3 FanDuel Defenses to Target in Week 1
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.
You can find an edge in Week 1 by being ahead of the curve on a defense that might do better than expected, or an offense that is ripe to target by using defenses against them. Let’s see if we can identify three of the best options for this Sunday.
San Francisco 49ers
FanDuel Salary: $5,000
The San Francisco 49ers have had an elite defense for a few seasons now, and it has helped them reach a Super Bowl and an NFC Championship game. They’ve been led by star pass rusher Nick Bosa and stalwart linebacker Fred Warner throughout this run. They once again have aspirations of winning the Super Bowl, and they can start their run with a great matchup in Week 1.
The Niners will play on the road against the Chicago Bears this weekend. Even though we typically like to roster defenses at home, this spot is too good to ignore. The Bears have the lowest implied team total on this slate and had the third-worst offense last season, according to numberFire’s metrics.
Of course, limiting points allowed isn't actually the top priority when considering rostering a defense. We want to look at if the defense is likely to create pressure on the opposing quarterback, which can lead to sacks and turnovers.
San Francisco is set up well for that, too. They were fifth in adjusted sack rate last season and had the sixth-most sacks overall. That gives them a huge advantage over Chicago's offensive line, which had the worst adjusted sack rate and allowed the most sacks in the league in 2021.
The Bears also had the second most turnovers last season. They did not make any improvements over the offseason, and if anything, their skill position players and offensive line got worse.
This is nearly a dream spot for the San Francisco D/ST, with the only knock being that they aren't at home. They are the highest projected defense by our numbers, and even though they are $5000, they still can fit into lineups this week.
FanDuel Salary: $4,400
The Cincinnati Bengals shocked the world last season by making it all the way to the Super Bowl. Perhaps the most surprising element of the team was how strong they played on defense. They finished as numberFire's 11th-best defense, which was a great improvement based on where they were expected to be.
The Bengals kick off the season with a home matchup against a division rival. They played well against the Pittsburgh Steelers last season, particularly on defense. They forced five turnovers and had seven sacks in the two games against Pittsburgh last season. Of course, the Steelers have made a change at quarterback, but the switch from Ben Roethlisberger to Mitchell Trubisky doesn't exactly strike fear in opposing defenses.
Cincinnati checks a few boxes we look for when choosing a defense. They are at home as 6.5-point favorites, and Pittsburgh's implied team total is just 19 points. The Bengals also have a line advantage on defense, as Trey Hendrickson had 14 sacks last season and gets to go against a weak and fairly inexperienced Steelers offensive line.
For $4,400, the Cincinnati D/ST are a good option to roster in the mid-range.
FanDuel Salary: $3,700
Playing with their third different team name in the last four seasons, the Washington Commanders look to start off a new era on the right foot. The defense was a strong point and helped them make the playoffs in 2020, but it regressed last season. They get a decent matchup to start this season, though.
The Commanders will face the Jacksonville Jaguars at home in Week 1. It is expected that the Jaguars will be better than last season, but they still have a young quarterback with a below-average offensive line.
Washington can really take advantage of that, as they have a lot of talent on the defensive line. Even without Chase Young in the lineup, the likes of Montez Sweat and Jonathan Allen can wreak havoc for Trevor Lawrence and the pass protection.
The Washington D/ST is the lowest-salaried unit that is a home favorite on this slate. They are projected for 6.6 points, more than the Los Angeles Chargers D/ST and Green Bay D/ST despite carrying a lower salary. W
hen you can use just $3,700 on a home defense against an offense that ranked 30th last season, it will usually be a viable play. They aren't a complete punt but should allow you room to use the salary at other positions.
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.