Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season is finally upon us and we’ve got you covered at FantasyAlarm for all your DFS coverage. Whether you need the rest of the wide-ranging NFL DFS Tools, NFL DFS Projections, NFL DFS Watch List, NFL DFS Value Plays, etc. We have everything you’ll need. And on top of it all, we’ll be able to help you leading up to lineup lock answering all your lineup and contest selection questions in the FantasyAlarm Discord. Now if you’ve read this article in the past, you’ll know that it’s a position of variance. Everyone seeks the one defense that pops off for a touchdown or two and breaks the slate at minimal exposure. Well, I can’t predict touchdowns. However, we can use the NFL Vegas Odds to our advantage in addition to injury reports, the latest news, and matchup data to carefully craft our player pool and determine which D/ST’s to consider for Week 1 on DraftKings and FanDuel.
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 Picks
Probably the easy top tier pick on the whole slate. They’re the most expensive team on both DraftKings and FanDuel. The projected total as of Wednesday evening is 43.5 points, which isn’t the lowest on the slate by any means but still not awful. The Ravens are ten-point favorites and have homefield advantage against a rookie quarterback. The Houston Texans have done their part to improve the offensive line, but they still have the tough task of going up against this pass rush. Baltimore was top five last year in terms of sacks and can put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. This is great against a rookie quarterback who may try to force errant throws or perhaps also fumble the ball. Game flow is a concern here. The Ravens have a good floor, but if the game gets out of hand and they don’t need to keep their starters in, then garbage time goes to the Texans and that could be bad news for this D/ST. If you’re okay spending $4,000 on a D/ST then this is the group to spend up for. But overall, there are cheaper teams with similar ceilings this week.
The Eagles are among the top five most expensive D/ST’s on both DraftKings and FanDuel this week. Truthfully, I don’t know if I’ll be going here but I like how things are shaping up against my beloved New England Patriots. For starters, the Eagles led the league in sacks last year. They had seven games in the regular season last year where they recorded at least six sacks. Pressure leads to sacks, fumbles, interceptions, throwaways, etc. We love a defensive front that can apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks. And the Patriots are kind of limping into Week 1. Trent Brown regressed last season and was limited on Wednesday with an illness. Additionally, on the offensive line, Mike Onwenu and Cole Strange were limited with injuries as well. On top of those three, DeVante Parker was limited with a knee injury and there are reports that JuJu Smith-Schuster’s knee could “explode” at any moment. What path to victory does New England have against this defense? Finding a time machine and going back to find Tom Brady and Randy Moss? This game could be ugly, I think it’s potentially low scoring for both offenses, but the Eagles could be feasting against a beat-up Patriots offensive line come Sunday.
NFL DFS D/ST Mid-Tier Picks
The Commanders are incredibly pricy as the second-most expensive D/ST on FanDuel. However, on DraftKings they’re only $2,800 and will easily be the Cash game and value GPP chalk of the main slate. The Arizona Cardinals are traveling cross country for a 1:00pm ET game. Kyler Murray is highly doubtful to play so that means the Cardinals are left to the devices of Joshua Dobbs and/or Clayton Tune. Arizona had themselves a bit of a fire sale as they sold off Josh Jones and Isaiah Simmons during the preseason. The Commanders are seven-point favorites for this matchup and this game has one of the lowest projected totals on the slate at just 38 points. Washington is in line to racks up sacks and force some turnovers in this matchup. Chase Young has been ruled out for this matchup but overall it's still a great spot for Washington.
I am doing my absolute best to keep my expectations in check with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But I think they have a legitimate shot to win this game. Remember when the Steelers upset the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 last year? I’m getting similar vibes for this game. The San Francisco 49ers have to travel cross country for this 1:00pm ET matchup on Sunday. Not a huge deal since it is Week 1, but there’s still the time zone change to account for. George Kittle is dealing with a groin injury and Trent Williams didn’t practice Wednesday although it doesn’t appear to be injury related. The Steelers still have some fantastic weapons on defense and T.J. Watt can certainly be a disruptor for Brock Purdy who is playing in his first game since the elbow injury late last year. This is largely a Tournament-only recommendation. With weapons like Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk still available there are numerous paths for San Francisco to move the ball up and down the field and possibly put up points. But I expect the success of the Steelers defense late in the 2022 season to carry over. In seven of their final eight games last year, they allowed 17 or fewer points and didn’t allow a ton of yards either in that span.
I'm adding the Falcons to the list simply because they draw a rookie quarterback at home and they made massive improvements to their defense. If you watches the NFL DFS Week 1 Show with Howard and Jon you'll have picked up on the Falcons improving their defense through free agency. Most notably, they took some key pieces away from the New Orleans Saints, including their new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen. The Panthers are pretty beat up on offense. DJ Chark has already been ruled out and Adam Thielen was questionable as well. This could be an ugly, low-scoring game where the Falcons feast on Bryce Young in his NFL debut.
Los Angeles Chargers
I'm including the Los Angeles Chargers because Terron Armstead has been ruled out for the Miami Dolphins. Armstead is deeply vital to Tagovailoa's health and success. Armstead allowed just a 3.4% pressure rate last season while his replacements saw that number jump to 14%. There are plenty of defensive linemen on the other side of the ball that can get to the quarterback. I wouldn't use the Chargers in Cash games. But with this game being targeted as a shootout, I like the Chargers as a low-owned GPP option assuming they can get pressure on Tua and force some turnovers.
NFL DFS D/ST Value Pick
The Raiders aren’t very good. We know this. They probably know it as well. However, they do get the luxury of playing the Denver Broncos in Week 1. Sure, it’s a road game but I’m fine punting this low if you are in need of the salary relief. The Broncos were horrendous last year. Russell Wilson was the laughingstock of the league. And while there have been plenty of positives coming out of training camp, what happens if nothing changes? Obviously, nothing is a guarantee when paying down to this range. But the Broncos are a little beat up. Tim Patrick isn’t an option for this game. Javonte Williams is getting his first live action since coming back from injury. Jerry Jeudy returned to practice on Wednesday in a limited capacity as he deals with a hamstring injury. In two games last year against the Broncos, the Raiders collected six sacks, allowed 39 total points, and 619 total yards of offense. Sure, the addition of Sean Payton as Denver’s new head coach is certainly interesting but I’m fine punting down here in Tournaments if there’s a chance the Raiders can get to Russell Wilson all over again.
NFL DFS D/ST Fades
The way I see it, you either spend up in the top tier for the Baltimore Ravens or Philadelphia Eagles, or you pay down. I have minimal interest in the Minnesota Vikings as a D/ST on DraftKings and FanDuel. The over/under isn’t exactly “low” at 45.5 points with the Vikings being only six-point favorites. Personally, I don’t like either defense in this matchup. I actually like stacking both offenses in this game because I do think there’s sneaky upside in playing Tampa Bay. The Vikings surrendered at least 24 points to opposing offenses 11 times in the regular season last year. The front office invested mid-to-late-round draft capital in this defense but they could still bleed points even if garbage time is afforded to the Bucs. Even among the top tier on DraftKings, there are better options available that can save you some money as well.