2010 Fantasy Football Preview: Defensive Team By Committee (DTBC)

All 2010 Fantasy Football Articles | 2010 Position Rankings

Very few defenses are elite year to year, and performance can be tough to predict. One way to approach the position is to form a committee of two (or more) defenses that have favorable combined schedules but are being drafted in much later rounds than the so-called elite defenses. The idea is that a mediocre defense with a great matchup will provide approximately the same production as a great defense with a mediocre or bad matchup.

Clayton Gray of Footballguys.com does an excellent job of compiling the strength of schedule data, and he even writes his own DTBC column (though he calls it ‘TDBC’). However, I like to go a step further and add the impact of home and away games, as middling defenses have a tendency to score more fantasy points at home.

Last year, my top recommended combination was Green Bay and Dallas, which turned out well as both teams turned out to have Top 10 fantasy defenses. While I would have been better off just running the Packers out there every week, the duo’s recommended schedule netted 135 points (under a high performance scoring system), which were DT5-type numbers. My alternate recommendation, GB/ARI, netted 142 points, so DTBC does work.

Here’s how I identify the top DTBC combinations:

1. Use FBG’s SOS for DT9-DT28 along with David Dodds’ defensive projections to produce a week-by-week estimate for each defense.
I eliminated NYJ, MIN, GB, PHI, BAL, PIT, DAL and SF from the study because all eight defenses are being drafted by the 12th round, which is just too early to start a DTBC. Please note that I don’t use Dodds’ fantasy point projections, just the projections for points allowed, sacks, interceptions, fumbles and touchdowns scored. So the point totals won’t look the same.

2. Apply home/away adjustment.
With relation to a team’s mean performance, I found that middling defenses (DT6-DT25) scored 2.8% higher at home in 2009 and 8.6% higher in 2008. I took the average (5.7%) and applied a bonus to home games and a handicap to away games. The more home games, the better.

3. Run the numbers for the resulting 190 possible combinations to find the best DTBCs.
I also calculated the playoff averages for Weeks 14-16 (and just Weeks 15 & 16 for a two-week playoff system) as a tiebreaker.

So now I’m armed with a list of 190 possibilities sorted by total projected points. But numbers aren’t enough. I want a real-world perspective on this list. So I enlist the help of our NFL guru, Anthony Stalter, to give his thoughts on the defenses in question. After some discussion, we narrow the list of the best candidates to eight teams: SD, NO, NYG, CIN, MIA, CHI, NE and IND. When picking our DTBC, we shouldn’t stray from these eight teams.

Here are Anthony’s rankings along with his thoughts on each defense:

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2009 Fantasy Football Preview: DTs, DTBC

All 2009 Fantasy Articles | 2009 Position Rankings

Defenses are tough to predict year to year, so fantasy owners are generally better off using their middle round picks to build depth at the skill positions. An emerging strategy is to utilize a Defensive Team By Committee (DTBC) approach, which involves drafting two late-round defenses whose schedules combine well. The idea is to get top 5 or top 10 DT performance at a much cheaper price.

Last year, we provided three recommended DTBCs: 1) SEA/BUF, 2) BUF/NO and 3) BUF/GB.

Seahawks/Bills was our top recommendation, and while the combo didn’t set the world on fire, they performed well. Under a high performance scoring system, the duo combined for 132 fantasy points over the first 16 weeks, which outscored all but the top 6 defenses in 2008. However, when we account for the bye week fill in by adding the average points per game of DT13-DT32 (5.4 per game), DT7 (Minnesota) would have also outscored the Seahawks/Bills combination. Still, getting DT8 performance with two late round picks is nothing to sneeze at. The duo also performed well in Week 15 (9 points) and Week 16 (14 points), when it mattered most.

Our second recommendation (and also the Footballguys’ recommendation, one of the first sites – if not the first – to outline this approach) was the Bills/Saints. Unfortunately, this combo did not perform well, posting 112 points over 16 weeks, mostly due to the Saints’ struggles. The duo would have finished the season as DT15, which is pretty bad considering that the Bills alone finished DT17.

Our final recommendation – Packers/Bills – posted 144 points, which would have been good for DT5 in 2008. This duo didn’t perform particularly well in the playoffs, scoring just 10 points over the last three games, but on the whole, this was a terrific DTBC last year.

Looking ahead to this season, Footballguys recommends a Cardinals/Packers combo, and while it certainly looks like a good one, we have another that we’d recommend first. FBG factors for home/away advantage/disadvantage, but they only go so far. Two years ago, we looked at home/away as it relates to DTBC, and found that middling defenses (ranked #6-#25) scored at a 31% better clip when playing at home. In the 2008 season, that number fell to 7%. This is a much smaller impact, but still significant.

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2009 fantasy football is coming aoon—a look back at 2008 defenses

Last month we started looking at last season’s statistics for position players in fantasy football land, and today we’ll look at a position many often overlook. That’s fantasy defenses, which can sometimes put up just enough points to earn your team a victory once in a while. It’s always smart to try and grab one of the top units, although as we’ve seen before, things change, sometimes drastically, from year to year with fantasy D’s. Me? I like to grab my defense before my kicker. This list is based on point totals from one of my leagues, so keep in mind that stats vary from year to year.

1. Baltimore Ravens—The Ravens’ defense is perennially awesome, and we’ll find out for sure how much of that was due to former coordinator Rex Ryan, who is now the head honcho for the Jets. Ryan took plenty of players with him too, like LB Bart Scott and S Jim Leonhard, but the Ravens still have Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs. Reed just keeps getting better every year, and his sick nose for the ball is one reason the Ravens had a league high 26 picks. They will keep scoring low as always, but their 34 sacks last season isn’t much to get excited about. Bottom line: The Ravens won’t be a number one this year, but are still top 10.

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