Fantasy Football Week 1 Rankings: Underrated Defenses in Position to Stream

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Fantasy Football Week 1 Rankings: Underrated Defenses in Position to Stream
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Defenses can make or break any matchup—just ask anyone who had (or played against) the Seahawks in Week 14, the 49ers in Week 12 or the Bears in one of the several weeks they scored multiple touchdowns.

If you're like me, that means scouring the waiver wire. 

Simply put, I'm not a proponent of spending an early draft pick on a defense. Defensive touchdowns are impossible to predict, and although we know squads such as the Seahawks, 49ers, Texans and Bengals won't allow a ton of points, that doesn't always necessarily equate to elite fantasy units. 

Just last year, the Ravens, Eagles, Falcons and Lions were ranked in the top 10. None of them finished there, and Philly and Detroit finished in the bottom five. 

The position is just too much of a crapshoot to spend an early pick on. 

All of that, of course, is just a fancy way of justifying the decision to stream defenses, especially early in the year before you know who the breakout squads are. 

That being said, let's take a look at the Week 1 defensive rankings along with some perfect stream options. 

Week 1 Fantasy Football Defensive Rankings
Rank Team Week 1 Opponent
1 New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
2 Houston Texans at San Diego Chargers
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Jets
4 Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers
5 San Francisco 49ers Green Bay Packers
6 St. Louis Rams Arizona Cardinals
7 Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams
8 Indianapolis Colts Oakland Raiders
9 Chicago Bears Cincinnati Bengals
10 Cincinnati Bengals at Chicago Bears
11 Pittsburgh Steelers Tennessee Titans
12 Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers
13 Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars
14 Washington Redskins Philadelphia Eagles
15 Cleveland Browns Miami Dolphins
16 Denver Broncos Baltimore Ravens
17 Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns
18 Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
19 Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos
20 New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
21 Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers
22 New York Jets Tampa Bay Buccaneers
23 Dallas Cowboys New York Giants
24 Jacksonville Jaguars Kansas City Chiefs
25 San Diego Chargers Houston Texans
26 Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints
27 Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins
28 Carolina Panthers Seattle Seahawks
29 Oakland Raiders at Indianapolis Colts
30 Detroit Lions Minnesota Vikings
31 New Orleans Saints Atlanta Falcons
32 Buffalo Bills New England Patriots

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

One of the worst passing teams in the league against one of the best secondaries. It's a classic recipe for fantasy success. 

Although the New York Jets starting QB has yet to be officially announced—just a fantastic sign that the position is in good shape—indications are that rookie Geno Smith will get the nod, according to ESPN's Rich Cimini:

The decision to sit Smith confirms what we reported Sunday: Even though the Jets are calling it a day-to-day injury, there's no guarantee Sanchez will be ready for Week 1. Some people close to the organization believe it'll be Smith against the Bucs on Sept. 8.

Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, via's Ian Rapaport, also reportedly is putting his confidence in Smith:

The youngster out of West Virginia has plenty of talent, but let's not forget he is a rookie, he completed just 59.5 percent of his throws and tossed three interceptions in the preseason and he is throwing to Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley. 

And in reality, it makes no difference who is under center. 

The Bucs, whose secondary resembled a colander last season, have added elite corner Darrelle Revis, who is expected to play, physical safety Dashon Goldson, who can also line up in the slot, and rookie Johnthan Banks. 

Greg Schiano's defense is already a very good unit, but against an offense in shambles like the Jets, it will be elite. 

Indianapolis Colts

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

ESPN and Yahoo! Sports both rank the Colts as the 29th-best fantasy defense, so chances are they are available in your league. 

With the Oakland Raiders as their Week 1 opponent, you are advised to quickly change that. 

Terrelle Pryor has the athleticism and ability to extend plays to make me a little more uneasy about this pick, but whether it's him or Matt Flynn starting, there will still be an unproven commodity underneath center for the Raiders. 

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Throw in a shaky offensive line, a running back who averaged a career-low 3.3 yards per attempt last season and a mediocre receiving corps, and the Raiders will be a target for defensive streaming all season long. 

Where will the Colts finish Week 1 in the fantasy rankings?

Submit Vote vote to see results

Although the Colts gave up some big numbers at times last year, they've added several pieces this offseason—Aubrayo Franklin, Ricky Jean-Francois, Erik Walden, Greg Toler, LaRon Landry—and should continue to improve with Chuck Pagano and Greg Manusky at the helm. 

Unless you have a top-five defense, feel confident about plugging in the Horsies at home.  

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