Top defenses and kickers to draft in Fantasy Football 2023

We're rounding out our series with the late-round picks.

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Buffalo Bills
AFC Divisional Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Buffalo Bills / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

To finish my top picks series, we need to discuss the last two positions remaining. Defense/Special Teams and Kickers. I will not be making an installment about top Flex picks, as I believe most mid-round wide receivers are capable flex players.

As with the other four installments, I will be going through the top players (or teams, in this case) at their position and discussing why I believe they should be drafted at, above, or below their ADP (Average Draft Position). Unlike the other four articles, I will only be ranking 10 players (or teams) and only have a reasoning about the top 5.


1. Justin Tucker

Tucker has consistently been a top 10 kicker since 2013. Top 5 all but two years (2014, 2020) in that span. He has the biggest leg and is one of the most accurate in the game. He shows no signs of regression and is poised to still be the top kicker in the league. That said, I wouldn't take him before the 11th or 12th round. However, his ADP has him as an early 9th round pick. So if he isn't there, don't worry. These other kickers should stand a good chance at being K1.

2. Daniel Carlson

Since missing nine total kicks (7 FG, 2 XP) in 2019, Carlson has been a top kicker in the NFL. In each of the 2020, 2021, and 2022 campaigns, he finished as a top 5 fantasy kicker. He was K1 in 2021 and K2 in 2022. Honestly, with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback for the Raiders this season, I see more field goals in their future. That could prove very beneficial for Carlson fantasy managers. I would take him in the 12th round, where his ADP has him placed.

3. Harrison Butker

Don't let the fact that Butker finished as K28 last season dissuade you. He missed four games last season due to an injury in the first quarter of Week 1. He has a strong and very accurate leg. And now that he's had an entire offseason to heal from his ankle injury, I expect he'll be back to 100 percent. Take him in the 12th round.

4. Younghoe Koo

Koo has been one of the highlights of the Falcons over the last few seasons. Which is very sad for the Falcons, but very good for Koo. Over the last three years, he's finished in the top 5 kickers twice, and second once. While 2022 wasn't his career best year, he did finish fifth among all kickers in fantasy points. Now that the Falcons have weapons to get them down the field, Koo should be poised for a solid year.

5. Evan McPherson

McPherson had a great rookie year in 2021 finishing 7th in fantasy scoring, but followed it up finishing 16th in scoring in 2022. Honestly, there's no real reason he's ranked fifth, other than a lack of confidence in the other kickers in the league and confidence in the Bengals to score. I would take McPherson in either the 13th or 14th rounds. Far below his ADP of 107.6.

6. Graham Gano
7. Brett Maher
8. Greg Zuerlein
9. Tyler Bass
10. Riley Patterson

Defense and Special Teams (D/ST)

1. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers took a massive leap last season in fantasy scoring, going from a bottom-half to a top 3 defense. The defense is stacked with talent. Nick Bosa, Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Charvarius Ward, and Talanoa Hufanga, just to name a few players. While I typically wouldn't take a defense in the eighth round like the Niners' ADP has them going, this defense is insane.

2. New York Jets

Looking at their depth chart, I honestly don't see many weaknesses in their starting 11 on defense. Their weakside linebacker, Jamien Sherwood, may be the weakest starter on their roster. Quinnen and Quincy Williams, Sauce Gardner, and Adrian Amos are headliners among this group. They absolutely have a case for top defense.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers

While the Steelers finished 18th in defense last season, their team is making a case for a bounce-back. Their lack of success can most likely be attributed to the loss of star linebacker, T.J. Watt. In the weeks Watt played, the defense combined to score 92 points. In the weeks he was not, they scored 15 total. I wouldn't take the Steelers D/ST in the first 10 rounds. But after that, it's completely fair game.

4. Dallas Cowboys

While Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs are both very good, they alone cannot hold up the defense. Thankfully for the Cowboys, though, they do not have other elite talent, they have other good to very good talent. Leighton Vander Esch, Stephon Gilmore, and Jayron Kearse to name a few. Taking them in the 12th or 13th round would be a good selection.

5. Buffalo Bills

The Bills are a massive question mark. They never seem to play up to potential. They placed 9th in fantasy in 2019 and 2020 and 4th in 2021 and 2022. Even adding Week 17 doesn't make a difference in their placement. But, I expect them to still be a top 5 team in 2023. Take them in the 12th or 13th for maximum value.

Best Fantasy Football mid-round sleeper picks for 2023 season. dark. Related. Related

6. New Orleans Saints
7. Baltimore Ravens
8. Philadelphia Eagles
9. Tennessee Titans
10. Denver Broncos