If you were the guy or girl in your league who drafted the Seattle Seahawks‘ defense in the fifth, sixth or seventh round of your 2014 fantasy football draft, you are probably wondering what went wrong.
I don’t agree with drafting a defense that early in any format, but I do understand the thought process of a fantasy player who did. Looking at the statistics for standard scoring leagues on ESPN from 2013, the Seahawks’ defense averaged 12.18 points per game. If your tight end wasn’t great, or your running backs were inconsistent, that is a huge cushion to help make up the difference. Fantasy players also want any edge they can get over their opponents, and drafting a high-scoring defense seems like something that can put you over the top The biggest reason why you should wait on your defense, however, is opportunity cost.
Let’s say you were in the eighth round of your draft, and all of the defenses were still on the board. You decided this was the right time to strike, and you picked up the Seahawks. In that same round, these players were also being drafted according to Fantasy Football Calculator: Colin Kaepernick, Martellus Bennett, Ronnie Hillman and Mark Ingram. If you spent your first-round pick on Eddie Lacy, having Mark Ingram would be pretty nice right about now. If you drafted Montee Ball near the end of the first round or start of the second, backing him up with Hillman in the later rounds would have helped to protect your investment. While Ball has scored 23 points in the entire 2014 fantasy football season, Hillman scored 21 points in Week 7 alone, and currently sits at 50 points for the year in standard scoring leagues.
If you went as early as the fifth round in drafting Seattle, you missed out on Philip Rivers and Jeremy Maclin in that same round. You obviously miss out on better players the earlier you draft a defense, but you miss out on building key depth for your roster in the later rounds, which is how smart fantasy football players build championship rosters. You can absolutely dominate your draft, but you can’t account for Calvin Johnson missing four games. That is why depth is so important.
The second reason for drafting a defense later, is the unpredictable nature of the position. Every team in the NFL goes through key changes from year to year, and it is hard for a defense to find the same type of production. The Seahawks’ defense was so dominant and provided fantasy football owners with a lot of points because of the turnovers it created, and most fantasy players didn’t fully comprehend the extraordinary year Seattle was having in 2013. There was only one game in 2013 in which the Seattle defense did not have a turnover, and there were only three games where Seattle had just one turnover.
For standard scoring leagues on ESPN, here are your top-10 defenses:
Here are the top-10 scoring defenses from 2013:
You see a few teams repeated, but the Seahawks and Panthers aren’t even on the 2014 list.
1. You lost out on owning key players if you drafted the Seahawk’s defense before the 10th round
2. The circumstances to create the highest-scoring defense in fantasy football are difficult to repeat from year to year.
So, if you are thinking about drafting the Miami Dolphins’ defense in the seventh round next year, take some time to think of all the opportunities you will be missing out on.