Be honest: Did you actually do any research on fantasy football defenses before your draft? It's okay if you didn't. D/ST is one of the hardest positions to draft, but it certainly qualifies as the easiest to stream. Often, fantasy owners can land one of the year's top D/ST units on the waiver wire because certain teams emerge as surprisingly solid stop units, and teams with good injury luck often field solid depth. Of course, all of that doesn't make putting our Week 1 fantasy defense rankings together any easier, as we only know so much about scheme and matchups.
We can still make some educated guesses, though. The Eagles (@ Washington), Colts (@ Jaguars), and Jaguars (vs. Colts) look like some of the best Week 1 streaming options if they're available in your league. All are facing teams that have either a mediocre offensive line (Washington and Jacksonville) or a quarterback prone to turning the ball over (Indianapolis). That will give each team a chance to rack up points and potentially work their way into the top 10 defenses this week.
If you picked the Chiefs or Saints defenses, both of which are ranked in the top 10 of our D/ST rankings for 2020, then you might one to consider streaming right out of the games. The Chiefs are taking on the Texans and Deshaun Watson in what could be a shootout, while the Saints are taking on Tom Brady, who just doesn't turn the ball over much. Both have enough playmakers that they could generate a big play and pay off, but they're a bit risky to trust, at least in Week 1.
Until we see teams on the field, it will be tough to fully project which defenses have the best matchups, but based on what we know, these are how our D/ST rankings shake out for Week 1.
NOTE: Check back for updates throughout the week.
8San Francisco 49ers vs. Cardinals. The Cardinals have made some improvements to their offense this year -- notably the arrival of DeAndre Hopkins -- but Kyler Murray was still sacked a league-high 48 times last year and the team made few improvements to the offensive line. Nick Bosa and the San Francisco defensive line should take advantage of that, but they'll need to force Murray into some turnovers after failing to do so in two games last year.
Week 1 Fantasy Defense Rankings
|1||New England Patriots vs. Dolphins. Last season, the Dolphins allowed 9.7 fantasy points per game (FPPG) on average to defenses. The Patriots may have lost a lot of linebacker talent during the offseason, but they still have one of the league's best secondaries, led by reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Stephon Gilmore. The Patriots had a league-high 25 picks last year and should be able to force Ryan Fitzpatrick into some mistakes.|
|2||Buffalo Bills vs. Jets. The Bills ranked 10th in turnovers forced last year while placing 12th in the league in sacks. The Jets had plenty of issues facing strong defenses, and they allowed 10.8 FPPG to defenses, the second-most in the NFL. Last year, the Bills allowed just 14.5 total points per game against the Jets and averaged three sacks per game despite playing Sam Darnold twice.|
|3||Pittsburgh Steelers @ Giants. Daniel Jones threw 12 interceptions as a rookie, but more importantly, he fumbled a league-high 18 times. The Steelers, who generated a league-high 54 sacks in '19, should look to feast on rookie tackle Andrew Thomas and rattle Jones early and often.|
|4||Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington. Last season, Dwayne Haskins was on pace to be sacked 52 times and throw 12 picks while Washington averaged the fewest points per game in the league (16.7). Washington should be better than they were last year, but they still don't have many high-quality receivers and lack proven blocking on the left side of their offensive line. Philly's pass rush should find a way to take advantage of that.|
|5||Baltimore Ravens vs. Browns. Baker Mayfield chucked 21 interceptions last season and was sacked 40 times. The Ravens have improved their pass rush greatly by trading for Calais Campbell, signing Derek Wolfe, and drafting Justin Madubuike. Meanwhile, they cut Earl Thomas, but they still have plenty of talent in the secondary to take advantage of Mayfield's penchant for turnovers.|
