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August drafts are distant memories. Trade deadlines are mostly past. Fantasy gamers are managing bludgeoned and reconstituted rosters. After 13 weeks of NFL play, survivors are looking ahead to fantasy playoffs or laser-focused on a do-or-die final regular-season contest.
The margins are thinner than ever. The competition has left behind gamers who ignore injury reports or miss byes. Gamers who advance are those who maximize line-up decisions.
Fortunately for Footballguys' subscribers, tools on the site will help rosters optimize roster decisions. While we can't guarantee results, a sound process will improve your odds of success.
After 13 weeks, it's easy to be disappointed in a star player who didn't carry a fantasy team through a thin November or give up on a rising player who didn't thrive the moment he got the nod on a Sunday morning. Fantasy gamers should continually reassess their rosters to understand their players' performance in context. More simply, know your strengths and weaknesses.
For instance, you might have drafted Zach Sieler late or picked him up along the way. Did you know he stands ninth among defensive tackles in fantasy points through 13 weeks?
Chris Jones has recorded 7.5 sacks to date, second among defensive tackles, but he ranks just 21st in fantasy points per game in Footballguys scoring. He just doesn't collect tackles in the Chiefs' defense.
Sieler and Jones are averaging 6.6 and 5.8 fantasy points per game, respectively, a gap narrowed partly by Jones' holdout through the first week of the season. A conclusion that Sieler is a better weekly start than Jones is reasonable based on 2023 track record. The margin between the two, however, is too thin to be interpreted so conclusively.
Hosting the Bills, Chris Jones has a minus match-up this week. Collectively, defensive tackles that face the Bills are averaging 3.2 fewer fantasy points per game versus Buffalo relative to the rest of their opponents. As Jones plays about 80 percent of his unit's snaps, therefore about 40 percent of total snaps by Chiefs' defensive tackles, one might expect 1.3 points below expectation versus his 5.8 FPPG average.
Surprisingly, Zach Sieler's Week-14 match-up at home versus the Titans is similar on paper. The visitors are allowing 3.1 fantasy points per game fewer to Team Defensive Tackle than their average. Tennessee is allowing sacks in bunches to edge rushers rather than defensive tackles, and Derrick Henry has not commanded the attention of opposing tacklers quite as effectively this season.
The Jets and Buccaneers are allowing the most points per game to defensive tackles, 3.3 fantasy points per game more than averaged by that unit throughout the season. Atlanta's David Onyemata, already eighth in fantasy productivity among the league's defensive tackles, appears well-positioned to increase his lead over Jones and Sieler this week. Onyemata hosts Tampa Bay this week. Onyemata recorded 4 combined tackles, 3 quarterback hits, and a sack in Tampa in Week 7.
While Chris Jones relies on sacks for his fantasy production, other interior defensive linemen like Derrick Brown accumulate points through tackles. He has a plus match-up versus the conservative Saints this week. New Orleans allows 9.5 combined tackles per game to the position and should control the game in the Superdome this week. Brown, who rarely leaves the field, should be busy piling up tackles and points even if he doesn't get to the quarterback.
Footballguys' Classic Fantasy Points Allowed per Game tool helps fantasy gamers discern between teams that allow points to run stuffers and pass rushers. As the leaderboard for defensive tackles features a mix of each, match-ups and game flow should influence fantasy line-up decisions on Sunday morning.
Defensive Tackles' Playoff Outlook
The health of impactful interior defensive linemen across the league has held up well in 2023. Gamers in leagues deep enough to fret about the loss of Alim McNeill might look to Browns' defensive tackles Shelby Harris and Dalvin Tomlinson for relief. The duo faces the Jaguars, Bears, Texans, and Jets in their next four games – the league's most favorable schedule for the position. Tomlinson, the run stuffer, makes for an interesting streamer against Jacksonville and Houston. Harris, the Browns' 3-technique, is a hail-Mary play for a quarterback sack versus the soft Chicago and New York offensive lines.
No one's expecting the Chargers' and Patriots' interior defenders to perform in the playoffs. They have the worst schedules through Week 17 based on opponents. 2023 breakout Osa Odighizuwa and the aforementioned Chris Jones will navigate schedules similarly unfriendly for defensive tackle production.
Kenny Clark and Aaron Donald are two seemingly tired names at the position that fantasy gamers might be reluctant to start down the stretch. Each is playing better than his stats might suggest and has an attractive remaining schedule.
Saving the best for last...— Blaine Grisak ðŸ’ (@bgrisakTST) December 7, 2023
Aaron Donald is a grown man. That is a 2x first-team all-pro in Joel Bitonio and Donald picks him up off the ground and carries him into the quarterback.
Just a GOAT doing GOAT things. pic.twitter.com/a9XhX1H2sT
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