2017 fantasy football D/ST profiles, projections (1-24)

2017 projections coming soon ... stay tuned.

The Chiefs boast one of the league's most talented, and youthful defensive units, which helps explain why they've posted a top-three fantasy finish in three of the last four seasons. Anchored by a dynamic pass rush featuring Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, and Dee Ford and backed up by a loaded secondary boasting Marcus Peters and Eric Berry, there are playmakers everywhere. Giving the Chiefs the final nudge to No. 1 is the presence of Tyreek Hill and a return game that scored three touchdowns in 2016.

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2016 stats: 28 sacks | 18 INTs | 15 fumbles rec | 1 safeties | 8 TDs | 166.0 fantasy points

Even though future Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware retired this offseason, the Broncos defense is loaded for another great fantasy season. Shane Ray will step into a more prominent pass-rushing role opposite Von Miller, while the secondary remains one of the league's deepest with Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., and Bradley Roby locking down opposing receivers. The loss of Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator is big, but this unit was a strong fantasy group before Wade arrived and will be after his departure as well.

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2016 stats: 42 sacks | 14 INTs | 13 fumbles rec | 0 safeties | 4 TDs | 151.00 fantasy points

The Texans' 18th-place finish in 2016 feels strange, but when you remember J.J. Watt only played in three games it makes a lot more sense. How big of an impact can one player have? Well, Watt leads the league in sacks since 2014 ... and he only notched 1.5 in 2016. Now he'll come back to join an ascending Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus to form one of the league's most terrifying front sevens. Expect this group to make a massive rebound back to the top of the fantasy defensive mountain.

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2016 stats: 31 sacks | 11 INTs | 6 fumbles rec | 1 safeties | 2 TDs | 327.8 fantasy points

What else can be said about this Seattle defense that hasn't already been written several times over? Built from top to bottom with elite playmakers ( Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Bobby Wagner, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and so on), the Seahawks have been a fantasy force for the last half decade. The most encouraging sign for their upcoming prospects is the emergence of some younger stars as well, especially Frank Clark, whose 10 sacks last season were second on the team.

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2016 stats: 42 sacks | 11 INTs | 8 fumbles rec | 1 safeties | 1 TDs | 113.0 fantasy points

Head coach Mike Zimmer has spent the last few years building the Vikings defense in his image, and in 2016 everything seemed to come together. The Vikings unit is young and loaded with athletes all over the field. The front seven is particularly fearsome thanks to the efforts of Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen, and Eric Kendricks. With this group having another year to gel, the sky is the limit for their fantasy production, though losing Cordarrelle Patterson will hurt the return game a bit.

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2016 stats: 41 sacks | 14 INTs | 13 fumbles rec | 1 safeties | 7 TDs | 156.00 fantasy points

Even though the long-time rock of the Cardinals defensive line, Calais Campbell, is no longer with the team (signed with Jacksonville in free agency), the Cardinals defense once again figures to be among the best fantasy units around. Pass-rushers Markus Golden and Chandler Jones will keep the heat on opposing quarterbacks, while Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu do work in the secondary. Playing in a division with the lowly offenses of the 49ers and Rams certainly doesn't hurt either.

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2016 stats: 48 sacks | 14 INTs | 14 fumbles rec | 2 safeties | 3 TDs | 144.00 fantasy points

The Panthers defense will be without coordinator Sean McDermott (the new head coach in Buffalo) for the first time in the last six years. Fortunately for the team, most of the staff is remaining intact while assistant head coach Steve Wilks takes over the reins. Working in Wilks' favor is a loaded defense with incredible veterans ( Thomas Davis, Charles Johnson, Luke Keuchly) and promising youngsters ( James Bradberry, Shaq Thompson). Oh, and one of the franchise's all-time greats, Julius Peppers, is returning to Charlotte for one last run at a Super Bowl with the Panthers. Things should be looking up for the Panthers this fall in fantasy after they endured an injury-plagued 2016.

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2016 stats: 47 sacks | 17 INTs | 10 fumbles rec | 1 safeties | 3 TDs | 122.0 fantasy points

Jim Schwartz has long been a friend to fantasy players, as his defenses frequently finish among the highest scoring units in the league. His first season with the Eagles followed suit, as he helped this unit jump all the way into the top five. That's also thanks to a talented roster adept at scoring defensive and return touchdowns. The Eagles also invested their first three picks in the draft on defense ( Derek Barnett, DE; Sidney Jones, CB; Rasul Douglas, CB) loading up Schwartz with even more talent to deploy.

