With training camps upon us, and the preseason right around the corner, it can only mean one thing for NFL fans around the world: the Fantasy Football draft is here! Every year we follow the draft, we read up on players during training camp, and we try and get any edge possible to have a better shot at winning the fantasy title over our friends and/or family.
That is where I come in. I'm that little voice you hear in your head whenever you make a decision regarding your fantasy team. Should I cut player A for player B? Should I trade this guy for that guy? Should I sit or start this RB? As Jesus said in the Bible, ask and ye shall receive.
We start out the season with what is perhaps the most important of them all, the fantasy draft article. The draft is where you have the first shot at setting up your team for success throughout the season. A bad draft can seriously reduce your chances of making the playoffs, let alone winning the title. A good draft, however, can give you easy sit/start decisions, and provide you with quality depth during the bye weeks.
So, follow me as I go through the QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs, and defenses you need to know as you head into your draft. And remember, 2nd place is just the first loser!
Cam Newton – Panthers: Newton has finished as a top-5 fantasy QB in 4 of the past 5 seasons, and he finished as the No. 1 overall fantasy scorer last season. Newton has Kelvin Benjamin back this year, to pair up with Ted Ginn Jr. and Devin Funchess at WR, and Greg Olsen at TE is his safety net in the redzone. The defense may not be the same this year with Josh Norman, Charles Tillman, and Roman Harper gone, and that could affect Newton on offense. With that said, I'd still feel very comfortable taking him as the first QB off the board in most formats.
Aaron Rodgers – Packers: The Packers are locked and loaded on offense with Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Jeff Janis at WR, Jared Cook at TE, and Eddie Lacy and James Starks at RB. And after the problems he had last season due to injuries and performance issues from players, he is likely going to come at a slight discount this year. Rodgers likely had the worst season he will ever have in 2015, and he still finished as a top-10 fantasy QB.
Russell Wilson – Seahawks: Wilson has finished the last four seasons ranked 9th, 8th, 3rd, and 2nd for fantasy QBs, in that order. He has proven he can make things happen with limited resources on the field, and at the age of 27 he hasn't even hit his "prime" yet. There is concern with Marshawn Lynch retiring, Thomas Rawls healing slowly, and Jimmy Graham suffering one of the most devastating injuries in football, a torn patellar tendon. You could honestly take the first three QBs off the board in any order, and I wouldn't be mad at all. But for me, this is how I would go with it.
Tom Brady – Patriots: We already know that Brady is going to be a fantasy stud, no matter what happens around him in the NFL. You are certainly going to get Brady at a discount because he will miss the first 4 games of the season due to a suspension. But, once he hits the field in Week 5 against the Browns, you can expect him to almost single-handedly win you that week if you own him, and lose you that week if you play against him. Brady is getting old, but the chip on his shoulder is likely going to carry him to fantasy stardom more often than not this season.
Ben Roethlisberger – Steelers: Big Ben got a new toy to play with after old faithful TE Heath Miller retired, as the Steelers brought in 6'6" TE Ladarius Green. Add him to Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, and Markus Wheaton, and you have a QB you can trust most weeks in fantasy football. What really knocks Roethlisberger down the QB rankings is his poor road performance. Over the past three seasons he has thrown 53 touchdown passes at home, and just 28 on the road. And those numbers are total, not average. His road numbers are just not up to par with his home numbers, making him a QB you may have to sit in tough road matchups.
Blake Bortles – Jaguars: I haven't seen Bortles in the top 10 in any of the fantasy QB rankings I've seen this season, outside of mine of course. All I keep reading about is a statistical reduction from Bortles and Co. this season, given last year's 4,428 passing yards, 35 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions. But what if he just is THIS good? Did anyone consider that, or are their regression predictions predicated upon a bias in which the Jaguars are not a good team? Blake Bortles, Allen Hurns, Blake Bortles, Chris Ivory, TJ Yeldon, and a healthy Marqise Lee is a lineup loaded with born touchdown scoring machines! I love Bortles, and would much rather have him starting for me than the guys that follow him in these rankings.
Andrew Luck – Colts: Look, I know Luck got a massive 6-year, $140 million contract this off-season, but money has nothing to do with performance in fantasy football. Last season Luck ranked 29th in passing points per attempt (.38), below Blaine Gabbert and Case Keenum, 39th in yards per attempt (6.4), under his understudy Matt Hasselbeck, and Luck was a top-10 fantasy scorer in just 3 of his 7 games played. My biggest concern for them is their lack of a quality defense, making it likely Luck will be throwing from behind fairly often throughout the season. He has the talent to be a top-tier QB, but he really hurt fantasy owners last season with his poor numbers and limited action on the field.
