How do you expect your final defense/special teams exposure to shake out? Will you be paying up for the Lions in a great spot or the Jaguars and their excellent production portfolio? Or is there a value option (or two) that you'll be overweight on?
James Brimacombe: I do like both the Lions and Jaguars defense this week, but will probably have only about 20% exposure to each of them in my GPP games. The direction I will be going is the Chicago Bears at home against the Green Bay Packers on the cheap. I will likely have over 50% of my shares into them this week, especially on FanDuel, where they are priced at $4,300. Over the last 4 weeks the Bears defense has put up 7, 30, 19, and 7 points against the likes of the Saints, Panthers, Ravens, and Vikings. The Packers are a different team without Aaron Rodgers under center and with Brett Hundley starting; he hasn’t thrown a touchdown over the last two games. The Bears are a home favorite and will be relying on their defense – along with workhorse running back Jordan Howard – to get them the win this week. I am a fan of going with a Howard/Bears stack in GPPs and would even entertain it in cash games.
Chris Feery: I’ll definitely have some exposure to the Jaguars and Lions. The former faces off against Philip Rivers, who can be forced into throwing interceptions when coming from behind. The game script calls for that scenario to play out, so you can color me less than surprised if Rivers ends up tossing a few picks. For the Lions, the defense has a gimme matchup against the horrid Browns, and there’s nothing to suggest that their fortunes have turned around.
For cheaper options, I also like the call of the Bears against a struggling Packers offense, and the fact that the Bears are mispriced makes it all the more appealing. For an outside-the-box selection, I’ll also be heading to the bargain bin, and the name I keep landing on is Washington. The game checks in with one of the lower projected totals of the week, and Washington comes in flying high off of an emotional victory over the Seahawks. We can expect the home crowd to be well-fired up for this one, and I see parallels to the Week 3 matchup in which they welcomed the favored Raiders into town.
Things didn’t work out so swimmingly for Derek Carr and company – 4 sacks, 3 turnovers, and 10 total points – and I can envision Washington offering up another strong performance in this one. If they can travel cross country and hold Russel Wilson in check in front of a hostile crowd, can’t they do the same against Case Keenum and company at home?
Jeff Pasquino: I like the call by James on the Bears, especially on DraftKings at just $3,000. Taking a defense at home against an inexperienced quarterback is never a bad idea. For a GPP option, and if I am squeezed for budget, the Rams at Jacksonville for $3,600 is also appealing in a game with a lower point total (41 total points).
On FanDuel, it gets a little simpler with Chicago crazy cheap at $4,300 – that feels like a no-brainer unless I love another matchup. Jacksonville is $900 more at $5,200, which is a lot to spend just to be different.
Justin Bonnema: I don't have much to add since the best options have already been covered. The Steelers are of particular interest since the crowd will probably be scared off thanks to the Colts’ recent performance against Houston. But Jacoby Brissett has been sacked at the highest rate in the league (32 sacks; next closest is 26). The Steelers have the third-highest sack rate and they're favored by 10 points despite being on the road. This is a good week to stack Bell and the Steelers defense.
One other team I'll mention for GPPs is Dallas. They've generated the third-most sacks in the league, and have allowed the 12th-fewest yards. Since their bye in Week 6, they've allowed only 15.3 points per game and have generated 7 turnovers. Plus, they're about to get healthier with rookie pass rusher Chidobe Awuzie practicing in full for the first time in a month. Meanwhile, the Falcons offense is a mess (19th in points) and both Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman are banged up. We could have a low-scoring game coming up despite what the over/under says, especially if Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott don't play. At nearly site minimum on DraftKings ($2,200), the Cowboys come with plenty of risk but help build some nice rosters.
Keith Roberts: I’m definitely in support of the Bears as the top value defense on the week, and I will have the most exposure to them on both sites in cash games. They haven’t allowed a passing touchdown over their last three games and have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points per game to both quarterbacks and wide receivers over their last four. The Packers offensive line just lost tackle Bryan Bulaga, and their passing attack has been abysmal with Hundley leading it. The sack and interception upside at this low price is just too much to pass up.
For tournaments, Justin took the words from my fingers as I was going to mention how much sack potential the Steelers will have this week with that mismatch in the trenches. Another play I am looking at for tournaments is the Titans defense, particularly on DraftKings at the attractive salary of $2,800. They have been tough on opposing rushers this year and face a terrible Bengals offensive line this week. While sacks have been hard to come by for the Titans, they will have a great opportunity to rack up a few this week. Safety Kevin Byard has also been playing out of his mind, with five interceptions over his last two games. While the Titans defense was horrible against the pass early in the season, they have stepped up in a big way over their last four games, allowing just 200 passing yards per game and 4 passing touchdowns over that span.
Jason Wood: I wish I could be a contrarian, but I'm in the same boat as Jeff, Chris, and James. The Bears are cheap, and Hundley is awful. As Jeff noted, on FanDuel it's pretty much an impossible fade given the salary disparity. I will have the most exposure to Chicago, but will also play Detroit ($5,300), Pittsburgh ($4,600), Jacksonville, the New York Jets ($4,600) and Los Angeles Rams (5,400) to lesser degrees. On Draftkings, I like Chicago but also favor the Jets ($2,800), Steelers ($3,700), Rams and Jaguars ($3,900).
Danny Tuccitto: My D/ST universe on DraftKings will consist of the Bears, Lions, Rams, and Jaguars, with exposure in that order. As the question implies, the Lions and Jaguars are obvious calls, so all I'll say about them is that their tournament value probabilities are 34% and 15%, respectively. Similarly for the Bears, James and Jeff made the definitive case, so all I'll add is that their probability of reaching 4x is 50%.
The Rams, however, have only really received passing mention by anyone else, so I'll expand on why I'm especially bullish on them. First and foremost, they've been my best season-long DST call in years. I drafted them everywhere in the late rounds and have gone back to them over and over in DFS. Being one of the first passengers and getting more-than-full value for my fare, I'm not jumping off the bandwagon now. Moving from the subjective to the objective, one of the things I found doing DraftKings' tournament research this past offseason is that it's maximally profitable to choose home defenses going against a quarterback that ranks in the bottom quartile of Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt in a given slate. The Rams are at home and Tom Savage is in the bottom quartile, so full steam ahead