The free agency period has affected our 2020 fantasy defense rankings, but unlike the offensive positions, it's more difficult to quantify the overall impact around the league. There might be a big name who changes teams, like DeForest Buckner going from San Francisco to Indianapolis, but the totality of a team's moves is what really matters. Moreover, a run-stuffer might greatly improve a defense in real life, but the fantasy impact could be minimal compared to a big-play defensive back or a pass-rusher. It isn't until after the draft -- and after some veterans get signed later in the offseason (something that doesn't happen as often with relevant skill players) -- that we really know which D/STs should move up a tier and now qualify as sleepers heading into fantasy football draft season.
Obviously, the upper tier of our 2020 rankings closely mirrors what happened last season. That's rarely how it works in the fantasy world, though it's tough to predict a big upswing in takeaways (especially with fumble recoveries) and it's impossible to predict a significant change in D/ST touchdowns. That said, we can give the benefit of the doubt to talented defenses with with proven pass-rushers and playmakers.
It's clear some teams are making big pushes to add talent on the defensive side of the ball this offseason, with the Chargers (Linval Joseph, Chris Harris, and, ostensibly, Derwin James) making some notable moves that vaulted them into the top 10. Teams like the Raiders (Maliek Collins, Eli Apple, Carl Nassib, Corey Littleton, Nick Kwiatkoski) and Bengals (DJ Reader, Trae Waynes, Vonn Bell, Mackensie Alexander) are suddenly on the radar as sleepers after a flurry of offseason acquisitions.
Again, it's tough to say just how much of an impact all these moves will make, but few saw the 49ers going from bottom-feeder to elite D/ST in the span of one season last year, so it's important to pay attention to every move.
For now, this is how we see D/STs stacking up, but there's still a lot of offseason to go, so check back for updates!
5 Baltimore Ravens
2020 Fantasy Football Defense Rankings
New England Patriots
San Francisco 49ers
Kansas City Chiefs
Los Angeles Chargers
New Orleans Saints
Los Angeles Rams
Green Bay Packers
New York Jets
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New York Giants