Carson Palmer – Cardinals: This is officially where owners need to get nervous if they still haven't selected a QB. Palmer had a great 2015 season, setting career highs in passing yardage (4,671) and touchdowns (35). The problem is that his future Hall of Fame WR, Larry Fitzgerald, will be 33 years old in August, and is clearly not the same player he once was. He still has John Brown and Michael Floyd at WR, and David Johnson at RB to help his fantast stats. But you have to wonder how much the Cardinals will try and feed Fitzgerald to keep him hungry enough to play a few more seasons.
Eli Manning – Giants: The positive thing about Eli Manning is that he has one of the most exciting WRs in the game at his disposal, Odell Beckham Jr. The negative thing about him is his value is often inflated because of ODB. Ben McAdoo's scheme has made Manning shine, allowing him to throw for 4,400-plus yards each of the first two seasons, while throwing 30 TDs in 2014, and 35 in 2015. With that said, Manning isn't consistent enough to draft as a guy you plug-and-play. You have to really pick and choose the right matchups to play him in. He is more of a low-end QB1 that will end up in the QB2 rankings more than a few times throughout the season.
Philip Rivers – Chargers: The reason Rivers finds himself back in the top 10 fantasy QB rankings is because the Chargers moved on from OC Frank Reich, and brought back Ken Whisenhunt. If you remember, Rivers finished 6th overall in fantasy points back in 2013 under Whisenhunt. The Chargers lost Ladarius Green, but added Travis Benjamin to play opposite Keenan Allen at WR. When you consider what is left on the board, Rivers is probably the safest option left.
Honorable mentions: Tony Romo, Andy Dalton, and Matt Ryan
David Johnson – Cardinals: It's hard to believe that this year's #2 RB was picked up off the waiver wire in most leagues last year. The Cardinals still have Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington hanging around the locker room, but Johnson is the clear starting back in Arizona this year. Like Bell, Johnson's pass-catching ability makes him even more valuable in PPR formats. Cardinals Coach Bruce Arians said of Johnson earlier this offseason that he "has a chance to be one of the all-time best" running backs, and also said Johnson had "earned the right" to be the team's "bellcow."
Adrian Peterson – Vikings: Most fans keeps waiting for Peterson to hit the wall in his career, and he disappoints those people year after year with his performance on the field. This year raises its own set of problems for the future Hall of Fame RB, in that he will be 31-½ years old when the season starts, and the Vikings are rumored to be moving to a more shotgun-oriented offense to help out QB Teddy Bridgewater.
Peterson struggled in the shotgun last year, and the Vikings may be wanting to see what exactly they have in Bridgewater. I have Peterson as my #2 RB right now, but understand there is some risk involved.
Todd Gurley – Rams: Gurley is a dual-threat RB, who could easily be the #1 RB in fantasy football if he were just on another team, in a different division. First, the Rams offense needs to be revamped to keep defenses from telegraphing the plays. Second, the NFC West features the Seahawks and Cardinals run defenses, which ranked 1st and 6th in the league last year in rushing YPG allowed.
Gurley said fantasy owners should take him as the #1 RB earlier this offseason, and I do think there is a case to be made in that. As for me, I see him as a 2a or 2b option alongside Peterson.
Ezekiel Elliot – Cowboys: Assuming Elliot is not punished by the NFL for his alleged domestic violence issue in late July, Elliot has Offensive Rookie of the Year written all over him behind that Cowboys offensive line. The concern, however, is that Darren McFadden or Alfred Morris steal carries early in the season until Elliot shows he is ready to be THE guy.
Elliot is a safe pick with tons of upside if he adjusts to the NFL game quickly.
Le'Veon Bell – Steelers: The knock on Bell is his durability after he suffered his 3rd lower body injury in as many seasons. And to make matters worse, he is now facing a 4-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. But when you look at how thin the running back market is for guys you can stick in there and not feel the least bit nervous about production, Bell is a great fantasy RB, but missing the first quarter of the season puts him in the same boat as Tom Brady. My guess is they will both go too high, but worth owning if the price is right.
