Defensive Team By Committee: A closer look, drafting defenses, fantasy football defense

Defensive Team By Committee: A closer look

Paulsen Home / Sports Channel / Bullz-Eye Home

Ray LewisDefensive Team By Committee (DTBC) is a great way to get good production out of your fantasy team’s starting defensive slot without using a high pick on draft day. The thinking is that, year to year, it’s difficult to predict which defenses are going to outperform the competition. We have a general idea, but oftentimes the top defenses in August don’t perform up to expectations.

Just take a look at the top four defenses (and their respective Average Draft Position) from the average ESPN draft back in August. For a 12-team league, the Ravens (5.2), Bears (5.3), Patriots (6.8) and Chargers (7.5) were all taken on average in the first seven rounds. Chicago, New England and San Diego did finish in the top five, but the Ravens finished 24th in Antsports’ High Performance Scoring System, which is a fairly standard scoring format for defenses.

Rounding out the first 10 defenses selected last August are the Jaguars (who finished 9th), Broncos (23rd), Colts (13th), Vikings (4th), Steelers (10th) and Eagles (25th). So three of the first 10 defenses selected on draft day finished 23rd or worse.

DTBC says to basically ignore your defense on draft day and use that middle round pick on a skill position player that may be able to start for you. In the final rounds, just pick up a decent defense with a good matchup in the first week. Then, as the season wears on, try to identify the poor offenses and pick up defenses that face those offenses on a weekly basis.

I’ve been utilizing DTBC more and more over the last few years. This season, I used it in several leagues and had good success. Each week, I would identify a few available defenses with matchups against the worst offenses. But sometimes it was tough to make a decision. I generally went with defenses playing at home thinking that teams generally play better on their home field. But I hadn’t done any research to support this. With the season over, it’s a good time to take a look back and see if there is any truth to this conventional wisdom.

The following table lists all 32 defenses and the total, home and away points per game for each team. The table also shows how defenses performed both home and away against the 10 worst offenses in the league: SF, STL, KC, NYJ, ATL, OAK, DET, MIA, DEN and BAL. (It’s no coincidence that all of these teams, save for Detroit and Denver, had serious instability at QB.) The results are interesting.

Team Avg Home Away vW10- Home vW10- Away
SD 11.9 14.6 9.1 11.6 17.3
NE 10.9 13.9 7.9 16.0 9.3
SEA 9.9 13.3 6.6 20.0 11.0
MIN 9.6 8.8 10.5 17.3 10.3
CHI 9.5 11.6 7.4 13.7 14.0
NYG 9.3 9.1 9.5 14.0 11.0
GB 8.9 11.3 6.6 13.5 9.0
DAL 8.4 9.1 7.6 14.5 4.0
JAX 8.3 9.6 7.0 12.5 9.0
PIT 8.3 10.6 6.0 16.3 5.5
TB 8.3 10.3 6.4 18.5 9.0
TEN 8.2 9.4 7.0 14.3 3.5
IND 7.9 6.8 9.1 6.5 9.7
BUF 7.8 9.0 6.6 10.3 11.5
HOU 7.8 11.4 4.1 11.3 4.0
DET 7.5 10.8 4.3 19.0 6.0
ARI 7.2 8.3 6.1 8.8 6.7
CIN 7.1 8.0 6.1 10.7 7.8
NO 6.9 5.6 8.3 4.5 11.5
WAS 6.9 7.5 6.3 14.0 4.0
CLE 6.7 6.8 6.6 9.0 9.0
NYJ 6.6 6.1 7.1 8.5 6.0
DEN 6.3 7.8 4.9 10.5 7.0
BAL 6.3 7.8 4.8 14.0 7.5
MIA 5.8 5.8 5.8 7.7 1.0
PHI 5.7 5.0 6.4 9.0 10.0
CAR 5.6 5.8 5.4 15.5 5.0
KC 5.6 4.8 6.4 2.5 5.3
STL 5.6 5.0 6.1 8.5 7.5
OAK 5.1 3.9 6.3 5.3 8.0
SF 4.9 4.8 5.1 8.0 6.5
ATL 4.8 4.5 5.1 8.0 9.0
All DST 7.5 8.3 6.6 11.7 8.3
DST #6-#25 7.5 8.5 6.5 11.7 7.6

As a whole, defenses averaged 7.5 fantasy points per game this season. When only counting home games, the average rises to 8.3 points, as opposed to just 6.6 points on the road. That’s a substantial 26% increase in production when comparing away games to home games. When looking only at games against the 10 worst offenses, defenses averaged 11.7 points at home versus 8.3 points on the road.

Since the DTBC requires owners to utilize the waiver wire when making selections, I removed the top five defenses (which were most likely unavailable) and ran the numbers again for defenses #6 through #25, thinking that most owners would want to stay away from the very worst defenses. Of that 20-team subgroup, just five teams (NYG, IND, NO, NYJ and MIA) averaged more points on the road than at home. As a whole, the 20-team subgroup averaged 6.5 points on the road and 8.5 points at home, which represents a 31% increase in fantasy points scored at home. It looks like the tendency to play better at home increases as we move down the list and the defenses are more mediocre.

When looking at the subgroup against the worst 10 offenses in the league, these 20 defenses averaged 7.6 points on the road and 11.7 points at home. That’s a 54% increase in production at home. So when looking at matchups, it’s usually better to take the home team, even if the defense isn’t quite as good.

By utilizing DTBC, fantasy owners can free up an extra pick in the middle rounds to use on a skill position player that might be able to start for their team. Sure, it’s nice to be able to plug in a great defense and count on good production every week, but there’s no guarantee that the top defense in August will even finish in the top 20 by the end of the season. (Just look at the Ravens.) DTBC takes a little more work, but with that extra pick fantasy owners could have snagged solid guys like Kellen Winslow or Jerricho Cotchery, or breakout stars like Tony Romo or Braylon Edwards, who were all drafted in that 60-90 pick range last August. That alone should be reason enough to consider adopting the DTBC approach.

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