“Amateur Ward” Defensive Targets: D/ST, IDP, and DFS
Wait? What? A switch to defense now? Yes, I know what you’re thinking, but I’m used to the defensive side of the ball, and good at prognosticating IDPs. No, I’m not perfect, but my aim is to help you win week-in and week-out, starting with Week One. What really makes a team? It’s defense and IDP players. I will be covering both as the season goes along, so pay attention, take notes and dominate. This week, I keep it simple so I hope you follow along as I will get more in-depth as the season rolls along. I will also be providing the DFS costs for DK and Fanduel. I will do my best moving through the year to find some low cost options for you as well. These are three I like going into week one.
Falcons D/ST (@ CHI) DK-$3,300, FD-$4,700 – The Bears will struggle to move the ball with Mike Glennon at QB, the lack of a true WR1, and questions at tackle, where Charles Leno and Bobby Massie are subpar. This will open up the playbook for Dan Quinn and Atlanta’s front seven to wreak havoc. It will be interesting to see how the offensive line stacks up versus a pissed off defense, coming off a gut-wrenching Super Bowl loss as Deion Jones, Vic Beasley Jr., and Keanu Neal will all look to have solid days.
Vikings D/ST (vs. N.O.) DK-$2,900, FD-$4,600 – This is a sleeper pick, as we all know Drew Brees can throw all over any team, but the Saints have a middle of the road offensive line and can be exploited, especially with LT Terron Armstead lost for the season. Drew Brees posted his lowest total QBR (65.1) last season, and although he seldom goes down, the Vikings have the pices in Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr to make life hard on Brees in the pocket come Monday Night. This could be a somewhat high scoring affair, but with Marcus Sherels (2 punt return for TD, 2016) handling punt and kick returns this season, those in leagues counting return yardage should take an extra look at the Vikings D this week.
Rams D/ST (vs. IND) DK-$3,200, FD-$4,600 – This is one of the more underrated defenses this week as Scott Tolzien will be starting at QB for the Colts, and he has yet to show any chemistry with his receivers. The Rams front seven boats strong IDP candidates in Alec Ogletree, Robert Quinn, and Mark Barron (discussed below) and should be in for a field day versus a lackluster Colts offense without Andrew Luck. Yes, T.Y. Hilton led the league in yards last season, but the Colts offense will play conservatively, giving Quinn and Co. a chance to get to the QB and force turnovers. The Rams should be a D/ST1 this week.
Vic Beasley ATL (DE/LB)- Beasley should pick up where he left off last season. He is an elite pass rusher. He posted 15.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles and a recovered fumble in 2016 and should be in line for another sack and couple tackles this season. The Bears possess a young RB in Jordan Howard, but unless Glennon can find some seams early, Beasley should be coming off the edge, looking for Glennon. Start in all leagues.
Ricardo Allen ATL (S)- When teams have suspect receivers and QB, it opens the playbook, and some of the prime beneficiaries are the secondary players. This is the case Sunday as the Bears will start Mike Glennon at QB and play Kevin White and Kendall Wright as their starting receivers. With Glennon shying away from Keanu Neal and Desmond Trufant, the free safety could be in for a sneaky solid day.
Akiem Hicks CHI (DT)- Atlanta has the 6th rated offensive line coming into this season, but Akiem Hicks could find some holes and sack him. Hicks finished tied for third in sacks last season, and will look to build upon that this season, in a tough home match up versus Atlanta. Atlanta did look out of sorts in the preseason, so potentially that could play a factor, but who knows.
Eric Kendricks MIN (LB)- Without LT Terron Armstead, the gates open up for the Vikings defense to lay it on Brees, and MLB Kendricks could be one of the primary benefactors. He is not a big sack threat, but had nine tackles for loss and nine passes defended last season and will look to build upon that this season heading into the matchup versus the Saints.
Anthony Barr MIN (LB)- Barr will look to improve upon a two sack season last year, and the opportunity could be there versus a pass-heavy Saints team without their top receiver (Brandin Cooks) and questions at LT. He is still young enough to have a breakout season, and 2017 could be the year.
Kenny Vaccaro NO (S)- Sam Bradford is starting for the Vikings, so the Saints defensive players will actively pursue the QB and the ball. Vaccaro, a hard hitting safety will crowd the line and look to make plays on the ball, which could result in an INT or turnover. After setting a career high in forced fumbles (2) and tying a career high in interceptions (2), Vaccaro is poised for a breakout season after being suspended the final five games of the season, and the Colts represent a prime candidate for a breakout game.
Trumaine Johnson LAR (CB)- Johnson may have had a sub-par year last season, but he is worth a shot this week versus Indianapolis as the aforementioned Tolzien is starting and the Colts are yet to show any offensive rhythm without Andrew Luck. He may not pick a pass off, but he will at least defend a pass or two and contribute a few tackles.
Mark Barron LAR (LB/S)- Barron, a tackle machine, is in line for a big game, including a pick. After posting a career high in tackles (118), Barron will look to improve upon his interceptions and become the complete defensive player. The Colts are weak on offense, so look for Barron to exploit that fact en route to an interception 7+ tackle day. The talent is for real, how high can he go is the question?
SEA DK $2,900, FD $4,500 (@ GB DK $2,500, FD $4,200)- This has bad written all over it. We all know the Seahawks boast one of the elite defenses of the league, but Aaron Rodgers and Co., will look to throw early and often in what should be a high scoring affair. Bobby Wagner will get his tackles, but this will be a long afternoon for both defenses. A-Rod is one of the best QBs at exploiting a team’s defensive weaknesses, and in Week 1, look for him to do the same.
Next week, we go more in-depth and explain why certain players will keep it up/falter, as well as D/ST’s to keep an eye on going forward. Please feel free to leave any questions here, or email me.