The 2016 fantasy football season is closing in, and just as I have done since 2014, I will bring out my positional rankings leading up to the 2016 NFL regular season. In this column we will rank all 32 team defenses based on fantasy value. Over the past few seasons, defense has played a more integral role on fantasy teams, being the deciding factor many times over the course of the season. In 2016, it is hard to “stream” defenses–which means picking one up every week based on matchups. If you are lucky enough to draft an elite defense, you can ride them every week to fantasy glory.

In case you missed my other rankings, you can catch up here:

Top 30 QB’s

Top 50 RB’s

Top 50 WR’s

Top 25 TE’s

Fantasy Football
(AP Photo)

1. Arizona Cardinals

  • The Cardinals possess a wicked pass rush to go with one of the deepest secondaries in the NFL. Add in the dangerous return men on their special teams, makes them an easy choice for my No.1 D/ST.

2. Denver Broncos

  • The Broncos defense in 2016 will still be dangerous, however, they are nowhere near the unit they were in 2015.

3. Carolina Panthers

  • The biggest question mark is in the secondary with the loss of Josh Norman, but when you have Kawan Short, Luke Keuchly and an underrated Shaq Thompson a Top 5 ranking is a given.

4. Seattle Seahawks

  • They aren’t the same ‘Legion of Boom’ from a few years ago, but they can get after the passer and create turnovers. Tyler Lockett is a special return man.

5. Houston Texans

  • If JJ Watt is healthy, the Texans can be Top 5 defense in fantasy, but if he can’t return to form after a recent back surgery, they will plummet down this list.

6. Minnesota Vikings

  • The Vikings were the most underrated defense last season, ranking inside the Top 6 at season’s end. They scored double-digit fantasy points in five of the last eight weeks to close out 2015 and are only getting better.

7. Cincinnati Bengals

  • Despite losing 1st Round pick William Jackson to torn pectorals, the Bengals defense is still Top 10 worthy in 2016. Led by their defensive front-seven, Cincy should be one of the first defenses called on draft day.

8. Oakland Raiders

  • The Raiders sport on of the most young, aggressive defenses led by sack-machine Khalil Mack. If they continue their upwards trend, you can see the black and silver back in the Top 10 at season’s end.

9. Kansas City Chiefs

  • The Chiefs defense can be one of the best in the NFL, but a lot has to do with the health of OLB Justin Houston who is coming off of ACL and LCL surgeries. If he can come back, (which no indications point to a confirmed yes) the Chiefs can stay around this spot, but a drop off could be coming.

10. LA Rams

  • The Rams have two of the best defensive lineman in the game today (Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn). With their dominant defensive line, sacks and turnovers will be plentiful in 2016. And Tavon Austin is electric in the return game.

No. 11-32

11. New England Patriots

12. New York Jets

13. Jacksonville Jaguars

14. Pittsburgh Steelers

15. Buffalo Bills

16. Green Bay Packers

17. Miami Dolphins 

18. Baltimore Ravens

19. Dallas Cowboys

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

21. Philadelphia Eagles

22. Atlanta Falcons

23. Tennessee Titans

24. New York Giants

25. Washington Redskins

26. Detroit Lions

27. Chicago Bears

28. Cleveland Browns

29. San Diego Chargers

30. San Francisco 49ers

31. Indianapolis Colts

32. New Orleans Saints

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