The Week 12 main slate delivers another one of those 10-game slates with only 20 defenses to choose from. Similar to last week, we have multiple games with very low totals. But where we differ from last week is that we don’t have as many teams favored by at least a touchdown. So while I was skeptical of Cash games last week, and the slate overall, I’m feeling better about this 10-gamer. 

Pricing is also odd across the board for this position. I’ll mention this multiple times throughout the article, but the most expensive defense on the DraftKings main slate is $3,800 while the least expensive is just $2,600. By comparison, last week’s most expensive defense was about $4,100 and the cheapest was $2,200 if memory serves correct. So, once again, things are getting more restrictive. And I don’t think we need to live in the top tier at D/ST this week. And since we don’t have super cheap groups to pay down for, we probably shouldn’t punt the position to maximize savings. 

We’ll once again build sound and structured lineups and try to find the mid-range D/ST that pops off this weekend. Here are the top D/ST’s for Sunday’s Week 12 main slate on DraftKings and FanDuel!


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NFL DFS D/ST Top Tier Picks

Cleveland Browns

This feels like a trap game. While I’ll likely land on the Browns in one or two of my lineups, I do have some trepidation. Let’s start with the good. The Browns have one of the best defenses in the league led by Myles Garrett. They only have 15 takeaways on the year, but they do have 33 sacks and they tend to take advantage of bad offensive lines. It’s a scary defense to stare down. $3,800 would normally be a discount. We’ve seen defenses previously priced over $4,000 on DraftKings and this week the Browns are offered up at a slight discount. But there are some pieces to this matchup that just feel… off. For starters, the game is at elevation and if you aren’t used to the thinner air, you will gas out quickly. The Browns defense also has some telling home/road splits:




Points Per Game Allowed



Yards Per Game Allowed




23 (Six Games)

10 (Four Games)

This game does have a low implied total early in the week, but the Browns are not massive favorites by any means and the Broncos have won four straight, plus they continue to find ways to win close games with Russell Wilson operating as more of a game manager and the offense not turning the ball over. This play makes sense on paper but perhaps we rethink this one come Sunday.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The top tier isn’t nearly as interesting as it normally is. The three most expensive D/ST’s are all on the road and there are some mid-tier plays that could really pop off this weekend for a huge score. The Steelers held Dorian Thompson-Robinson and the Browns to just 259 yards of offense and 13 points last week. But they only had one sack and one takeaway. That’s why we need those other stats to pad our defensive numbers in DFS. Sacks and turnovers lead to bigger scores. Just getting by and holding the opposing offense to a low score does nothing for our lineups. 

With Joe Burrow done for the year, the Cincinnati Bengals hand the reigns to Jake Browning who completed 8-of-14 passes for 68 yards and a touchdown in relief of Burrow last week. The Bengals could lean more on the run and re-design the offense to cater to Browning’s strengths, should he have any. The Bengals also have the benefit of a little extra time to prepare for this game so they have that going for them as well. But their Super Bowl hopes died with Burrow’s wrist injury and they could be limping down the stretch, so I do think the Steelers want to make a statement after last week’s loss.

NFL DFS D/ST Mid-Tier Picks

Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans

Normally, a game with a 37.5-point implied total would be the lowest on the slate. Offensive production seems down overall across the league, so believe it or not, 37.5 is only the fourth-lowest total on the board. Neither defense is particularly good. The Titans are $3,400 on DraftKings while the Panthers are $3,100 mostly because the offenses are so bad. The Titans have just four sacks and one takeaway in their last three games. The Panthers, since coming off their bye week, have just three sacks and two takeaways. The Panthers can be tough to throw on. That doesn’t bode well for rookie quarterback, Will Levis, who has struggled against defenses that generate pressure. However, the Panthers clearly don’t do that but still have a pretty good secondary. I imagine the Titans take a more run-heavy approach and the Panthers throw every pass to Adam Thielen. Neither team may do much in terms of generating pressure and forcing turnovers. But as a game that could have almost no scoring, there’s certainly some intrigue here, but as we mentioned above we do need some sacks and turnovers to raise the ceiling of our lineups a bit.

New England Patriots

The Patriots are 3.5-point underdogs on the road in the game with the lowest implied total on the slate. Not to mention, they’re coming off their bye week so they’ll be well rested. Is this defense good by any means? Absolutely not. They’ve lost some of their best defensive players and Matthew Judon still leads the team in sacks (4.0) and he hasn’t played since Week 4. 

