Top Tier

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I like the Bucs this week, but I don’t think it’s necessary that you have to pay up here. There are cheaper defenses with more upside for GPP’s. Despite all the weapons the Bucs have on defense and the fact the Cowboys were weaker on the offensive line, they still allowed over 450 yards of offense and they only had one sack on Dak Prescott. The Falcons, as we saw last week, are a mess. Week 1 was about as bad of a coaching debut one could have and Arthur Smith knows his team needs to improve. The offensive line was pathetic for Atlanta. If the Bucs can dominate and build their value for DFS it’ll come via the pass rush and forcing turnovers. I don’t expect the Falcons to be as awful as last week and garbage time worries me for the Bucs defense. I think there’s a decent floor, but I’m not buying the ceiling for Tampa.

New England Patriots – I fully embrace being called a homer whenever the Patriots qualify for this article. But the fact remains there is talent on this defense. They held the Dolphins to 259 total yards of offense with a pair of sacks and a turnover. This defense is better than Carolina’s defense. The Panthers held the Jets to 252 yards of offense a week ago and collected six sacks on a rather beat-up Jets offensive line. I’d be enamored with this matchup if the Patriots were home, but still like the matchup overall for New England to crush Zach Wilson. The over/under is very low at 43.0 points and the Patriots are favored by six.  


Cleveland Browns – While the Browns are the sixth-most expensive D/ST on DraftKings’ main slate, the price tag of $3,500 screams mid-tier to me. I don’t like paying up for D/ST’s but I can stomach this price tag. The Browns played the Chiefs last week and almost stole a win and they held them to under 400 yards of offense. Against the Chiefs, that’s a win. The Browns now get to take on the Houston Texans, who lit up Jacksonville’s defense a week ago. The Browns are a completely different test and our dear friends in Vegas know it too. The Brownies are 13-point favorites in a game with the over/under set at 45.5 points. If you’re doing the math, that means the Texans are expected to score 17-18 points. That’s pretty low by Vegas’s standards. The Browns are pissed off and as contenders in the AFC they’re hungry for that first win to come against Houston.

Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers host the Raiders on Sunday and the Raiders are coming off a very late overtime win to travel East and play 1:00pm ET on Sunday. So, the lack of preparation time and the emotion of a dramatic win Monday night could still loom over them. The Steelers are coming off a strong defensive effort from Week 1 where they upset the Bills in Buffalo. The Steelers are 5.5-point favorites and while the scoring total is relatively high (49.5) I think the Raiders offense looked great due to an underwhelming Ravens defense. I still believe the Steelers have one of the more talented defenses in the league and I still don’t fully believe in the Raiders offensive line. Sacks and turnovers could be abundant come Sunday. 

Value Tier

Arizona Cardinals – I don’t normally recommend chasing points, but I’ll roll the dice on the Cardinals. The Cardinals put up 16 points on DraftKings and they didn’t need a pick six or a kick return for a touchdown. They did it on the backs of a bone crushing pass rush and they forced three turnovers. We may look at this matchup and say “Shouldn’t we be worried about Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen?” Well sure, but a week ago we were also worried about Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, and Julio Jones and the Cardinals stepped up and shut the Titans down. They have the luxury of hosting the Vikings in this matchup and if the pass rush is as legitimate as it looked last week then we’re looking at another valuable performance from Arizona.

Philadelphia Eagles – In a lot of my early GPP builds, I’m left with about $2,600 for a D/ST and I’m left looking at the defenses in this range: Chargers (hosting Dallas), Dolphins (hosting Bills), Cowboys (visiting the Chargers without Demarcus Lawrence), Jaguars (hosting Denver), Jets (hosting Patriots), Titans (visiting Seahawks), Vikings (visiting Cardinals), Falcons (visiting Buccaneers), and Texans (visiting Cleveland). Do we feel 100% confident in any of these matchups? Certainly not. The Jaguars burned me pretty bad last week in many lineups so I will not play with fire there once again. And every other D/ST in this range is facing an explosive offense. So I’m looking at Philadelphia in this range. The 49ers just played in Detroit last week and have to now visit Philadelphia. This is a great GPP play if you aren’t buying in to Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers offensive line is much better than the Falcons O-line that the Eagles faced last week. The Birds are four-point underdogs, but the total is set at 45.5 according to Vegas. I’m trying to not dip this low this week, but if it’s necessary I’m willing to ride or die with the Eagles and hope for a couple sacks and turnovers because I do think this defense can contribute to the Eagles upsetting the 49ers.


New Orleans Saints – I had to think about this one all week. Initially I liked this spot for the Saints given how they looked last week against the Packers. Unfortunately, it looks like they’ll be without Marshon Lattimore who had surgery on his thumb not long after signing a massive contract extension. Additionally, the Saints have had a bit of a COVID-19 outbreak within their ranks so they could be without a handful of assistant coaches. Mix in the fact they may have caught the Packers at their absolute worst, plus it’s a divisional matchup against Carolina. I’m willing to fade this group.