It’s the final week of the 2023 NFL season and with that, we have one of the worst NFL DFS slates of the year. Some will claim they like it and I think they’re lying. It’s the only slate this year where not every game on the slate matters in some capacity. The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers each secured the top seed within their respective conferences. Christian McCaffrey has already been ruled out for Week 18, as has Brock Purdy. Lamar Jackson, Matthew Stafford, and Patrick Mahomes are resting this week and a few other teams have acknowledged they’ll be “resting some guys” so it’ll be worthwhile to stay on top of who is starting and who isn’t. With this news we’ve seen some lines shifting and some dreadfully low totals have presented themselves to us. Here are the defenses and special teams to target for this week’s NFL DFS lineup picks!


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NFL DFS D/ST Top Tier Picks

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are pretty big favorites and both NFC East games will be taking place at the exact same time. Dallas and Philadelphia are tied for the NFC East lead, but Dallas owns the tie breaker. So while they might take their foot off the gas in the second half, a date with Sam Howell is always one to consider when looking at a D/ST for DraftKings and FanDuel. The Cowboys are 13-point favorites and the Commanders have a 16.5-point implied team total. Last week, the 49ers held Howell and Co. to just 225 yards of offense and just 10 points. Howell isn’t quite the volume gunslinger he was earlier in the year. He’s thrown multiple interceptions in back-to-back games and hasn’t eclipsed 175 passing yards in his last four games. As always, we don’t prefer to pay up at D/ST in tournaments, but the Cowboys are certainly fine for cash games.

If strictly buying into match-ups, the Carolina Panthers offense has been a fruitful group to target against for D/ST’s. So we can consider the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are still looking to lock up their division and host Carolina this weekend. I don’t love it, especially because Tampa’s defense has taken its fair share of injuries, but the match-up is ripe for the picking.

New York Jets and New England Patriots

Neither team should want to win this game. I’m a Patriots fan and I’m terrified they’ll screw up their draft position and pull out another win. The under is only at 30.5 points which is embarrassingly low and the Patriots are favored by 1.5 points. So both teams have low implied totals. Bailey Zappe is fresh off throwing three interceptions against the Buffalo Bills in Week 17. Trevor Siemian, on the other side of the ball, has appeared in four games this year and has thrown four interceptions and fumbled five times. Neither organization is synonymous with “being good” at the moment and even the Jets finally parted ways with Dalvin Cook earlier in the week so he could hopefully jump on with a contender for a postseason run. We also need to be mindful there’s a winter storm running through the Northeast on Sunday with winds up to 20 mph during the game. That’ll likely slow the pace down for two bad teams and put a cap on offensive production.

NFL DFS D/ST Mid-Tier Picks

Las Vegas Raiders

This recommendation might be better suited for FanDuel based on pricing. The Raiders were certainly a dud last week. I included them in the Week 17 D/ST Coach, but had some trepidation that they may have been a little hungover from the Christmas Day win over the Kansas City Chiefs. I think I’m willing to give them another shot this week as the team really doesn’t have much to play for aside from player bonuses and possibly improving Antonio Pierce’s argument to remove the ‘interim’ tag as head coach. Last week against one of the weakest defenses in the league (the Los Angeles Chargers), Jarrett Stidham attempted just 32 passes for 224 yards and one touchdown. We know the Raiders have played some inspiring football especially on the defensive end since Pierce took over, and they have the luxury of closing the season out at home rather than on the road at elevation in Denver. The over/under is right around 38 points and Vegas is favored by a field goal. I am expecting a win and wouldn’t be surprised if they got on the board with a pick six or a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Cincinnati Bengals

I think this game mostly stays clear of any weather concerns but ultimately there is a snow/rain mix expected in the morning and there’s a small chance of rain in the afternoon during this game. But the Bengals will close the season out at home after officially being eliminated from playoff contention. Fortunately, they’ll host the Cleveland Browns who have locked themselves in as a Wild Card team and they’ve already announced they’ll be resting some key starters since they can’t do anything to improve their playoff seeding. The game has a low total of 37.5 points and the Bengals are actually significant favorites by about seven points. The Bengals don’t generate a ton of pressure with just 41 sacks in 16 games so far this year, but they’ve been better for fantasy when playing at home and could have a solid day with Cleveland looking ahead to the playoffs.

NFL DFS D/ST Value Picks

Chicago Bears

I’ve been on the Bears for many weeks now. Even last week they were my highest-rostered D/ST on DraftKings and they managed to return 11 fantasy points and it could’ve been better if they had found the end zone but those are always tough to predict. Now we get the Bears at a bit of a discount on the road in Green Bay. The Bears have nothing to play for. However, Green Bay is still fighting to make the playoffs and you know the Bears would just love to play the role of spoiler especially at Lambeau Field. Over their last six games the Bears have 18 takeaways and 16 of those have been by interception. They’ve posted at least nine fantasy points on five occasions in that span with 16 sacks. The addition of Montez Sweat has paid dividends already. The over/under is a respectable 44 points on this slate because both offenses can put up points and Jordan Love has been better with ball security. But Chicago isn’t completely dead in the water because they missed the playoffs. I’m expecting a competitive effort and still like them for DFS once again, especially in tournaments.

New York Giants

This is more of a gut call than anything else. It’s a weird week so don’t hesitate to take some chances. Some teams have nothing to play for. Other teams have something to play for. And a few teams, mostly in that late window for this slate, have a lot to play for. The Giants really only have draft order to be concerned with. They have 17 takeaways in their last six games and they just played the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks ago. Now we should preface the rest of this section by acknowledging that Philly did score 33 points in that game. But the G-Men have been a much better defense at home than on the road. At home they’ve allowed just 18.1 points per game, 295.7 yards per game, and they’ve collected 20 sacks in seven games. On the road they allow 28.7 points per game, 419.9 yards per game, and have only nine sacks. They can’t keep Philadelphia from making the playoffs, but they can play a small role in keeping them from another division title.

You could also consider a team like the Los Angeles Rams against the San Francisco 49ers who will be resting some starters, but also keep in mind that the Rams will be resting some players as well, most notably Aaron Donald. As is the case every week with D/ST’s, play the one that fits your lineup construction. 


Seattle Seahawks

This game actually features one of the higher totals on the slate and the Seahawks are only favored by a field goal on the road in Arizona. They aren’t super expensive on either site, but I’m still not loving the price tag. Seattle placed Jamal Adams on IR and they waived Frank Clark Sr., who really didn’t make much of an impact in six games with the team this year. Seattle has bled yardage and points in their last six games. They’ve yielded 28+ points to four of their last six opponents with just 15 sacks and five takeaways in that span. Moreover, they’ve been incredibly easy to run on. They’ve given up 135+ rushing yards on the ground in each of their last six games, with 160+ rushing yards allowed in five of those games. Leonard Williams has been a nice addition to Seattle, but the run defense has been brutal of late. That’s not a good sign since James Conner has been on an absolute tear with six touchdowns in his last four games. I’ll be happy to pay down to another D/ST since Seattle doesn’t offer much of a ceiling.