FanDuel NFL Analysis Week 15: Defense/Special Teams

By Matt Johnson on Tuesday, December 12th 2017
FanDuel NFL Analysis Week 15: Defense/Special Teams

As we look ahead to Week 15, it presents a unique schedule. One game on Thursday, two games on Saturday, 12 on Sunday and one on Monday. Given the uniqueness of the slate, we'll put it all together and use FanDuel's Thursday-Monday contests.

This week, we look at one top play, three value plays and one defense/special teams we'll want to avoid. The value plays will make great targets for your GPP lineups, while our elite plays are defense/special teams you'll want to plug into your cash-game lineups to try and maximize the amount of money you could win.

Now let's get started for the Week 15 slate of games.

Top Plays

Jacksonville Jaguars D/ST vs. Houston, ($5,900)

All that really needs to be said is T.J. Yates. The Houston Texans expect Yates to start at quarterback on Sunday and it doesn't bode well for the Texans. In his career, Yates threw as many touchdowns as interceptions (eight) on 253 pass attempts. That mark gives him a 3.2 touchdown percentage in his career, which marks one of the worst career marks in the history of football, according to Pro Football Reference.

Now take that quarterback and put him against an offensive line that allowed the sixth-most quarterback hits in the NFL through 14 weeks, it's a horrific combo. Yates and the Texans' offensive line is set to face one of the best pass defenses we've seen in a generation. The combination of a dominant pass rush that leads the NFL in sacks and is second in interceptions represents the worst possible matchup for Houston. DeAndre Hopkins will get 10-plus targets even with All Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey in coverage, Yates will throw multiple turnovers and Jacksonville will rack up the fantasy points.

Value Plays

Los Angeles Chargers D/ST @ Kansas City, ($4,600)

Frankly, this price is a little ridiculous. Perhaps the Chargers' defense needs to gain even more respect or some doubt the unit's sustainability, but a look at the numbers show why we should buy into them once again. In its past five games, Los Angeles' defense racked up 73 points on FanDuel and scored 10-plus FanDuel points in four of the contests. This defensive unit shows it can consistently generate pressure on the quarterback with its front four and the Chargers' cornerbacks can lock up opposing wide receivers.

Now they'll face a Chiefs' offensive line that is 13th in the NFL in most sacks allowed (33). Of more concern for Kansas City, it allowed eight sacks combined in the team's past three games and Alex Smith is really starting to encounter more pressure. The pass-rushing duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram will provide tremendous pressure on Smith and limit his time to throw deep to Tyreek Hill. With two top cover cornerbacks that can match up with Kansas City's wide receivers, the Chargers can take away Kansas City's deep threat and keep everything in front of them with frequent pressure on the quarterback.

Dallas Cowboys D/ST @ Oakland, ($4,300)

Simply put, Oakland's offense isn't good right now. Derek Carr is performing like a below average quarterback at an elite quarterback's pay and the offense is struggling along with him. Oakland went away from the one thing that worked, Marshawn Lynch and the running game, thanks to a defense that allowed the team to fall behind early and turned the Raiders' game script into an attempt to catch up.

Dallas' offense will find success against Oakland's defense and while the Raiders' offensive line might be able to give Carr time to throw, we've yet to see any reason as of late that he can deliver the ball on target and give his wide receivers the chance to make a play. Dallas can focus its efforts on Michael Crabtree after Amari Cooper suffered a setback to his hamstring, meanwhile tight end Jared Cook is frustratingly inconsistent. The Cowboys' defense may not return a blowup performance but they have scored 27 FanDuel points combined in their past two games, so things are looking up for the Cowboys' defense and they make a nice value play this weekend.

San Francisco 49ers D/ST vs. Tennessee, ($4,300)

Remember when the 49ers' defense always found itself on the other end of matchups targets. Historically one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, DFS and fantasy writers always targeted running backs against San Francisco's defense. Now times seem to be changing. Since Week 8, the 49ers' defense allowed the 14th-fewest rushing yards (545) to opposing running backs and the fewest rushing touchdowns (one) over that span.

This defense is changing and it comes at a great time with the Tennessee Titans traveling to San Francisco in the midst of continued offensive struggles. With the recent improvements against the run, San Francisco can limit the Titans struggling running game and force Marcus Mariota to be the difference maker in this game. With eight interceptions in his past four games and fewer than 185 passing yards in three consecutive games, Mariota is not playing at the level where he represents any significant threat. The 49ers' defense may not get a lot of love this week, but it provides outstanding value and will help you stray from the rest of the pack, which could be the difference maker when it's time for the payout.


Fade Play

Baltimore Ravens D/ST @ Cleveland, ($5,000)

The days when Baltimore's defense drew our eye as a value play, then progressed to a top play, seem like a distant memory. The loss of shutdown cornerback Jimmy Smith opened a door the team never wanted exposed, showing without him they lacked the ability to match up to an opposing team's No.1 wide receiver and it further hurts their defense against secondary targets. 

In the last four weeks, we've seen this defense exposed. Baltimore is allowing the most passing yards per game on average (328.25) per game in the past four weeks and just saw Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown bury them into the ground. Josh Gordon is an exceptional talent who will get open against the Ravens' secondary, while Duke Johnson and Corey Coleman are also quality weapons to throw to. With the continued improvements of DeShone Kizer and the Browns' offense starting to put up more points, Baltimore's defense is a unit we'll look to avoid this week.

Fantasy Alerts

 Mar 13th, 2018
Jimmy Graham (TE)
Seattle Seahawks
 Mar 9th, 2018
Tyrod Taylor (QB)
Buffalo Bills
 Mar 9th, 2018
Jarvis Landry (WR)
Miami Dolphins
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