Week 1 Defense (DEF/DST) Waiver Wire Pickups: Matchups To Exploit

I for one am very excited to finally get some football back. Without many places to go on the weekend, I am ready to sit back and relax to some NFL football, granted the season plays out. As many fantasy football drafts have either already taken place or are approaching shortly, it is time to begin looking at the defenses you should be selecting. As most of your minds will probably be on the positional players and not which defense you will pick at the end of the draft, it is important to know which defenses would be good selections so you do not have to wait until the waiver wire to have a battle for the right matchup. Luckily, I have you covered and have looked into which low-end defenses you can look to pick up with your last pick in the draft or, if your draft has come and gone, off waivers. Here are the top 6 defenses you should be looking at which are not highly picked up by teams (<60% rostered).

TeamOpponent% Owned
Philadelphia EaglesWashington Football Team34.7
Los Angeles ChargersCincinnati Bengals36.4
Cincinnati BengalsLos Angeles Chargers3.8
Detroit LionsChicago Bears2.7
Tennessee TitansDenver Broncos5.5
Las Vegas RaidersCarolina Panthers1.2

Philadelphia Eagles

Opponent: Washington Football Team
Own %: 34.7

Philadelphia EaglesThe Eagles have not been much of a team to watch on defense as they finished in the middle of the pack last year in terms of fantasy value. What is good about them this week is they face the worst offense in the NFL, the newly named Washington Football Team. Washington is starting Dwayne Haskins who has not shown any sign of strength on the offense. They have lost their main running back, Derrius Guice, and are now forced to start 35-year old Adrian Peterson. Lastly, they only have one solid receiver in Terry McLaurin. This offense is not set up for any success. I would pick up any defense who plays them this year which happens to be the Eagles this week.

Los Angeles Chargers

Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals
Own %: 36.4

Los Angeles ChargersThe Chargers are in a similar position as the Eagles above. They finished in the middle of the pack as well but have immense value this week because of who they are playing. The Bengals are now relying on rookie quarterback, Joe Burrow. While Burrow had one of the best college football seasons you could think of, will he be able to transfer that into the NFL? Star receiver, A.J. Green is still recovering from his injury from last season and still has dealt with an injury in two of the last three seasons which has forced him to miss at least six games. Joe Mixon seems to be the only holding force in the offense and even he has not been spectacular in comparison to where he gets ranked preseason. For this week, the Chargers are a great pick.

Cincinnati Bengals

Opponent: Los Angeles Chargers
Own %: 3.8

Cincinnati BengalsOn the opposite side of the ball in the above game, we have the Bengals. The Bengals defense was dreadful last season but they have added four new players to their defense to help fix it. While that will not make them a top defense, they have a great matchup this week against the Chargers. The Chargers have lost Melvin Gordon and Philip Rivers, the top two producing players on their offense. Austin Ekeler has shown glimpses of hope for the Chargers but he is not the type of running back to carry the team on his back. There will be several early struggles for the Chargers getting adjusted to so many new moving parts that the Bengals will be a great week one pickup.

Detroit Lions

Opponent: Chicago Bears
Own %: 2.7

Detroit LionsThe Lions held one of the worst defense in the league last year and even I would be scared to start them just based on that. The Lions have picked up two former first-round picks at defense to help mend the holes that were blown up by opposing offenses. With improvements taking place, there is a good chance we see a different Lions team this fall. As for the matchup, the Lions are sitting pretty this week. The Bears do not even know who their quarterback is yet. David Montgomery had a lackluster season last year due to non-usage, so if that continues, the Bears will have another miserable time on offense. The Lions are a solid late pick for teams that have no better option.

Tennessee Titans

Opponent: Denver Broncos
Own %: 5.5

Tennessee TitansThe Titans were a secretly good defense last season as they finished #11 in fantasy points. With a solid enough defense, it just takes a good matchup for them to have an explosive week. Sure enough, they have that in week one. The Broncos have a whole lot of new people on their offense whose expectations are all over the place. Drew Lock returns as the starter after having a good start last season but can he keep it up? Melvin Gordon enters the offense to join Philip Lindsay in the backfield. Only Courtland Sutton returns as their veteran receiver to work with. A lot is being asked of Jerry Jeudy for a rookie and there is a good chance the nerves could get to him. The Titans will be there to capitalize on a bunch of expected mistakes by the Broncos in week one.

Los Vegas Raiders

Opponent: Carolina Panthers
Own %: 1.2

Oakland RaidersThe Raiders face off with the Panthers who, outside of Christian McCaffrey, have some improvements that need to take place. Teddy Bridgewater returns as a fulltime starter for the first time since 2015, so there is no way of knowing what he will be capable of. The pickup of Robby Anderson will be one improvement for them, but it will be up to Bridgewater if he can hit him. This is all to say that the Raiders have good shot against the Panthers this week as long as they can stop McCaffrey. That will be the biggest question mark for them entering the season. Do that, and you can expect the Raiders to be among the top in defenses for week one.

I started playing fantasy football in 2010 at 12 years old where I subbed in for an owner who was having a baby. That year I won the championship in a 16-team league, carried by Arian Foster and Michael Vick. I have yet to bring a trophy home since then, but my love for fantasy football has grown, delving more and more in the statistics and finding ways to improve my drafting ability.

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