Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season is officially in the books. We saw season-ending injuries to two stars in J.K. Dobbins and Aaron Rodgers, both tearing their Achilles. It’s an incredibly unfortunate aspect of the game and fantasy football. These are injuries that may very well impact the D/ST’s that we target for the second main slate of the season on DraftKings and FanDuel. The early Vegas Odds this week have indicated there are some low game totals on this main slate, which is great for looking at D/ST’s for the cheap so we can slam in those stacks from the Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, and more! So let’s not waste any time, here are the D/ST’s I’m targeting for Week 2!
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
I normally shy away from expensive D/ST’s. And trust me, there are some I have zero interest in playing. But I’m interested in the most expensive D/ST this week. San Francisco looks like they can make any offense look incompetent. They didn’t have the touchdowns or shutouts like the Dallas Cowboys or the New York Jets. But they just embarrassed the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 in Western Pennsylvania. San Francisco held Pittsburgh to just seven points on offense, 239 total yards of offense, and they amassed five sacks and two interceptions. They have another road game this coming week against the Rams who surprised everyone last week against the Seattle Seahawks. But Seattle was missing some key pieces on defense. Overall, the Rams are still without their best offensive weapon and I have no problem paying for the 49ers, and they may not even see a ton of ownership. I don’t normally recommend spending up for a contrarian D/ST. However, this is the kind of group capable of putting up a monstrous score.
I probably would’ve written up the Cowboys even if Aaron Rodgers’ season didn’t end Monday night. But with that said, this is such a tempting spot without him. The Cowboys exploded for 37 fantasy points on DraftKings Sunday night against the New York Giants. They forced seven sacks, three turnovers, got the shutout, and even scored twice. It was an all-time D/ST performance for fantasy football. I am somewhat hesitant with this one. I could actually see people hammering the Cowboys into Cash lineups. I have a hard time playing a $4,000 D/ST in Cash games. I can find value elsewhere. And the Cowboys also benefitted from Andrew Thomas playing through a hamstring injury Sunday night and they were constantly harassing Daniel Jones. I like to think the Bills have a good D/ST. But even they could only get three sacks and one turnover Monday night against Zach Wilson and the Jets. The Cowboys obviously have a far better defense, but I could see this being a modest 7-to-12-point performance. They do get a week to prep for this new version of the Jets and it’s a home game for Dallas with a 39.5-point implied total and the Cowboys are nine-point favorites.
NFL DFS D/ST Mid-Tier Picks
There are some concerns here obviously. This is a road game for Washington and it’s at altitude and that requires another level of cardio. But this defense looked great against Arizona last week and they were without Chase Young. Montez Sweat had 1.5 sacks and Da’Ron Payne was huge against Arizona’s run game in the second half. The Las Vegas Raiders don’t have a good defense and yet, they held the Denver Broncos to just 260 yards on offense and 16 points last week. Did Russell Wilson look more competent than last year? Ehh, maybe? But how does he operate against an even tougher offense this week? Remember, Chase Young may have been inactive, but he was cleared for contact prior to Week 1. He could be active Sunday and makes an already great pass rush even better.
This one might surprise some people because this game will be targeted by many for DFS. When these two teams met last year the Seahawks won 48-45. And it currently has a projected total of 47 points while the Lions are favored by about five-to-six points depending on the sportsbook. So both D/ST’s are way off everybody’s radar. What intrigues me about this matchup is that the Seattle’s starting offensive tackles are both hurt. Charles Cross is dealing with a toe injury and Abraham Lucas has a knee issue. And because of this the team went out and signed 41-year-old Jason Peters, who likely starts with the practice squad. So if one or both of the offensive tackles for Seattle miss this game, then I like Detroit to get plenty of pressure on Geno Smith. We know pressure is key as it leads to sacks and turnovers. So keeping an eye on the injury report for Seattle will be important in determining if we look to Detroit in our GPP lineups.