Lamar Miller – Texans: Miller disappointed us many times while in Miami, but I believe that had more to do with coaching style than player ability. Houston is an excellent place for Miller to be with an unproven QB, a coach that believes in running the ball, and a defense that will dictate game-flow instead of every game being a shootout.
After Miller, and perhaps Jamaal Charles, the fantasy RB depth chart drops considerably. So make sure Miller doesn't get out of round 2 undrafted.
Jamaal Charles – Chiefs: Charles missed all but the first 5 games of last season after tearing his ACL. Once he went down, Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware filled in nicely for the Chiefs. There is concern here for drafting Charles in that he hasn't been cleared for camp yet, and West/Ware showed last year that they can handle the carries.
Charles is the No. 1 RB on the depth charts, but how healthy he will be when the season starts isn't certain right now.
Devonta Freeman – Falcons: Here is where the drop in fantasy production really hits, with Freeman. Freeman has elite talent, but looks to be much more of a pass-catching RB than a workhorse. His real value is in PPR leagues, where he is easily a RB1. In standard scoring formats however, I'd consider him a solid RB2.
People are going to draft him based on last year's numbers, and for that he will disappoint. But, if you can take him as a RB2, then you will most likely get what you paid for.
Mark Ingram – Saints: Ingram showed last year that the bust label was used prematurely, racking up 1,174 total yards and 6 TDs. Drew Brees isn't getting any younger, but the Saints did add free agent TE Coby Fleener, and WR Michael Thomas via the draft, which could cut into Ingram's passing-down work. But their addition could also open up scoring opportunities for Ingram in the redzone.
I'd consider Ingram a safe RB2, but more on the lower-end than the upper-end.
LeSean McCoy – Bills: McCoy is the safest pick of the bunch when you get to this point of the RB depth chart. The Bills are a running team, and McCoy won't lose any touches early on with Karlos Williams suspended for the first 4 games of the season.
If he can stay healthy, Shady should get enough touches to squeeze out high-end RB2/low-end RB1 value in most formats.
Honorable mentions: Eddie Lacy, Doug Martin, and Matt Forte
Antonio Brown – Steelers: When considering the #1 overall pick in your draft, Brown will end up being picked in that slot more often than not. He has three straight season with 100-plus receptions, in which he actually increased his total in each subsequent season (110, 129, 136). With Bell likely to miss the first 4 games, Brown's role becomes even more cemented than it already was.
Odell Beckham – Giants: Beckham is just 23 years old, and is already #2 on a WR list with some pretty impressive names on it. When you look at his first two seasons in the NFL, it is simply amazing to see that he averaged a total of 93 receptions, 1,377 receiving yards, and 12 touchdowns per season.
With Sterling Shepard in for Ruben Randle at WR, it is possible that Beckham will face fewer double coverages. Fewer defenders means more chances at breaking big plays.
Julio Jones – Falcons: When you think of Jones, you think of the Falcons offense, which then scares some people. They are a running team, right? Consider this: Jones has put up back-to-back seasons with 100-plus receptions and 1,500-plus receiving yards, while totaling 14 touchdowns. Pretty impressive from a guy who had an unproductive Roddy White across from him at WR.
I'm not going to say Jones will match his 136/1,871/8 line from last season. But I am expecting something in the 110/1,500/8 range from him in 2016.
A.J. Green – Bengals: The Bengals lost OC Hue Jackson when he accepted the head coaching job in Cleveland, then they lost WRs Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones to free agency. As if that isn't bad enough, TE Tyler Eifert will likely miss the start of the season after ankle surgery. The Bengals hired from within, promoting QB Coach Ken Zampese to OC. Dalton has worked with Zampese his entire career, so the transition should be seamless.
Green is easily a top-5 fantasy WR that should be good for 80 receptions, 1,300 yards, and 10 touchdowns this season.
Dez Bryant – Cowboys: The thing with Bryant is he has unquestionable talent, but that talent is capped by a run-oriented offense and a mistake-prone QB. The Cowboys have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, but that also means they will run the ball more than throw it. Bryant's greatest value is his double-digit touchdown ability. His biggest weakness is the fact that he has racked up 100-plus yards in just 15 of his 84 career games. That means he is TD-or-bust most weeks for fantasy owners.
Bryant has the ability to anchor a team at WR, but his lack of 100-yard games is hard to deal with. If you take him, understand there is a rollercoaster ride with owning him.
DeAndre Hopkins – Texans: Last season Hopkins saw 192 targets, which he turned into 111 receptions for 1,521 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Those are amazing numbers worthy of a high pick this year, right? Wrong.
The Texans signed Lamar Miller to solve their running game problems; they brought in Brock Osweiler to be the QB of the future; then, they selected WRs Will Fuller and Braxton Miller in the 1st and 3rd rounds respectively.
Hopkins has the talent to be elite, but his QB is a question mark, the running game is revitalized, the defense is among the best in the NFL, and the Texans added weapons around him. Add all those things up, and you have a guy who is likely to disappoint based on last year's numbers. He's still a high level fantasy WR, but don't expect 2015 numbers from him.
Alshon Jeffery – Bears: The big knock on Jeffery is his injury history, which is why the Bears decided to use the franchise tag on him this offseason instead of signing him to a long-term contract. When healthy, he averages 5.6 catches, 82.0 yards, and 0.5 TDs per game. Those are WR1 numbers in any fantasy format.
The concerns with Jeffery are Kevin White's return at WR, Jay Cutler's hot and cold streak at QB, and just how effective will the running game be in the post-Matt Forte era. Jeffery is a fantasy WR1, but there are concerns.
Blake Bortles – Jaguars: Robinson made himself a household name in 2015 by reeling in 80 receptions, 1,400 yards, and 14 TDs for the Jaguars. What's more, Robinson managed a massive 17.5 YPC last year, while converting 12 of 22 redzone chances and 8 of 15 targets inside the 10-yardline. He was simply a stud for fantasy owners lucky enough to get him!
Now, the bad news. Robinson logged 71.3 percent of his receptions, 74.6 percent of his yards and 78.6 percent of his touchdowns last season while Bortles was throwing from behind in games. With the additions of CB Jalen Ramsey, LB Myles Jack, and DL Yannick Ngakoue, Sheldon Day, Tyrone Holmes, and Jonathan Woodard, the offense isn't likely to find themselves throwing from behind as often as last season.
People love to hate on the Jaguars, which is why you should be able to steal Robinson in your draft as a low-end WR1.
Jordy Nelson – Packers: Nelson is coming off an ACL tear at the age of 31, which means recovery time is slower and the body reacts differently than it did in the 20s. Word is Nelson is "ahead of the curve" in his recovery, but reporters aren't doctors.
The good news for the Packers is they play a relatively easy schedule this year, and the offense should be able to shine. Nelson is a main component in the Packers passing attack, so his role will be enough to net him WR1 numbers most weeks. He's a WR1, if he is in fact healthy.
Brandon Marshall – Jets: Marshall is really the last of the steady WR1 candidates for the list, but there is a lot of risk in picking him. First, as of right now the Jets have Geno Smith starting at QB. That alone is enough to put Marshall on my do-not-draft list. Second, the Jets brought Matt Forte to anchor the RB position. Forte is sure to have a chip on his shoulder after the way he was thrown aside by the Bears this offseason.
Marshall is still the clear No. 1 WR on the depth chart, with only Eric Decker and Forte to threaten his targets. If the team can figure out the contract of Ryan Fitzpatrick and get him under center, Marshall's value increases. If Smith is throwing INTs for the Jets this season, his value is anyone's guess.
Honorable mentions: Mike Evans, Keenan Allen, T.Y. Hilton
Rob Gronkowski – Patriots: It's not often that you see a TE drafted in the first round, but that is where Gronk is likely to go if you want him. The only worry about him will be the first 4 games when Tom Brady is out serving his suspension.
After that, however, there is Gronkowski, then there is everyone else in the NFL.
Jordan Reed – Redskins: Reed put up huge numbers last season (87/952/11), despite being drafted at the tail-end in most leagues. When you consider the numbers he gave you, and where you took him, he was actually more effective than Gronkowski from a return on investment view.
This season should be more of the same for Reed after signing a five-year, $46.5 million extension. He has a good rapport with Kirk Cousins, and is the go-to guy when in the redzone. Reed is my clear No. 2 TE, and could be a steal if he falls.
Greg Olsen – Panthers: Olsen is a steady TE1. You know what you are getting, and you know where the floor and ceilings are for him. He's good for around 70 catches, 1,000 yards, and 6-7 TDs each and every season.
The downside to him this season is the return of redzone threat WR Kelvin Benjamin from a torn ACL, the emergence of Devin Funchess (who will still need his own targets), and the likely regression in stats from fantasy football's No. 1 scorer last season, Cam Newton.
