Top Tier

New England Patriots – You can call me a homer, but this game doesn’t stand out as one of the “sexier” options for DFS output. The over/under is right around 43.5 which is one of the lowest totals on the slate and the Patriots are favored by three points. Additionally, there are a lot of nice pieces on this defense. Dont’a Hightower is back after sitting out the 2020 season and New England brought back Kyle Van Noy. The Patriots also signed Jalen Mills, Davon Godchaux, and Matthew Judon who looked very impressive during the preseason. Not to mention, Kyle Dugger and his long arms are entering their second season and the coaching staff expect him to make some strides. So this defense isn’t necessarily flying under the radar and there is still some skepticism regarding Tua Tagovailoa’s development. I’m personally not paying up for many D/ST’s on this slate. But if you can, the Pats are in a great spot.

Mid Tier

Denver Broncos - I'm adding the Broncos as a late Sunday morning addition to the D/ST Coach. I was mildly concerned about the travel but ultimately this is still a great defense. The Giants are hobbling into the season in rough shape. Evan Engram has already been declared OUT and Saquon Barkley, while he'll be active, will be eased into the offense. Add in a terrible offensive line and suspect quarterback play from Daniel Jones, and I'm willing to take a shot on the Broncos.

Washington Football Team – Arguably the best defense in the league gets a nice matchup against the Chargers. Los Angeles will travel cross country for this matchup against a beefy defensive front and, as is usually the case, the Chargers offensive line is already beat up. The injury report is worth monitoring throughout the weekend but earlier in the week Bryan Bulaga, Rashawn Slater, and Corey Linsley were all dealing with injuries in some capacity. Even if they all play it’s still a good matchup on paper for this defense. The Bolts are currently one-point favorites but the over/under is currently sitting at 44.5 so Vegas has this as one of the lower scoring games on the slate. This D/ST posted double-digit points on DraftKings in four of their final seven regular season games so they’re arguably playable in any format if you have the salary.

Minnesota Vikings – Following the news of Jackson Carman showing up to Bengals camp out of shape, the team announced that journeymen Quinton Spain and Xavier Su’a-Filo will start at guard this weekend. This news only adds more fuel to the fire for folks that believe the Bengals should’ve taken Penei Sewell in the first round of April’s draft. The Bengals offensive line is in rough shape, but I’m not going to commit to saying they’re terrible. The exterior with Riley Reiff and Jonah Williams could be just fine as long as Williams stays healthy (that’s been a problem for him). The interior could be trouble though. There were also reports that Joe Burrow had issues in training camp with his accuracy and Ja’Marr Chase had issues with separation and drops in the preseason. So there isn’t a ton of confidence in the Bengals offense at the moment. The prices on DraftKings and FanDuel make the Vikings playable in GPP’s this weekend if they can get pressure on Burrow.

Value Tier

Jacksonville Jaguars – Targeting the Houston Texans offense will be popular among DFS players this season. Jacksonville will travel for this game, but they’re favored by a field goal and the over/under is at 45 points at the moment. Truthfully, I was also going to include the Texans in this article until they traded Bradley Roby and I lost a little confidence in them. But the Texans will be rolling out Tyrod Taylor at quarterback and nobody expects much out of the Texans offense. I don’t think the Jaguars have a tremendous ceiling in this matchup, but I could be wrong. And don’t forget the Jaguars did invest heavy draft capital in this defense in 2020. I do think there’s an easy path to 3X value if they can penetrate Houston’s sub-par offensive line and force a few turnovers without giving up many big plays.

Buffalo Bills – This just seems a little too cheap for the Bills. This team was great at home last year where they returned 9.0 fantasy points per game. This defense got better as the season progressed, but I do understand we need to focus on this game in particular. I’m still not sold on the Steelers offensive line. They got rid of a lot of the bad pieces from a year ago, but they also didn’t do much in terms of replacing those bottom dwellers. If Pittsburgh can’t establish the run game and fall too far behind to Buffalo’s explosive offense, then it’s entirely possible that they have to air it out with Big Ben. And they don’t want to do that, hence why they drafted Najee Harris. But if that’s the case then Big Ben sitting back in the pocket presents more opportunities for sacks and interceptions. With fans in attendance, the Bills could be putting the Steelers through a table in this matchup. The Bills are favored by 6.5 points and the over/under is at 48.5 points.

Atlanta Falcons – I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if the Falcons were the most owned D/ST this weekend on DraftKings. On FanDuel, they’re more of a mid-tier play so I don’t like them as much. In GPP’s, you’re really looking to pay down at D/ST and hope for eight-ish points. But Dean Pees is coming out of retirement (again), this time to help turn around the Falcons defense. Pees last coordinated the Titans defense a couple years ago and as soon as he retired that group went to crap. The good news is that Atlanta’s defense was actually pretty good against the run, believe it or not. They allowed 104.8 yards per game on the ground which was seventh-best in the league, but they do have a fairly stiff test Week 1 against Philadelphia who can attack them on the ground via Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders. I will have Sanders in plenty of my builds and those will be lineups where I obviously don’t play the Falcons. But Hurts had accuracy issues last season and if that carries over to the 2021 opener then Atlanta could be looking at some turnovers. I think the Falcons are viable in Cash and GPP formats given how much salary they open up for you.


San Francisco 49ers – Fading a D/ST isn’t going to make or break your slate. This isn’t as controversial as fading the other positions. But I will be light on one of the presumed safer plays on the slate. I don’t hate this price tag truly. We’ll see more gaudy prices as the season progresses. But there are just better value plays out there that can return a similar output. The 49ers are a better defense for actual football than fantasy football. They didn’t give up many points or yardage last year, which made Robert Saleh look great. But they didn’t collect many sacks, nor did they force a ton of turnovers and I prefer my D/ST’s to offer those peripherals. Defensive and Special Teams touchdowns are hard to predict and yet the 49ers had just one all last season with 20 turnovers and 30 sacks over 16 games. I know they’re favored by a touchdown at the moment, but if this game gets out of hand then I’m worried the 49ers could bleed DFS points in garbage time for Detroit. Or if the 49ers just opt to run the ball 35 times on Sunday, that tends to kill the clock and keep the defense off the field when they could be making plays. I don’t think you need to pay this much for a D/ST when you could save over $1,000 on a group that could really break the slate.