Three Run 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 three defenses we should be attacking via the running game routinely until further notice:

Cleveland Browns

2019 ranks
Yard per game allowed: 22nd
Points per game allowed: 20th
Overall Defensive DVOA: 22nd
Pass DVOA: 17th
Run DVOA: 30th

The Browns are an exciting post-hype sleeper team as they have exciting pieces on both sides of the ball. Specifically, on defense, the edges are a strength thanks to Myles Garrett, Olivier Vernon, and Adrian Clayborn. Their secondary is pretty solid too with CBs Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson and Ss Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo.

However, after ranking 30th in Run DVOA last season, Cleveland’s interior DL and LBs continue to be major weaknesses. In fact, the Browns lost LBs Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey in Free Agency, and their 2019 fifth-round draft pick, Mack Wilson, has already suffered a “significant” hyperextended knee and will be out for an extended period of time. This injury is way more impactful that it seems, seeing as how Wilson played on 942 snaps last season.

They’ll need third-round picks, DT Jordan Elliott and LB Jacob Phillips, to contribute right away. This is a matchup to pounce on every time we have an RB with bankable volume playing the Browns.

Green Bay Packers

2019 ranks
Yard per game allowed: 18th
Points per game allowed: 9th
Overall Defensive DVOA: 15th
Pass DVOA: 10th
Run DVOA: 23rd

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Green Bay’s run defense was a problem last season and that was highlighted to the entire nation in the NFC Championship thanks to Raheem Mostert‘s 220 rushing yards and four TDs. Their LBs remain a huge problem and shockingly, no defensive players were brought in via the draft until the fifth round and later.

Free Agent acquisition, LB Christian Kirksey, will be relied on heavily to improve Green Bay’s run defense as he’ll be replacing poor performers, Blake Martinez, and BJ Goodson. Similar to Cleveland, the Packers are loaded on the edge (Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith) and in the secondary (CBs Jaire Alexander and Kevin King and Ss Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos), meaning opposing offenses will likely gameplan to attack the middle of their defense via the run.

Kansas City Chiefs

2019 ranks
Yard per game allowed: 17th
Points per game allowed: 7th
Overall Defensive DVOA: 14th
Pass DVOA: 6th
Run DVOA: 29th

The Chiefs ranked 29th in Run DVOA last year and their second-round draft pick of LB Willie Gay shows the coaching staff realizes this is an area that needs to improve. DL Chris Jones and Edge Frank Clark are stalwarts on the defensive line but outside of them, no one stands out within the front-seven.

This is an area we should once again be able to attack, especially since COVID will be minimizing the Chiefs’ extreme home-field advantage. That should keep game scripts a bit more run friendly for opposing offenses. That should be to go-to plan anyway to avoid the pass rush of Jones and Clark and the elite coverage of Ss Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill.

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