One of the questions I get more often than any other is, “What DST (Defense/Special Teams) should I play this week?” The problem is that there is so much variance when it comes to defensive scoring, that there is just rarely a concrete answer for this question.

That being said, there is definitely a strategy that I use when selecting my DST. I will share my top strategies with you in this article.

4. (Mostly) Forget About Team Implied Totals

ORCHARD PARK, NY – AUGUST 09: General view from the end zone during the first half between the Carolina Panthers and the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on August 9, 2018 in Orchard Park, New York. Carolina defeats Buffalo in the preseason game 28-23. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

One of the biggest mistakes that I see from DFS players, is that they immediately look to defenses that aren’t projected to give up very many points. While this looks like a sound strategy on the surface, the truth is that this doesn’t lead to the most fantasy success.

Very few shutouts happen and teams that are projected to score few points aren’t always the teams that give up the most fantasy points. To give up fantasy points, you have to turn the ball over or give up sacks. This means that most turnovers are created in the passing game.

Last year, top offenses like the Buccaneers (35), Steelers (26), Colts (24), Eagles (23) were in the top half of the league in turnovers, but low scoring teams like the Bengals (17), Titans (18), Lions (19), Giants (19) didn’t turn the ball over as much as you would think.

So, while we want to remove implied totals from the forefront of our selection process, we do want to make sure we aren’t targeting high scoring, high efficiency offenses, which leads us to our next step.

3. Target Turnover & Sack Prone QB’s

TAMPA, FL – AUGUST 23: Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks to pass in the first quarter of the preseason game at Raymond James Stadium on August 23, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Will Vragovic/Getty Images)

A perfect example of ignoring implied totals and instead targeting turnover & sack prone QB’s was last year, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers were a middle of the pack team when it came to scoring offense at 24.8 points per game, but they also turned the ball over the 3rd most times over the past year, with 35. Out of those 35 turnovers, Jameis Winston had 17 (14 INT, 3 Fumbles) and Ryan Fitzpatrick had 13 (12 INT, 1 Fumbles) for 86% of their total turnovers. They were also sacked a total of 41 times.

So, despite being the team with the 4th most passing yards, the Buccaneers were prime pickings for targeting with your DST.

2. Think Less About Defensive/Special Team Touchdowns

LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 30: Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) rushes the 49ers from the end in Los Angeles on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018. (Photo by Scott Varley/Digital First Media/Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images)

When Matt Shaub and Nathan Peterman are not starting NFL quarterbacks, it is virtually impossible to determine which defense or special teams may score a touchdown on any given week.

In the entire NFL last year, only 83 defense and special teams touchdowns were scored on 34,100 total opportunities last season. That is 498 (if 6pts/TD) fantasy points across the league scored by DST touchdowns.

To put that in perspective, sacks are normally worth only 1 fantasy point, but tallied up 1,281 fantasy points. Interceptions & fumbles are normally 2 points, and were worth 838 and 558 points respectively. That totals up 2,677 total fantasy points.

It also comes to as no surprise that the top 9 defenses in TO+Sacks scored 40% of the total defensive touchdowns on the season.

Simply put, the more pressure you put on a QB, the better chance it is that your DST will score fantasy points. There is just too much variance with DST touchdowns to try to predict them and ignore more solidified statistics.

1. Home is Where The Points Are

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – AUGUST 21: A detailed view of M&T Bank Stadium where the Baltimore Ravens NFL football team plays is seen under a sunset on August 21, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Defenses play better when they are home than when they are on the road. Obviously there are always exceptions to the rules, but offenses are both less likely to score and more likely to turn the ball over while on the road.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t play a road team, but when you are narrowing down your pool of DST’s and there are teams you are having trouble deciding between, choosing the home team.

In 2019, defenses playing at home gave up:

  • 29 Less Rushing Touchdowns
  • 36 Less Passing Touchdowns
  • 65 Less Total Touchdowns
  • 25 More Interceptions
  • 42 More Sacks

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