Olsen doesn't offer the same upside as an Eifert or Kelce, but his owners also aren't taking the same risk as they are with a Delanie Walker or Coby Fleener. He's a safe TE1 pick.
Tyler Eifert – Bengals: When the Bengals lost Sanu and Jones this offseason, Eifert saw his stock take off like a rocket. He managed just 52 receptions and 615 yards last season, but racked up 13 touchdowns in the process. Had he not suffered an ankle injury, that required surgery, in a meaningless Pro Bowl game, Eifert would come in above Olsen in these rankings.
Word is Eifert is likely to miss a few games at most, so you'll have to take a wait-and-see approach when drafting him. The only real positive is you are likely going to get him at a discount because of the injury.
Travis Kelce – Chiefs: Kelce is a beast on the field, and could be SO much more if he didn't play in Kansas City with possibly the blandest offense in the NFL. It's that offense that caps his upside as a low-end Top 5 fantasy TE.
Kelce's value comes in his Yards After Catch, where last season he amassed an average of 7.5 yards, 2nd only to Gronkowski (7.6). If defenses do a better job at tackling him this season, he is a prime candidate to disappoint. If they don't, however, he is a safe TE1 for receptions and yards.
Coby Fleener – Saints: Fleener goes from Indianapolis and a QB the jury is still out on in Andrew Luck, and lands in New Orleans to play with proven stud-maker Drew Brees. His biggest advantage with the Saints is his size (6'6"), where he dwarfs WRs Brandin Cooks (5'10") and Willie Snead (5'11").
I see the Saints using Fleener in much the same way that they did Jimmy Graham, which made Graham the 1b fantasy TE to Gronkowski for a few years. If they succeed, Fleener has a chance to be the TE steal of the draft.
Ladarius Green – Steelers: Green moves from San Diego to Pittsburgh, where he takes over for Heath Miller at TE. No longer stuck as the No. 2 TE on the depth chart, Green has a chance to shine with Big Ben at QB. If Miller can muster 77 targets at the age of 33 years old, imagine what Green can do with a bigger body (6'6"/240 lbs.) and youth (26 years old).
Oh, and lest we forget Martavis Bryant's one-year suspension, which leaves 165 targets up for grabs. Green's role will be even bigger if Bell misses games with a suspension of his own. Don't sleep on Green if you miss out on Kelce or Eifert.
Antonio Gates – Chargers: The good about Gates pretty much evens out the bad with him, in my eyes. Gates is 36 years old and has shown that he can no longer be an every-down player in the NFL. The wear on his body after 13 seasons showed last year as he managed just 11 games.
With that said, his comradery with Philip Rivers is rivaled by only Brady/Gronkowski in my eyes. That trust earns him tons of looks in the redzone, and TDs are king in fantasy football. I'm looking for about 65 receptions, 750 yards, and 7-8 TDs from Gates this season. If he can do that, it will be a successful fantasy season for the future Hall of Fame TE.
Gary Barnidge – Browns: Barnidge was the waiver wire gem from last season, racking up a 79/1,043/9 line in 2015. Those numbers were good enough to actually rank him as fantasy football's No. 2 TE behind Gronkowski when all was said and done.
The reason he is so low this season is due to his age (31 in September), his one-injury-too-many QB in Robert Griffin III, and his lack of athleticism. My guess is he finishes the season with somewhere around 60 receptions, 775 yards, and 5-6 touchdowns as RGIII's safety net. Don't expect 2015 numbers from him this season now that teams have had a chance to watch film on him.
Delanie Walker – Titans: Walker had his best season as a pro in 2015, totaling 94 catches, 1,088 yards, and 6 touchdowns for the Titans. The problem, however, is four of those six TDs came in two games, and Walker turns 32 years old in August.
The Titans are surely hoping for more out of WR Dorial Green-Beckham in his second NFL season, and they signed DeMarco Murray at RB to pair with Derrick Henry, whom they drafted in the 1st round. I'd bet dollars to donuts that Walker regresses this season, but I just don't trust Zach Ertz and Sam Bradford enough to knock him down any further.
Honorable mentions: Zach Ertz, Jimmy Graham, Blake Bortles
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks have arguably the best defense in the NFL, featuring Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril up front, and Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor in the secondary. The push from the line, coupled with the shutdown ability from the secondary, makes the Seahawks prime candidates to finish the season with 40-plus sacks, 17-20 INTs, and a handful of defensive TDs (which can't be accurately predicted).
