that I like who added solid pieces in safety Mike Edwards and linebacker Drue Tranquill  this offseason. In deep leagues, I think you can take the gamble.

Seattle Seahawks (ADP: 19)

Back to targeting matchups that appear strong on paper, I like the Seahawks in deeper formats. Now, with Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp (mostly) healthy, this Rams offense is not likely to be as giving to fantasy defenses as last year. Still, the offensive line is not great, and there aren't many weapons on the perimeter aside from Kupp.

Seattle has some strong young defensive pieces, like cornerback Tariq Wooten, who helped the Seahawks finish 10th in turnover rate and 12th in sacks last year. They gave up too many big plays and points, but they also made a few solid movies in the offseason by adding defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones, defensive back Julian Love , and drafting the consensus top cornerback in Devon Witherspoon .

Jacksonville Jaguars (ADP: 24)

I think they will likely remain a bit too inconsistent to count on regularly in fantasy, but I don't mind them in Week 1 if I'm looking for a deep league target.

Lastly, I'm happy to wait and target an offense with a rookie quarterback who might be without their best player. In Week 1, the Jaguars face the Colts and while there is a lot of excitement in fantasy football circles around Anthony Richardson , he seems far more likely to be a better fantasy quarterback than real-life quarterback in his rookie season.

He was inconsistent at Florida, completing just 53.8% of his passes last season. This is a Jaguars defense that was sixth in turnover rate last year and will make him pay for off-target throws. Jacksonville was also fourth in the NFL in pressure rate, so if they get into Richardson's face often, they are more likely to create rushed and panicked plays from the rookie.

What's more, we have no idea what's happening with Jonathan Taylor . While it's possibly that he suits up in Week 1, he's had limited practice time and may also still be dealing with a bad ankle. If the Colts were to start rookie Evan Hull at running back alongside Richardson, the Jaguars would be a matchup that we certainly want to smash.