The Defense and Kicker Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s main NFL slate. For more of our weekly football content, visit our NFL homepage.
Per the Trends tool, so far this season defenses with salaries of at least $3,500 on DraftKings (74 teams) have averaged 10.20 points with a +2.00 Plus/Minus and 8.2 percent average ownership, while defenses with salaries of at least $4,800 on FanDuel (90 teams) have averaged 9.38 points with a +1.96 Plus/Minus and 6.8 percent average ownership. Approaching the final weeks of the regular season, paying up for defenses continues to be slightly more valuable on DraftKings.
Two Three Defenses
- Green Bay ($3,700 DraftKings, $5,000 FanDuel)
- LA Chargers ($3,600 DraftKings, $5,100 FanDuel)
- Jacksonville ($3,500 DraftKings, $5,200 FanDuel)
Let’s swim move.
New Kid On The Block
The Green Bay Packers make a rare appearance in this breakdown thanks in part to having the pleasure of traveling to Cleveland to play the Browns as modest 3.5-point favorites. So far this season defenses playing the Browns have averaged a delicious 12.83 PPG with a +4.77 Plus/Minus and 75.0 percent Consistency Rating on DraftKings and 12.46 PPG with a +5.06 Plus/Minus and 76.9 percent Consistency on FanDuel. It’s safe to say the Packers’ matchup is a good one. Additionally, the Packers defense is coming off their best performance of the season in which they registered seven sacks and a touchdown. They are currently the top-rated DraftKings defense in the Bales Model.
Per Football Outsiders, Cleveland allows sacks at the ninth-highest adjusted rate in the league (7.8 percent), and Green Bay registers sacks at the eighth-highest adjusted rate in the league (7.9 percent). This is what Hump calls another delicious recipe for sacks pie. In addition to the potential sacks, the Packers also have ball-hawking Damarious Randall roaming the secondary looking to add to his four interceptions and one touchdown this season.
The Los Angeles Chargers defense is geeking out right now: They’ve totaled 12 forced turnovers, nine sacks, and three defensive touchdowns in the past four weeks while limiting opponents to an average of 15 points per game. In their four games played since the start of November, the Chargers have scored a league-high 15.75 PPG and maintained the highest Plus/Minus (+8.62) on DraftKings. For perspective, their PPG total is 2.75 points higher than the Jaguars defense’s mark during that same time period. The Chargers are currently six-point favorites at home against the Redskins. Washington has allowed the sixth-highest adjusted sack rate (8.3 percent), and the Chargers have recorded the sixth-highest adjusted sack rate (8.0) in the NFL this season. You know what that means: More sacks pie for Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, who have combined for 20 sacks this season. The Chargers currently own our highest projected sack total (4.0) on the main slate.
Big Cats on the Prowl
As stated in this space previously, the Jacksonville Jaguars are on a historic run for a fantasy defense. They are currently on pace to be the highest-scoring and most valuable (in terms of Plus/Minus) fantasy defense of the past four seasons. Jacksonville is averaging 14.33 points per game (PPG) with a +6.23 Plus/Minus on DraftKings and a +6.98 Plus/Minus on FanDuel. Russell Wilson is on fire right now, but the Seahawks are implied to score 18.8 points in their trip to #Sacksonville; their offensive line has allowed a league-average adjusted sack rate (6.9 percent) this season. The past five teams to face Seattle this season have averaged a modest 6.40 PPG, but none of those defenses have had the firepower of the Jaguars and their league-leading 10.2 percent sack rate and second-best 4.0 percent interception rate. Jacksonville’s D/ST salary has decreased by $1,000 on DraftKings, where we have them projected for lower-than-usual nine to 12 percent ownership in guaranteed prize pools (GPPs).
Bump and Run
Jam ’em at the line.
Cleveland Browns ($2,600 DraftKings, $4,000 FanDuel): The Browns are the lowest-priced team on FanDuel (where their 15.7 projected ceiling ranks fifth) and are tied for the second-highest projected sack total (3.6) on the slate, which makes them intriguing for guaranteed prize pools. Green Bay’s offensive line has allowed a whopping 42 sacks and the second-worst adjusted sack rate (9.5 percent) in the league this season. The Browns are 3.5-point underdogs at home against the Packers, but their sack potential could translate into a defensive score against Brett Hundley, who has been sacked 12 times and thrown four interceptions in the past three weeks.
Buffalo Bills ($3,100 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel): Buffalo is the highest-priced defense on FanDuel’s main slate, but they carry the 10th-highest salary on DraftKings, where they are the No. 1 rated defense in Adam Levitan’s Model. The Bills have the fifth-highest projected sack total (3.5) against an Indianapolis offensive line allowing the worst adjusted sack rate (11.2 percent) in the NFL. So far this season, defenses playing at home against the Colts have delivered 15.0 PPG with a +6.93 Plus/Minus and 83.3 percent Consistency on DraftKings.
The One Big Kicker
Let’s put it through the uprights.
You guessed it: Greg Zuerlein ($5,200) is back atop the kicking salary spectrum this week, although we project him to be slightly less chalky than Harrison Butker. Hump hasn’t had a chance to listen yet, but I would proposition some icy cold packages of Coors Light that Matthew Freedman gushes over Greg The Leg somewhere in the week’s Daily Fantasy Flex. Zuerlein and the Rams take on the Eagles as 2.5-point home favorites in a game with the second-highest total (48) on the main slate. Home kickers comparable in price and Vegas data have historically averaged 9.09 PPG and a +0.71 Plus/Minus with a 47.4 percent Consistency Rating. In eight games with a salary of $5,000 or higher this season, Zuerlein has scored 12.75 PPG with a +4.22 Plus/Minus. Zuerlein’s 12.9-point median projection and +4.44 Projected Plus/Minus both lead the slate by healthy margins.
The Onside Kick
Get the hands team out there.
Travis Coons ($4,500): The Chargers-Redskins game in Los Angeles currently has the third-highest total (46.5) on the slate, and the Chargers are tied atop the slate with their 26.3 implied total. This season, favored kickers with similar implied point totals have averaged 9.42 PPG and a +1.24 Plus/Minus. You might want to use our Lineup Builder to make a bunch of Coons and Chargers D/ST stacks. Did I mention that Coons is minimum-priced this week?
Graham Gano ($4,800): Gano owns the fourth-highest Projected Plus/Minus (+3.20) and median projection (11.3) on the slate, but he is projected for zero to one percent ownership. Gano has registered at least eight points in five Panthers home games this season and has averaged 9.60 PPG with a +1.46 Plus/Minus in those contests.
After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players. Stay ahead of your competition with our NFL news feed.