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When playing daily fantasy football many players are so concerned with which running back and quarterback they are going to play they forget to research into which defensive team they will select for their rosters.
While it is very easy to select an elite defense such as the Seahawks or Ravens, it will cost you a significant portion of salary and negate you from selecting better offensive players, which typically score more than your defense and special teams.
One of the best ways to save salary at the defense and special team's position is targeting poor performing offenses with average defenses. This can be similarly compared to targeting average pitchers against poor offensive teams.
When deciding what qualifies as a poor offense we not only want to look at the first line stats of interceptions per game and fumbles per game because that is what every piece of our competition is looking at. Below we will discuss some different scenarios you can look at when targeting a lower tiered defense.
While I am not a huge proponent of just targeting interceptions thrown per game or fumbles per game it still has some merit. First, let's discuss why looking at these numbers can lead to skewed results. The NFL season is extremely short, meaning that outlier numbers can change data sets entirely. For example three weeks into the season a team could have five turnovers in their first game and two combined in the next two. This will give our hypothetical team seven turnovers in the first three games of the season.
As we can see, if those two, one turnover games happened in the first two games, the third week we would say that offense doesn't turn the ball over yet with roles reversed and five turnovers they are now a target. This type of research can lead to poor results, especially early in the season.
We can begin to look at these frontline statistics as the season approaches week eight or week nine and there have been some specific trends that have developed.
Here is the most important aspect of what to look for when targeting average defenses against poor offenses. From being a pure fan, we can all agree that chaos typically is the result of turnovers. Teams that struggle against the blitz or young quarterbacks can all result in more turnovers in that game. By knowing this, we want to look at which offenses underperform because of weaknesses in their offense. By dissecting the offense and understanding their strengths and weaknesses we can then compare this to the defensive strengths and weaknesses and find great value.
My first favorite statistics to look at is the offensive teams overall blocking score. A team that is below average at blocking will give up more pressure resulting in hurried throws and hits against the quarterback. This can result in balls that float in the air and are better able to be intercepted or fumbles that can be returned for touchdowns.
While looking at team blocking assignments is incredibly important, it is equally important to follow lineman injuries to see what quality blocker is being removed from the lineup.
Have you ever heard the saying, “you are only as strong as your weakest link”? This couldn't hold more truth than when analyzing a team's offensive line and blocking scheme. As soon as defensive coordinators can jump on the fact one of the team's top blockers is out, they will send many more zone blitzes that create coverage chaos for the new player. If one blocker blows his assignment, that leaves the rest of the team being hung out to dry and a rushed quarterback in the backfield.
This is one of my absolute favorite angles to target when looking for an average defense that is underpriced. If I noticed the offensive team has one of their better blockers out, I will likely load up on opposing defense and special teams.
We discussed the obvious statistics such as interceptions per game as well as fumbles per game but showed you that these can be flawed if an entire picture isn't painted. The NFL season is short and you will surely be researching skewed data if you are not careful. One of the better ways around this trap is by understanding why a team is turning the ball over. If you can understand whether the turnovers are randomness or being generated by some other factor, you can create an edge amongst your opponents and generate large profits.