I hope you all had a safe and memorable weekend and hopefully you had some profits last week riding the cheap value of the Eagles D/ST to ten fantasy points at just $2,200 on DraftKings. With the holidays in the rearview we can turn our attention to a more normal NFL DFS slate this weekend. No random three-game slate to account for on separate days as we have a heavy 13-game slate so be sure to dissect every piece of NFL DFS content this week so you know which games to target and which to avoid. Here are the NFL DFS D/ST’s to build around for your cash and tournament lineups in Week 17.
Be sure to check out the rest of the NFL DFS Coaches and DFS Watch List throughout the week!
NFL DFS D/ST TOP TIER
You all know that I love the Eagles any given week and this week is no different where they’re at home. Even last week where they allowed 40 points to Dallas, they still returned ten fantasy points at a very cheap price tag on DraftKings. This week they’re back up to being the most expensive D/ST on the board and rightfully so. They haven’t forced many turnovers of late, just three in their last four games, but in that span they’ve also collected 25 sacks. Yes, you read that right. 25 sacks in four games and they’ve been pretty consistent with the distribution of them with at least six in every game. Now here is where we draw some concern and it’s one we’ve mentioned in previous weeks. If the Saints go run heavy then that limits the sack potential for the Eagles. The Saints have run it over 70 times combined in their last two games and Andy Dalton has only been sacked twice in that span. The good news is that if the Eagles get out to a huge lead then that should force New Orleans to throw more which will open the door for sacks and turnovers.
Kansas City Chiefs
We don’t need to force this one. There are plenty of other options priced below the Chiefs, but I think they’re worth mentioning for DFS tournaments. They have the luxury of hosting the Denver Broncos who are in complete disarray. Russell Wilson sucks. His offensive line won’t even help him up when he gets knocked down. The whole team is in shambles to the point the ownership group had to give a public apology for the state of the team after firing Nathaniel Hackett earlier in the week. The Chiefs are coasting to the playoffs and hoping to earn the top seed in the AFC, but they’ll need a little help. They may pull some starters late in the game if it’s fully in hand, but the Broncos have an implied total of 16 points according to many sportsbooks.
NFL DFS D/ST MID TIER
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The ceiling has not been great in recent weeks. They haven’t hit double-digit fantasy points since Week 2 but they did put up eight fantasy points last week against the Cardinals on the back of three takeaways and just 16 points allowed. What intrigues me this week about Tampa’s defense is that they’re home favorites against the Panthers and the current over/under of 39.5 points is tied for lowest on Sunday’s main slate. Last week the Panthers ran wild against the Lions for 320 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Sam Darnold even added 250 passing yards. Surprisingly, the Panthers have won four of their last six games and aren’t completely dead in the NFC South, even at 6-9. So this game is a big one for both teams. I’m not sold on the Bucs’ ceiling based on what we’ve seen the last three months, but there might be a safe enough floor to consider using them in cash games.
San Francisco 49ers
Sometimes I feel bad writing up the same D/ST’s each week and this week is no different. We’ve seen the Eagles and Bucs already, and you can bet your bankroll that I once again view the Patriots as a phenomenal value on DraftKings (more on them shortly). But the San Francisco 49ers are hilariously mis-priced ahead of Week 17. The 49ers have already clinched their division. They’re simply trying to improve their playoff seeding so I don’t believe they’ll be resting anyone in the second half of this game. The Raiders are wildly inconsistent on offense. They put up ten points on the Steelers in Week 16. They had just 17 total points through 59 minutes against the Patriots before one of the worst collapses in NFL history by New England. The week before that the Raiders only put up 16 points against the Rams. Now they have the tough task of hosting the 49ers on Sunday. The 49ers are very tough to run on and they’ve allowed a total of 67 points in their last six games. Not to mention, Josh Jacobs was very open about his frustrations with the team following last week’s loss and who knows where his head is at. The 49ers don’t have a ton of sacks, but they do force turnovers in bunches. They’ve put up at least seven fantasy points in six straight games with four double-digit efforts in there as well. They’re in play as the most expensive group on FanDuel, but at $2,900 on DraftKings they’re a phenomenal value despite being on the road.
NFL DFS D/ST VALUE PLAYS
New England Patriots
It feels like this is the third straight week the Patriots are mis-priced. They’ve hit double-digit fantasy points in three straight games, mostly due to a D/ST touchdown in each game, with six takeaways and 11 sacks in that span. Additionally, it appears the Dolphins will be without Tua Tagovailoa this weekend since he’s back in the concussion protocol. Because of that news the Pats opened as 2.5-point favorite and the over/under is around 42 points. Not terribly low, but we’re getting a home favorite at $2,600 on DraftKings. We’ve said it the last few times the Patriots have been in the D/ST Coach. The defense isn’t the problem for this team and as long as they’re priced this low we can take advantage because they find ways to hit value. I will note that they will be very popular on Sunday given Tua Tagovailoa’s status. The 49ers likely carry very little exposure so if you can go up to them in tournaments, I would go that route. But overall the Patriots are very much in play for cash games and tournaments if you can stomach sharing them with the rest of the field.
We previously alluded to the Bucs as a D/ST to target in this game. The Panthers might provide a similar return for DFS as Tampa given the Bucs’ offensive struggles. The Bucs are averaging just 17.7 points per game on the year (fifth-worst in the league) and Tom Brady has EIGHT turnovers in his last three games. It’s late in the season, the Panthers are making a push to win the division, and divisional games always mean more to even the worst teams. The Panthers are slight underdogs and Vegas isn’t expecting a ton of offense in this game. Carolina held Tampa to just three points on offense in their first meeting, so I fully expect them to put up a fight in this game.
New Orleans Saints
Not the greatest ceiling here, but I feel like there’s an okay floor here. Gardner Minshew is probably the best backup quarterback in the league and if he’s running the offense this week, they can still put up points. However, the Saints have held seven of their last eight opponents to 20 or fewer points. They don’t put up many sacks nor do they force a ton of turnovers, but they’re one of the cheapest D/ST’s on the board and I’m not opposed to punting the position this low with either the Saints or Broncos if you absolutely have to. But if you can fit in the Patriots, I’d much rather go that route.
NFL DFS D/ST FADE
Los Angeles Chargers
Truthfully, I don’t like a lot of the D/ST’s priced up this week. There are too many good options in the mid-tier and value ranges. On DraftKings I’m not excited about the ceilings of the Giants, Jaguars, Dolphins, or Colts. On FanDuel the same could be said for the Seahawks, Giants, and Jaguars. But I’m not sold on the Chargers. They’re on a short week and this is virtually a home game for both the Rams and Bolts, but Monday night’s performance was against the Colts, one of the most dysfunctional organizations in the league. Overall, the Chargers have allowed just 34 points in their last three games. Not too bad. This game against the Rams feels like a trap. The Chargers secured their playoff spot on Monday as a Wild Card team. They can improve their playoff seeding, I just don’t think they’ll risk too many injuries on the defensive or offensive side of the ball. Historically speaking, unfortunate injuries and the Chargers are a bit synonymous. The Rams have also won two of their last three games and Baker Mayfield is getting an extended audition with the Rams, who don’t have much clarity on their quarterback situation heading into the next few seasons. Mayfield hasn’t been elite, but the Rams have been looking a little better especially last week against the Broncos where Cam Akers scored three times in a surprising blowout on Christmas. For reasons unbeknownst to me, as of Tuesday night FanDuel isn’t showing this Rams/Chargers game on their main slate, but I expect that error to be fixed. Perhaps they also see that this game is pointless aside for some Southern California bragging rights.