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2016 stats: 34 sacks | 16 INTs | 10 fumbles rec | 1 safeties | 5 TDs | 137.0 fantasy points

Don't sleep on this Chargers unit based solely on the fact that they finished 11th in scoring last year. With Joey Bosa leading a rejuvenated front seven and one of the best secondaries in the league ( Jason Verrett will be returning from his ACL tear to pair with Casey Hayward), this unit appears on the cusp of becoming a force to be reckoned with. Now might be the time to hop on the hype train before it officially leaves the station.

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2016 stats: 35 sacks | 18 INTs | 10 fumbles rec | 1 safeties | 5 TDs | 120.0 fantasy points

The Buccaneers defense found its groove down the stretch, posting double-digit fantasy points in five of the final eight games. If they can maintain that momentum and carry it into 2017, they could find themselves back inside the top-10 scorers for a second consecutive season. The addition of Chris Baker in free agency should certainly help as well, as he was one of the best players on the Redskins defense last season and will now get to work alongside Gerald McCoy in Tampa.

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2016 stats: 38 sacks | 17 INTs | 12 fumbles rec | 1 safeties | 4 TDs | 133.0 fantasy points

Despite not featuring many household names on defense, the Ravens were one of the best units from 2016 both in real life and fantasy football. Heading into 2017 this unit will have an injection of fresh young talent from the draft, as the team went defense with each of its first four picks, targeting the secondary (Marlon Humphrey) and pass rush ( Tyus Bowser, Tim Williams). The lack of star power (no offense to Terrell Suggs or Eric Weddle) should help keep the Ravens off the radar for plenty of owners. They're a great low-end DEF1 to target at the end of drafts or off waivers.

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2016 stats: 31 sacks | 18 INTs | 10 fumbles rec | 0 safeties | 2 TDs | 121.00 fantasy points

Even after getting rid of two of their top playmakers in Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins in recent years, the Patriots still find a way to be a top fantasy defense seemingly every year. That's a testament to the coaching of Bill Belichick and coordinator Matt Patricia. Expect more of the same this year from the Patriots, as they'll once again make the most of their talent and turn in a solid fantasy season. They're on the backend of the DEF1 tier but are certainly worth a look in drafts.

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2016 stats: 34 sacks | 13 INTs | 10 fumbles rec | 3 safeties | 0 TDs | 123.0 fantasy points

The Giants were a bit of a surprise last year, given we weren't quite sure how Jason Pierre-Paul would perform and how well all of the high-priced free agent acquisitions would gel. Turns out, they gelled pretty quickly and formed a formidable unit on the field and in fantasy. The emergence of Landon Collins certainly didn't hurt this unit's ascendence either. With the main crew all returning for 2017 (the only real loss was Johnathan Hankins), look for the Giants to be a fringe starting defense or at the very least a great streaming option.

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2016 stats: 35 sacks | 17 INTs | 8 fumbles rec | 0 safeties | 4 TDs | 139.0 fantasy points

The Bills should look a little bit different on defense this year with Sean McDermott running the show now. In addition, long-time cornerback Stephon Gilmore has left for New England, though the Bills signed free agent Micah Hyde and drafted Tre'Davious White in the first round. The pass rush could be an issue though, as the team will be hoping journeyman Lorenzo Alexander can recapture the magic in a bottle he had last season, while last year's first-round pick Shaq Lawson looks to build off his injury-plagued rookie season. This unit might be a year or two away from truly being great, but could be worth a flier in the hopes that McDermott makes an immediate impact in Year 1.

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2016 stats: 39 sacks | 12 INTs | 6 fumbles rec | 0 safeties | 3 TDs | 102.0 fantasy points

While the offense (justifiably) gets all of the headlines in Atlanta, head coach Dan Quinn is starting to assemble a defense worthy of our attention. Vic Beasley was in the running for Defensive Player of the Year, and the team gave him more help along the defensive line with the additions of Dontari Poe and Takkarist McKinley in free agency and the draft, respectively. The Falcons play in a tough division with great offenses ( Saints, Panthers, Buccaneers), but this is a defense on the rise that could be ready to make some noise in 2017.

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2016 stats: 34 sacks | 12 INTs | 10 fumbles rec | 0 safeties | 5 TDs | 327.8 fantasy points

The Steelers defense ranked ninth last year in sacks, and added pass-rusher T.J. Watt in the first round of the draft. Could this unit climb even higher in 2017? Perhaps, as long as James Harrison continues to give Father Time the Heisman for another year. The Steelers defense has seen excellent returns from recent draft picks, including Sean Davis and Javon Hargrave, so if Watt can get up to speed quickly this unit could surprise. At worst, they could merit early-season consideration as a streamer with an opening three-game stretch against the Browns, Vikings, and Bears.

