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.
**Carolina and Arizona should be played over any rent-a-defense, but they are assumed to be owned**
Week 12 Results
Houston (vs New Orleans) - 2 sacks, 1 INT, 6 pts allowed
A dominant performance, but not one that showed up in the fantasy box score.
A Look Ahead: @BUF NE @IND - Probably worth moving on.
New York Giants (at Washington) - Nothing. Nada. Bupkis. Zilch.
Forget about trends coming into this one. The Giants were pretty bad in just about every facet of the game.
A Look Ahead: NYJ @MIA CAR - Can’t trust em after that.
Cincinnati (vs St. Louis) - 1 sack, 3 INT, 1 DEF TD
A big game for a defense that hasn’t been creating them very often for our fantasy teams. St. Louis will be one of our best D/ST matchups to exploit in the fantasy playoffs
A Look Ahead: @CLE PIT @SF - Congrats if you got Cincinnati. Not only did you get a big score this week, but you also get a readymade play for Week 13.
Cleveland (vs Baltimore) - 2 INT, 1 DEF TD
Another hit as Matt Schaub throwing a pick six seems to be reliable as the Browns losing in a new and excruciating way.
A Look Ahead: CIN SF @SEA - Toss em back.
Green Bay (vs Chicago - Thursday) - 1 sack
Yes the Bears, on the road, were the better play here.
A Look Ahead: @DET DAL @OAK - No thanks.
Arizona (at San Francisco) - 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery
Not a smashing success, but you’re set up for a nice week at St. Louis no matter who starts at quarterback for the Rams.
A Look Ahead: @STL MIN @PHI - Leave em in. Good matchup in Week 15 too.
Jacksonville (vs San Diego) - 2 sacks
Should have known better than to trust the Jags.
A Look Ahead: @TEN IND ATL - Whatever.
Coulda Woulda Shoulda
Baltimore (at Cleveland) - 2 sacks, 2 ST TDs
Browns gonna Brown.
Week 13 Candidates
Cincinnati (vs Cleveland)
Whether it’s Johnny Manziel or Austin Davis, the Browns are vulnerable right now and the Bengals are rolling.
A Look Ahead: PIT @SF @DEN - Probably throwing them back
New England (vs Philadelphia)
The Patriots haven’t been an explosive D/ST, but the Eagles have been explosively terrible on both sides of the ball in the last two weeks. Look for a lot of downhill defense playing against an offense behind big.
A Look Ahead: @HOU TEN @NYJ - If the Pats can get hot on defense, this could be an excellent schedule.
Washington (vs Dallas - Monday)
Washington has been a top five fantasy D/ST over the last three weeks, and they are at home, in primetime against a Dallas team that could be about to fold up shop without Tony Romo. If the Jets can beat the Giants, Washington will be playing to be all alone in first.
A Look Ahead: @CHI BUF @PHI - If Washington comes through for us this week, it will be hard to throw them back.
St. Louis (vs Arizona)
The Rams were considered an elite D/ST coming into the season, but the team is falling apart. They still play well and with ferocity at home against division opponents, and they haven’t had a D/ST dud at home yet this year,
A Look Ahead: DET TB @SEA - If they hit this week, we’ll recommend them again next week at home.
Tampa Bay (vs Atlanta)
Matt Ryan is playing about as badly as he has in his entire career and Tampa has actually been a top 5 fantasy D/ST since Week 5.
A Look Ahead: NO @STL CHI - The Bucs at home against Drew Brees outdoors on the road sounds mighty fine.
Tennessee (vs Jacksonville)
Blake Bortles is always good about increasing the chances for a pick six.
A Look Ahead: @NYJ @NE HOU - One and done.
Miami (vs Baltimore)
The Dolphins defense and team in general looks like they have run out of gas, but so have the Browns and Matt Schaub’s penchant for throwing to guys in the other uniform with nothing but green in front of them still made their D/ST a top 5 play last week.
A Look Ahead: NYG @SD IND - Eli is prone to implosions, but nah.
Playoffs Pre-emptive Pickups
Tampa Bay (vs New Orleans)
New York Jets (vs Tennessee)
St. Louis (vs Detroit)
Detroit (at St. Louis)
Green Bay (vs Dallas)
New England (vs Tennessee)
St. Louis (vs Tampa Bay - Thursday)
New York Jets (at Dallas - Saturday)
Kansas City (vs Cleveland)
Detroit (vs San Francisco)
Houston (at Tennessee)
Pittsburgh (at Baltimore)