The Rent-a-Defense Strategy - Week 16
by Sigmund Bloom
December 18th, 2012

Unless most of the teams in your league carry a backup defense, more than half of the league should be available to you every week. Perhaps instead of playing one above average defense every week, regardless of matchup, we should instead target the widely available waiver wire defenses with the best matchups in any particular week? You can always make exceptions if your rent-a-defense gets hot - heck, you might find a team worth starting all year by accident. Even if you don't, good matchups will continue to get greater in number as more QBs get injured or yanked as the season goes on. You can steal some points from bad weather come December. Each week I'll list the startable fantasy defenses on most waiver wires and rank them.

**Thanks to FBG staffer Larry Thomas for the Sacks/Turnovers for/against numbers every week**

Week 15 Results

Detroit (at Arizona) - 1 sack, 1 interception
The Lions got an early pick, but the "suck" of Detroit overwhelmed the "suck" of the Cardinals offense in this game. Arizona gave up their fewest total of sacks+turnovers all season.

This week: @ATL - nope.

Miami (home vs Jacksonville) - 2 sacks, 3 points allowed
A solid play in leagues that weight points/yards allowed, the Dolphins still came up small in other formats despite dominating the matchup.

This week: BUF - It's tempting to play the D/ST facing one of the dogs of week 15, but the Dolphins only have more than 4 sacks+takeaways once in the last four weeks.

NY Jets (at Tennessee) - 4 sacks
Jake Locker actually took care of the ball this week.

This week: SD - After one good week vs Pittsburgh in week 14, the Chargers offense reverted to ineptitude last week. The Jets are at home and tend follow bad games with good ones, so this isn't a crazy pick.

Cleveland (home vs Washington) - 2 sacks, 1 interception
After going back and watching Kirk Cousins at the end of the Baltimore game in week 14, I wasn't so sure that Cleveland D/ST was a good play. They started hot with a pick almost returned for a score, but Cousins and Shanaclan put together a masterful game plan and hung 38 points on them.

This week: @DEN - nope.

Cincinnati (at Philadelphia) - 1 sack, 1 interception, 4 fumble recoveries, 1 DEF TD
The Eagles offensive line actually protected Nick Foles, but their players could not protect the ball.

This week: @PIT - nope.

Tennessee (home vs NY Jets) - 4 sacks, 4 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery
Going with the home team in this matchup of bad teams paid off huge.

This week - @GB - nope.

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda

Arizona (vs Detroit) - 2 sacks, 3 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, 2 DEF TD
There was a D/ST to play in this game after all, just not the one I recommended.

New Orleans (vs Tampa Bay) - 2 sacks, 4 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, 0 points allowed
Take that, Roger Goodell (and Josh Freeman).

Seattle (at Buffalo in Toronto) - 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
The Seahawks are back to being a top 5 D/ST on the year in most formats.

Minnesota (at St. Louis) - 4 sacks, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
The Rams give up their highest number of sacks+turnovers since week 3. Minnesota forces their highest since week 7.

Atlanta (vs NY Giants) - 1 sack, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, 0 points allowed
Bad Eli showed up, and he brought the rest of the Bad Giants with him.

Week 16 Candidates

**Assuming Denver, New England, Green Bay, Houston, Chicago all owned**

Carolina (vs Oakland)
Carolina's defensive line is coming on, with six sacks vs. San Diego last week. Oakland offense is still poor, and as long as Cam Newton continues to play lights out, they will be behind and out of their comfort zone.

Pittsburgh (vs Cincinnati)
The Steelers defense has been one of the worst in the league in forcing turnovers and sacks, but the Bengals offensive line looked shaky against Philly last week, and the Bengals had a complete meltdown the last time they played in Pittsburgh. With the Steelers playoff life on the line, expect an inspired performance.

Washington (at Philadelphia)
The Redskins have actually had at least four sacks+takeaways in four of the last five games, and the Eagles have surrendered at least five in three of Nick Foles's five starts. If LeSean McCoy can't return this week, that's another reason to play the Redskins defense with "Mr. Fumble" Bryce Brown at running back.

NY Jets (vs San Diego)
Take away the Steelers game, and the Chargers sacks+turnovers given up the last four weeks are: 7,6,6,8. The Jets have generally played well after their worst games this year, and they could get an emotional boost from a quarterback change.

Miami (vs Buffalo)
The Bills have given up 13 sacks+takeaways in the last two weeks, with at least six in each game. The Dolphins defense hasn't been producing big play numbers, but they have been playing very well. Perhaps the recent struggles of the Bills offense will create a good play here.

Grab-and-Stash D/ST

For those of you with week 17 Super Bowls:

  • Seattle (home vs St. Louis)
  • New York Giants (home vs Philadelphia)
  • Pittsburgh (home vs Cleveland)
  • Tennessee (home vs Jacksonville)
  • Cincinnati (home vs Baltimore - if Baltimore has clinched division)
  • That'll do it for another year of rent-a-defense. We had some hits, some misses, some laughs, some tears, but overall, it was another year that proved that drafting a D/ST before the last round and playing them every single week is for suckers. As always, thanks for reading. Questions, comments and suggestions are always welcome to bloom@footballguys.com.

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