FanDuel Fantasy Football Week 13: Evaluating the Defense/Special Teams

By Matt Johnson on Thursday, November 30th 2017
FanDuel Fantasy Football Week 13: Evaluating the Defense/Special Teams

Thanksgiving is over and we're now in the home stretch of the NFL season. Only five weeks remain in the 2017 regular season and while the playoffs will provide us some DFS opportunities, these final weeks are where the money is made and we really have our last opportunities to cash in on some of FanDuel's biggest contest.

We looked at the quarterback optionsrunning backs and tight ends, now we'll shift our focus to the defense/special teams position. By turning our attention to the defense/special teams, we can plug into the end of our lineup so we know how much we can spend at wide receiver or running back. Just like when we set our DFS lineups for the week by making defense/special teams one of the first positions to go after and fill in, we do that here by addressing it before wide receivers.

Top Play

Jacksonville Jaguars D/ST v. IND, ($5,600)

Get used to the Jaguars' defense being listed as a top play for the remainder of the season. A slate of excellent matchups for the final stretch of the year starts at home in Jacksonville, where this defense will take on an Indianapolis Colts' offensive unit that averages the sixth-lowest total yards per game (296.5) and the sixth-fewest points per game (17.7). That in itself makes Jacksonville's defense a worthy play given its accomplishments this season, but there are even better numbers to focus on.

Indianapolis' offensive line is a major weak spot, demonstrated by the 92 quarterback hits and 47 sacks allowed it surrendered thus far in 2017. Now they'll face a Jaguars' front seven that is top three in the NFL in pressure created and leads the NFL in quarterback sacks (41). THe Jaguars should have no issue putting pressure on Jacoby Brissett and while he'll make a few good throws, Jacksonville's secondary will blanket the Colts' wide receivers. While it may be difficult for Jacksonville to rack up the 10 sacks they recorded in October, they can combine for 10 turnovers and sacks on Sunday.

Los Angeles Chargers D/ST v. CLE, ($5,300)

As the season rolled on, the Chargers' defense quickly began to establish itself as one of the better collective units in the NFL. A pass rush duo of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa helped the team's ability to generate pressure significantly and they now rank fourth in the NFL with 32 sacks. Meanwhile, cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Trevor Williams boosted this defense into a unit that allows the seventh-fewest passing yards per game.

Now Los Angeles gears up for an excellent matchup against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns' offensive line, a unit that lost All Pro left tackle Joe Thomas during the season, surrendered the fourth-most sacks in the NFL this season (36). Los Angeles ability to put pressure on DeShone Kizer and the team's cornerback duo, should help limit Kizer's time to throw and reduce Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon's impact. Given the chance for turnovers and sacks in this game, Los Angeles makes for an outstanding play this week in fantasy.

Value Plays

Baltimore Ravens D/ST v. DET, ($4,600)

Baltimore's defense finds itself on the outside of everyone's focus this week. Perhaps it's because of wide receiver Marvin Jones' success last week against Xavier Rhodes and Matthew Stafford finished with two touchdowns. That said, Jones performance last week is more of an abnormality than a sign of his pure dominance given Rhodes shut him down in their previous three meetings.

We highlight this because Baltimore's defense is even stronger than the Minnesota Vikings. The Ravens' defense is the second-best unit in the NFL by Football Outsiders DVOA and rank fourth in the NFL against opponents No.1 wide receivers by FO's DVOA as well. The Ravens will be able to limit the Lions' passing game and given Detroit's running game ranks 30th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (78.3), there isn't much reason to not get a share of Baltimore's defense into your DFS lineups. The point total will be low and if they can rack up a turnover and three to four sacks, they'll be a top-five defense in Week 13.

Philadelphia Eagles D/ST @ SEA, ($4,600)

The only thing keeping Philadelphia's defense out of the consensus top four in rankings this week is quarterback Russell Wilson. He is a one-man show and carries this offense in a way we haven't seen in years. Wilson's running ability and he is one of the best in the NFL at escaping sacks and making throws on the run or off platform that land right in the hands of his wide receiver for the big play.

That said, the Eagles' defense is absolutely a unit that DFS users should target this week. They lead the NFL in quarterback pressures and it's not particularly close with a double-digit advantage over the second-best team in the NFL. Seattle's offensive line allowed the fourth-most quarterback hits (86) in the NFL and that number would be even greater if you put a less elusive quarterback behind center. The Seahawks offer no running game to speak of outside of Wilson, so the Eagles can focus all of their efforts on trying to stop Wilson.

Will Avoid

Kansas City Chiefs D/ST @ NYJ, ($4,600)

Once one of the NFL's best defenses, the Chiefs' defense dropped off significantly this season. While Marcus Peters remains one of the game's best corners, it's everything outside of Peters that represents a problem. The Chiefs' defense is consistently awful against the pass with the fifth-most passing yards per game allowed (245.6). An even greater issue is Kansas City's inability to stop the deep ball, demonstrated by the fact they've allowed the seventh-most 20-plus yard passing plays in the league this season.

All of that doesn't bode well against New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson. Not widely known before the 2017 season amongst the casual fans, Anderson is enjoying a breakout season in his second year at the NFL level. At 6'3", he displays his game-changing speed on a weekly basis and torches opposing defensive backs deep down the field. Anderson ranks amongst the top 15 amongst all qualified wide receivers in yards per target (9.6), air yards (549) and yards per pass route (2.21). He is a favorite of Josh McCown, who is putting up strong performances as well, and his ability paired with McCown's strong play is strong enough to push Kansas City's defense out of the fantasy consideration this week.

Fantasy Alerts

 Mar 22nd, 2018
Frank Gore (RB)
Indianapolis Colts
 Mar 13th, 2018
Jimmy Graham (TE)
Seattle Seahawks
 Mar 9th, 2018
Tyrod Taylor (QB)
Buffalo Bills
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