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.
**Seattle, Arizona, Philadelphia, Denver, Carolina, and St. Louis are good plays this week and should be played over any rent-a-defense, but they are assumed to be owned**
Week 9 Results
New England (vs Washington) - 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery
Kirk Cousins was actually decent and the one interception came on a drop. The Patriots are a high floor/low ceiling option.
A Look Ahead: @NYG BUF @DEN - The Giants haven’t been a great D/ST target the last three weeks. Might be time to look elsewhere
Atlanta (at San Francisco) - 2 INT
Game, set, match Gabbert.
A Look Ahead: BYE IND MIN - Bye bye.
New Orleans (vs Tennessee) - 1 fumble recovery
This one started out perfectly. The Saints had a big early lead and Marcus Mariota was rushed into a terrible interception… that turned into a long touchdown when two Saints kept each other from getting the pick and deflected the ball right to Delanie Walker, who didn’t even know where it was. Done with the Saints as an option this year.
A Look Ahead: @WAS BYE @HOU - Nope.
New York Jets (vs Jacksonville) - 6 sacks, 2 INT, 2 fumble recoveries
Your #1 D/ST in most formats. Hopefully you were able to pick them up when someone dropped them after their cold stretch.
A Look Ahead: BUF @HOU MIA - Treat the Jets as an every week start going forward.
Cincinnati (vs Cleveland - Thursday) - 3 sacks
For a team with a great offense, the defense has lacked bite.
A Look Ahead: HOU @ARI STL - Brian Hoyer on the road in prime time sounds like dinner.
Carolina (vs Green Bay) - 5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery
Considering that the opponent was Aaron Rodgers, this was an outstanding performance.
A Look Ahead - @TEN WAS @DAL - Keep rollin with the Panthers.
Coulda Woulda Shoulda
Philadelphia (at Dallas) - 4 sacks, 1 INT, 1 DEF TD
The coulda, woulda, shoulda here is holding onto the Eagles. They are an elite D/ST that should be played every week from here on out, although they lost emerging rookie Jordan Hicks (who notched the pick six) for the year.
New York Giants (at Tampa) - 3 fumble recoveries, 1 DEF TD
The ultimate garbage time touchdown on a Stanford/Cal lateral-fest attempt on the last play of the game
San Diego (vs Chicago) - 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
Jason Verrett gets a pick six and then leaves the game soon after. Story of the Chargers season.
Week 10 Candidates
New York Jets (vs Buffalo - Thursday)
The Jets get their old coach, who is trolling them in the media. Tyrod Taylor and the Bills running game give them a very viable offense, but Todd Bowles and company will test him on the short week of preparation.
A Look Ahead - @HOU MIA @NYG - With a second good week in a row, the Jets will end up on the “already owned” list and start for a lot of people next week
Cincinnati (vs Houston - Monday)
The Bengals haven’t recorded a defensive touchdown yet, but Monday night will give a great shot against Brian Hoyer and a Texans defense that should roll over and stake them to a big lead.
A Look Ahead - @ARI STL @CLE - Back to the NFC West means back to the waiver wire
Baltimore (vs Jacksonville)
Remember when the Ravens D/ST was a perennial power? They have been a dud for five games in a row now, but here comes Blake Bortles and a week of rest to attempt an impossible playoff run. Bortles is the king of the pick six and he almost gave up scores twice when backed up in his own end zone last week.
A Look Ahead - STL @CLE @MIA - If they’re really red hot coming out of this one, we might use them against Foles
Pittsburgh (vs Cleveland)
The Steelers have actually been very good for D/ST purposes at home this year, and they seem to bear down when they need to carry the team while Ben Roethlisberger is out. No matter who the quarterback is, consider the Steelers, although give them a longer look if its Johnny Manziel.
A Look Ahead - BYE @SEA IND - Bye bye
Oakland (vs Minnesota)
The Raiders have been very consistent, with at least five points in typical D/ST scoring in each of the last six games. If they draw Shaun Hill or even just jump out to a lead at home behind their high octane offense, then the Vikings will be out of their conservative comfort zone and the Raiders should be able to land some blows.
A Look Ahead - @DET @TEN KC - Not against sticking with the Raiders if they come through this week.
Washington (vs New Orleans)
Washington defense has been feeble the last two weeks for fantasy purposes, and they go home to face Drew Brees, who can give defenses some easy picks, especially outdoors on the road. The Titans and Giants D/STs both had nice games against them in high scoring affairs the last two weeks.
A Look Ahead - @CAR NYG DAL - One and Done
Week 11 Pre-emptive Pickups
Tennessee (at Jacksonville - Thursday)
New England (vs Buffalo)
Yeah, slim pickins.