I want it on record that I like both D/ST’s in this game. Obviously, you have to pick one for your lineup so I’ll make cases for and against both of them. Starting with Green Bay, they looked great against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. They put up 15 fantasy points on DraftKings, thanks to a pick six early in the fourth quarter. If they don’t get that then we’re looking at maybe a seven-point day instead. Either way they put pressure on Justin Fields and looked great. The Falcons offensive line did not look nearly as good as they did last year. Desmond Ridder was sacked four times last week. Now that’s obviously a plus for Green Bay. What is concerning is that Atlanta likes to slow the game down on offense. And on top of that, they don’t want to throw very much. Ridder attempted just 18 passes on Sunday and he looked abysmal despite completing 15 of them. The running game is where Atlanta wants to beat opponents and that leads to less sacks and turnovers which might cap Green Bay’s upside.
Now on the other side of the ball with have the Falcons D/ST. They got off to a sluggish start in the first half against the Panthers. For all the free agency investments and new defensive coordinator, I wasn’t impressed through the first 30 minutes. Carolina was moving the ball with way too much ease. But they got better in the second half and still forced three turnovers against Carolina. I’m still optimistic the free agency moves will pay off, but I was turned off by what I saw in the first half. The Falcons should put up a better fight defensively than the Chicago Bears did last week. This game features one of the lower totals on the spectrum at just 40.5 points.
NFL DFS D/ST Value Picks
The Jets rallied Monday night on the back of their defense to pull out a huge divisional win after losing Aaron Rodgers for the season. This Jets D/ST is still very good. They held Josh Allen to just 217 passing yards and forced four turnovers. Now they do get a stiffer test against Dallas, but there are things I like about paying down to the Jets this week. For starters, Mike McCarthy wants to run the offense with a slower tempo. You can take that as good and bad for this defense. The good is that this defense will be rested, and a slower offense could lead to less scoring and yards given up. On the flip side, that could also mean less sack opportunities and fewer turnovers to force. But with the Jets being priced so low and the total for this game swinging under 40 points, I like paying down and finding value here. There are great players in this group and they could give the Cowboys fits. I would also monitor the health of Tyler Smith and Tyron Smith. Tyler Smith didn’t play Sunday night and Tyron Smith was Questionable leading up to that game. The Cowboys offensive line isn’t exactly at full strength as of Tuesday.
The Cardinals had a great showing last week against the Washington Commanders. They forced three turnovers and collected six sacks on their way to a 20-point day on DraftKings. They didn’t get the win but they return home to face a broken New York Giants team that was shut out by the Dallas Cowboys. I feel better about this play if we get news that Andrew Thomas is inactive. Dallas took advantage of this injury and pressured Daniel Jones on 62.2% of Jones’ drop backs. That’s the fourth-highest pressure rate in a game since 2019. Are the Cardinals on the same level as Dallas? Obviously not. But I would say there’s a path to double-digit fantasy points if Thomas is out and Arizona can even provide half the production on defense they did a week ago. Keep in mind, head coach Jonathan Gannon has a defensive background and he coached against the New York Giants twice a year from his time in Philadelphia the last two seasons. The Cardinals are six-point underdogs, but this game has a projected total of 39.5 points depending on the sportsbook you’re monitoring.
NFL DFS D/ST Fade
I could easily say fade any D/ST in the Chiefs/Jaguars game, or maybe the Raiders since they play the Bills. Also, it isn’t fun to recommend fading the Ravens or Bengals in a higher-scoring affair. That’s the easy route. Obviously, I’m not playing a D/ST that’s in a projected shootout. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t at least provide one D/ST that wasn’t so obvious.
The 4:00pm ET slate is going to be a fun one on DraftKings and FanDuel this weekend. But this fade also applies to the main slate as well. There are four games in this late window and three of them have projected totals of 39.5 points as of Tuesday afternoon. I’m currently not loving the Denver Broncos. I definitely think homefield advantage and the altitude help them here. But they’re priced up on DraftKings. So I’d rather pay up to the 49ers or Cowboys, or just pay down. The defense did basically nothing against the Las Vegas Raiders last week. They forced one turnover and had zero sacks. You can look at the box score and say “Well they allowed just 261 yards of offense and just 17 points,” and my response would be that was just Vegas playing incompetent football like most of the league this past weekend. The Denver Broncos blitzed 41.4 percent of the time last week. That was third-highest in the NFL. They had a 13.8 percent pressure rate. That’s terrible. Now they could very well turn it around in this matchup. Again, the Commanders have to adapt to the altitude. But I think if you spend a little more of your salary you get a higher floor and ceiling with the 49ers and Cowboys. Otherwise, I’m looking for a cheaper option to deploy at D/ST.