The Rent-a-Defense Strategy - Week 12
by Sigmund Bloom
November 13th, 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 quarterbacks 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 11 Results

  1. St. Louis (vs New York Jets) - 3 sacks
    When you figure out how to know when the horrible Jets are going to show up and when the decent Jets are going to show up, let me know.

    Coming up: @ARI SF @BUF - Even coming off a bad game and on the road, the Rams are worth consideration against the poor Cardinals OL and QB play.

  2. Washington (vs Philadelphia) - 4 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, 6 points allowed
    Philadelphia is still one of the surest things in D/ST matchups. We might see Michael Vick again soon, which probably isn't a bad thing for the quality of this matchup.

    Coming up: @DAL NYG BAL - The Redskins had almost twice as many sacks+turnovers in week 11 as they had in the previous three games combined. Back to the waiver wire.

  3. Atlanta (vs Arizona) - 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
    The Cardinals continue to lead the league in sacks+turnovers allowed on offense, but the Eagles are hot on their heels.

    Coming up: @TB NO @CAR - Josh Freeman had a terrible pick six last week, but the Bucs offense has been one of the safest in the league all year. Let the Falcons go.

  4. Baltimore (at Pittsburgh) - 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, 1 ST TD
    Byron Leftwich was as rough as expected, but Jacoby Jones return touchdown was the cherry on the sundae.

    Coming up: @SD PIT @WAS - The Ravens defense is heating up, with 11 sacks+turnovers in the last two games. The Chargers are a top five D/ST matchup, so the Ravens are possibly worth leaving in your lineup this week, even on the road.

  5. Cincinnati (at Kansas City) - 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 6 points allowed
    The Bengals totally dominated this game, but it didn't result in many defensive big plays, at least in part because Matt Cassel got pulled pretty early in this one.

    Coming up: OAK @SD DAL - The Raiders have surrendered 5 sacks+turnovers in each of the last three games, and at least four in five of the last six. The Bengals D/ST lacks big-time upside, but they are a solid play this week.

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda

**The Patriots were the #1 D/ST last week, but I assumed they were owned in most leagues because they were in the top five coming into the week**

  • Green Bay (at Detroit) - 5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 DEF TD
    No Clay Matthews? No problem. The Packers turned up the heat in the second half of their comeback win.
  • Buffalo (vs Miami) - 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
    Kudos to you if you bet on rookie Ryan Tannehill having two abysmal games in a row. The Bills D/ST put up five times the point they generated in the previous two weeks combined.
  • San Diego (at Denver) - 3 sacks, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD, 1 safety
    This one was odd. The Broncos had allowed only seven sacks+turnovers in the previous four games combined and the Chargers defense had only generated eight in that span. I wouldn't assume that the Broncos are a good D/ST matchup all of the sudden based on this game.
  • Arizona (at Atlanta) - 1 sack, 5 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery
    So apparently Matt Ryan has a little touch of Tony Romo disease. They're treating it, so you can't really know when he'll have another outbreak.
  • Carolina (vs Tampa Bay) - 1 sack, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
    Josh Freeman seems to have an interception (or more) dropped every week. The Panthers didn't drop two of their opportunities, and one was a surprisingly easy pick six. The Panthers are warming up as a fantasy D/ST heading into back-to-back good matchups against Philadelphia and Kansas City.
  • New Orleans (at Oakland) - 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 DEF TD
    There's no denying that the Saints are turning back into the opportunistic defense they were in their Championship season. Unfortunately, they don't have any matchups as good as the Raiders left on their schedule.
  • Week 12 Candidates

    1. Carolina (at Philadelphia)
      Do the Eagles have a homefield disadvantage? I'm not sure any team's fans are more disgusted with their team right now. The Panthers have forced 20 sacks+turnovers in their last four games and 33 in their last seven. The Eagles have surrendered 23 defensive big plays in the last four games, and 36 in the last seven. Sounds like a match made in fantasy football heaven.

      Coming up: @KC ATL @SD - The excellent matchup at Arrowhead is another reason to give the Panthers a look this week.

    2. Cincinnati (vs Oakland)
      The Bengals have notched 19 sacks+turnovers in their four games and at least four in three of the games. The Raiders are reeling, losing three straight blowouts. Consider this the "safe" rent-a-defense play this week.

      Coming up: @SD DAL @PHI - We'll have another data point on whether the strong Cincy D/ST and Chargers propensity for sacks and turnovers trends continue, but it's certainly possible that we'll want to play them next week and maybe even hold them for week 15 vs Philadelphia.

    3. Minnesota (at Chicago)
      The Bears are third worst in the league in sacks+turnovers allowed. While Jay Cutler will be back this week, they were fourth worst in the league going into last night. The Vikings are pushing for a playoff berth and they have two weeks to prep for this one.

      Coming up: @GB CHI @STL - You might be surprised to learn that the Packers are in the bottom five in sacks allowed. If the Vikings are strong for you on the road this week, they might be worth a shot next week, or at least a hold to get the Bears matchup again in week 14.

    4. Baltimore (at San Diego)
      These units are going in the opposite direction, which is good news if you want to stick with the Ravens. They fighting for a division title and possible first-round bye, while the Chargers are probably done for the season, and maybe for the Norv Turner/AJ Smith era. The Chargers have also played six terrible quarters of football in the eight they've had against good teams at home (Atlanta, Denver). No Ed Reed takes the luster off of this one, but the Ravens find a way to make a difference on defense.

      Coming up: PIT @WAS DEN - Roethlisberger could return for week 13, but holding the Ravens for the possibility that he doesn't is another reason to go with Baltimore this week.

    5. Cleveland (vs Pittsburgh)
      Charlie Batch is actually not a total disaster for the Steelers offense, but he's rusty enough to give Cleveland a long look this week. The Browns sacked Tony Romo seven times last week, and the home crowd should be fired up at the chance to give the Steelers a black eye.

      Coming up: @OAK KC WAS - If the Raiders tailspin and Browns pass rush revival continue, they'll be worth a hold just to have the week 14 matchup at home against the Chiefs.

    Grab-and-Stash D/ST

    The Panthers are worth even more consideration for a pickup this week because they have two offenses in decline (Chargers and Raiders) in weeks 15 and 16. With a hot waiver wire week, it might be hard to carry two defenses, but the Panthers might be worth a "keep away" add, even if you don't need them. Green Bay is also coming alive, with the porous Bears offensive line up in week 15 and the Titans coming to Lambeau in week 16. They might be worth an add as a second D/ST to play in the most important fantasy weeks of the season.

    As always, thanks for reading. Questions, comments and suggestions are always welcome to bloom@footballguys.com.

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