- New Orleans Saints
The Saints defense won’t get overlooked going into the 2020 season.
Not only did the Saints have the “9th ranked fantasy defense in 2019”, all signs point towards a more vigorous defense in 2020 with the additions of S/LB Malcolm Jenkins, LB/DE Zack Baun, and CB Janoris Jenkins having a full season with the squad since his departure from New York.
“Janoris Jenkins was tied for second in the NFL in interceptions (five last) year, while Malcolm Jenkins posted seven forced fumbles over the previous two years. “
Rookie Zack Baun brings versatility to the Saints defense and should benefit the injury-ridden linebacker unit in the base front. Baun can also come off the edge opposite Marcus Davenport(returning from injury) to let All-Pro Cam Jordan kick inside on third downs.
Brees returning to a full slate of 16 games with an offense that picked up Emmanuel Sanders, could mean opposing teams forced to keep pace through the air, and more points from the Saints opportunistic defense.
2. Los Angeles Chargers
This defensive unit is rock solid from top to bottom and put together a nice off-season of key additions.
Bosa and Ingram headline a top edge rushing combination (18.5 sacks combined in 2019), while the Chargers took LB Kenneth Murray in the first round to uplift the middle of the unit. Murray brings some versatility as an outside linebacker, middle linebacker, and he looks to be one of the best blitzing linebackers as a rookie entering the league.
Their identity lies in the back end of the defense. The Chargers arguably have a top three secondary in the league.
Derwin James will be missing the season, after missing 11 games in 2019 but four-time pro bowl corner Chris Harris Jr. from the division foe, Denver Broncos will be taking the field for LA.
Of course, two-time Pro Bowler CB Casey Hayward remains penciled in at the No. 1 spot to combat the Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill, Raiders WR Henry Ruggs, and Broncos WR Courtland Sutton.
3. New York Jets
The Jets may have lost All-Pro Safety Jamal Adams and LB CJ Mosley, but this unit still has a well-rounded talent and aggressive coaching.
Former No. 3 pick “Quinnen Williams” from the 2019 draft is bound to have his breakout season after missing three games, and improving more pass rush moves from the interior.
Mosley isn’t a significant loss, and they could manage to improve last year’s linebacker play still. Mosley missed 14 games last year, so they only got a penny’s worth out of him, but top 12 middle linebacker Avery Williamson will return after missing all of last year.
OLB Jordan Jenkins remains after quietly having 15 sacks in the last two seasons.
Outside of underrated talent being surfaced on the defensive side of the ball, this defense plays with their hair on fire, as defensive coordinator Gregg Williams likes to send blitzes more than anybody in the league.
“Playing in the AFC East against a Brady-less Pats team and potential rookie QB in Miami should help their chances in four more games this year.”
4. Kansas City Chiefs
This D/ST pick may be overlooked for their offensive prowess, but their defense has elite talent.
Defensive tackle Chris Jones has 24.5 sacks in the last two years, and the “honey badger,” Tyran Mathieu, was All-Pro last year with notching four interceptions.
As teams figure out a way to match Kansas City on the scoreboard, the Chiefs should continue to force turnovers and get after the quarterback.
That should bode well for a D-line that’s getting a pass rusher, Alex Okafor back from injury. Okafor missed six games of action in 2019 but had five sacks last year, and nine sacks in the last two years.
This D/ST pick will get plenty of opportunities in 2020 by virtue of their offense guaranteed to light up the scoreboard.
5. Chicago Bears
The Bears defense managed to play well below their standard in 2019, but their D/ST still remains the strength of their team, and they should look to bounce back in 2020.
All-Pro LB/DE Khalil Mack will be joined by the 2018 pro bowl DT Akiem Hicks who missed 11 games in 2019.
The defense made a splash signing with Robert Quinn, who had a career revival in Dallas with 11.5 sacks last year. Quinn and Mack should formulate a top three pass-rushing duo in 2020.
“FS Eddie Jackson will aim to capitalize on this improved pass rush by repeating a year similar to 2018, where he had seven interceptions. “
The Bears should look to regain the reputation of an imposing defense and look to put together a top 10 D/ST unit in 2020.