|6||Indianapolis Colts @ Jaguars. The Colts should be well positioned to take advantage of the tanking Jaguars. Jacksonville cut Leonard Fournette and will be without Ryquell Armstead (COVID-19 list), so its running game may not be able to do much. Gardner Minshew didn't turn the ball over a ton last year, but the Colts could cause problems for him up front after adding DeForest Buckner to the fold on defense. The Jaguars ranked eighth in FPPG allowed to D/STs last year (8.3)|
|7||Chicago Bears @ Lions. Is Matthew Stafford healthy? That will be an important question for the Lions as they face off with the Bears in Week 1. Even if he is, Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn will be able to generate plenty of pressure on the veteran QB, especially if the team's RB by committee approach can't establish itself. The Lions have only averaged 16.3 points per game in their past three games against the Bears.|
|8||San Francisco 49ers vs. Cardinals. The Cardinals have made some improvements to their offense this year -- notably the arrival of DeAndre Hopkins -- but Kyler Murray was still sacked a league-high 48 times last year and the team made few improvements to the offensive line. Nick Bosa and the San Francisco defensive line should take advantage of that, but they'll need to force Murray into some turnovers after failing to do so in two games last year.|
|9||Los Angeles Chargers @ Bengals. Joe Burrow is set to make his first start against a tough-looking Chargers defense. The absence of Derwin James (knee) will hurt a bit, but the Chargers still have plenty of talent on defense including Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, Chris Harris, and Casey Hayward to generate pressure and force Burrow into some turnovers. The only reason the Chargers don't come in higher on this list is because of the unknowns surrounding Burrow, the No. 1 pick, in a shortened offseason.|
|10||Tennessee Titans @ Broncos. With Jadeveon Clowney now in tow, the Titans have a massively upgraded pass rush that will get to face off against a quarterback with four career starts playing behind a mediocre offensive line. Sign us up for that.|
|11||Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Colts. The Jaguars may have traded a good chunk of their defensive talent over the past calendar year, but they get to face Philip Rivers, who is coming off a 20-pick season. They may not limit the amount of points the Colts put up, but if they can force a couple of turnovers or generate a pick-six, they will be a good streaming option.|
|12||Denver Broncos vs. Titans. The addition of Jurrell Casey should help the Broncos' pass rush. So, too, should the acquisition of AJ Bouye and the improved health of Bryce Callahan. Casey gets to play in an immediate revenge game against his former team, the Titans, so there should be motivation for the Broncos to rack up some sacks of Ryan Tannehill.|
|13||Seattle Seahawks @ Falcons. The Seahawks were able to force 32 turnovers, the third-most in the NFL last year. The Falcons have a high-flying offense, but they are prone to turnovers -- their 25 was the ninth-most in the league last year -- and Matt Ryan was sacked 48 times, tied for the most in the league with Kyler Murray. That'll make the Seahawks a solid streaming option in this contest.|
|14||Carolina Panthers vs. Raiders. Last season, the Raiders didn't turn the ball over a lot, but they only averaged 19.6 points per game. The Panthers spent a lot of draft capital improving their defense, so they should be able to limit the amount of scoring the Raiders can do, giving them a relatively high floor.|
|15||Minnesota Vikings vs. Packers. The Vikings ranked fourth in the league in takeaways last year with 31, but trusting them against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers may not be ideal.|
|16||Kansas City Chiefs vs. Texans. Playing against the Texans' strong offense won't be easy, but the Chiefs could get some pressure on Deshaun Watson, who has been sacked 106 times over the past two seasons.|
|17||Washington Football Team vs. Eagles|
|18||Los Angeles Rams vs. Cowboys|
|19||Green Bay Packers @ Vikings|
|20||Cincinnati Bengals vs. Chargers|
|21||Detroit Lions vs. Bears|
|22||New Orleans Saints vs. Buccaneers|
|23||New York Jets @ Bills|
|24||Cleveland Browns @ Ravens|
|25||Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Saints|
|26||Dallas Cowboys @ Rams|
|27||Houston Texans @ Chiefs|
|28||Las Vegas Raiders @ Panthers|
|29||New York Giants vs. Steelers|
|30||Arizona Cardinals @ 49ers|
|31||Atlanta Falcons vs. Seahawks|
|32||Miami Dolphins @ Patriots|