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.
Sky’s the Limit
Here are the top two D/STs per our median projections:
- Los Angeles Chargers: $3,400 DraftKings; $4,900 FanDuel
- Jacksonville Jaguars: $4,000 DraftKings; $4,800 FanDuel
The Chargers are in an appealing spot against a Cardinals team that’s implied for only 16.5 points, the second-lowest total on the main slate. While the Chargers’ pass-rush has struggled this season — they’re 21st in pressure rate, per Sports Info Solutions — they did get Joe Bosa back last week, and he generated two pressures, one quarterback hit and one hurry on 31 snaps. Even on limited snaps, Bosa could be a terror in the trenches against a Cardinals offensive line that ranks 21st in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate.
Overall, the Chargers are a good option if you have the salary: Historically, defenses against teams with comparable implied team totals have averaged a +1.12 DraftKings Plus/Minus (per our Trends tool).
The Jaguars rank just 25th in adjusted sack rate, but they do rank ninth in pressure rate, and the Bills have struggled to protect whoever they have under center, allowing 34 sacks this season and ranking 28th in adjusted sack rate. The Jags are on the road in Buffalo, which is a tough spot to play, but the Bills own the third-highest turnover rate and second-lowest scoring rate this year. Jacksonville’s price tag is likely too high for cash games but will make for a good tournament play.
Shoot the Gap
Baltimore Ravens ($3,300 DraftKings; $5,000 FanDuel): The Ravens have the benefit of being at home against a hapless Raiders team that’s implied for a slate-low 15.75 points. The Raiders’ offensive line has struggled this season, ranking 25th in adjusted sack rate. They’ll be outmatched against a Ravens team that ranks seventh in adjusted sack rate. Moreover, the Ravens defense isn’t allowing many scoring opportunities, allowing the second-lowest scoring rate to enemy offenses. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which a Raiders offense that ranks 28th in scoring rate succeeds in this spot.
Philadelphia Eagles ($2,400 DraftKings; $3,800 FanDuel): The Eagles are an interesting punt on DraftKings against a Giants offensive line that ranks 26th in adjusted sack rate. The primary drawback with the Eagles is they can be absolutely burned on the back-end with an abundance of injuries in their secondary, and the Giants have the weapons to do some damage if Eli Manning isn’t constantly under pressure.
Pittsburgh Steelers ($3.000 DraftKings; $4,100 FanDuel): The Steelers defense is in play most weeks due to their ability to get after the quarterback and generate pressure. Overall, they rank sixth in adjusted sack rate, leading the league with 3.7 sacks per game while sporting a pressure rate of 38.3% — the second-highest mark in the league. The Steelers are one of four teams sporting a slate-high sack projection of 3.0 in our Player Models.
Buffalo Bills ($2,700 DraftKings; $4,000 FanDuel): The Bills are 3-point underdogs as of writing (see live odds here), but they’ll be at home against a Jaguars offense that boasts the fifth-highest turnover rate among offenses. Buffalo’s defense has been overshadowed by its abysmal offense as the Bills have allowed just 4.9 yards per play (third-fewest) and rank 10th in adjusted sack rate. The loss of Jaguars center Brandon Linder (knee) shouldn’t be understated as his replacement was credited with two sacks, one hit, two hurries and five pressures on 26 pass-blocking snaps. Linder allowed two sacks, three hits, three hurries and eight pressures on 364 pass-blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus.
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Pictured above: Joey Bosa
Photo credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports