The final week of the regular season is upon and as is usually the case with the last full slate of games, we have to look at things a bit differently this week. Will teams be resting starters heading into the playoffs? Will teams that are out of the running take it easy so they don’t injure any young players? What contractual incentives are we looking at for some potential targets in DFS? Fortunately for that last one, Howard Bender has you covered with this article. This is one of my least favorite slates of the year. I’d rather save my bankroll for the Wild Card and Divisional rounds since those will at least feature competitive games. But while I’ll be playing light, I won’t go light on the research this week as I want to help you find a D/ST that can break the slate. So with that said, here are this week’s top NFL DFS plays at the D/ST position.

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I personally don’t care for two-game slates, but I’ll build a lineup for this weekend’s just to see what happens. Like most short slates, you have to get weird with your lineups. It’s perfectly fine to play the Raiders D/ST even if you’re stacking the Chiefs. In order to properly stack the Chiefs you likely need to get cheap elsewhere and with the Raiders being the cheapest on the slate, you’re hoping for a couple turnovers, some sacks, or even a kick return for a touchdown. But my favorite D/ST on the slate will likely be the Jaguars. They’re favored by nearly a touchdown and they’re at home in the game with the lowest projected total on the slate; 40.5 points compared to 52.5 for the Chiefs/Raiders game. The Jags have delivered at least a dozen fantasy points in four straight games, but there have been some awful offenses they’ve faced lately. Hell, they held the Jets and Texans to six points combined. The Titans will get some starters back for this game, but they’ll still be starting Joshua Dobbs at quarterback and while he was better than Malik Willis in his lone start last week, he still completed just barely over 50% of his passes, tossed an interception, and had two fumbled (and lost one). But like I said, it’s a short slate and this is the highest position of variance on the board. This should be the position you fill last on any slate, so don’t hesitate to pay down to the Titans or Raiders if you must.




San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Dallas Cowboys

I’m going to lump these three together because they have so much in common. All three teams are playing for the top seed in the NFC. In some form or fashion they’re all playing backup-level quarterbacks, or at the very least, they’ll be playing teams resting starters. And overall, they’re all great defenses that I’ve discussed ad nausea throughout the year. The 49ers have regressed in recent weeks, especially last week where I fell for the trap of the $2,900 price tag against the Raiders. But they do host David Blough and the Cardinals in their Week 18 finale and DeAndre Hopkins has already been ruled out as well. The Cowboys will visit the Washington Commanders who will be led by rookie Sam Howell after Carson Wentz was benched (again) by Ron Rivera. And the Eagles will be hosting the Giants who are locked into a playoff spot with very little to play for, so we likely won’t see a lot of Daniel Jones or Saquon Barkley. All three of these teams are large favorites and relatively safe Cash game plays. It wouldn’t surprise me if any of these three were in the optimal lineup for Week 18. Not a ton of analysis required here, and like I said, they’re all playing for the same thing this weekend and the matchups are relatively similar.



Seattle Seahawks

Seattle’s still fighting for a playoff spot, so I don’t think they’ll be resting or pulling any starters given the importance of the game. The Seahawks are favored by nearly a touchdown and the Rams have been pretty bad lately. The Rams offense somehow goes from dropping 45 points on the Broncos to putting up just ten points against the Chargers last week. The Seahawks also average about two more fantasy points per game at home than on the road and it was just a handful of weeks ago that Seattle tallied four sacks and a pair of takeaways against the Rams.


Houston Texans

The pricing on Houston this week is great. At $2,700, they’re arguably a value D/ST but there are 11 teams priced below them so we’ll put them in this category. This game should be so ugly that it’s stupid. The over/under is at 38 points, but to be fair most of the totals this weekend are pretty low. Sam Ehlinger will start for the Colts on Sunday and that might provide some upside in this spot as Ehlinger really didn’t impress when he started for the Colts earlier in the year. The Texans also have 13 takeaways and 15 sacks in their last six games so they do supplement their fantasy output if they concede points to the Colts. You can probably consider the Colts on the other side of the ball since this game should be low scoring but given their respective price tags I prefer the value on Houston this week.



New England Patriots

They’re the team to pay down for on DraftKings this week. At $2,200 we’ve seen the Patriots pay off this price tag before. They’ve returned double-digit fantasy points in four straight games but granted, they’ve recorded a D/ST touchdown in each of those games. We cannot predict nor expect one of those every week. Against the Bills in Week 13 they only returned four fantasy points, but honestly I’d be fine with a similar return this week. The Bills have had an emotionally challenging week with everything that’s going on with Damar Hamlin and we all wish him a full and speedy recovery. They may even rally in this game and put on one hell of a performance to knock the Patriots out of playoff contention. Sure, that could happen. But the Patriots themselves still have plenty to play for and who knows, they could very well score another touchdown in this game to salvage their value. 


Denver Broncos

I don’t love the cheapo depot options on FanDuel, but if you play over there then the Broncos are the cheapest D/ST I would target. You could also consider paying up to the Steelers or Saints who are under $4,000 as well but the Broncos are my preferred punt on FanDuel. They host the Chargers this week and the ponies are favored by almost a field goal and Vegas isn’t expecting a ton of offense in this game, likely due to Los Angeles potentially resting/pulling some starters as the game progresses. The Chargers don’t have much to play for since they locked up their Wild Card spot a couple weeks ago. So I do think Denver can collect some stats for players chasing incentives. This defense hasn’t been great the last two games but there’s potential if the Chargers are taking the week off. 



Any Team With Nothing To Play For

On a slate with so many low totals and some teams just trying to rest up for the playoffs, why run the risk of targeting a D/ST that could pull starters? The Chargers don’t have much to play for as we just mentioned. I don’t see the point in spending $3,600 for them on DraftKings. The Buccaneers locked up the NFC South last week so why would we pay for them when we know they’re locked into the four-seed. The Vikings can’t lock up the top seed in the NFC and they don’t hold the tiebreaker over the 49ers for the second seed. By all accounts, they’re the third seed with nothing to play for. The Ravens clinched a Wild Card spot and can really only improve their seeding over the Chargers. Are they cheap? Sure, but I don’t think they want to run the risk of their players getting injured. These are just a few teams to consider not plugging into your player pool when building your lineups.


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