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 big events, not 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. In other words, targeting the “points allowed” category is a fool’s errand.
The real fantasy points come from sacks, forced fumbles, interceptions and defense touchdowns. These events are by far most likely to happen when a quarterback is under pressure. The best possible outcome on a single play for our defense is a strip sack which results in a defensive touchdown as we get one DraftKings point for the sack, two for the fumble recovery and six for the touchdown.
With that in mind, below you’ll find the biggest mismatches between defensive and offensive lines for Week 16. The objective is to project QB pressure through film study, injuries, scheme, coaching and talent.
New for this year, I’ve added my up-to-date defensive line pass-rush and offensive line rankings. You’ll find those at the top.
DL Rankings – Week 16
OL Rankings – Week 16
Biggest Week 16 DL > OL Mismatches
- Washington DL > Carolina OL
2. Bears DL > Jaguars OL
3. Chargers DL > Broncos OL
4. Ravens DL > Giants OL
5. Rams DL > Seahawks OL
1. Washington DL > Carolina OL
OLB Chase Young vs. LT Trent Scott, DT Jon Allen vs. LG Chris Reed
Notes: Washington’s DL ranks 9th in pressure percentage, 4th in pass rush win rate, and 4th in sacks per pass attempt. Carolina’s OL ranks 22nd in pass block win rate. LT Russell Okung missed practice on Thursday.
Chase Young gets to face-off against a backup left tackle in Trent Scott and Jon Allen gets to feast on left guard Chris Reed, which is the biggest individual mismatch of the game. Washington has a deep rotation of quality or better starters that will make life difficult for the Panthers pass-blockers, especially their left side.
- Bears DL > Jaguars OLKey matchups:DT Akiem Hicks vs. RG A.J. Cann & C Tyler Shatley
Notes: Chicago’s DL ranks 14th in sacks per pass attempt, 27th in pass block win rate, and Khalil Mack ranks 14th in pressures (27) and 8th in hurries (15) among edge-rushers. Jacksonville’s OL ranks 26th in pass block win rate, 21st in sacks given up per pass attempt, and 21st in most hurries given up (52).
Akiem Hicks has a distinct advantage this week against right guard A.J. Cann and especially backup center Tyler Shatley whenever kicked inside over him on passing downs. The Bears have an underrated interior group of rushers behind Hicks and along with Khalil Mack on the outside have a lethal top two combination with a solid group of secondary rushers around them to generate pressure against a slightly below average unit.
- Chargers DL > Broncos OL
Key matchups: DE Joey Bosa vs. RT Demar Dotson
Notes: The Chargers DL ranks 13th in QB hurry percentage, 22nd in sacks per pass attempt, and 21st in pass rush win rate. DE Joey Bosa ranks 2nd in pressures with 41 and has been limited in practice. The Broncos OL ranks 24th in pass block win rate and 15th in sacks given up per pass attempt.
Joey Bosa gets to face-off against the oldest starting tackle in the NFL in Demar Dotson and while both players are banged up, Bosa has the clear upper-hand and will be able to win isolated matchups handily. Jerry Tillery will have a good shot at giving problems to rookie center Lloyd Cushenberry and Linval Joseph will command plenty of attention himself. There are enough threats on this line to give QB Drew Lock and this offense plenty of problems.
- Ravens DL vs. Giants OL
Key matchups: DEs Yannick Ngakoue & Matt Judson vs. OTs Andrew Thomas & Cameron Fleming, DT Calais Campbell vs. LG Shane Lemieux
Notes: The Ravens DL ranks 9th in QB knockdown percentage, 8th in pass block win rate, and 18th in sacks per pass attempt. DE Calais Campbell returned to practice on Thursday after missing last week’s game. The Giants OL ranks 30th in pressure percentage, 28th in QB hits given up, and 30th in sacks given up per pass attempt.
The Giants continue to struggle mightily at offensive tackle and the Ravens have a pair of edge-rushers in Yannick Ngakoue and Matt Judon to take advantage of it along with Calais Campbell likely being available to face the Giants rotation at left guard and center Nick Gates, all of which are significant mismatches favoring Campbell.
- Rams DL > Seahawks OL
Key matchups: DT Aaron Donald vs. LG Mike Iupati or Jordan Simmons, DE Leonard Floyd vs. RT Brandon Shell or Cedric Ogbuehi
Notes: The Rams DL ranks 7th in pass rush win rate and 3rd in sacks per pass attempt. Aaron Donald ranks 2nd among DTs in pressures with 38 and is 2nd in the NFL in sacks with 12.5. Leonard Floyd is 28th in pressures with 25. The Seahawks OL ranks 7th in pass block win rate, 27th in pressure percentage given up, 28th in hurries given up, and 25th in sacks given up per pass attempt. RT Brandon Shell and LG Mike Iupati missed practice on Wednesday.
Aaron Donald only had two quarterback hits in the Rams Week 10 matchup with the Seahawks but has been red hot as of late and gets to face a rookie in Damien Lewis who is a better run than pass-blocker plus a banged up Mike Iupati or a backup in Jordan Simmons. Leonard Floyd will also get to potentially face a backup with starting right tackle missing practice, so the Rams top two pass-rushers will have advantageous matchups with Michael Brockers as a high end third option.
OL > DL
- Saints OL > Vikings DLMy top pass-blocking offensive line against the bottom pass-rushing defensive line is a pretty self-explanatory selection. The Vikings will struggle to generate much pressure on the Saints barring an unreal performance from their secondary and the offensive scoring output to force New Orleans into a lot of obvious passing downs. Even if those things happen, it will be a tall task for an isolated win from any of the Vikings pass-rushers.