The Defenses and Special Teams Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s main NFL slate. For more of our weekly football content, visit our NFL homepage.

The Big Three

  • Los Angeles Rams ($3,700 DraftKings, $4,800 FanDuel)
  • Los Angeles Chargers ($3,600 DraftKings, $4,400 FanDuel)

Let’s bull rush.

Fully Loaded Rams Rebound

The new-look Rams struggled in the first half against the Raiders in Week 1, despite their insane breadth of talent on defense. They turned things around quickly by posting a shutout in the second half and should be considered a premium option to pay up for this week against the lowly Arizona Cardinals.

It’s pretty simple. The Rams’ pass-rush ranked fourth in the NFL entering the season and the Cardinals’ offensive line was graded as the sixth-worst per Pro Football Focus. Only Joshua Allen (16.7%), in less than a one-game sample, has taken a higher percentage of sacks than Sam Bradford (12.0%). They are currently -13 point home favorites, the largest of any game in Week 2. Per our Trends tool, similarly priced defenses as comparably lopsided home favorites have provided a +1.88 FanDuel Plus/Minus at a 56.5% Consistency Rating.

Bring the Noise

Keep an eye on Joey Bosa’s injury status, but the Chargers are in an equal nutty matchup against the Bills. Nathan Peterman will not start, but Allen, who completed 40% of his attempts and was sacked three times in Week 1 will make his first career start.

In our NFL Models, the Chargers defense is tied for the most projected sacks on the main slate. He didn’t play a ton in the preseason, but Allen completed only 28.6% of his passes while under pressure.


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Running the Arc

Attack the edge.

Washington Redskins ($2,700 DraftKings, $3,700 FanDuel): With an 85% Bargain Rating on DraftKings, the Redskins are a fantastic value option as a 5.5-point home favorite. Their projected Plus/Minus is tied for the highest on the slate, taking on Andrew Luck whose 7.0% sack rate in his last full season (2016) is well above-average.

The Redskins were quietly the fourth-best defensive line in terms of adjusted sack rate in 2017 (Football Outsiders). That said, it is a clear funnel situation that favors the rushing attack so pass attempts should, in theory, be slightly depressed. The Redskins finished 29th against the run and sixth against the pass last season in DVOA.

New Orleans Saints ($3,200 DraftKings, $4,000 FanDuel): After allowing 48 points the Buccaneers in Week 1, it’s a clear bounce-back spot for the Saints defense against a Browns team coming off of a devastating tie.

Recency bias could cause them to go under-owned in a fantastic spot against Tyrod Taylor, who has taken the third-most sacks of any quarterback on the slate over the past year. The Saints trail only the Jaguars in both interception rate (3.56%) and takeaway rate (2.06%) over the past year.

San Francisco 49ers ($2,800 DraftKings, $3,700 FanDuel): I think there’s a massive hole in your process if you quickly dismiss a game with a high over/under, especially if there is a decent spread.

We want turnovers, and another way to successfully target those turnovers is to go after quarterbacks who will be forced into a lot of pass attempts. The Lions 77.6% pass play percentage trailed only the Saints (78.0%) in Week 1 and the 49ers are currently six-point home favorites.

Tennesee Titans ($2,400 DraftKings, $4,000 FanDuel): The Titans defense holds the second-highest leverage score in Models, and could be an appealing way to save salary in Week 2.

Their projected sacks are tied for the highest in the slate (3.1), and the Texans offensive line was ranked as the worst unit in the league by PFF entering the season. Deshaun Watson’s interception rate (4.2%) and sack rate (7.5%) is the third and seventh-worst on the slate, respectively, over the past year.

Be sure to check out our industry-leading NFL News and Models, along with our Multi-Lineup Builder, Stack builder, ownership projections and more. Also, make sure to check out our other tools for the 2018 season, including the Matchups page, DFS Contests Dashboard, NFL Ownership page, and NFL Correlations page.

Pictured above: Aaron Donald (99)

Photo credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports