Week 13 proved to be a difficult yet profitable slate, but regrettably I had zero shares of the Cleveland Browns. Do I regret not mentioning them last week? Absolutely. A D/ST putting up 30 points is absolutely a slate breaker and they did it without a single sack. Four forced turnovers and three touchdowns are going to light up the scoreboard. Never fret as this week we’ll go back to the well with one of the best defenses in the league hosting the Texans in Week 14. Keep an eye on this article as I’m putting forth more of an effort to provide updates through the weekend, so you aren’t viewing this article based on my mid-week thoughts. But as always here’s an early look at the best defenses and special teams to target for Week 14 in your NFL DFS Cash and GPP lineups.
Be sure to check out the rest of the NFL DFS Coaches and DFS Watch List throughout the week!
NFL DFS D/ST Top Plays
Anytime Dallas is on the Sunday main slate, they’re going to be in play. They’re arguably one of the three best defenses in the league and they get a very friendly matchup at home against the Houston Texans. Dallas might be too expensive over on FanDuel but it’s awfully hard to ignore them on DraftKings even if they are $3,800. Dallas is coming off a dominant performance on Sunday night where they forced five turnovers and collected three sacks with a touchdown as well. The performance was good for 20 fantasy points. Dallas has returned 16+ fantasy points on four occasions this year so the floor and ceiling are great if you can fit them in. The projected total for this game opened at 45 points and the Cowboys are massive 17-point favorites. Blowout potential could lend itself to Dallas pulling their starters and allowing Houston to collect garbage time points, but I wouldn’t dwell too much on that when constructing your lineups.
Kansas City Chiefs
Let’s not consider this a slam dunk. Are they getting the Denver Broncos this week? Yes. But this is a road game and the Chiefs defense has been allowing 24.8 points per game on the road. Now, the Broncos struggle to score so that department isn’t a huge concern. But my issue with targeting the Denver offense is that this is more of a “floor” target than “ceiling.” Last week the Ravens D/ST held Denver to just nine points and 272 yards of offense. But they only posted six fantasy points because they had two sacks and zero turnovers. The week before the Panthers returned 11 fantasy points. The Raiders only put up six points in Week 11. The Titans put up 12 points in Week 10. Even in London, the Jaguars only put up five points. All in all, the D/ST’s facing the Broncos haven’t returned more than a dozen fantasy points although plenty have returned double-digit fantasy points as evidenced above. So at this price point, 12 points is perfectly fine for Cash games, but if we’re chasing a slate-breaking defense we might find them below. As bad as Russell Wilson has been this year he only has six turnovers and the Chiefs themselves only have 12 takeaways in as many games. So even though the Broncos can’t score, I’m not sold on the Chiefs in tournament formats, but I’m perfectly fine utilizing them in Cash games if you can afford them. If you need a target in this range that might offer a better ceiling, then I would certainly entertain the Ravens, Seahawks, and Eagles as well.
NFL DFS D/ST Mid-Price Plays
San Francisco 49ers
I can’t really tell what DraftKings is doing with this price tag for Week 14 but I’m on board. The 49ers are the fourth-most expensive team on FanDuel but they’re the ninth-most expensive out of 20 teams on DraftKings. That’s firmly in play for the mid-range and I love taking advantage of great defenses when they’re discounted. This is a home game for San Francisco and the Buccaneers don’t scare me offensively despite another Brady game-winning drive Monday night. The 49ers have returned double-digit fantasy points in three straight games and they’ve allowed a total of 214 rushing yards in four games since coming off their Bye week. The Bucs offense has only put up 67 points in their last four games and keep in mind, the Saints held them to just three points for 56+ minutes on Monday. The 49ers are a more disciplined group and have a higher ceiling than the Saints. This is a great spot in DFS tournaments for San Francisco going against an offense traveling across the country on a short week. Not to mention, this game total has already been bet down to 37 points and the 49ers are still favored by a field goal.
This team really pissed me off last week. I had them as a fade, then I came around closer to slate lock and put them in a few lineups. Here’s where we discuss position of variance. The Steelers had just two fantasy points heading into that last offensive play for Atlanta. Minkah Fitzpatrick picks it off to seal the game and runs out of bounds and the Steelers finish with four fantasy points. If he takes it to the house, then we’re looking at ten points and I’m not complaining as much. That’s the painful nature of DFS sometimes. They could’ve had ten points on that final play, if Fitzpatrick drops the interception then they finish with two, but we get four. Despite my grudge, they’re in play this week. However, I do have similar concerns. Remember last week how I said the Steelers’ ceiling might be limited because of the nature of the Falcons offense? That could be something to monitor again this week with Tyler Huntley if the Ravens go with a run-heavy offensive attack. Last year in the last game of the season, the Steelers did sack Huntley three times and forced three turnovers. But the Steelers still allowed over 400 yards of offense and Huntley himself collected 72 rushing yards. Now the projected total is currently sitting at 37 points on most sportsbooks, so we like that. The price tag is once again fine, but the Steelers haven’t really flexed their ceiling since Week 1 so proceed with caution.
NFL DFS D/ST Value Plays
New York Jets
Let’s run it back with the Jets one more time. The last time these two teams met, the Jets gave us ten fantasy points at the bare minimum price tag on DraftKings. This week they’re $2,500 so we’re not getting as much of a discount. However, the Jets still boast an elite secondary and there’s upside in this play. For starters, Josh Allen leads the league in turnovers as a high risk, high reward gunslinger. The Jets have also returned at least eight fantasy points in their four NFC East games this year. The pass rush has been a bit quiet the last two weeks and this is a road game so if you’d rather save some money on the next D/ST then go for it. But I wouldn’t sleep on the Jets knowing they could return 3X-4X value at this price tag.
Look if you need to go down this low, I don’t hate the play. There’s salary relief here and the Panthers are coming off their Bye week so they’ll be well rested. Now it is excessive travel this week, but here are some arguments for the Panthers. The total is only 43.5 points, which isn’t the lowest on the slate but it’s not awful when you consider the Queen City Kitties are only four-point underdogs… Or undercats. In their three games heading into their Bye week the Panthers allowed a total of 38 points to the opposing offenses of the Falcons, Ravens, and Broncos. Given the current state of those offenses, they pale in comparison to the Seahawks, obviously. But Seattle does have a tendency to play to the level of their opponent. Carolina does struggle against the run, but all the Seahawks running backs are a bit beat up across the board so monitor their practice reports throughout the week. $2,200 on DraftKings and $3,600 on FanDuel isn’t a terrible price tag for a D/ST that has returned at least eight fantasy points in seven of 12 games this year. And if paying down this far I’d be happy with six or seven points.
NFL DFS D/ST Fade
I can’t quite figure out why the Bengals are priced up on DraftKings and FanDuel. Will they provide a hostile environment as the Browns and Deshaun Watson come to town? Sure. Watson looked horrifically rusty last week to the joy of millions of fans around the country. Currently the Browns still have an implied total of roughly 20-21 points and the Bengals come into Week 14 with just one takeaway and five sacks in their last three games. They only have one game this year where they returned over nine fantasy points and even if the Browns go with a more run-heavy approach with Nick Chubb then that once again limits the sack and turnover potential. As a D/ST priced in the top seven on both DraftKings and FanDuel, I think we can find better options this week.