Six Pass Defenses To Attack in DFS (Fantasy Football)

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With Week 1 just around the corner, it’s time to start turning our attention to DFS. Matchups, especially at the extremes, are vitally important in fantasy football and even more so when rostering players for literally just one game.

With only 16 games on the schedule and a week between games, it’s easy to fall victim to recency bias during the season. That’s why it’s important to have foundational beliefs throughout the entire season you make adjustments to, but ultimately rely on.

So let’s highlight six defenses we should be attacking through the air routinely until further notice:

Arizona Cardinals

2019 ranks
Yard per game allowed: 32nd
Points per game allowed: 28th
Overall Defensive DVOA: 23rd
Pass DVOA: 27th
Run DVOA: 12th

Arizona struggled mightily against the pass last year and didn’t improve much this offseason. Granted, Patrick Peterson will not enter the season under suspension like last season and first-round pick, hybrid LB Isaiah Simmons, projects to upgrade pass coverage over the middle of the field.

Still, outside of Peterson, Simmons, and S Budda Baker, the Cardinals remain thin in the secondary. On top of that, the Cardinals exciting offense should produce many shootouts and passing game scripts for opponents in 2020. This is the exact recipe we’re looking for when targeting favorable passing matchups and situations.

Cincinnati Bengals

2019 ranks
Yard per game allowed: 29th
Points per game allowed: 25th
Overall Defensive DVOA: 30th
Pass DVOA: 28th
Run DVOA: 28th

The Bengals defense was abused last season and they then lost CBs Darqueze Dennard and Tony McRae in Free Agency. With so many holes to fill, Cincinnati was unable to draft a single player in the secondary this year either.

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They did though, bring in CBs Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander as well as S Vonn Bell in Free Agency. Unfortunately, Waynes has already torn his pec and had surgery, meaning he projects to miss most of the 2020 season.

Alexander and Bell are going to need to work wonders here as there is little talent surrounding them in the secondary. And Joe Burrow‘s presence at QB upgrades the Bengals’ offensive outlook. Opposing offenses project to have favorable passing matchups and intriguing passing game scripts as well should Burrow get off to a hot start.

New York Jets

2019 ranks
Yard per game allowed: 7th
Points per game allowed: 16th
Overall Defensive DVOA: 10th
Pass DVOA: 18th
Run DVOA: 2nd

The Jets somehow won seven games last season and that number is almost certainly going down in 2020. They lost two significant defensive players this offseason in S Jamal Adams and LB CJ Mosley. Adams was traded and Mosley opted out.

However, Adams is by far the more significant loss. Mosley only played in two games last year due to injury and the Jets still finished second in the league in Run DVOA thanks in large part to a solid defensive line.

Meanwhile, the Jets only ranked 18th in Pass DVOA and now will be without Adams. Free Agent acquisition, CB Pierre Desir, will need to pair admirably with CB Brian Poole and S Marcus Maye to create a respectable secondary. I doubt that will happen. Even better, because of the Jets’ strong front, opposing offenses will likely prioritize attacking the Jets’ secondary, creating a “pass funnel.”

Detroit Lions

2019 ranks
Yard per game allowed: 31st
Points per game allowed: 26th
Overall Defensive DVOA: 28th
Pass DVOA: 29th
Run DVOA: 17th

Head coach Matt Patricia has compiled a pretty impressive front-seven that includes DL Danny Shelton, DL Trey Flowers, LB Jamie Collins, and LB Reggie Ragland. This will likely create some sort of pass funnel that pushes opponents to attack Detroit through the air in 2020.

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Not helping matters, Darius Slay is now a Philadelphia Eagle. However, they did bring in CB Desmond Trufant and S Duron Harmon in Free Agency and drafted CB Jeff Okudah third-overall in the draft.

The pieces are there if everything can come together but the new defensive coordinator, Cory Undlin, will have to get all of these new additions on the same page in a hurry. The COVID altered offseason should affect this progress and as long as Matt Stafford stays healthy, opponents will be forced into many passing game scripts as well.

New York Giants

2019 ranks
Yard per game allowed: 25th
Points per game allowed: 30th
Overall Defensive DVOA: 27th
Pass DVOA: 31st
Run DVOA: 7th

The Giants are another defense that offers a pass funnel benefiting opposing passing offenses. General Manager, Dave Gettleman, has clearly prioritized strengthening the defensive line. Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter Lawrence, BJ Hill, and Lorenzo Carter create an imposing front.

That should push opponents to gameplan around attacking the Giants’ secondary, especially since they already ranked 31st in Pass DVOA last season. Prized Free Agent acquisition, CB James Bradberry, has been brought in to shore up that weakness. However, outside of Bradberry and S Jabrill Peppers, there’s not much talent back there.

Las Vegas Raiders

2019 ranks
Yard per game allowed: 19th
Points per game allowed: 25th
Overall Defensive DVOA: 31st
Pass DVOA: 30th
Run DVOA: 21st

If the Raiders’ pass defense mightily struggles again in 2020, it won’t be for lack of effort. They drafted CB Damon Arnette 19th overall in the first round and brought in CB Prince Amukamara, S Damarious Randall, and S Jeff Heath in Free Agency.

There’s no doubt this projects as an upgraded unit but there was hardly anywhere to go but up after ranking 30th in Pass DVOA last season. If all of these new pieces can mesh during a COVID altered offseason, this projects as an average secondary at best. And that still remains to be seen.

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