Top 4 DST's: Plug and play

Here I present the ONLY four defenses/special teams that I would plug and play every week. After these four, it is all streaming options, pick who has the best matchups every week.

  1. Buffalo: The only two weeks they had real trouble were against Pittsburgh (Najee Harris) and Tennessee (Derrick Henry). Big burly RB’s aren’t a problem they will face most weeks. After that, their worst game was against Washington, when they ‘only’ scored 7 points, which is better than most defenses in a good week.

  2. New Orleans: Although they are generally average, they have upside which can win a week for you. They have had 3 weeks with 15+ points, with only one week below 6 points.

  3. Arizona: The king of double digit defenses, but their floor is low, having two one-point weeks.

  4. Dallas: I was surprised at this, but the numbers don’t lie. They have one 2-point game, and the rest 7 or better, with three double-digit games. They were helped by 3 defensive td’s, which leads the NFL.

Any of these four teams could fall off this list with a few bad outings, but at least they have shown enough to be worth playing every week for the time being.

Buffalo pretty much matchup proof…New Orleans and Dallas are pretty close…Dallas has more upside of the two imo.

Sadly, Buffalo is not matchup proof. They just had the 5th easiest schedule so far.
They have a very nice week 15-17 schedule for the fantasy playoffs, though, so I will hang on to them.
But in week 11, 12 and 14, I won’t start them.

The Saints have also not performed above expectation so far. They had the 8th easiest schedule, they are the #8 defense. They have bad matchups in weeks 10, 12 and 13, and a horrible one in week 15. The rest of their schedule looks okay, though.

The Cards are the plug-and-play defense this year. Only the #18 schedule, but the #1 defense - you can play them in any matchup. Their playoff schedule still doesn’t look pretty.

Dallas has also been overperforming. Week 13 looks bad, but otherwise, they are startable throughout the rest of the season, including the playoffs.

Other teams who beat their schedule so far: the Bears (who had the second worst schedule for D/ST in weeks 1-8), Colts (#22 week 1-8 schedule, and their remaining schedule looks good), Steelers (#30 week 1-8 schedule) and the Packers (#23 week 1-8 schedule).

Biggest disappointment is the Jets D/ST. #1 schedule, #32 ranking - can’t underperform more than that.

There’s an old saying, that good teams should beat bad teams easily. Don’t underrate good performances against bad teams.

If anything, I’d look at how teams do against the tougher teams on their schedule. If the DST can still give you a good floor, that’s the definition of a plug and play to me. Even 7 or 8 points against an offense like Tampa or Vegas or Dallas is a good sign.

I add this because, would you take a great defense with a solid 7-8 point floor against a tough opponent, or a bad defense (like the Jets) against a worse opponent? I’ll take the solid floor every time.

Until last year, I’ve been looking exclusively at opponents’ stats when streaming D/STs. I keep stats like how often they get sacked, how often they turn the ball over, how often they let the opponent score, and how many FG attempts they allow.

From those numbers, I determine factors how attractive a team is to the opponent’s D/ST and K.

So up until last year, I would have started a D/ST like the 2021 Jets, if they had an attractive matchup. But I noticed that my approach provided good season-long accuracy, but let me down too often with my individual decisions.

So I refined my methodology this year, by adding a factor how a D/ST did perform, compared to how it should have performed based on my opponent rankings. That way I can identify overachievers and underperformers, and let that factor in when determining my matchup indicator for D/STs.

The results look very promising so far. I’m leading my league with an average 11.1 points on D/ST, compared to a league average of 7.8.

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Sounds like you got a system! Well done!

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The Rams, the Panthers and probably the Titans are good streamers in some weeks. as well.

Agree on the Rams (overachievers) and Panthers (good matchup), strongly disagree on the Titans. They have been performing within expectation so far, but they have the worst of all matchups this week against the Rams, who allow the least sacks, and in general the least fantasy points to opposing D/STs.

You do not want to start a D/ST against the Rams.

with the Titans, week 10 onwards, they have good matchups

Week 10, no. You can start them in weeks 11, 12 and 14, though. Week 13 is their BYE.

I like the Titans vs NO week 1o…Saints offense has not been good.

week 9: Panthers vs NE or Rams vs Titans??

An offense not being good doesn’t necessarily mean the opposing D/ST scores big. The Saints are in the bottom third for both allowed sacks and allowed INTs. They are the second worst matchup for opposing D/STs, with only the Rams being even worse.

Both are workable. I’d lean towards the Rams.