The New York Giants pulled off a shocking win over the Washington Commanders. However, they were hilariously efficient in that game. The G-Men ran only 54 plays compared to Washington’s 77 and the Commanders had possession of the ball for 34:51 while the Giants clocked in at just 25:09. Even in a win, Tommy DeVito was still sacked NINE times. 

This game actually plays a big role in the upcoming NFL Draft order as both teams are essentially playing for draft position. But I’m not banking on the Giants putting up 24 points on offense again when their implied team total the last few weeks has been in the low teens. Tommy DeVito, Saquan Barkley, and Co. were a fun story last week, but regression is in order and I’m fine targeting the underdog in what could be one of the ugliest games of the season.

Denver Broncos

In my time covering the D/ST Coach, the Broncos have probably been my “Fade” more than any other team. But if you read my thoughts on the Cleveland Browns, you’ll know I have concerns for the Brownies in this matchup. The Broncos have the luxury of playing at home and at elevation. The implied total is at 36.5 points and the Broncos, as the cheaper D/ST are home favorites. 

They’ve won four straight games and are routinely in competitive games week in and week out. Dare I say this Vance Joseph-led defense is playing pretty damn well? Over their last three games they have just five sacks (they’ve had a bad pass rush all year) but they do have a dozen takeaways and they’re allowing just 17 points per game over the last month. Dorian Thompson-Robinson got the win last week for Cleveland, but he completed just 56% of his 43 pass attempts for 165 yards and a pick. This seems like a very good spot for the Broncos to potentially break the slate at home.

NFL DFS D/ST Value Pick

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs aren’t super cheap, but I like so many mid-tier teams this week that, per pricing, they’re technically cheaper than the Denver Broncos, who I just mentioned. I normally lean on the side of caution and will generally avoid a defense that just played on Monday night. However, this is a “get right” game for the Chiefs after blowing a 10-point lead Monday night to the Philadelphia Eagles at home. 

Prior to Kansas City’s bye week, they had returned double-digit fantasy points in four straight games. L’Jarius Sneed takes a lot of penalties, but he likely shadows Davante Adams. Sneed and the Chiefs defense effectively took away A.J. Brown on Monday night. If you can contain Brown, I think you can contain anyone. Brown is a big, physical bully that can win contested catches. Sounds kind of like Davante Adams, and the latter doesn’t have the level of quarterback Brown has. The Chiefs defense wasn’t the reason they lost Monday’s game. The defense allowed just 238 yards of offense and 21 points to the Eagles. 

I don’t quite understand why the Chiefs aren’t more expensive against an offense led by Aidan O’Connell, who has four interceptions and a fumble in his last two games. I’ll go back to the well with the Chiefs who have 23 sacks in their last five games.

Houston Texans

This slate is a little weird. I know it seems like I make the claim with every 10-game slate we get this year, but hear me out. Playing the Houston Texans is what it means to “punt” the position this week. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the most expensive D/ST is priced at $3,800 (the Cleveland Browns) and the Texans are the cheapest at $2,600. On a 10-game slate we have a range of just $1,200. Normally that range is more like $2,000-$2,200. The Texans do have some appeal for DFS with at least seven fantasy points in four of their last five games with 17 sacks and seven takeaways in that span. This is a home game for Houston and it’s arguably a pick ‘em kind of matchup. 

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Trevor Lawrence are coming off an explosive Week 11 where Lawrence and Calvin Ridley connected for two scores while Lawrence added two more on the ground. But let’s not forget how frustrating Lawrence has been, in general, for the 2023 season. He’s underperformed and prior to last week he wasn’t even a slam dunk, must-start quarterback in season-long leagues. If I find myself in a position where I have to start a sub-$3K D/ST then I’m fine going right to the Texans with the hope the Jaguars regress.


Philadelphia Eagles

Realistically you could make the argument to fade both the Buffalo Bills and the Eagles defenses in this matchup. It has the highest total on the main slate at 47.5 points. Following the firing of Ken Dorsey as offensive coordinator, the Bills went out last week and dropped 32 points and 393 yards of offense on the New York Jets, a fairly tough defense with an elite secondary. 

By comparison, the Eagles are coming off a rousing come-from-behind win on Monday night to the team they lost to in last year’s Super Bowl, the Kansas City Chiefs. The Eagles have to turn around on a short week and prep for, what may just be, a brand-new offense in Buffalo. It’s a home game for Philly but the D/ST position is not exactly where I want to be getting exposure to this game.