Week 10 of the NFL is here and with it, we have another 10-game slate. Unfortunately, we have teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, and Philadelphia Eagles on bye. Additionally, the Buffalo Bills have a primetime game for the third straight week. Overall, the slate isn’t as ugly as last week’s main slate was as we get some interesting matchups with the Houston Texans visiting the Cincinnati Bengals while the Detroit Lions, fresh off their bye, head West to play the Los Angeles Chargers who are playing on a short week. Half the games on this 10-game main slate have implied totals of 41 points or less so we should have plenty of defenses at our disposal to consider. Let’s take a look at the NFL DFS defenses and special teams to include in our player pools for Sunday’s action!
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
Playing the most expensive D/ST hasn’t been as fruitful on a consistent basis as years past. However, this week it’s hard not to do everything you can to squeeze in the Cowboys. As of Wednesday morning, the New York Giants have an implied team total of just 11.5 points. That’s possibly the lowest implied team total I’ve ever seen. With Daniel Jones done for the year, the Giants are in full-blown tank mode whether they know it or not. If you think back to this matchup from Week 1, the Cowboys D/ST put up a stellar 37 fantasy points on DraftKings with seven sacks, three takeaways, and two touchdowns scored.
Tommy DeVito looked better in relief of Daniel Jones last week but that was against a softer defense and he grabbed some garbage time production. The Cowboys won’t be as generous as they come off a tough loss in Week 9.
For what it’s worth, I do love pretty much every D/ST priced up this week. So for comparison, on DraftKings, I’m skipping over the Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Ravens, and New Orleans Saints. I do think those teams are in play, but I’ll take the slight savings on the Steelers. This game has an implied total of under 40 points and the Steelers are favored by roughly a field goal at home. The Steelers can certainly go out in any matchup and get multiple takeaways with maybe four of five sacks as well. They’ve allowed just 63 total points in their last four games with eight takeaways, 13 sacks, and a safety in that span.
NFL DFS D/ST Mid-Tier Picks
The implied total is one of the highest on the slate at 48.5 points. On paper, it doesn’t look good so we’re only going to consider the Lions for DFS tournaments. With that said, they are favored by nearly a field goal and they’re coming off their bye week. Additionally, the Chargers played Monday night on the East Coast and had to travel all the way back home and prepare for this matchup on a short week. The Chargers have to be a bit bothered by the scheduling error here. This is a similar narrative to the Bengals/49ers game from a couple of weeks ago where Cincinnati was coming off the bye and the 49ers had just played on Monday Night Football.
The Bengals put up nine fantasy points in that matchup, which is a fine value in this range. The Lions pass rush is a bit consistent. They have three games this year with at least five sacks but then just three sacks across their other five games. But the Lions will be low-owned in this matchup as everyone predicts a shootout. If this game is a dud and one team doesn’t show up, I’m going to guess it would be the Chargers that draw the short end of the stick.
While I won’t write them up in-depth, I do think the Cleveland Browns are certainly in play for Tournaments. They’re priced in the mid-tier because of the road matchup against Baltimore. Playing the Browns is more of an investment in their personnel but the Ravens are an absolute wagon right now and have been running the ball on everybody.
I’m a little more bullish on this Bengals defense than most people are. I know they had some brutal personnel turnover in the offseason but at the end of the day, they’ve played well this year. Since coming off their bye they’ve allowed just 35 points to the likes of the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills while boasting 22 sacks and 15 takeaways in eight games. Moreover, they’ve recorded at least two takeaways in four straight games. Some may be scared away from this matchup after the game C.J. Stroud and company had last week where Stroud broke almost every rookie record in the book.
Let’s try to remember that before last week, Stroud had some “dud” performance against the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Atlanta Falcons. Remember, in DFS, you want to be ahead of the breakout game, not after it. Everyone will flock to Stroud this week because of last week’s game. Even my best Week 9 DFS lineup last week was a Houston stack. It was exciting to watch. But we zig when others zag and I don’t think enough credit is given to the Bengals after what they’ve done against great offenses the last couple weeks.
NFL DFS D/ST Value Picks
The Cardinals are potentially the popular value play of this slate as everybody and their dog actively cheers for Arthur Smith to lose his job. A Cardinals win potentially pushes that narrative a bit more. The Cardinals D/ST has allowed six straight opponents to put up 20+ points. They have just 10 takeaways in nine games to go along with 25 sacks. But at the end of the day, they are playing at home and while they’re slight underdogs in this matchup, this game is closer to a pick ‘em compared to other games featured on this slate.
If you’re playing the afternoon window I would just either play the Dallas Cowboys at the top or spend down to Arizona and allocate salary elsewhere. The Falcons are coming off a brutal loss to the Minnesota Vikings last week and this shapes up as another tough game where we’re left wondering how the Falcons will deploy Bijan Robinson.
I don’t have a ton of confidence in this play, but the Jaguars defense has been impressive at times. They’re only $2,400 on DraftKings and the second-cheapest D/ST on the board. Truthfully, they should be closer to $2,200 but maybe I’m just being overly picky. They’ve done well at limiting opponents on the offensive side and they can force turnovers. They’re also coming off their bye week so they’re well rested. Unfortunately, the San Francisco 49ers are also coming off a much-needed bye week after losing three straight games. Brock Purdy had six turnovers in those three losses so he’s certainly had some uncharacteristic struggles of late.
If you buy into the narrative of the West Coast teams struggling on the East Coast in the early window then this is certainly a value D/ST you should consider. But with both teams coming off the bye I think the rest neutralizes that narrative a little bit. Similar to the Chargers/Lions game we have an implied total on the higher end of the spectrum on this slate and the Jags are slight underdogs in this matchup. But if you need a punt at this position I could live with the Jaguars in Tournaments.
NFL DFS D/ST Fade
I hope I have enough good faith with you all to recommend this easy fade. Normally I like to recommend a more costly D/ST to avoid because there’s nothing bold about fading a defense this cheap. I’ve already touched on this within the article, but the Chargers are coming off a short week of prep after playing on Monday night. They also had to travel back across the country and are drawing a team coming off their bye. It’s pretty unfortunate scheduling. But even after coming off a massive 27-fantasy point effort against the Jets, we expect heavy regression against a potent Lions offense.