DST Performance so far + ROS Outlook

When projecting DSTs, I have developed a system that takes into account 3 factors:

  1. How the DST has performed so far
  2. How their performance compares to their schedule
  3. How their ROS schedule looks

#1 is fairly easy and self-explanatory.

#2 is trickier, but a vital part in DST projections. How does their performance so far compare to their schedule so far? For that, I take into account how many DST points teams allowed against them. Then I create a ranking of the past schedule for a team and compare it to their actual standing.

If a DST is ranked higher than their previous schedule, they have been overperforming.
If a DST is ranked lower than their previous schedule, they have been underperforming.

The 3 most overperforming DSTs after week 9 are:

Buffalo Bills - they had the #21 schedule in weeks 1-9, but are the #6 DST (I rank on on a per-game basis, so that bye weeks don’t distort the overall results).

Philadelphia Eagles - #18 schedule, but they rank #2.

Baltimore Ravens - #26 schedule, they rank #11.

The 3 most underperforming DSTs after week 9 are:

Atlanta Falcons - #9 schedule, but only the #28 DST

Washington Commanders - #15 schedule, but only the #30 DST

Minnesota Vikings - #1 schedule, but only the #13 DST

What does this mean for future projections?

The Falcons have a very favorable schedule in weeks 11-15 (broken by their week 14 bye). Just going by the schedule, it would be worth adding them after this week. But they also had a very favorable schedule earlier on, and made nothing of it. So I’ll stay away from them.

The Rams have an excellent matchup in week 11 against the Saints, who allowed the third most points to opposing DSTs so far (but have been trending up recently). The Rams are only the #19 DST right now, but their schedule ranks #28. So in fact, they have been overperforming. And that means that, in a plus matchup, I can consider starting them.

This empirical approach does not factor in roster changes - DSTs losing key players, or opponents getting key players back - that may affect the outcome of a game. So you still need to check for that manually.

But overall, this approach has proven to be pretty reliable over the last 3 years, especially now past the halfway point of the season.

Playoff DSTs to watch

With the fantasy playoffs (typically in weeks 15-17) drawing closer, it’s worth to put a few DSTs on the watch list if your fantasy team will make the playoffs.

L.A. Chargers - they have fantastic matchups in weeks 16 and 17. So far, they are only the #24 DST, but they also had the #30 schedule. Watch them this week and in weeks 12+13, when they have okay matchups. If they can capitalize on them, they could be the top DST option for the fantasy playoffs.

Las Vegas Raiders - they have the 3rd best playoff schedule, as they have good matchups in all 3 playoff weeks. But they rank dead last at #32 right now, while their past schedule ranked #23. So it’s difficult to trust them. They have prime matchups this week and in week 14, and okay matchups in weeks 11+12. Keep them on they radar. If they can capitalize on those matchups, consider them for your playoff run.

Kansas City Chiefs - they don’t have a fantastic schedule, but it’s not terrible, either. And from week 12 forward, you can start them every week, as they only have above-average matchups left. They are a great safety blanket for the entire ROS, in case you come up empty-handed on the waiver wire.

A final disclaimer - every league scores DSTs differently, so YMMV. This approach has proven to work in several different leagues, all with slightly different scoring rules.

And those rankings are dynamic, so things may look differently in 2-3 weeks down the road. I’ll see to post another update ahead of the playoffs.

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Just posted this somewhere else, but it looks like it will be helpful here as well:

Baltimore is the defense to have going forward; their remaining games are Carolina (2-7), Jacksonville (3-6), Denver (3-5), Pittsburgh (2-6), Cleveland (3-5), Atlanta (4-5), and Pittsburgh (2-6) again (with Cincinnati in the meaningless Week 18)–a combined record of 19-40, with no team even at .500, let alone above .500.

Of course, they won’t help you much THIS week, but hopefully whoever owns them drops them for their bye week.

That said, unless you have an unorthodox scoring system, most Defenses get you about 8-9 points per week, plus or minus 2-3. The top 13 DSTs in average points per game this season range from 7.5 to 11.5 points per game. So finding the “best DST” probly means you’re gaining about 2-3 points per week on the rest of the league. Meh.