NFL DFS D/ST Coach Week 16: Top DraftKings and FanDuel Picks
Published: Dec 24, 2022
Updated: Dec 24, 2022
Week 16 is about to deliver some holiday DFS cheer with a full slate of games on Christmas Eve, which we will break down first, and then for the NFL DFS degenerates, we will dive into the Christmas Day three-game slate ranking all six D/ST’s. We have some very low totals across the slate this week, and I’m talking historically low totals. So we have plenty of plays to consider for this week to make our holiday weekend a little more green and merry. Here are the Week 16 NFL DFS D/ST’s to consider!
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SATURDAY MAIN SLATE
NFL DFS D/ST TOP TIER
San Francisco 49ers
They weren’t horrible last week, but they came up just short of 3X value against the Seahawks last Thursday. That means they have a little more rest than the Commanders especially with Washington having played in primetime Sunday night. Currently, the 49ers are seven-point favorites, and the projected game total is around 39 points. That’s pretty low, but not the lowest on the slate. I could go on and on about how good this defense is. They’re very difficult to run on. They don’t give up a ton of yardage. They’ve allowed a total of 47 points in their last five games. They can force multiple turnovers in a game and they have a good pass rush, although they don’t yield the sacks that a team like Dallas does. Overall, this is probably one of the safest plays on the slate. They’re great for cash games and tournaments if you can afford them.
This could very well be a trap game, and truthfully, the Titans are only mentioned here because I prefer the value options this week and needed a couple more teams to round out the mid-and-top tier plays. Have the Titans been great defensively of late? No, they’ve been atrocious actually. However, the matchup is good on paper with Tennessee being five-point favorites and the expected total is 37 points. The Texans have played both the Chiefs and Cowboys pretty tight lately, but with the Titans in the midst of a four-game losing streak, they absolutely need this win here to stay atop the AFC South. They only have seven sacks and two takeaways in their last five games so I could see the Titans being a leverage play, but a bold one at that if paying up at D/ST. I likely won’t be going here with my five lineups on Saturday, but there’s an argument to be made for Tennessee.
NFL DFS D/ST MID TIER
The Browns fall into the top-tier range on DraftKings and they’re still a good play, but they’re a better value on FanDuel where they’re only the eighth-most expensive defense. Remember in the intro how I mentioned a historically low expected total? Feast your eyes on this matchup as several sportsbooks have this total at a whopping 32.5 points and the Browns are favored by about a field goal. This is shaping up to be a field goal bonanza. But we need some defensive output of course. The Browns D/ST has returned 16, 4, 30, and 4 fantasy points over their last four games so there’s a clear variance here. In that span, they’re allowing just 13.75 points per game. The Saints have been a mess lately. David Johnson was running more routes than Alvin Kamara last week, so I’m begging the fantasy football gods to make it make sense. A run-heavy approach by the Saints would be a disaster here, but I think there will be sacks and turnovers available for this D/ST and they’re favorites in one of the lowest expected totals we’ve seen this year.
I don’t really love the price on the Lions on DraftKings, but they aren’t completely unplayable. They’ve actually played very well defensively since Week 9. Over that span (seven games) they have 19 sacks, and 12 takeaways, and they’ve put up double-digit fantasy points in four of those games. A matchup against the Panthers is a favorable one since Carolina allows about 11 fantasy points per game to opposing D/ST’s. This isn’t the greatest game to target from a Vegas perspective. The Lions are only favored by a field goal and the expected total is 44 points. My lone concern is one we’ve touched on plenty in recent weeks and that is the Panthers going run-heavy. With Sam Darnold as the starting quarterback, the Panthers have attempted 108 rush attempts in three games. Last week the Panthers only had 16 rush attempts but they also only ran 39 total plays, and the Steelers were still fortunate enough to sack him four times. I hope that’s the case for the Lions this week but minimal plays on offense could lower the ceiling in this matchup a good amount.
NFL DFS D/ST VALUE PLAYS
New England Patriots
The matchup isn’t ideal, but the problems of the New England Patriots are not on the defensive side of the ball. They can get to the opposing team’s quarterback and return value with sacks and turnovers. What’s really helped them pay off value are the six defensive/special team touchdowns they have on the season. Those are hard to predict and they play into the “position of variance” mantra I’m always shoving down your throats. It’s a tough matchup this week against the Bengals but the Pats will be at home where they average 13 fantasy points per game. They’re coming off an embarrassing loss and this game is arguably a must-win for New England if they want to have a shot at making the playoffs. A strong defensive effort against one of the best offenses in the league is a tall order, but it can be done. The Patriots are likely a fade on FanDuel as the fifth-most expensive unit, but on DraftKings, they can be played at $2,700.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
I might as well just lump these two teams together. And by no means does this “value” suggestion apply to FanDuel. This is just a DraftKings recommendation. The Cowboys are $2,600 while the Birds are $2,200. It shouldn’t surprise you which team I’ll be loading up more on this weekend. But both teams are firmly in play. Remember what I said earlier this year when Dallas was $2,500 back in Week 5 against the Rams; take the discount on great defenses when it’s available to you. Are both these defenses going against great offenses? Yes. The Cowboys are favored by five points roughly and the projected game total is at 46 points. Not exactly what we want to see when considering a D/ST but one of these teams should pay off.
The Cowboys did make things difficult for Jalen Hurts in the first meeting this year and Hurts may not even suit up for this game. But both teams have a strong pass rush and can force multiple turnovers. If this game is uncharacteristically low scoring then one or both of these teams can pay off even with a “floor” performance of eight-to-ten points.
There’s plenty of value over on DraftKings, but I haven’t given you a value play yet for FanDuel. The Texans are a great price on both sites and they’ve been serviceable the last handful of weeks as a cheap D/ST to target. I played them last week in my main lineup at $2,000 against the Chiefs. Did they do great? Not really, but five points didn’t kill us. Last week’s fade, the New Orleans Saints, put up just seven points in what we nailed as a “low ceiling” game for the Saints. Would you rather pay $3,800 for a D/ST to get you seven points or $2,000 for a team to get you five points? Give me the $1,800 in savings and we’ll allocate those funds elsewhere. Now back to this game.
The Titans might be without Ryan Tannehill for this game after he injured his ankle last week, and the Titans are in the midst of a four-game losing streak, and Tennessee allows 11.7 fantasy points per game to opposing D/ST’s. If Malik Willis gets the start, that makes me feel better about Houston who are currently five-point underdogs and the projected total is at a paltry 37 points. They only have nine sacks in their last four games, but they’ve forced eight turnovers against the likes of the Chiefs, Cowboys, Browns, and Dolphins. There isn’t much of a ceiling here, but similar to last week we just don’t want negative points from this group.
NFL DFS D/ST FADES
Atlanta Falcons at Baltimore Ravens
On paper, this game has what we want when looking for a D/ST. The expected total is low (37.5 points) and we have a significant favorite with the Ravens favored by roughly a touchdown. Let me just get this out there, I don’t hate the Falcons on FanDuel as the fourth-cheapest D/ST. But I would feel better about Houston if Ryan Tannehill is ruled out. I don’t understand DraftKings’ $3,000 price tag for this team when Atlanta just doesn’t do anything spectacular on the defensive side of the ball. Baltimore is at least very good defensively with multiple sacks in every game dating back to Week 5. One thing we’ve called out the last few weeks were D/ST’s going against a run-heavy offensive scheme. That limits the upside for sacks and turnovers. Desmond Ridder attempted just 26 pass attempts last week against the Saints, and while he was sacked four times, the Falcons only had one turnover and it came on a catch & run fumble courtesy of Drake London. The Falcons ended up running the ball 39 times and that could happen again Saturday. We have a similar situation on the other side of the ball. Tyler Huntley can be sacked, sure, but the Ravens have run it 70 times in his two starts with Lamar Jackson sidelined. This game doesn’t give me a ton of confidence that either team has a very high ceiling so we can look elsewhere when finding a D/ST for our cash and tournament lineups. And who knows, if this ends up being a massive shootout (as unlikely as it is), then we’re in even better shape for fading this game, just for different reasons. Update: I'm softening my stance slightly on the Ravens D/ST. I don't think I'll be playing them in my Tournament lineups because I still don't buy the upside necessarily, but I'm coming around on them as an okay floor play if you want to get exposure in cash games.
