3 FanDuel Defenses to Target in Week 18

The Minnesota Vikings get to face a weak offensive line and a quarterback who has thrown interceptions at a very high rate in his career. Which other defenses should we target for the final slate of the regular season?

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.

Week 18 is a funny one for defenses, but there are enough backup quarterbacks to attack that we should be able to find at least three we'd like to roster.

Dallas Cowboys

FanDuel Salary: $4,700

The Dallas D/ST has gone through a bit of a slump of late. They've allowed 24.5 points per game in the last four weeks and have had a relatively easy schedule. But they'll face a quarterback making his first NFL start this week and have full motivation to go all out for the win in the final week.

Points allowed isn't everything for fantasy defenses -- it's a small element -- and Dallas' defense does everything else we want our defenses to do in fantasy. They get after the quarterback effectively, ranking third in adjusted sack rate, and they also force lots of turnovers, as their 32 takeaways are 5 more than any other team in the NFL. Both of these things should be prevalent in this matchup.

The Dallas Cowboys will play the Washington Commanders, who are turning to Sam Howell at quarterback. Howell is a fifth-round rookie who will be playing behind an offensive line that has allowed the seventh-most sacks this season. Dallas should be able to put lots of pressure on him, which could lead to sacks and interceptions.

The Cowboys seem like a great option if you have the $4,700 to use at defense.

Minnesota Vikings

FanDuel Salary: $3,700

The Minnesota Vikings from the mid-2010s were defined by a really solid defense and a defensive head coach. That has shifted behind a young coach with an offensive background, and the offense is carrying the defense rather than vice versa. But this being Week 18, they will benefit from facing a team with nothing to play.

Minnesota has struggled to get pressure on the quarterback this season, as both their adjusted sack rate and pressure rate are below league average. They have forced 23 turnovers this season, though, which is above average. The matchup to get both sacks and turnovers doesn't get much better than the one they have this week.

The Minnesota D/ST gets the benefit of facing a Chicago Bears team that is just playing out the string. They've pulled the plug on Justin Fields after he got roughed up last week and have turned to Nathan Peterman to make the start at quarterback. Yes, this is the same Nathan Peterman who infamously threw five interceptions in his first career start, and a mind-boggling 9.2% of his career passes have resulted in interceptions.

Peterman will also play behind an offensive line that has allowed the league's highest adjusted sack rate. We would likely attack this matchup with any defense, and to get to do it with the Vikings being 7.5-point favorites at this low salary is even better.

Atlanta Falcons

FanDuel Salary: $3,400

On most normal slates, we are safe to ignore the Atlanta D/ST. They rank 30th in fantasy points per game and really struggle to stop offenses in any way. That said, the situation and salary make them a defense we can definitely consider this week.

This defense hasn't been totally incapable of scoring fantasy points. They've had two games with over 10 FanDuel points and have scored three defensive touchdowns. They should also have everyone healthy in the secondary, which was not the case earlier this season.

The reason we can consider the Atlanta Falcons this week is because their opponent will likely be resting their star players. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have clinched the NFC South and cannot improve from the fourth seed in the conference. This means that Tom Brady probably won't play the whole game, if at all. The odds suggest that Tampa will not be trying to win this game, as an inferior Falcons team is currently favored by 4.5 points.

It could be a combination of Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask at quarterback this week if and when Brady exits the game. How they will perform is kind of up in the air, but playing a defense against them for just $3,400 seems like a bet we should be willing to make.

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.