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D/ST rankings for 2023 fantasy football

The NFL preseason is in full swing and so are our 2023 fantasy football defense and special teams rankings.

Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers and Micah Parsons #11 of the Dallas Cowboys meet on the field after their game in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Levi’s Stadium on January 22, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

When fantasy football managers are working through their drafts or lamenting their lineup decisions, they often scoff at having to put in a defense. It isn’t uncommon for someone to stream defenses and prioritize other positions in their lineup. Whether you are trying to draft one defense for the season or looking at which ones should perform the best in 2023 fantasy football leagues, here is our ranking of every defense in the NFL from a fantasy football standpoint.

2023 Fantasy football rankings: Top 32 D/ST

As I like to do every season, it is time to warn you that defense and special teams units are historically tough to pick each season. Sure, we know the 49ers will be better than the Vikings, but we don’t know which D/STs are going to score defensive touchdowns, return kicks for touchdowns, rack up a bunch of fumble recoveries and the like. All those plays are extremely impactful to D/ST scoring while also being impossible to predict.

Last season the Patriots were an above average defense, but their eight defensive touchdowns made them the best D/ST in the league by a good margin. The Bengals gave up the fourth-fewest points in the league, but finished as 16th in D/ST scoring. By most stats, the Bengals were superior to the Patriots, but the touchdowns trumped everything.

Streaming defenses against struggling quarterbacks is always going to be a useful strategy. And as usual, do not take a D/ST until the last pick of your draft.