3 FanDuel Defenses to Target in Week 18
Selecting a defense is never the most glamorous part of fantasy football. It often goes overlooked for the more fun positions that people want to watch and root for during the game. The good news is that if our opponents aren’t putting too much thought into their defense, we can gain an advantage with some research. So let’s dig in and try to identify some defenses that could be in a good position to score fantasy points this week.
The last week of the season is always a bit wacky, and with some teams resting their offensive starters, we can take advantage of them with defenses. Let's look at three in different salary tiers.
FanDuel Salary: $4,500
We've got a bit of a gift in Week 18, as the Buffalo D/ST is down to just $4,500. They haven't been totally dominant like we saw at the start of the season, but they did have 11 points last week. This week, they are in a dream spot.
The Bills rank first in numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics for overall defense and pass defense. While their adjusted sack rate is below league average, they rank first in pressure rate. The defense has 30 takeaways on the year, trailing only the Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts this season.
The Buffalo Bills get a favorable home matchup against the New York Jets. The Jets are a favorable matchup for most defenses, as they are tied for second with 27 giveaways this season. Quarterback Zach Wilson has taken a sack on nine percent of his drop backs, the fourth-highest clip in the NFL.
The Bills are 16.5-point favorites at home in this game. Being at Buffalo in January means that this could see some bad weather, which would improve the outlook for the defense even more. The Jets are implied to score a measly 12.5 points in this game, the lowest on the main slate.
Buffalo's defense is projecting for the most points at just $4,500, making them the best value on the slate, as well. They are overall the top play this week.
FanDuel Salary: $3,700
It hasn't been a banner year for the Minnesota Vikings. They are 7-9 and will miss the playoffs for the second straight season. The defense has been very hit-or-miss, but in the season finale, it has a chance to be a hit.
The Minnesota D/ST has had its moments, with four games of at least 10 FanDuel points. They are sixth in sacks, and they force a hurried throw by the quarterback at the third-highest rate. The matchup they get in Week 18 sets up nicely for them to do this again.
The Vikings are at home against the Chicago Bears. They played Chicago in Week 15 and limited them to nine points while having three sacks and recovering three fumbles.
That was with Justin Fields at quarterback, who was now placed on the COVID list. That means that Andy Dalton will likely start, and he has thrown six interceptions in his last three games. The Bears have allowed a league-high 9.3% adjusted sack rate against, and while some of that is on Fields, the offensive line isn't exactly a stellar unit.
Minnesota is a home favorite in this game, so they should be able to play well in this spot. Playing the defense for just $3,700 is perfectly reasonable in all formats.
FanDuel Salary: $3,500
We don't often get a defense as good as the Pittsburgh D/ST for this low salary. The matchup could be factored into this salary, but it's much better than it might initially look. What isn't factored in is their dominant performance on Monday night.
We saw the Pittsburgh Steelers get nine sacks on Monday Night Football this past week. That brought them up to 52 on the season, more than any other team. It also gave them their third game with double-digit fantasy points in their last five. They're a long shot at best to make the postseason, but the defense has a chance to play well in this spot.
The Steelers will face their division rivals, the Baltimore Ravens. We still don't know if Lamar Jackson will be back for Baltimore or if Tyler Huntley will remain the quarterback. Either way, the Steelers' defense could match up well with the Ravens' offense.
Baltimore has allowed an adjusted sack rate of 8.7% this season, and Huntley took five sacks last week. Jackson was struggling with turning the ball over when he last played, with eight interceptions in his last four complete games. If Jackson is still hobbled by his ankle injury, the mobility which makes him so dangerous could be limited at best.
The Steelers are currently 5.5-point underdogs, but for just $3,500, the defense is definitely usable. They had seven sacks and an interception against Baltimore in the first meeting with Jackson at quarterback. If you're looking to save salary at the position, Pittsburgh is a great way to do it.
Nicholas Vazquez is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Nicholas Vazquez also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username hbyanksman. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.