Houston Texans: It's time for Jadeveon Clowney to earn the trust the Texans placed in him by taking him with the 1st overall pick in the 2014 draft. After missing 15 of his first 32 NFL games, there are real concerns about his durability. Then, to make it worse, J.J. Watt could miss the first month of the season (worst case scenario) after undergoing surgery in July.
When Watt gets back and you add him to Vince Wilfork and Clowney up front, and a revamped offense, the Texans are a real threat for 40-plus sacks, 13-15 INTs, double-digit fumble recoveries, and a few defensive TDs throughout the season.
Denver Broncos: The Broncos lost run-stuffing DT Malik Jackson to the Jaguars in free agency, but were able to resign LB Von Miller to a long-term contract. The reason I have them 3rd on here is because the offense is either going to be run by Mark Sanchez or Trevor Siemain, neither of which I would want managing my fantasy team… let alone my NFL offense.
With the offense not likely to be on the field long, the defense is going to be tired. If you spend enough time on the field, injuries are bound to pile up. If they are healthy, the Broncos could lead the league in sacks, recovered fumbles, and defensive touchdowns. If not healthy and the offense bombs, the Broncos could be the fantasy bust at defense this season. Be aware and beware.
Arizona Cardinals: The talent on the Cardinals defense is undeniable, with guys like Calais Campbell, Chandler Jones, Patrick Peterson, and Tyrann Mathieu. The only real issue is their strength of schedule (SOS), which registered a .532 on the Richter scale (7th highest in NFL).
With that said, the talent on defense is easily enough for the Cardinals to finish the season with 40-plus sacks, 15-20 INTs, 10-plus recovered fumbles, and a few defensive TDs. The Cardinals are a safe defense to play most weeks.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals are tied for 3rd with the lowest SOS this season at .465. That alone makes them an appealing defense to own this year. Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson, Geno Atkins, and Domata Peko form one of the best D-lines in the NFL. Behind them you have LBs Rey Maualuga, Vincent Ray, Vontaze Burfict, and Karlos Dansby. And still, behind them, you have DBs Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, and rookie William Jackson III. If Darqueze Dennard comes in healthy this season, the defense is looking rock solid.
With the Bengals defense, you are going to get somewhere around 35-40 sacks, 13-15 INTs, 8-10 fumble recoveries, and a couple of defensive touchdowns if everyone stays healthy this season.
Carolina Panthers: After a Super Bowl run that ended in a loss, CB Josh Norman signed a 5-year, $75 million deal with the Redskins. Losing Norman is going to hurt this defense, but I wouldn't have paid him $75 million either!
The Panthers value comes in their 35-40 sacks, and 10-ish fumble recoveries. Who makes up Norman's 4 INTs, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 defensive TDs is anyone's guess at DB. Their .512 SOS is also cause for concern, making them a streaming option in the right matchup, not a plug-and-play defense this season.
Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings have DL Everson Griffin up front, and he is good for 35-40 tackles and 11 sacks this season. Add him to IDP stud DB Harrison Smith, and you have another 70-75 tackles and a couple of sacks and INTs.
The Vikings sport a .489 SOS, 15th-lowest in the NFL. Defenses are rarely plug-and-play in fantasy football, and the Vikings are no exception. I'd give them a look in the second half of the season when their schedule really opens up.
Oakland Raiders: Khalil Mack and Malcolm Smith form one of the best fantasy IDP LB duos in the NFL. Mack racked up 15.0 sacks and 2 forced fumbles last season, and Smith finished with 100 tackles and 3 forced fumbles on his resume. And to shore up their secondary, the Raiders brought in Reggie Nelson via free agency.
The real concern for me with the Raiders is youth, the secondary's lack of INTs, and the unimpressive defensive line. The good news, however, is their .500 SOS, improving offense, and potential streaming matchups throughout the season.
Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs D-line is solid, but not imposing, with Jaye Howard, Allen Bailey, and Dontari Poe. Things look up when you get to LBs Derrick Johnson and Tambi Hali. And things hit a high when you look into the secondary and see Eric Berry, Ron Parker, and Marcus Peters. And their .496 SOS is slightly below par for the NFL.
With all that said, the Chiefs are like almost every other fantasy defense in the NFL, good in the right matchups. Gone are the days when you draft a defense and stick them in there and forget about them. You draft a defense because you have to, but stream them throughout the season based on matchups.