how to pick the best dfs defense

How Many Points Should Your DEF Get You in NFL DFS?

November 16, 2018

Defense is the last position we all think about when we start creating our DFS lineups.

It is hands down the least exciting position and more of a burden than a blessing. With defense, if you break even at 10 points that is a great week!

Defense is always one of the toughest positions to pick, especially in DFS.

Should you spend up or should you save and put the remaining salaries elsewhere?

Well after crunching some numbers from Draftkings, I realized that my 10 point goal is unattainable by most of the league.

There is only one team in the NFL that is average double digits points defensively, DAAA BEARS!

It is not a coincidence that Khalil Mack is on the best fantasy defense in the league with his former team in dead last.

But don’t worry, Jon Gruden is building a “championship” team in Vegas.

But you are not here to hear me trash Jon Gruden we are here to talk about defense.

Everyone knows that defense wins championships. In DFS, every week is a championship and although defense might not be the reason you win it can definitely be the reason you lose, especially in those close matchups.

That’s why you are here to figure out what your point target should be and how it should cost to reach that total.

So, let’s get to it!

Breaking Down Defense Performance in DFS by Team

I broke down the scoring of every DEF through the first 10 weeks of the season, here are the stats.

Defense Avg Cost Avg Points Home Away
Chargers $3,000 7.2 4.5 9.4
Ravens $2,800 6.7 6.8 6.6
Cardinals $2,500 7.8 5.4 10.8
Steelers $2,500 8.7 8.8 8.5
Panthers $2,500 6.2 9.6 2.0
Redskins $2,600 8.9 7.0 11.3
Texans $2,800 8.6 8.8. 8.4
Titans $2,600 7.2 5.5 8.6
Colts $2,500 6.4 9.0 4.4
Bengals $2,400 6.3 9.2 2.8
Falcons $2,300 2.9 2.8 3.0
Giants $2,300 3.1 1.8 4.2
Raiders $2,200 2.2 3.2 1.0
Cowboys $2,500 6.0 8.3 4.2
Buccaneers $2,100 2.9 5.8 0.6
Jaguars $3,400 5.4 6.2 4.5
Saints $2,500 4.7 2.0 6.8
Eagles $3,000 5.7 2.0 6.8
Lions $2,400 5.0 6.8 3.6
Broncos $2,600 8.2 5.8 11.3
Seahawks OMIT 7.2 7.3 7.2
Packers OMIT 7.9 12.4 2.3
Jets $2,600 7.0 4.6 9.4
Patriots $2,700 7.5 5.8 9.2
Browns $2,400 7.1 7.2 7.0
Dolphins $2,500 8.0 10.6 5.4
Rams $3,100 8.8 8.8 8.8
Vikings $3,000 9.1 11.4 6.3
Bears $3,200 12.3 10.2 15

Key Statistics About the State of DFS Defenses in the 2018 NFL Season

  • The Chicago Bears are the only defense averaging double digit points
  • The average score for a defense is 6.7
  • Defenses playing at home (6.9) average 0.4 more points than defenses playing away (6.5).

How Home/Away Splits Affect DFS Defense Performance

Even though the home/away split is only a 0.4 point difference throughout the league, some teams have larger splits than others.

This is something that should be taken into consideration when purchasing a defense. Some teams are better at home while some are better at an opponent’s stadium.

For instance, the Panthers DEF/ST scores 9.6 points on average at home, but only manage to score 2.0 points away.

The Packers are the same way averaging 12.4 points at home games, but only 2.3 points for away games.

How Matchup Affects DFS Defense Performance

This does not mean you should choose a defense at home because of the positive home/away split, a big factor that affects this number is the matchup.

The Panthers have played the Eagles, Steelers, Falcons, and Redskins all on the road. These are some the best offenses in the league so it is understandable why they may be set up for failure.

The Packers have a little different of a situation, they have played the Patriots, Rams, Redskins, and Lions all on the road. They have only played two elite offenses this year in the Patriots and Rams.

