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DFS Roundtable: Shutdown Defenses

The DFS team discusses shutdown defense and affecting DFS lineups

The Ravens and Bears are both against strong offenses and at home in Week 15. Tampa Bay heads to Baltimore and Green Bay travels to Chicago. Are both fades due to the defenses? On the flip side, are you attracted to the run games for the Ravens and Bears as solid home favorites?

James Brimacombe: I prefer the Ravens defense this week as they are all in right now with their playoff push and having a home matchup against the up and down Buccaneers looks like a nice spot for plenty of pressure on Winston with some potential big plays for the defense. After watching what the Bears were capable of against the Rams last week and with the Packers in a downward spiral to end the season you have to also avoid the Packers here. It might be tempting to look at an Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams stack but you can’t bet against the Bears defense right now. I don’t like any of the running backs in these games as there is not one that stands out as a clear 20 touch player. Lamar Jackson would be the one I would like to do damage on the ground and he will be one of my top exposures this week at the quarterback position.

Phil Alexander: For Green Bay, the answer depends on the health of their offensive line. They were able to scheme around three missing linemen at home against the Falcons last week, but the Bears pass-rush is on a different level. If the Packers are still dealing with a makeshift line come Sunday, I'm not interested in Aaron Rodgers. Davante Adams, however, warrants exposure every week. Even when Green Bay's offense has been stuck in neutral, he's found a way to produce. Maybe he doesn't have much of a ceiling for GPPs due to the tough matchup this week, but with at least 16 fantasy points in every game this season, you'll be hard pressed to find a more reliable option for cash games.

Any running back getting significant touches against the Buccaneers defense warrants our attention. I'm willing to take a few tournament shots on Kenneth Dixon's role continuing to expand. He's more talented as both a runner and receiver than Gus Edwards and looked explosive on increased snaps in Kansas City last week (80 total yards and a touchdown).

On the Bears side, I'm not buying Jordan Howard's 19 carries and 100 rushing yards from Week 14. The way to beat the Packers is not via the run and head coach Matt Nagy is sharp enough as a play-caller not to force the issue. Tarik Cohen, on the other hand, has reached the point where he deserves every-week tournament exposure. He's one of a small handful of players (think Tyreek Hill, Brandin Cooks, Saquon Barkley) capable of paying off his salary on just one or two plays and his opportunity has spiked in recent weeks.

Justin Howe: I’m not definitively fading Packers; in fact, I love the price dip Aaron Jones got ($6,600 on DraftKings). Prior to last week, after all the Bears had been gashed on the ground in back-to-back weeks. The passing game is dicier, but not an auto-fade. Vic Fangio’s defense often locks down opposing No. 1s, but is in turn fairly generous against supporting receivers. In their Week 1 meeting with Chicago, all 3 top wideouts cleared 68 yards and caught touchdowns. Aaron Rodgers posted a scintillating second half; he’s had his fantasy issues this year, but the matchup is rarely a concern for him. The Buccaneers, on the other hand, take a big hit in my eyes. The Baltimore defense is suffocating, and they’ve stifled far better quarterbacks than Jameis Winston.

And yes, I like the idea of stacking the Baltimore run game with its defense. Gus Edwards is my choice; he comes cheaply and has more of a path to dominating the run game than Kenneth Dixon, who’s more of a change-of-pace guy. The Ravens defense has recorded three sacks in three straight games - my litmus test for a DFS defense - and has the secondary talent to make plays on a handful of errant Winston throws.

Devin Knotts: No one is going to have anyone in the Packers passing offense this week based on Chicago's performance on Sunday Night against the Rams in which they shut down the Rams passing defense. However, if there is one player that is intriguing is Davante Adams. Adams had 88 yards and a touchdown in their first meeting and is a very similar player to Stefon Diggs who just had 13 catches for 126 and a touchdown against the Bears. If the Packers can give Aaron Rodgers time, he can find Adams in this game.

On the other side of the ball, there are several players who are interesting. Kenneth Dixon is a speculative play who has seen a role increase over the last two weeks and should see a lot of time with Gus Edwards potentially missing this game. As far as the Bears go, Jordan Howard may be intriguing to some, but not sure I can go there as the consistency has not been there this year even if the recent trend has been better. The running back to take from Chicago is Tarik Cohen, the Packers defense up the middle is strong, but have shown weaknesses outside and a lack of overall speed in which Cohen can exploit.

Will Grant: I've circled this game on the schedule for Chicago since they collapsed in the second half of week one and lost to Green Bay on the road. Their defense is playing lights-out right now, and they absolutely shut down the Rams last week at home. This week against the Packers, with a chance to lock up the division in a year that most people (including me) felt like 8-8 was their max, I expect the Bears to be unhappy if Green Bay scores at all. That being said, Aaron Rodgers always seems to find a way against Chicago, even when he's limping and can't move like he was back in the second half of week one. I think Aaron Jones is a complete fade this week, and Rodgers to Davante Adams makes an interesting stack in the event that the Packers go nuts. If the Packers pull this one out, it will be because Rodgers found Adams several times in the end zone.

As for the Chicago run game, I think Tarek Cohen makes an interesting GPP play any week, but especially against the Packers. He's a flex option for me though as his upside is limited due to Jordan Howard, meaning Cohen is good for only 13-15 touches a game.