2019 saw a huge gap between the No. 1 overall defense/special teams in terms of points scored per game and the rest of the field. The Patriots DST averaged 14.8 points per game in 2019, besting the second-place Steelers by just under four points. The Pats improved their points per game output by over six points from 2018 to 2019 and were responsible for many winning weeks in the middle of 2019, as they went on a kind of dominant run that we don’t see very often from this position. While DST can often be forgotten about, as we saw last year, identifying that kind of breakout can have a huge impact on your fantasy football success.
While there’s tons of ways to play the DST position for fantasy purposes in 2020 — paying up for an elite unit, using the waiver wire for match-ups, etc. — identifying who the true breakout candidates are at the position is important regardless of what strategy you’re looking to employ. With this in mind, below we’ve identified who three of the top breakout DST candidates are from Awesemo this year to help you with your draft and planning at the position for 2020.
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Fantasy Football Breakouts: DST Candidates
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs DST has the best rating on Awesemo for 2020 and is projected for 7.68 fantasy points per game. Despite that gaudy outlook, their current 172.7 ADP puts them as just the DST9 in terms of when they’re going off the board in most season-long drafts. Kansas City was eighth in fantasy points per game in 2019, but they also improved dramatically as the year went on. While they still lack some punch at linebacker, improved depth at safety definitely helped them limit opponents scoring in 2019, as they were 10th in the league in actual points allowed per game, a dramatic improvement from 2018 when they ranked 23rd in that stat.
More important for fantasy purposes, the Chiefs feature an aggressive unit. They were 11th in the league in sacks as a team in 2019, and they’ve also been top six in turnovers the last two seasons. When you play beside an offense led by Patrick Mahomes, aggressive tactics on defense often end up being the flavor of the day, as they don’t fear getting down a score and are also often ahead late in games — often against weaker quarterbacks who are now forced into lots of passing situations.
From a scheduling perspective, Kansas City has a few tough opening matchups, so targeting a late-round DST to pair with them that has a good opening schedule isn’t a terrible idea either. Considering their current ADP, though, the Chiefs rate out as a great pickup and shouldn’t cost you the kind of draft capital you’ll have to spend to draft other elite units this season.
The Bills don’t rate out as great value like the Chiefs, but they still project as a solid unit for 2020, one with potential league-winning upside. Ranked eighth in the Awesemo model, the Bills are in one of the weakest divisions in football — especially in terms of opposing quarterback play — and look primed to make a large jump from their 12th-place finish in DST rankings from 2019.
While pass rushing has been a weakness of this unit, they were able to jump all the way to sixth in sacks per game last season. Under Sean McDermott this unit has also finished inside the top 10 in turnovers in two of the last three years. The Bills rank eighth currently in the Awesemo model and project for 7.11 fantasy points per game. They also carry a pretty nice schedule which only has a few tough games to potentially avoid. For fantasy football playoff purposes, they currently have the seventh-best projected schedule among all DSTs.
With lots of unknowns in their division, including two teams featuring new quarterbacks and a team with just a seven-win total at the moment in the Jets, the Bill DST makes for a nice buy-and-hold play in 2020. They’re an elite unit and should be ready to challenge for a potential top-three finishing spot in fantasy this year.
More Fantasy Football Breakouts
The Colts rate out very well in the Awesemo model, as they’re the 10th-ranked DST in terms of projected points for 2020. This makes them a nice sleeper or late-round value target as their current ADP is hovering around the 266 mark at the moment, a rank which will see them go undrafted in many season-long leagues.
Indianapolis added some good depth up front with DeForest Buckner over the offseason and already had a good linebacking core with Darius Leonard. Even in a down year, they still ranked 12th in turnovers created as a unit and were around league average in both sacks and points allowed. They also rate out with one of the best opening schedules of any DST, which makes them a great late-round target for anyone looking to platoon DSTs or just wanting to target a unit with some good matchups early.
The Colts’ division isn’t super tough either, as none of the four teams rank out as elite avoids. Indianapolis will also get two premium matchups with Jacksonville, who currently ranks the weakest team in the NFL with just a five-win total for betting purposes.
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