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Fantasy football: Strong production from defenses can be a real game-changer

The Bears defense is this year's gold standard, but several strong options exist for those who don't have them.

Khalil Mack leads a Bears defense that has

Khalil Mack leads a Bears defense that has scored more fantasy points than any unit through nine weeks. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Mark Brown

Draft day isn't the right day to put a premium on fantasy football defenses. But, throughout the season, putting an impact defense into action can swing a close matchup. Never neglect the position.

Few defenses are as game-changing as the Bears, who gifted fortunate fantasy owners with a breathtaking 29 points on Sunday against the hapless Bills and their woeful QB, Nathan Peterman. 

But there are other ways for fantasy managers to give themselves an edge at the game's most erratic position. Here's a look at some ways to manage the position through the end of the season.

Stick with elites

After the Bears, most reliable defenses this season are those of the Vikings, Texans and Seahawks.

Taking touchdowns scored, an inconsistent source of production, out of the equation, the aforementioned four lead the league in fantasy points per game. The Seahawks have yet to score a touchdown, but they are bound to, eventually.

The Bears and Vikings have produced more double-digit weeks, while the Texans have yet to produce a dreaded negative week. 

No defense is matchup-proof in the modern NFL, however. Most of all, one should be wary of any game against the Chiefs, Rams and Saints.  Their offenses are explosive and capable of running up the score and leading to negative fantasy points, thanks to the negative scores assigned to high point and yardage totals.

The matchup game

Just as there are high-octane opposing offenses capable of crushing even the most productive defenses, some teams are like the goat in the tyrannosaurus paddock in "Jurassic Park." They're a gift-wrapped meal for virtually any defense.

As alluded to earlier, the Bills are just the worst. In all but one week, defenses have scored double-digit points. That's as reliable as it gets. Know that they'll face the Jets and Dolphins twice, as well as the Jaguars, Lions and Patriots the rest of the way. 

The Cardinals, Jets and 49ers also are among the weakest opposing offenses in fantasy football. A solid defense should be able to handle these teams reasonably well, most weeks.

Beware of trusting a truly terrible fantasy defense, though. The Buccaneers and Raiders have totaled negative points this year. The Falcons, Giants and Saints cannot be relied upon, either.

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