As expected they played poorly against those teams but they played worse against the Lions and Redskins indicating that they actually are worse on the road.

This works both ways for teams that are better on the road as well, like the Cardinals. The Cardinals are averaging 5.4 points at home but 10.8 points on the road.

Putting it All Together 

At first, you may assume that they have just played bad teams on the road but in reality they have actually played better offenses on the road.

The Cardinals faced the Chiefs, Rams, 49ers, and Vikings all on opponents territory. The 49ers may not be the best team but the other 3 teams are looking to make a super bowl run this year.

This shows that the Cardinals are in fact a better defense when they do not play at home.

What does this mean?

The home/away split is not enough of an indicator on its own to determine how well a defense is going to perform.

Let’s face it, you are not going to play the Colts DEF/ST at home against the Chiefs even though they are averaging 9.0 points at home. That is just a recipe for disaster.

I combine the home/away split along with the offense they are facing.

Here is my process:

  1. Find a defense in my price range
  2. Identify a favorable matchup
  3. Look at home/away split for the DEF
  4. Compare how that DEF did against similar ranked offenses

Matchup is the biggest factor to determining how a defense will perform so start DEF against the Bills or Raiders.

How Many Points Should You Expect From DEF/ST in DFS?

Defense is the least expensive position on the roster.


They score the least amount of points.

The Jaguars have been the most expensive DEF/ST so far this season averaging a $3,400 salary, while the Buccaneers have been the cheapest at $2,100. Yet the Jaguars are only averaging 2.5 more fantasy points per game this season.

The Jaguars have had all types of issues this season but that’s not the point. The point is that just because a team is expensive does not mean they will get you the most points.

Breaking DEF/ST Down into Tiers

Normally, DEF/ST cost $3,000+ to $2,100 any given week. Knowing this I broke down DEF/ST into 6 tiers based on their average price.

  1. $3,000+
  2. $2,750
  3. $2,600
  4. $2,500
  5. $2,350
  6. $2,200 and less

*Round cost to nearest tier

DEF/ST costing $3,000+ are averaging 8.56 points this season

DEF/ST costing $2,750 are averaging 7.25 points this season

DEF/ST costing $2,600 are averaging 7.83 points this season

DEF/ST costing $2,500 are averaging 6.93 points this season

DEF/ST costing $2,350 are averaging 4.88 points this season

DEF/ST costing $<2,200 are averaging 2.5 points this season

Spending up on defense has resulted in more points this season but its the amount of points that is the concern.

How Much Should You Spend on DEF/ST in DFS?

DFS is all about finding value, saving on certain positions to spend up and upgrade other positions.

Spending more than $3,000 should get you at least 8 points but that is not value, spending $2,500 on DEF and get almost 7 points, is.

You can save upwards of $500 and only sacrifice 2 points!

That $500 can take you from a RB3 to RB2 or WR2 to WR1 where they score a lot more points.

When it comes to choosing the best running back for your DFS team, quarterback DFS strategies, how to choose the best tight end, or how many points you should expect from your WRs in DFS, we’ve got you covered. Check out these other links for some helpful DFS strategies that can win you money each week.

The most I spend on DEF/ST is $2500, DEF does not score enough points to make it a position worth paying up for.

How to Pick the Best Defenses in NFL DFS? 

I cannot say this enough, SAVE ON DEFENSE in DFS play.

Use the information Draftkings provides to help save.

  • Home/Away Split
  • Matchup
  • Weather
  • Who’s in/Who’s out on opponents offense (and your defense)  

Analyzing these factors will give your DEF the best chance at scoring 10 points.

Your goal should be to score more than 10 points on DEF but your DEF should have a floor of 7 points.

Start small. Look at the cheapest defenses any given week and see if you can sneak by playing them. The more you can save the better.

They score the least amount of points on your team and they should cost the least too.

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