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, Denver, Arizona, and Carolina should be played over any rent-a-defense, but they are assumed to be owned**
Week 13 Results
Cincinnati (vs Cleveland) - 3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 3 pts allowed
No huge splash plays on defense, but a thoroughly dominant performance against an undermanned Browns team accounted for a solid fantasy D/ST week.
A Look Ahead: PIT @SF @DEN - This matchup could pay off with if Ben Roethlisberger is as loose with the ball as he was in these teams’ first matchup, but it’s better to avoid, and maybe only hold them for San Francisco, if that.
New England (vs Philadelphia) - 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery
Had the wrong side of this one.
A Look Ahead: @HOU TEN @NYJ - Holding New England for the Tennessee matchup is advisable, but this week at Houston is probably no good.
Washington (vs Dallas - Monday) - 1 sack, 3 fumble recoveries
Adequate, but we were expecting more.
A Look Ahead: @CHI BUF @PHI - You can throw Washington back for the rest of the season.
St. Louis (vs Arizona) - 2 sacks
The Rams are a dead man walking team right now.
A Look Ahead: DET TB @SEA - The fall of the Rams as a playable D/ST is complete.
Tampa Bay (vs Atlanta) - 3 sacks, 1 INT
Not a complete disaster, but with how bad Matt Ryan has been playing, we expected more.
A Look Ahead: NO @STL CHI - A home matchup against New Orleans is definitely worth consideration, as is the Week 15 game at St. Louis.
Tennessee (vs Jacksonville) - 2 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
Not an overwhelming game, and the Titans did give up 39 points, but a defensive touchdown cures a lot when you play a D/ST.
A Look Ahead: @NYJ @NE HOU - No thanks.
Miami (vs Baltimore) - 3 sacks, 2 INT, 1 DEF TD
Matt Schaub is the gift that keeps on giving.
A Look Ahead: NYG @SD IND - No Matt Schaub? Nothing to see here.
Coulda Woulda Shoulda
Philadelphia (at New England) - 4 sacks, 2 INT, 1 DEF TD, 2 ST TD
And just like that, the 2014 Eagles D/ST that was a top scorer among all positions for a good part of the season showed up.
Pittsburgh (vs Indianapolis) - 5 sacks, 2 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 ST TD
And Antonio Brown stuck the landing. Prime time home game produces a big D/ST result.
Kansas City (at Oakland) - 4 sacks, 3 INT, 1 DEF TD
No Justin Houston? No problem.
New Orleans (vs Carolina) - 1 sack, 1 INT, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 DEF TD
Just another surprising aspect of this surprising game.
New York Giants (vs NY Jets) - 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 ST TD
The Giants were staked to a big lead and couldn’t hold it, but a punt return insured that they had a good D/ST day nonetheless.
Minnesota (vs Seattle) - 2 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 ST TD
Cordarrelle Patterson says “I’m still here!”. Too bad no one else was for Minnesota.
Week 14 Candidates
Kansas City (vs San Diego)
The Chiefs looked like an elite fantasy D/ST until they lost Justin Houston, just like in 2013, but unlike 2013, they responded with a big game in their first outing without Houston. The momentum is strong heading into a home matchup with the decimated Chargers offense.
A Look Ahead: @BAL CLE - You’ll play the Chiefs for the entire playoffs
New York Jets (vs Tennessee)
The Jets haven’t had a big D/ST game in a while. Assuming they get Darrelle Revis back, they should be primed for a good one as they face a rookie quarterback (albeit a very good one) at home with a playoff berth in their sights.
A Look Ahead: @DAL NE - If they come through this week, next week against Matt Cassel could be very good.
Detroit (at St. Louis)
The Lions defense is back in a big way even though we’ll only remember the hail mary from Thursday night’s game. The Rams have no offense to speak of right now, so the Lions will be set up for a good D/ST game as long as the offense stakes them to a lead even though the game is in St. Louis.
A Look Ahead: @NO SF - Week 16 looks good for the Lions in D/ST terms too.
Tampa Bay (vs New Orleans)
The Bucs are still a top 10 D/ST to date, and they get Drew Brees outside on the road, where he is often very mortal.
A Look Ahead: @STL CHI - Both of these will be appealing if the Bucs play well this week.
Green Bay (vs Dallas)
The Packers have been a pretty quiet D/ST as of late, but they should be fired up coming off of a miracle win and coming home to face the team that almost eliminated them from the playoffs last year.
A Look Ahead: @OAK @ARI - One and done.
Miami (vs NY Giants - Monday Night)
The Dolphins are playing out the string, but a prime time game on Monday night against an interception-prone quarterback could be a good recipe for a surprise big game following the good D/ST showing against the Ravens last week.
A Look Ahead: @SD IND - Probably one and done, but San Diego could be a good matchup if the Dolphins stay warm in this one.
Playoffs Pre-emptive Pickups
Kansas City (at Baltimore)
New England (vs Tennessee)
New York Jets (at Dallas - Saturday)
Oakland (vs San Diego - Thursday)
Philadelphia (vs Washington - Saturday)
Kansas City (vs Cleveland)
Detroit (vs San Francisco)
Pittsburgh (at Baltimore)