With the 2023 NFL regular season in the books we now turn our attention to the playoffs. We have a six-game slate this weekend with games spanning from Saturday-Monday with smaller slates for each day mixed in each day as well. We have some great games across the board this weekend. On Saturday we have a pair of AFC match-ups with the red-hot Cleveland Browns led by Joe Flacco visiting the Houston Texans amidst their phenomenal turn around season led by rookie C.J. Stroud. And on Saturday night we get a great game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins in what is projected to be one of the coldest games in NFL history. Sunday night will see Matthew Stafford going back to his old stomping grounds as he’ll play visitor to the Detroit Lions who are hoping to have star rookie tight end, Sam LaPorta, after he sustained an injury in Week 18.

This weekend typically produces some exciting games, so there’s optimism even if the quality of football has waned a bit this year. Now given that this is a shorter slate, we only have a dozen teams to choose from on the defensive side. Shorter slates generally put every D/ST in play, regardless of match-up. These are the best teams in the NFL and the games aren’t played on paper. This should be the last piece of the puzzle when building out your lineups. And even if you’re playing the smaller slates for each day, don’t hesitate to have a player or two going up against your defense. These slates tend to be lottery tickets so correlation matters a little less when we have fewer games. 

NFL DFS D/ST Wild Card Weekend Top Tier Pick

Buffalo Bills

It’s always tempting to write up the Dallas Cowboys when they’re playing at home, but I can’t resist the Bills’ match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday afternoon. This is currently the lowest implied total on the slate according to several sportsbooks at just 36 points and the Bills are favored by 10. Vegas is basically giving Pittsburgh an implied team total of 13 points. I’ve said this a few times in this article and in NFL DFS Showdown Playbooks the last few weeks, but the Bills have taken on plenty of injuries on defense and yet the players that have stepped in have played well. They have six takeaways in their last two games including touchdowns by the D/ST in each contest.

We also potentially have severe weather for this match-up. Even if it isn’t snowing, temperatures will be in the 20’s with sustained winds ranging from 20-30 mph. That’s both good and bad for the Bills as a D/ST. It potentially eliminates kickers from doing anything, but we also may see both teams take a run-heavy approach which could play into the strengths of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The lack of pass attempts for Mason Rudolph could limit the sack and turnover upside for the Bills. But even in Week 17’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, that game was plagued by poor weather and rain which still led to a total of eight fumbles in the game, with Mason Rudolph accounting for three of those. Again, if you want to chase the turnover potential you could consider the Dallas Cowboys who host the Green Bay Packers in a controlled environment. But if you need a team with a good floor it’s certainly Buffalo this week.

NFL DFS D/ST Mid-Tier Picks

Cleveland Browns

I know the Browns are the fourth-most expensive D/ST on DraftKings and FanDuel, but they’re still priced reasonably enough to warrant consideration in the mid-tier. This is arguably the best defense in the league through and through, but they do tend to play worse on the road. For that reason, I’ll throw in another defense in the mid-tier to consider as well. I’m going to throw out Week 18 because the Browns were resting some starters. But in Weeks 14-17 the Browns recorded a dozen sacks and 11 takeaways while allowing just 18.5 points per game in that span. Going against an offense like Houston’s is always risky because they’ve shown they can put up points. But this is a big stage for a rookie quarterback to make his debut despite Stroud not being responsible for a turnover in his last five regular season games. Heavy passing volume leads to sacks and turnovers and we know Cleveland can get to the quarterback. But the home-road splits are a bit concerning for the Brownies.




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Yards Per Game Allowed






Kansas City Chiefs

As soon as the Miami Dolphins step off the plane they’re immediately going to want to go home. To say it’s going to be cold for this game is an understatement. On Saturday night it is projected to be -6 degrees at kickoff with winds ranging from 10-15 mph. The wind isn’t all that impactful. It won’t be nearly as bad as what we’ll see Sunday afternoon in Buffalo. But it’s going to be cold and the Dolphins, having trained and practiced in South Beach all year, simply won’t be ready for these elements. And we also have seen Miami really beat only one good team all year. Sure, there are concerns offensively for the Chiefs. But on the defensive side we’ve seen them rise to the occasion. The over/under is at 44 points for this game and the Chiefs are favored by 4.5 points. The Chiefs finished the year ranking second in sacks (57) just behind the Baltimore Ravens and they allowed just 54 total points to opposing offenses over their last four games. We’ve also seen L’Jarius Sneed emerge as a legitimate shut down defensive back and he could give Tyreek Hill fits all day, but I still anticipate Miami forcing the ball to their WR1. The Miami Dolphins are also a little beat up on offense, so I expect the Chiefs to win this one in the elements.

NFL DFS D/ST Value Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers

You have to be comfortable submitting uncomfortable lineups this weekend. Yes, the Steelers are sizable underdogs on the road in a game with the lowest implied total on the board. And they’ll even be without T.J. Watt in this match-up as well. But the wind won’t cater to just one team. Both offenses will have to endure it. And Josh Allen, despite the rushing upside and “break the slate” potential, is still very turnover prone. In Weeks 17 and 18 he had three interceptions and three fumbles (only one was lost). The lack of Watt certainly limits the sack potential, but if this game is sloppy then the Steelers can still return value if you have to pay down at D/ST.


Philadelphia Eagles

As a reminder, no D/ST is truly off the board when it comes to smaller slates. But if there’s one defense that caused me to scoff a bit at their price tag, it’s definitely Philadelphia. The defense just hasn’t been good of late. They had just six sacks and three takeaways in their last four games this year while returning a total of 16 fantasy points on DraftKings in that span. Sure, Baker Mayfield was limping off the field a good amount last week in the regular season finale, but we know there are still enough weapons on Tampa to move the ball and put up points. The Eagles showed the last few weeks that they were struggling to even limit an offense led by Tyrod Taylor. The Eagles likely win this game, but they’re only favored by a field goal and this defense is nowhere close to the unit that went to the Super Bowl last season.