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Repeatability - Defense/Special Teams
David Dorey
July 22, 2005

Reviewing the repeatability of defenses is a challenge since literally every league has different scoring. All player listings to follow were created using the standard performance scoring as seen on The Huddle statistics which awards one point per sack, two points per turnover recovered and six point touchdowns. Safeties are two points.

Be careful in applying this in light of the differing scoring scenario that your league may employ. This scoring measures the sacks, turnovers and touchdowns but in others the introduction of yardage or points allowed can have a tremendous difference to the results.

  2000 Pts 2001 Pts 2002 Pts 2003 Pts 2004 Pts
1 DEN 144 CLE 118 TB 122 BAL 125 BUF 146
2 TB 140 NE 117 PHI 119 NE 125 BAL 127
3 NO 131 CHI 117 GB 113 STL 120 ATL 116
4 OAK 127 GB 115 NO 113 KC 115 NE 112
5 TEN 121 PIT 114 CAR 112 TEN 110 IND 111
6 MIA 109 STL 113 OAK 110 MIA 101 CHI 109
 
7 PHI 105 SD 109 ATL 105 MIN 100 PIT 106
8 BAL 103 NYJ 108 BAL 101 DET 98 CIN 103
9 STL 100 PHI 107 PIT 99 CAR 97 DET 100
10 PIT 100 TB 103 NE 99 SF 93 TB 96
11 KC 98 MIA 102 DET 94 NYG 92 NO 95
12 CAR 96 OAK 95 SD 93 ATL 91 NYJ 93
 
13 SEA 95 CAR 92 TEN 93 SEA 90 NYG 93
14 SD 93 SEA 92 HOU 92 TB 89 CAR 90
15 DET 88 NO 91 MIA 88 GB 86 SEA 89
16 NYJ 87 IND 89 KC 88 PHI 85 PHI 87
17 ATL 87 JAX 89 SEA 87 PIT 83 KC 86
18 IND 87 CIN 88 DAL 85 OAK 82 GB 85
19 BUF 83 DEN 88 WAS 85 DAL 81 HOU 84
20 NYG 82 BAL 87 DEN 83 BUF 80 ARI 81
21 CHI 80 NYG 87 CLE 76 NO 79 MIN 79
22 GB 80 SF 85 STL 76 IND 79 WAS 77
23 WAS 80 TEN 81 NYJ 76 DEN 76 SAN 76
24 CLE 74 DET 77 NYG 74 CLE 69 MIA 75
The Following season: Remained Top 6 Became 7-12 Became 13-24 Not in next Top 24

Top 6 became Avg. 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
Top 6 1 1 0 1 0 2
7 to 12 2 3 3 2 1 0
13 - 24 2 1 3 1 5 2
Duds 1 1 0 2 0 2
7 to 12 became Avg. 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
Top 6 1 1 2 1 2 1
7 to 12 2 1 2 2 2 2
13 - 24 1 1 1 2 1 2
Duds 1 3 1 1 1 1
Top 6 was: Avg. 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Top 6 1 1 0 1 0 2
7 to 12 2 1 2 3 2 1
13 - 24 3 3 3 2 2 2
24+ 1 1 1 0 2 1

The history of Top 6 defenses in this scoring scenario is not very good. In all but one of the last five seasons, there were either one or no team that repeated into the next Top 6. What happened to many were merely dropping down to the 7th to 12th range (still a starter) but even that has fallen apart the last two years.

The 7th to 12th area is no more easy to count on. While two did remain in the same tier, on average the other four teams involved would be equally spread out among the other three categories. You can still rely on a Top 12 defense repeating to the Top 12 about half the time, but as with kickers and tight ends, only the Top 6 truly make any difference for you.

When you are hunting for one of those Top 6 defense and considering the past season, you can almost use a dart if you hope repeatability matters. Consider too that the difference between the 7th best and 12th best defense rarely matters more than one point per game.

Repeat Repeatability 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
1 BAL 8 20 8 1 2
2 TB 2 10 1 14 14
3 NE   2 10 2 3
4 CAR 12 13 5 9 9
5 PIT 10 5 9 17 8
6 PHI 7 9 2 16 16
7 NO 3 15 4 21 10
8 MIA 6 11 15 6  
9 ATL 17   7 12 4
10 OAK 4 12 6 18  
11 STL 9 6 22 3  
12 TEN 5 23 13 5 21
13 GB 22 4 3 15 24
14 DET 15 24 11 8 12
15 SEA 13 14 17 13 13
16 KC 11   16 4 20
17 SD 14 7 12   19
18 CHI 21 3     7
19 NYJ 16 8 23   11
20 IND 18 16   22 5
21 DEN 1 19 20 23  
22 BUF 19     20 1
23 NYG 20 21 24 11 15
24 CLE 24 1 21 24  
25 CIN   18     6
26 MIN       7 23
24 HOU     14   17
28 SF   22   10  
29 DAL     18 19  
30 WAS 23   19   22
31 JAX   17      
32 ARZ         18

Defense Repeatability
32% - 0%

Only Baltimore and New England have produced repeats for the Top 6 and if you remove those two defenses, then it plummets to zero percent for repeat reliability in this scoring scenario. Green Bay is the only other team to manage the feat in the last five years and they fell to 24th in 2004. The Bills are a hot defense this season since they were #1 in 2004, but historically they have been barely worth keeping as a back-up. Defenses do change over time but for the measureables of this fantasy scoring, it's pretty much either take New England or Baltimore or wait and take your chances. This actually suggests getting a few decent defenses and playing the matchup game instead of just one and letting it ride every week.