SUNDAY CHRISTMAS DAY SLATE
1) Denver Broncos
I don’t love the price tag but on a short slate, we shouldn’t have any problem making this work. Here’s the good news, the matchup is great. The Rams have been a target of ours when looking at a D/ST all season long. The Rams are allowing over 14 fantasy points per game to opposing D/ST’s and the Broncos have gotten along just fine since trading Bradley Chubb. In two games with Baker Mayfield as the starting quarterback, the Rams are averaging 219 yards of offense per game and only 14.5 points per game. Baker Mayfield has also been sacked nine times in his two starts so it’s easy to understand why the Broncos are potentially the best play on this short slate. Denver is favored by a field goal and the over/under is sitting around 36.5 points.
2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Since Week 3 the Bucs only have one fantasy performance where they’ve returned more than seven fantasy points. Every other game in that span has seen them return six or fewer. So they have not been good by any means, but there’s still talent on that side of the ball and they’re top ten in sacks and tackles for loss. On top of that, the Cardinals ruled out Colt McCoy for Sunday and Arizona will now have to start Trace McSorley at quarterback who was 7-for-15 in relief of McCoy this past Sunday against Denver and he also threw a pair of interceptions in that small sample size. The Bucs only have four takeaways in their last ten games so we really need a ceiling game from them here. Fortunately, the price tag shouldn’t be too prohibitive for the short slate.
3) Miami Dolphins
It was awfully tempting to put the Dolphins ahead of the Bucs for the Christmas slate, but alas, I settled on putting them at number three. The Packers are basically in a must-win situation to keep their playoff hopes alive. Miami performs much better at home on the defensive side of the ball. Here are some splits to consider. At home, the Dolphins allow 15 points per game and 308.3 yards per game. They also have 19 sacks and 11 takeaways at home. On the road, those numbers are much different. They allow 30.5 points per game and 394.5 yards per game away from South Florida and they have just 16 sacks and a pair of takeaways on the road as well. There’s that distinct advantage of the opposing team’s sideline sitting in direct sunlight while the Dolphins are in the shade as well so dehydration, cramping, and fatigue all play a factor for the opponent.
4) Los Angeles Rams
Russell Wilson is expected to be back under center for this game and we’ve seen the offensive struggles from the Denver Broncos when he’s started at quarterback. This game projects to have the lowest total on the slate and the Rams are three-point underdogs. Would we like Aaron Donald to suit up for this matchup? You bet! But even if he sits maybe we can get seven-to-nine fantasy points from the Rams in his absence. The Rams do have eight takeaways in their last four games, but only seven sacks in that span as well. If Wilson’s a full go, we might see multiple takeaways once again.
5) Arizona Cardinals
I don’t love the matchup for Arizona but the Bucs are beat up on the offensive line. That only resulted in one sack and a pair of interceptions from Tom Brady against the Bengals last week, but the Cardinals are coming off a seven-sack performance against Denver last week. But if you want to avoid playing the Cards here, that’s fine. They’re uncharacteristically bad at home allowing 29.1 points per game and 390.6 yards per game for just 4.3 fantasy points per game. The game also means more to Tampa since they need a win to hold their division lead.
6) Green Bay Packers
The Packers are probably the worst defense on the slate. It’s a matchup on the road in the sunlight in Miami against the most explosive offense on the slate. It’s not pretty by any means, but as I’ve said multiple times, this is a position of variance so a pick six could easily help them return value. The Packers are only four-point underdogs and it’s a must-win game but the expected total is currently 49.5 points so it’s one worth avoiding when talking about D/ST’s. If you’re pressed for savings when constructing lineups, you can go here if you need to and hope for the best. No D/ST is truly off the board for this slate and it’s not uncommon to even have players in your lineup going against your D/ST on a short slate.
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