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.
**The Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, Denver, and Houston all have good matchups in Week 2 but are assumed to be rostered**
Week 1 Results
Chicago (at Green Bay) - 4 sacks, 1 INT, 1 Fumble Recovery, 1 DEF TD
A pickup that was meant to be for upcoming weeks worked out beautifully for Week 1. Khalil Mack was a true monster of the midway and accounted for the Bears big D/ST night basically on his own in one half. Aaron Rodgers worked his magic in the second half, but if the Bears can do this to him at Lambeau, there’s a reasonable chance that they will be an every week start no matter the setting or opponent.
A Look Ahead: SEA @ARI TB - After Denver knocked the Russell Wilson pinata around for six sacks, two picks, and two fumbles, we’re definitely sticking with the Bears this week, and then Arizona in Week 3 (confetti).
Detroit (vs New York Jets) - 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
The first pass of the day by Sam Darnold made the Lions D/ST week, but let’s not confuse them with a good defense.
A Look Ahead: @SF NE @DAL - Moving right along...
Cincinnati (at Indianapolis) - 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
A Look Ahead: BAL @CAR @ATL - Even though it’s a home game on Thursday, Joe Flacco looked good in Week 1 and we’ll probably throw the Bengals D/ST back.
Miami (vs Tennessee) - 3 INT, 1 RET TD
The Titans quarterback play was horrendous and the teams traded kickoff return touchdowns, so the Dolphins D/ST ended up being a hit in Week 1.
A Look Ahead: @NYJ OAK @NE - Sam Darnold threw a pick six on his first NFL pass. We’ll consider the Dolphins in this one.
Washington (at Arizona) - 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 6 points allowed
This low level D/ST output masks a dominant defensive performance against an overmatched offense. Washington has a good front seven and underrated talent in the secondary. They’ll be coming up in the column a lot this year.
A Look Ahead: IND GB @NO - Even though the Bengals were a hit, it wasn’t because of Luck. We’ll probably pass on Washington this week.
Atlanta (at Philadelphia) - 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery
A Look Ahead: NO CIN @PIT - Back to the waiver wire pile
Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda
Cleveland (vs Pittsburgh) - 4 sacks, 3 INT, 3 fumble recoveries
Tampa Bay (at New Orleans) - 1 sack, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 DEF TD
Everything went wrong for the Saints on Sunday. The Bucs defense isn’t very good, but they were in the right place at the right time for long fumble return score.
Kansas City (at Los Angeles Chargers) - 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 ST TD
Tyreek Hill lifts all boats. The Chiefs defense is still not very good.
Tennessee (at Miami) - 1 sack, 2 INT, 1 ST TD
New York Jets (at Detroit) - 5 INT, 1 DEF TD, 1 ST TD
Week 2 Candidates
**The Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, Denver, and Houston all have good matchups in Week 2 and should be played over rent-a-defenses but are assumed to be rostered**
Chicago (vs Seattle)
After Russell Wilson threw two picks and was harassed constantly by the Broncos pass rush and Khalil Mack almost single-handedly stole Aaron Rodgers soul (only for Rodgers to steal the Bears soul once again), this one is pretty easy. The real question is how many waiver wire bucks to use to try to secure them for the rest of the season, and I’d say at least 10% of your budget, depending on your scoring system.
A Look Ahead: @ARI TB BYE - Yes may I have another please
Atlanta (vs Carolina)
The Falcons defense wasn’t stellar in Week 1 when it came to sacks and takeaways, but they are returning home this week with a long rest (and no Keanu Neal) against a Panthers offense that lost their right tackle and tight end and seemed a bit discombobulated in Week 1. It’s worth a shot.
A Look Ahead: NO CIN @PIT - We won’t be sticking with the Falcons next week.
New Orleans (vs Cleveland)
Do we dare go back to the well after the Saints D/ST posted a zero in Week 1? Yes, yes we do. The Saints are a strong team who should bounce back quickly, Tyrod Taylor was rough to say the least as a passer in Week 1, and Drew Brees in the Superdome should create a better game script for his defense than Road Ben. If the Saints were dropped or undrafted, they are worth a look this week.
A Look Ahead: @ATL @NYG WAS - The Saints defense has to re-earn our trust with a huge week or two before we trust them in any of these matchups.
San Francisco (vs Detroit)
If the Jets D/ST can do that to the Lions in their own house, what can the 49ers do them on the road? The Lions should be better, but Matthew Stafford is banged up, their offensive line is in shambles, and their pride is at a low. Jimmy Garoppolo could stake the 49ers to a lead and put Richard Sherman in ballhawk mode.
A Look Ahead: @KC @LAC ARI - The matchup against the Cardinals is looking mighty fine, but we won’t use the 49ers again until then.
Pittsburgh (vs Kansas City)
This one is to be avoided in leagues award points based on points and yards allowed and we might just say avoid any defense playing Pat Mahomes, but there also could be some learning experiences for him in store. The Steelers should bounce back at home and they could force some errors from the young quarterback
A Look Ahead: @TB BAL ATL - if Ryan Fitzpatrick turns back into a pumpkin against the Eagles, the Steelers have some Week 3 appeal.
New York Jets (vs Miami)
Can lightning strike twice? The Dolphins on the road against a Jets team coming off of a high on Monday night? Why not give it a try if all of the above options are taken.
A Look Ahead: @CLE @JAX DEN - At Cleveland isn’t a terrible followup if the Jets stay hot
Week 3 Pre-emptive Pickups
**Minnesota and Jacksonville have good matchups in Week 3 but are assumed to be rostered**
Chicago (at Arizona) **You need to have picked them up already**
Cleveland (vs. NY Jets)
NY Jets (at Cleveland)