With the start of the NFL season upon us at long last it’s time to take another foray in to the wonderful world of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) from a fantasy football perspective.
Welcome to the second season of the DraftKings Sleeper Defenses article. Yes. Old Uncle Waldo is once again shopping in the bargain bin to find those cheap (under $3000) D/ST that can outperform their current value while freeing up valuable cash for some skill position players.
Obviously, when one goes bargain hunting there is a bit of risk involved especially early in the season as defenses have yet to really reveal themselves. During the preseason many starters sit out and most defenses play a pretty vanilla scheme. As the season plays out we will get a better feel for which defenses have made positive strides and offer better values. So early on we will try and find struggling offenses or rookie starting QBs (I call it the Blake Bortles theory) to target with our bargain D/STs.
One important thing to note is that this piece goes up here at Fantasy Sharks on Friday so the teams participating in Thursday Night Football games are not eligible. Yes. It’s an obvious point but we like to cover all the bases here.
Alrighty folks! Let’s do this.
CLEVELAND BROWNS at Philadelphia Eagles, $2300- This is our cheapest option this week and likely one of the few times that the Browns will make this article. It’s also one of the few times their D/ST will square off against a rookie starting QB with 39 snaps worth of preseason action under his belt. Carson Wentz has been pegged as the starter for Philly and hasn’t played since the second half of the second preseason game. If there is one thing that Cleveland’s defensive coordinator Ray Horton loves to do it’s blitz the QB. One week of practice is not going to have Wentz ready for the heat that the Browns will bring making sacks and turnovers a definite possibility.
TENNESSEE TITANS vs. Minnesota Vikings, $2600- We follow the trend of chasing ‘iffy’ QB options here as veteran back up Shaun Hill or recent addition Sam Bradford will be under center for the Vikings. For his career, Hill has accounted for 53 touchdowns (49 passing) and turned the ball over 36 times. His career high for passing TDs is 16 set back in 2010 as a member of the Detroit Lions. Since that time he has tossed 10 touchdowns, seven interceptions with a rushing score and a lost fumble. Bradford will have had one weeks worth of practice (anyone remember the Josh Freeman debacle?) if he gets the nod. You get the picture. With Brian Orakpo, Derrick Morgan and Jurrell Casey along the D-line Tennessee will hope to contain a steady dose of Adrian Peterson forcing whoever plays QB to take to the air. Once that happens there should be plenty of big play opportunities for the defense.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS at Atlanta Falcons, $2600- The Bucs have revamped their pass rush with the signing of Robert Ayers and draft selection of Noah Spence. They’ll combine with the interior push provided by Gerald McCoy to harass QB Matt Ryan this week. Ryan is coming off a shaky preseason where he completed only 48% of his passes throwing one pick and zero touchdowns. Let’s just say “Matty Ice” is trending in the wrong direction. In the two games between the teams last year, the Buccaneers D/ST racked up four sacks, three fumble recoveries and a pair of interceptions. Those are the type of big plays that we love to see and can expect more of this week.
NEW YORK GIANTS at Dallas Cowboys, $2700- While he had a very good preseason, QB Dak Prescott has yet to experience actual NFL regular season game speed. He’s also going to face the revamped Giants D-line which is built to bring pressure off the edge with the newly signed Olivier Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul (no longer wearing a club on his hand) and Owa Odighizuwa. The Cowboys will look to establish the running game with Ezekiel Elliott but that’s no easy task with newly signed Damon Harrison and Johnathan Hankins stuffing the middle. That means Prescott will have to throw into what is now a very strong secondary with Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers Cromartie, Leon Hall as well as rookie Eli Apple. This veteran defense is set up to have a nice week and confuse the rookie QB into a turnover or two while racking up sacks.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS at Washington Redskins, $2900- This game isn’t likely to be a low-scoring affair as I see Pittsburgh establishing an early lead as the Redskins struggle to run the football. That means Kirk Cousins will take to the air, and although he had a nice 2015 campaign, Cousins has been known to throw a pick or two (or three). As a matter of fact, in the 30 regular season games he has played in, Cousins has thrown 30 interceptions. He has thrown multiple interceptions 10 times during that time. Pittsburgh rolled up 48 sacks last season while intercepting 17 passes and scoring three D/ST touchdowns so the big-play potential is definitely there.
That’s it for this week. There will be some hits. There will some misses. Week 1 can produce some whacky results so we will examine what happens and get back at it next week.
As always…have fun!