You’re reading this article, so there is every chance that you don’t need me to explain to you why researching D/ST plays is important for NFL DFS, right? Even so, let’s do our due diligence together. Defense matters, just like any other roster spot matters. While it may not always be a differentiator in your lineup construction, including D/ST in your research process is a great idea.
In a world of Daily Fantasy Sports where there are a lot of sharks, fish and everywhere in between, we need to be doing all we can to gain an edge. With that said, let’s take a look into some of my favorite NFL DFS fantasy football D/ST plays for the main slate of Sunday NFL action in Week 1.
NFL DFS Week 1 D/ST Plays for DraftKings and FanDuel
Los Angeles Chargers (DK – 3100, FD – 4300)
Week 1 is always tricky. New players, new coordinators, new schemes. That applies to both sides of the ball, so how does that impact our research in Week 1 with limited actionable data? We look at what we know. Brandon Staley is a savvy defensive coordinator, and he proved that time and time again with the Los Angeles Rams. The talent is different here with the Los Angeles Chargers, without question, but the potential is high. Facing Ryan Fitzpatrick is always an adventure. Fitzpatrick could light it up, or he could be looking at two or three turnovers. We know that Staley will find ways to dial up pressure with Joey Bosa. Derwin James is a playmaker all over the field. I like this play, especially on Draftkings.
Atlanta Falcons (DK – 2000, FD – 3900)
Sometimes we “punt” on D/ST, depending on roster construction. Week 1 is as good a time as any to punt on D/ST because there is simply more unknowns. But, back to what we do know. Jalen Hurts is a talented playmaker. He is also prone to turnovers, with four INTs and two lost fumbles in five games. Dan Pees is a good enough DC to give Hurts some challenging looks at home in Atlanta, which will test the decision-making of a young QB who only has five starts under his belt. At minimum NFL DFS salary on DK, this is a decent-looking option. I’d also consider this play on FanDuel and other sites.
Green Bay Packers (DK – 3500, FD – 4500)
I think there’s a good chance that people overlook the Green Bay Packers because of the offensive aura around Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints. But let’s remember, Jameis Winston is a turnover/sack machine. He is the QB for the Saints, not Drew Brees. It is the dawn of a new era in New Orleans, and there is every chance that the solid D/ST of the Packers comes up with a few turnovers this weekend. The Packers were in the top of the pack (pun intended) last season with 41 sacks, but were bottom end with just 11 INTs and 12 forced fumbles. I think Jameis Winston is a good bet to fix what ails the Packers’ turnover stats here in Week 1, and I expect three or more sacks.
Denver Broncos (DK – 3300, FD – 4100)
Neither of the next two plays will surprise you, but sometimes we just eat the chalk and make the smart play. On DraftKings, I’d have a hard time passing up the Denver Broncos at this price. It’s a great value for a strong unit. We can never predict D/ST scoring (touchdowns), but we know that Daniel Jones is turnover-prone. We believe that the Broncos will generate a good push against what we expect to be a mediocre/poor offensive line. You don’t have to overthink it. You won’t get much differentiation from the field with this play, but it’s as solid as can be, even on the road.
San Francisco 49ers (DK – 4200, FD – 5000)
Maybe Dan Campbell can turn things around in Detroit. However, it’s probably not going to happen this week. Jared Goff and the low-on-talent Lions will be home in the comforts of Ford Field, but I expect them to be extremely uncomfortable as the game unfolds. I expect Campbell and OC Anthony Lynn to come out with a conservative game-plan, which may limit opportunities for the San Francisco 49ers D, but the game-flow should dictate a more aggressive offensive approach as the Lions are likely to be trailing in this one. The play is good regardless of game-flow, but if that scenario unfolds, it could be a long and brutal day for the Lions offense against a 49ers defense that was elite in yards allowed both in the air and on the ground last season.
Other NFL DFS plays I’m considering
New England Patriots
Washington Football Team
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