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:
- Chicago Bears ($3,400 DraftKings; $5,500 FanDuel)
- Baltimore Ravens ($3,000 DraftKings; $4,900 FanDuel)
The Bears will square off against the Eagles who are implied for a slate-low 17.5 points, while Chicago checks in as the slate’s largest favorite, favored by six points. Unsurprisingly, the Bears are also tied for a slate-high in Ceiling Projection in our models.
They’ve been one of the best teams at generating pressure this season, evidenced by their 34.5% pressure rate (fifth-highest), and their 3.13 sacks per game is the third-highest mark, per Sports Info Solutions. Their defense has dominated this season, averaging a league-best 12.83 DraftKings points per game with an average +4.93 Plus/Minus and 78% Consistency Rating.
The Ravens are just ahead of the Bears in pressure, sporting a pressure rate of 34.7%, and they’ve each allowed a league-low 4.8 yards per play this season. On DraftKings, they lead the slate in Floor Projection and the last time they faced the Chargers a few weeks ago, they give Philip Rivers plenty of trouble, sacking him four times and intercepting him twice. It wouldn’t be surprising to see their defense which ranks sixth in adjusted sack rate have another solid game.
The defenses in the Wild Card round after the Bears and Ravens aren’t very appealing. The best strategy this week for cash games is to make either the Bears or Ravens the primary focus. All other options after them have question marks and are better off as tournament fliers:
Houston Texans ($2,700 DraftKings; $4,800 FanDuel): The Texans have some appeal on DraftKings as a slight home favorite, but on FanDuel, you can get the Ravens for just $100 more. The Texans rank 13th in adjusted sack rate, which is respectable, but the main issue is they rank 25th in pressure rate and Andrew Luck has been sacked on just 9.9% of his dropbacks when he’s facing pressure over the past six weeks. The Colts are also expected to get center Ryan Kelly (neck) back this week.
The Dallas Cowboys ($2,800 DraftKings; $5,100 FanDuel) and the Seattle Seahawks ($2,600 DraftKings; $4,300 FanDuel) both face offenses that rarely turn the ball over in their run-focused game plans. In fact, the Seahawks have the lowest turnover rate in the league, while the Cowboys have the 10th-lowest turnover rate.
The Cowboys rank ninth in pressure rate this year, but they rank just 27th in adjusted sack rate and the Seahawks have dropped back to pass a league-low 427 times this season, which may create very few opportunities for the Cowboys defense to get pressure on Wilson. That said, the Seahawks’ offensive line ranks 30th in adjusted sack rate, allowing the seventh-most sacks this season (51).
The Indianapolis Colts ($2,300 DraftKings; $3,700 FanDuel) will take on a Texans offensive line which ranks dead last in adjusted sack rate and has allowed Deshaun Watson to be pressured on 46.4% of his dropbacks over the past six weeks, per Pro Football Focus. However, the Colts rank just 21st in pressure and they’ve struggled to get to the quarterback this season, ranking 29th in adjusted sack rate.
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Pictured above: Khalil Mack
Photo credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports