We were kidding around -- well, at first.
As ESPN's Fantasy Editorial staff gathered to do its weekly maintenance on our Undroppables list -- in a key week to do so, after Le'Veon Bell and Matt Forte were lost to long-term injuries -- a question spawned from some smack talk at the expense of one of our editors, who is a Green Bay Packers fan.
"We should add the Broncos' defense after what they did to your Packers."
A defense? Undroppable? A defense?!
(Queue a few chuckles, yes, including by this columnist. I'm a staunch supporter of the "stream D/ST" strategy.)
Believe it. The closer we looked, the more valid we realized the claim, which is why in a standard league, the Broncos' D/ST is now on this exclusive list. The facts surrounding this defense are simply astounding:
• They are on pace for an unfathomable 267 fantasy points. To put that into perspective, only 13 defenses have managed as many as 200 fantasy points in a season this century, with the 2006 Baltimore Ravens' 242 the top total.
In fact, that puts the Broncos on track for one of the greatest fantasy D/ST seasons in the sport's history. Since 1960, these are the top five scorers:
• The Broncos enjoy a 39-point lead over the D/ST field, and that's through seven games; the two teams closest in scoring have played eight. It has been 27 years since the top-scoring defense finished a season with a larger leading margin: Those 1988 Vikings finished with 68 more points than the Houston Oilers.
• Using Consistency Ratings metrics, the Broncos D/ST and Tom Brady are the only fantasy commodities to be "Start"-worthy -- that's top-10 at their respective positions -- in every one of their active weeks: The Broncos D/ST has finished second, first, second, seventh, first, third and sixth in scoring by game, respectively. Consistency has been, perhaps, the unit's best asset.
Since the NFL adopted the 16-game schedule in 1978, no defense has ever been a top-10 scorer in every game. In fact, the only one to do it as many as 14 times was the 1986 Bears. Incidentally, from the 14-game era, the 1973 Los Angeles Rams did manage 13 performances as a top-10 fantasy defense.
• The Broncos' schedule actually hasn't been as favorable to their defense as it might seem. They've averaged 16.7 fantasy points per game this season, but the seven teams they have faced afforded their other opponents' D/STs an average of only 3.7 fantasy points per game in their other contests.
Finally, if the idea of the Broncos D/ST being undroppable seemed as unusual to you as it did to me, here's perhaps the point that resonates most: Their bye week is in the rearview mirror, so they won't be tethered to your roster in an inactive week.
One thing does remain a clear obstacle to the Broncos' historic path: A Week 12 game against the New England Patriots, which haven't allowed an opposing defense to score more than six points in a game all year and have afforded their seven opponents a combined minus-5 points from their D/STs.
But while that matchup is the lone qualm I'd have with a "cruise control" D/ST strategy, the Broncos' circumstances certainly support one.