Last Updated: September 12th at 5:15pm ET
DFS DEFENSE SELECTION
The goal of a real-life NFL defense is to prevent the other team from scoring points. When we select a defense to roster, we’re trying to score the most fantasy points. It’s a subtle shift in thinking, but an important one.
The optimal way to select a defense in DFS is to think in terms of point scoring events, not just points allowed. Just 2.3% of games last season ended in a shutout and only 9.7% ended with one team being held to six points or fewer. We should be looking beyond the “points allowed” category.
The majority of fantasy points come from sacks, forced fumbles, interceptions and defensive touchdowns. All of these events are by far most likely to happen when a quarterback is dropping back a lot and is under pressure.
It should be noted that a good starting point for defense selection is finding offenses that aren’t likely to be successful. But at this point, everyone knows that, so an advantage we still have is thinking about games that others may disregard due to a moderate or high point total, but still have strong defensive point scoring potential. So in a perfect world, we’re looking for DL/OL mismatches in situations where the opposing QB projects to have a lot of dropbacks.
With that in mind, below you’ll find the biggest mismatches between defensive and offensive lines for Week 1. The objective is to project QB pressure through film study, injuries, scheme, coaching and talent.
BIGGEST WEEK 2 MISMATCHES
1. Eagles DL (PHI defensive line 3rd in Brandon Thorn’s latest rankings for pressure) vs. Falcons OL (14th in offensive line rankings)
2. Packers DL (16th) vs. Vikings OL (21st)
3. 49ers DL (7th) vs. Bengals OL (31st)
4. Jaguars DL (8th) vs. Texans OL (29th)
5. Ravens DL (25th) vs. Cardinals OL (30th)
1. Eagles DL vs. Falcons OL
Key matchups: Eagles DT Fletcher Cox vs.Falcons G Jamon Brown & Eagles DE Brandon Graham vs. Falcons T Kaleb McGary
Notes: Falcons RG Chris Lindstrom out until at least week 10, Eagles DT Malik Jackson out for the year
Atlanta’s OL struggled mightily against the Vikings front four in week 1, giving up 5 QB hurries and 4 sacks, primarily from subpar tackle play. LT Jake Matthews wasn’t expected to struggle as much as he did (although Everson Griffen is back with a vengeance), while rookie Kaleb McGary clearly was and certainly did against Danielle Hunter.
With promising rookie Chris Lindstrom down until at least week 10, the OL will get worse at right guard entering a matchup against Fletcher Cox and a ferocious Eagles defensive front that posted a league leading 7 QB knockdowns against the Redskins last week.
Atlanta can take some solace in the fact that they will be at home with Matthews due for a bounce back game and having Alex Mack at center, but they are simply outgunned and overmatched at the 3 other positions on the line.
Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter will need to devise a brilliant game-plan to try and help take some pressure off this OL.
2. Packers DL vs. Vikings OL
Key matchups: Packers DT Kenny Clark vs. Vikings C Garrett Bradbury, Packers OLB Za’Darius Smith & OLB Preston Smith vs. Vikings LT Riley Reiff/LG Pat Elflein & RT Brian O’Neill/RG Josh Kline on passing downs
Notes: Vikings LG Elflein sat out practice on Wednesday with a knee injury
Minnesota is coming off an up and down OL performance against the Falcons that saw them have great success on the ground despite attempting just 10 total passes in the game. While they found success using this strategy against a Falcons defense with soft edges, they are facing a different beast this week in a Packers front that is stout across the board.
This matchup will force them into at least double the number of passes and likely more from last week, providing plenty of opportunity for this dynamic Packers front to get after Cousins. Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine does a masterful job of using his pass-rushers in multiple alignments, including pairing up the Smiths on one side of the line of scrimmage, making them a nightmare for tackle-guard combinations to deal with on stunts. With Clark, Bradbury and the interior will have their hands full against an elite player, freeing up plenty of room for leakage and disruption to occur in the adjacent gaps.