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2016 stats: 38 sacks | 13 INTs | 10 fumbles rec | 0 safeties | 5 TDs | 109.0 fantasy points

Few fantasy defenses gained as much hype last season as the Raiders. Boy, did the Silver and Black fail to meet expectations with a 22nd place finish in fantasy scoring and a meager 25 sacks as a team ( Khalil Mack accounted for 11 of those). The Raiders added help in the draft with Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu in the first two rounds, which should help seal up a leaky secondary that allowed the ninth-most passing yards in 2016. From a pure fantasy perspective, the biggest move this group made was acquiring Cordarrelle Patterson to boost the return game. He's scored three kickoff return touchdowns in the last two years and could give the Raiders D/ST a nice scoring boost if he finds the end zone once or twice in 2017.

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2016 stats: 25 sacks | 16 INTs | 8 fumbles rec | 0 safeties | 1 TDs | 89.0 fantasy points

Is this finally the year everything comes together for the Jaguars? Perennial offseason "winners," the Jags have yet to see that come to fruition on the field, but 2017 could be different. The Jags added Calais Campbell to an already solid defensive line that features Dante Fowler Jr., Malik Jackson and Yannick Ngakoue, which should, in turn, make things easier on the secondary anchored by rising superstar Jalen Ramsey and free agent arrival A.J. Bouye. On paper, this looks like a unit ready to vault into fantasy relevancy, but as we've seen before, nothing is set in stone in the NFL, especially when it comes to the Jaguars.

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2016 stats: 33 sacks | 7 INTs | 6 fumbles rec | 0 safeties | 2 TDs | 69.0 fantasy points

"Teflon" Dom Capers will be back for his ninth season as the Packers defensive coordinator, much to the chagrin of some of the green and gold faithful. It should be OK for fantasy though, as Capers' units have provided spurts of greatness, or at least good streaming targets. Clay Matthews should be healthy and playing full-time at outside linebacker, his best position, while the secondary figures hope to be better than 2016 (it can't get much worse). First-round pick Kevin King should play early, while Davon House returned to Green Bay in free agency. Given the way they finished the season (getting blown out by Atlanta in the playoffs), it's probably best to take a wait-and-see approach with this group for now.

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2016 stats: 40 sacks | 17 INTs | 8 fumbles rec | 0 safeties | 0 TDs | 100.0 fantasy points

While the Dolphins ranked 30th at stopping the run in 2016, that didn't matter for fantasy as this group eeked out a 13th-place finish, thanks in part to four total scores (two defensive, two returns). Miami's defense is getting up there in age, and while the team dumped its first three picks in the draft into defense, this unit probably needs another influx of talent to stay in the fantasy relevant category. Consider this group a streaming target in 2017.

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2016 stats: 33 sacks | 16 INTs | 9 fumbles rec | 0 safeties | 4 TDs | 112.0 fantasy points

The Redskins lost Chris Baker in free agency, but are hoping rookie Jonathan Allen can step in and fill the void. This stop unit finished right in a clump of middle-tier fantasy defenses, and could certainly jump up toward the top of the DEF2 tier. They'll need to manufacture more of a pass rush to do so, though, as they allowed the ninth-most passing yards in 2016, even though they held opposing offenses to just 22 passing touchdowns.

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2016 stats: 38 sacks | 13 INTs | 8 fumbles rec | 0 safeties | 1 TDs | 93.0 fantasy points

The Titans pass defense was a bit of a sieve last year, but the front seven tried to make up for it with an impressive 40 sacks (tied fifth-most). Drafting Adoree Jackson in the first round should help that backend a bit, while also providing a spark in the return game. Still, the Titans secondary as a whole needs more work, so this group is more streaming material than draftable.

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2016 stats: 40 sacks | 12 INTs | 6 fumbles rec | 0 safeties | 1 TDs | 95.0 fantasy points

The Rams defense was among the best in fantasy for a few years, but has struggled of late. There is still plenty of talent on this roster, though, and it will be up to new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to harness its full potential. The Rams could be worth a late-round stab, but it'd be a more prudent idea to watch from afar and try to grab this group off waivers if everything begins to come together.

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2016 stats: 31 sacks | 10 INTs | 8 fumbles rec | 0 safeties | 1 TDs | 89.0 fantasy points

Cincinnati is another defense to watch, as there are pieces in place ( Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap), but the unit as a whole has only delivered one top-10 finish in the last three years. The secondary is filled with first-round picks, but they need to collectively play with more consistency. Don't burn a draft pick on the Bengals just yet, but keep them on speed dial from the waiver wire.

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2016 stats: 33 sacks | 17 INTs | 3 fumbles rec | 1 safeties | 0 TDs | 92.0 fantasy points

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