Whom do you see as the chalkiest D/ST of Week 16? Do you agree with that public assessment, or are you looking elsewhere in cash play? And since we know we want to differentiate our D/ST choices in a multi-GPP portfolio, clue us in on which units you'd use to mix things up.
Dan Hindery: The Chicago Bears are likely to be the chalkiest defense in their matchup against the Cleveland Browns. For good reason. The Bears are at home, playing as 6.5-point favorites, and have an opportunistic defense that has fared well against non-elite competition. Their Week 15 opponent is certainly non-elite. Cleveland has allowed at least 2 sacks per game in 9 straight (3.3 per game over that stretch). The Browns have also thrown 25 interceptions on the season and have thrown multiple picks in 8 different games. Over 5 of 14 games, defenses facing the Browns scored 17+ fantasy points. The key to big fantasy games is targeting shaky quarterbacks and few are shakier than DeShone Kizer. It is so bad, his teammates are openly talking about his lack of confidence. Duke Johnson Jr this week said of Kizer: ”I mean, his confidence is probably shot, but that's where his teammates and his family, his friends come in.”
In addition to the Bears, I will have plenty of GPP teams featuring the Detroit Lions defense. The Bengals’ already-bad offensive line will be without both starting tackles after both went down in Week 15. The team is scrambling and will likely use guard Clint Boling at left tackle and recently-signed veteran Eric Winston on the other side.
Jason Wood: Steve Buzzard's projected ownership has the Jaguars defense as mega-chalk (nearly 20% ownership) despite a massive price tag on both FD and DK. I understand that and will be using them in my lineups. It's an elite defense with a lot to play for against a terrible offense. Other chalky plays with 10%+ ownership potential are the Bears, Panthers, and Chiefs. I'm not particularly fond of any of those teams and will instead focus on the Chargers against the Bryce Petty-led Jets. The Chargers have a fierce pass rush, and need to run the table to have any shot at the playoffs after losing to the Chiefs.
John Mamula: The Bears will be the chalkiest defense this week, but I agree with Jason regarding investing in the Chargers. Bryce Petty will have no answer for the Chargers pass rush as they will likely force multiple turnovers and have a solid chance at a defensive touchdown. Starting your lineup builds with a Chargers D/ST along with a Melvin Gordon III stack is a solid cash/GPP strategy.
James Brimacombe: Predicting defenses for DFS is never an easy task, and this is one of those weeks that seems harder than normal. The Bears are looking like they are shaping up to be the chalkiest play this week at home against the Browns, but can we trust the Bears? My favorite play might be the Panthers at home against a Buccaneers team that played hard on Monday against the Falcons but came up short. With Tampa Bay on a short week and on the road, I can see the Panthers running away with this one, and maybe a pick-six is in line for the defense in the second half. Another name that I would throw out there would be the Lions against the Bengals. The Lions are still fighting for the playoffs and the Bengals have thrown in the towel, so the Lions could be in for a few turnovers and plenty of sacks.
Justin Bonnema: I don't trust the Bears enough to buy into their status as a chalk defense. I agree with James on the Panthers; they have an attractive price and situation. I also agree with Jason on the Chargers. I don't normally target defenses that are on the road, but the Chargers are going to dominate the Jets, and Petty offers pick-six opportunities against that ferocious pass rush.
Justin Howe: Well, Dan absolutely nailed the criteria we should be seeking: shaky opposing quarterbacks. They tend to gift you turnovers, and they play a larger role in allowing sacks than they’re blamed for. With that in mind, I’m in on the Bears over the Chargers. Kizer is quite literally a bad quarterback, in that he’s both an error-prone mess and happy to feed the fire. He’ll keep looking to throw downfield, generating more sack and interception opportunity. And there’s a solid chance Petty continues to avoid trouble by checking down constantly, limiting his potential for goofs. Granted, I also made this argument about Bills rookie Nathan Peterman in Week 11, and Petty is no great shakes.
Still, this is all white noise: the Jaguars are the cash play. They deserve that chalk. All of that consistency – they’ve scored 8-25 points in 11 of 14 games – makes them the clear top play.