3. 49ers DL vs. Bengals OL
Key matchups: 49ers DT DeForest Buckner vs. Bengals LG Michael Jordan & RG John Miller, 49ers DE Nick Bosa vs. Bengals LT Andre Smith, & 49ers DE Dee Ford vs. Bengals OT Bobby Hart
Notes: Bengals OT Cordy Glenn concussion missed week 1, didn’t practice Wednesday, and his status is up in the air this week
The Bengals allowed an NFL leading 5 sacks against a solid Seahawks front in Week 1 with a much deeper crop of pass-rushers coming their way this week from the likes of Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, and Dee Ford. Making matters worse is that Cincinnati’s starting left tackle Cordy Glenn doesn’t look like a sure bet to return after sitting out last week, matching Smith up against Bosa.
The 49ers forced Bucs QB Jameis Winston into a league-leading 9 hurries in Week 1 with rookie Bosa torching LT Donovan Smith on several occasions. Buckner goes from facing an elite LG in Ali Marpet to one of the bottom 5 in rookie Jordan, while Ford gets to feast on Hart. Buckner plays both sides and Ford will sometimes kick inside over guards on passing downs, so there will be top-notch rushers attacking this weak OL from all angles.
4. Jaguars DL vs Texans OL
Key matchups: Jaguars DT Calais Campbell vs. Texans RG Zach Fulton & Jaguars DE Josh Allen vs.Texans OT Seantrel Henderson
Notes: Texans OT Tytus Howard returns and will likely replace Kelemete at LG, possibly Henderson at RT. … Updated 3:17 pm ET Friday: Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakouke (hamstring) is out.
The Jaguars managed just 4 QB hurries and 0 sacks on Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes per Sport Radar, but on film the Chiefs OL (outside of RT Mitchell Schwartz) had their fair of struggles sustaining blocks against a very explosive trio of pass-rushers (Campbell, Allen, Ngakoue).
Mahomes’ propensity of getting rid of the ball quickly, extending plays with his feet, and using play-action to his advantage allowed him to mitigate this to a large degree, but it is worth noting that the Jags will see a significant downgrade in competition this week against a leaky Texans OL that gave up the most sacks in week 1 (6) with rookie Tytus Howard in line for his first career start at left guard.
Jaguars first-round pick Josh Allen finished week 1 2nd on the DL in snaps (51) and while not very productive on the stat sheet (2 tackles, 1 hurry) he looks to be entrenched as the starting LDE and flashed impressive explosiveness off the ball to create disruption on stunts alongside of Campbell.
With these two paired up side-by-side over Fulton and Henderson, along with Taven Bryan, Ngakoue, and Abry Jones rounding out the rotation, the Texans OL will have their hands full containing them. Allen is also going from facing the best right tackle in football in week 1 to arguably the worst in week 2, so a spike in production should be expected.
5. Ravens DL vs. Cardinals OL
Key matchups: Ravens DT Brandon Williams vs. Cardinals OG J.R. Sweezy, Ravens OLB Matt Judon vs. Cardinals OT Jordan Mills/Justin Murray, Ravens OLB Tim Williams vs. Cardinals OT D.J. Humphries
Notes: Cardinals OT RT Marcus Gilbert out for the year with a torn ACL
Arizona gave up 8 QB hurries and 4 sacks last week to a strong Lions front and now face off against another formidable group in Baltimore that blitzed more than any team in the NFL last week against the Dolphins.
What makes the Ravens front so difficult to deal with is not just how often they blitz but from how many different looks they show from snap to snap, walking their linebackers all around the line of scrimmage and using a lot of movement pre-snap to stress protections.
It is worth noting that the Cardinals run a spread offense with 4 receiver packages more than any other team so this should help temper some of Baltimore’s aggressiveness, but having one of the 5 worst OLs in the NFL limits the scheme’s ability to help ease pressure.
6. Browns DL vs. Jets OL
Key matchups: Browns DE Myles Garrett vs. LT Kelvin Beachum, DT Larry Ogunjobi vs. Jets C Ryan Kalil
Notes: RG Brian Winters is playing with an injured shoulder
After a disappointing performance against the Bills last week, the competition level ramps up for the Jets offensive line. They take on a Browns team looking to rebound after their upset loss to the Titans. Cleveland’s DL, notably Garrett, performed well despite a game-plan tailored around running the ball with extra blockers schemed into the protections. This week the Jets will be without their starting quarterback, a banged up Brian Winters at RG, and a terrible matchup for them across the board on the OL. Expect the Browns DL to have a field day if the offense can build an early lead.