NFL defenses managed to settle down in Week 3, and the regular defensive stars that daily fantasy players are used to relying on have managed to break through. After three weeks, only nine defenses have managed to keep opponents from scoring 19 or fewer points and only six are allowing fewer than 300 yards per game.
Regular daily fantasy football players already know most of the defenses playing well. Reliable fantasy D/STs (or defense/special teams) like Seattle, Carolina, Kansas City, Houston, and Denver continue to shine as teams ranking among the league-leaders in points and yards allowed.
However, points allowed is only part of the equation. A great D/ST hits every category (interceptions, sacks, fumble recoveries, points allowed, etc.) and unearthing those week-to-week involves finding the best matchups and not necessarily the D/ST with the best track record.
For instance, the Seahawks are second in points allowed (12.3 a game) but have shockingly forced only one turnover in their first three games. That makes Seattle just the 12th highest-scoring fantasy defense thus far at 8.67 points per game, according to Yahoo.
Now, Seattle does have an excellent chance of hitting every category this week against the New York Jets. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was an interception machine in Week 3, and while he may settle down this week it will be difficult against a Seahawks secondary hungry to force turnovers.
And for many FanDuel and DraftKings players, Seattle will be a very expensive choice. It’s presently going for $5,000 on FanDuel (third most-expensive this week) and $3,800 on DraftKings (second most-expensive).
So for owners looking to spend their cap dollars on more pricey running backs and wide receivers, while also willing to take a bit of a risk, we’ve identified four sleeper D/STs for Week 4 that could pay out huge dividends and are capable of hitting every D/ST category.
We already identified Seattle, Denver, Arizona, Cincinnati, and Minnesota as the five top D/ST choices for Week 4, but there are several sleepers lurking ahead of Sunday and Monday’s games. Here are three defenses to consider buying on FanDuel, DraftKings or any other daily fantasy platform with their salary cap hits included via FantasyPros.com.
1. Tennessee Titans (FanDuel $4,100; DraftKings $2,400)
The Titans are technically the second-worst fantasy defense after three weeks, according to Yahoo, allowing D/STs to score 13.33 points on average through three weeks. But they are tied for eighth with Denver with 19.0 points allowed per contest. And their matchup with Houston’s last-place offense could be too good to pass up. In fact, both teams are last in the NFL with 14 points scored a game so the matchup figures to be a defensive slugfest. Except, Houston just lost J.J. Watt for maybe the rest of the season, and there’s no way it keeps up its 3.3 sacks per game average without him in Week 4.
Tennessee has 5.0 sacks and two interceptions through three games, but it should hold the Texans on the scoreboard, and pick up a few extra points. The Titans are risky but cheap.
2. Baltimore Ravens (FanDuel $4,400; DraftKings $2,400)
Full disclosure, the Ravens matchup on fantasy paper is quite poor. They’ll meet a Raiders squad that has surrendered the fewest points to D/STs (Week 1: -4.0; Week 2: 0.0; Week 3: 4.0), and their offensive has only allowed 2.0 sacks, while quarterback Derek Carr has thrown just one interception.
Except, there’s a reason Baltimore’s in FanDuel’s $4,000 and DraftKings $2,000 price ranges. The Ravens hit every D/ST category. They are the fourth in points allowed (14.7), tied for seventh in sacks (9.0), and tied for second in interceptions (5). Baltimore’s been good for 9.0 fantasy points per game, and it could very well hit that number in Week 4.
3. Cleveland Browns (FanDuel $4,200; DraftKings $2,500)
Yes, Cleveland’s surrendering 28.0 points per game and that alone would and should rule them out. But the Browns Week 4 matchup with Washington and ability to hit every category has elevated them to No. 16 in points scored by D/STs. Cleveland’s only recorded 3.0 sacks but put another 22 hits on quarterbacks that could've been sacks and may eventually turn into them. The secondary’s also pulled down four interceptions, tied third-most in the NFL, and they next face quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Cousins has tossed three picks and has only been sacked only four times. According to the Washington Post, the Redskins still aren't sure who will start at left guard or center in front of Cousins.
Bonus: Kicker Rankings
Choosing fantasy kickers is just about as erratic and difficult as kicking in 45 mph wind. But the guys below have been good for better than eight fantasy points a week, and they have some favorable matchups. Any one of them could help you squeeze out a close matchup.
1. Blair Walsh, Minnesota Vikings; 2. Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts; 3. Matt Prater, Detroit Lions; 4. Cairo Santos, Kansas City Chiefs; 5. Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys